Trekking through the Majestic Kingdom of Duryodhan

Mythology says, the Kauravas and Pandavas ruled the incredible land of India around thousands of years ago and besides the terrific family war, there is a lot for a traveler in the greatest epic of Mahabharat. In fact, the historic memoirs make me wonder about the incredible adventures of India’s ancient nomad family of Pandavas. Their Kingdom extended from sea wrapped Indian peninsula to the abode of Gods, right up to the heaven in the Himalayas. Some of the surviving villages of their era like Gangaad, Osla , and Seema dates back to around 3000 years and sing the saga of their culture and ventures.  Amazed at this fact, I decided to explore their lofty kingdom and thus, headed for Har Ki doon Trek , in the state of Uttarakhand.

Har Ki Doon Trek
Har ki doon trek
The majestic view of the Swargarohini Peaks from Har ki Doon

The Base Village Sankri

The base village Sankri, is the magic itself. The tranquility of the place surrounded by the scrumptious view of the Himalayas makes its way to the heart and mind of the people.

A cherry on the top was our campsite that looked straight out of a fairy tale. Our tents were set up on the step farms and were mystically illuminated with the backdrop of the blue sky at dawn. The chubby children of the village make the visitors’ morning with their rosy cheeks and smiling face. As you stand amidst the hills with the huts at their brinks smoking up early in the morning, spreading the Himachali food aroma all around will make you spare your heart out to this cryptic village.  The most attractive architecture is of Pashupatinath temple that is dedicated to lord Shiva and has interesting intricate wooden work. The huts all around the village are also built in a pattern that would give you the feeling of being in a portico of the heaven.

What more could be said!!  I was now more excited to witness the glory of the land where Duryodhan along with his brothers might also have spent his summer days and the Pandavas might have camped at the same places as we would.

har ki doon trek
Tent set up at Sankri Village on the Step Farms

A Thrilling Jeep Ride to the Taluka Village

Holding tight on the handles to save ourselves from rolling off the jeep, we enjoyed the twists and turns on the way to the village ‘Taluka’. Though the trail is trek-able, we were supposed to go by the jeep to save time. And It turned out to be the most thrilling ride as it bumped through the rocky roads, streams, and waterfalls. Yes!! you read it correctly. we had to cross a few small waterfalls on the way that left us completely drenched. Such unexpected crossing in the starting of our journey had actually added to our delight and enthusiasm. The ride definitely made me give up on my regrets of not enjoying the nature trail.

Never ending trail to Seema Village

After a joyful ride, comes a long trail passing through the dark woods. A few minutes of hiking leads you to a gushing brook of pristine water that plunges into the rumbling of river Tons that chatters by the trekking trail. It certainly doesn’t let you feel alone till the next camp. So, the trail turns more beautiful with huge cedar trees on one side and the chattering river Tons on the other.

The view certainly seemed to be straight out of some fairy tale.......
The view certainly seemed to be straight out of some fairy tale…….

At every turn on the trail, as one would expect to have a glimpse of the next camp, they are eventually gifted with the sight of a new long trail towards the divine Sawargarohini peak. But that isn’t a disappointment as the little shepherds, grazing cattle, the school children happily hiking back to home and the mesmerizing view become the motivation to keep trudging forward.

The camp can be arranged either at the plains right beside the tumbling river before Seema village or can be set at the village Osla which is a favorite site due to the development of homestays and camping sites for a small group. The GMVN guest house also encourages the luxury seekers who wish to have a cozy stay in the chilling hillocks.

Trailing in the nearby farms, clicking pictures on the banks of the river and just silently devouring the beauty of nature is what you can look forward to at this site. Trust me, that makes up a perfect evening as the sun sets the blanket of night studded with the sparkling stars over the charismatic valley.

The Divine path to the Valley of Gods

The next day morning, we were all set to witness the much-praised beauty of Valley of Gods – Har ki Doon. The warm sun-rays seemed to be wishing us luck. Crossing an age-old bridge after the Seema camp,  a short arduous trail presents you with a panoramic view of Kaala Nag, Bandarpoonch, and Swargarohini peaks. It is a beautiful trail with every step moving towards the destination that is right in your front (And yet too far), while the dancing yellow flowers and teeny streams welcome you as the reward of your trekventure into the valley.

As I was busy devouring the unbelievable beauty, my mind just lingered upon the thoughts that I was walking on the path leading to God’s abode. Obviously. it had to be so divine and sublime. My thoughts were interrupted by a sight of a milestone marked by the number of steps left to reach my dream valley and with a covert encouragement, I tramped ahead.

Swargarohini and the Valley of Gods – Har ki Doon

Har ki Doon trek
The most beautiful campsite in the lap of snow-capped mountains

The last steep climb of the trek leads you to the divine valley that would unquestionably leave you awestruck!!! The only thing your eyes could see far and wide is the amphitheater of snow-capped mountains lording over the valley including the mighty Swargarohini, which is supposed to be the entrance to Indra’s heaven. The Pandavas are supposed to have climbed through the Satopath route and Yudhishthir, along with a dog was the only soul to have reached there. And that again makes me wonder about the solo trekking during