Kalatop Sanctuary reserve is more than 8000 feet above sea level. The reserve covers an area of 3069 hectares and covered with Pine and deodhar trees. When we reached Dalhousie, it snowed, the first snow of the season. We roamed in the Base camp’s ground in Dalhousie to experience the first snow. The camp director told us that it had snowed 4 inches or was it cms in Kalatop.
The reason Kalatop is called Kalatop is because of these deodhar and pine trees that cover the whole peak and sunlight hardly touch the ground giving it a dark feeling. Hence the name Kalatop which means black peak
As we walked from Dalhousie to Kalatop, we saw more and more of the white magic. It became more colder. We had been walking for almost 4 hours when we reached Lakarmandi. Kalatop Rest house is 3 kilometers away from Lakarmandi. It is a wide enough road for a small car to go but driving is prohibited on that road.
We had a big break at lakarmandi. There are few small roadside hotels at lakarmandi with many tourist come there. You can also drive to Khajjiar from lakarmandi. The only menu in the lakarmandi restaurants is Egg omelet, tea, Bread butter and Maggie. Its difficult to bring supplies to this area too.
We had Tiffin box and every morning for three days, we have to pack our lunch for the day. The lunch is basically rotis and some vegetable. The only problem is, it did not remain warm by lunch time. The rotis were cold and hard.
Kalatop was indeed covered in snow, although it was not that 4-5 inch as we were promised but it had snowed heavily. At that height ithe temperature was low, droping to as low as -2 degrees celcius. In such temperature, the water pipes freeze. The people who cooked and cleaned there brought water from nearby streams and that is really a heavy task. It also meant shortage of water for everything and I mean everything.
Kalatop guest house is not one unit. Small chalets are built over the a small portion where a main unit is near the gate. The girls and senior citizen got accommodation near the gate and most of us got accommodation in one of these chalets. The road to these chalets was from ever narrow path covered with snow. The slippery snow made the walk all the more difficult.
The chalets built on cut terraces were almost on the edges.
We stayed here. When we came out of the door, a small wooden pole separated us from an almost 15-20 feet fall. The small shed on the right had water being heated. This water was used for washing our face and brushing. The person who heated the water for us got up at 4:00 AM. The floor was covered with blankets only and we were shivering uncontrollably when we got in. Presence of 8 people in the night reduced the cold a little. Must be the air we breathe out.
A birds eye view of the Kalatop guest house. There are small chalets all around the small slopes.
That night our feet pained after the long walk. We had our food shivering. That was the first day, when we shared plates and glasses. Much better than washing 5 individual plates in cold water. It was cold and we were tired but it was worth it for a glimpse of this;
And this. Its the Pir Panjal range seen from Kalatop
Kalatop had heavy snow fall evident from the layers of snow on the roof
A trekking trip teaches you utilizing less resources and making the maximum of it. Pun Intended! So here it is, less water, single toilet and 8 men. Atleast we had water coming from the tap.
We slept early at 10:00 PM and still got up at 5:00 AM in that cold to complete our morning activities. During breakfast, got this unusual cloud formation over Pir Panjal range
Dalhousie is only 14 square kilometers and spread over five hills namely Kathlog, Potreyn, Tehra, Bakrota and Balun. This is Dalhousie seen from Kalatop. Imagine we did walk from that point and is certainly more than 8 Kms.
kalatop has the serenity and peace of the mountains. Mountains can be dangerous and still peaceful. A place to rest and enjoy the beauty. A view of the many benches there against the backdrop of Pir Panjal range.