Trekking Triund: The Easy Route into the Heart of the Himalayas near Mcleodganj in Himachal Pradesh
How does it feel to walk on a grassy meadow with clouds swirling all around you and gaze at a ring of mountain peaks towering above you? Sometimes the clouds float away and sunrays stream in to light up the snowy peaks and wash the meadow with a warm glow. At other times, a gray mist hangs heavy and shrouds the landscape and the mountains around in primeval stillness, broken only when a raven circles above you and pierces the skies with its cries. This is Triund in Himachal Pradesh (India), near the popular tourist stop of Dharamsala. When you are here, you are truly “in” the mountains!
Triund Quick Facts
The Triund trek is a short 9-kilometer day hike from McLeod Ganj, a suburb of Dharamshala in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. McLeod Ganj houses the Tibetan government in exile and is also the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. You can reach Dharamshala by bus from New Delhi or Shimla.
The trail snakes through dense oak, pine, and rhododendron forests and climbs up gradually to Triund while traversing the steep face of the Laka ridge of the Dhauladhar range in the Himalayan mountain chain. Some stretches of the trek are steep but not so much as to leave you breathless. The trail is over rocky ground at some places and narrows to a goat tract in others. So you should wear walking shoes that provide good grip. However, no stretch of the trek is dangerous. You also do not need to be a mountaineer to hike to Triund.
Fast climbers can make it up to Triund in about two hours. But you can go slowly, catch your breath and sip a hot cuppa at the tea shops along the way, and admire the sweeping views of the hills and vales and still reach Triund in about four hours. You can return to McLeod Ganj the same day, but then you will miss the beautiful and dramatic show of colors that Nature puts up for you every day during sunset and sunrise.
There is a rest house maintained by the Forest Department in Triund, but the bookings are done in Dharamshala. A bed here costs about $10-15 per night. If you want to spend the night under the stars, there are many camping spots in Triund. Just ensure you carry plenty of water to last through the night because the only source of drinking water, a small mountain stream, is some way down. You can carry your own food, or buy cooked food from the shops (they look more like shacks) here. The shops also stock snacks, soft drinks, and packaged mineral water (the latter understandably priced higher than what you would find in McLeod Ganj).
The best season for the Triund trek is from March to May and from September to December.
If you go during April and May, you will be treated to stunning views of hillsides aflame with rhododendron trees in full bloom. Even though April and May are summer months and the days are brilliantly sunny, carry warm clothes if you plan to camp overnight because the nights can be chilly. The monsoon season in Himachal Pradesh is from June to August, but freak showers and hail storms can occur at any time of the year. So carry a rain jacket whenever you trek to Triund. Expect to find snow on the ground if you hike in December; wear appropriate shoes. A note of caution for winter trekkers: the shops in Triund will be closed during this season.
The trail to Triund is well marked, and you do not need a guide. But in winter the trail is covered in snow, and it is not easy to find your way. What with the biting cold and the fog, there are usually not many trekkers to Triund in winter. You might not find anyone on the route to follow, so hire a guide in this season to avoid getting lost.
You can hire camping supplies like tent and cooking gear in McLeod Ganj. There are quite a few tourist agencies sprinkled around the Main Square. They can arrange a guided tour with a porter. Expect to pay anything between $55 and $70 per person per day for a package tour where the operator will supply the necessary camping gear, food, and water. You just need tocarry your personal essentials. The costs vary depending on the size of the group.
The Trail to Triund
Start early for the hike even if you don’t plan to come down the same day. The weather in this part of the Himalayas tends to deteriorate in the afternoons. You would not want to get caught in a shower on your way up because the rocky stretches of the trail become slippery. Besides, you will also want to explore Triund, both with your eyes and through the lens, before it gets dark.
You can start your hike from McLeod Ganj or Dharamkot. The walk to Dharamkot from McLeod Ganj takes about 45 minutes up a steep road and will take you past the Regional Mountaineering Center. You can also take an auto rickshaw or hire a cab from McLeod Ganj to reach Dharamkot, and this will save you 2 kilometers of walking. Ask to be dropped off at the main gate of the Dharamkot Government Primary School. The trail to Triund starts to the left of the school and gently slopes upward through a forest of gnarled oaks, stately pines, and bushy rhododendrons. These woods are home to many different species of songbirds, and the air here is filled with their cries. If you are a bird watcher, you will want to take a pair of binoculars with you.
It does not feel like you are walking up mountain slopes when you are in these woods. You get glimpses of peaks and ranges through the dense foliage, and sometimes a gust of cool breeze with a whiff of the mountains blows through the trees and chills you. But the mountains always seem far away, till you come to the clearing where the temple of Gallu Devi stands. The Dhauladhar range suddenly and dramatically looms large, almost wanting to engulf you by its sheer expanse.
You can hire cabs from McLeod Ganj or Dharamkot to reach the Gallu Devi temple, but the road is in a poor condition and the ride will be bumpy. There is also a shorter route that starts near the German Bakery in the Bhagsu Nag area of McLeod Ganj. It is a quite steep trek and goes past shops and houses before emerging behind the Gallu Devi temple. However, no route is as scenic as the jungle trail from Dharamkot.
You can rest your tired legs and tuck into some snacks in one of the cafeterias in the Gallu Devi temple complex before marching on. Take the road that goes straight past the temple. This is a gently rising trail and is flanked by oak thickets on either side at its initial stretches. There are sharp curves along the route. Turn one bend, and you will emerge from the cool dark shade of the forest canopy into brilliant sunlight and sweeping views of the majestic Dhauladhar range, verdant valleys cradled in the lap of the mountains, and the bustling townships of McLeod Ganj and Dharamshala. Turn another corner, and you will leave behind the vast wide canvas of the mountains to re-enter the oak maze.
The trail continues like this till you reach the Magic View Café. This is a watering hole of sorts for trekkers going up or coming down from Triund. Take a breather here, sip a hot cup of tea or gulp down a cool drink, and swap stories with other hikers who have stopped here. The views of the mountain range and the valleys are truly magical from here.
You have already crossed the halfway mark of your journey, but the trail gets steeper from here and the landscape becomes rockier. The Laka ridge meets the Triund ridge a little way from the café and creates several steep gullies that fall away into seemingly bottomless wooded chasms. Be extra careful while crossing these stretches, and do not walk on the outer edges of the tract. The cliffs are dotted with exposed rocks and boulders, but their cragginess is mellowed by the rhododendron thickets. If you hike in the rhododendron season, you will be greeted by colorful blossoms of varied hues.
With every step the mountains seem to close in on you, and it feels you are entering the heartland of the mighty Himalayas. Look up at the snow-clad mountains around you; their pointed peaks, enveloped in mist and cloud, seem to shoot up into the Heavens.
The last stretch of the trail, which starts just after crossing a mountain stream that is dry at most times of the year, is quite steep. Take a few deep breaths and begin your climb. Clambering up the slopes, huffing and puffing and concentrating on each step, you begin to wonder how far Triund is. And then, all of a sudden, you are in Triund! One moment you were trudging wearily on hard rocks, the next moment you are standing on a grassy tract. The ground feels soft under the feet, and it seems you can reach out and touch the mountains around you. You have reached the top of Triund.
The Triund trek is an ideal weekend Himalayan escapade for city-weary souls, a taster trek for wannabe mountaineers, and a spiritual journey for those who want to soak in the good vibes of the mountains.
Did You Know?
Triund is the springboard for other longer treks to Lahesh Cave and Indrahar Pass. If you can add two more days to your Triund itinerary, you can go up to Lahesh Cave, but only if you are accompanied by a guide. The trek to Indrahar Pass would be a little more strenuous affair.
Staying in McLeod Ganj
Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj are popular with travelers both for the trekking opportunities and for their cultural importance as the home of the Tibetan government-in-exile, so there are quite a lot of accommodation options available. For the Triund hike the Hotel Ghandi Paradise and Mcleodganj Homestay are actually on the road from McLeod Ganj to Dharamkot, making them both convenient choices.
For travelers to whom budget is the most important factor, staying a bit further south in Dharamsala at somewhere like the Staywell Hotel might be a better choice, though you’ll have to wake up early and catch a taxi to the start of the Triund hike.
If you’re looking for help getting from Delhi to Dharamsala to start the Triund hike, there are trips with our partner companies that will get you between the two at a decent price and with quite a lot to see on the way. Otherwise, if you finish trekking Triund and are looking for more trekking in India, you could consider the somewhat more strenuous Manaslu trek as well.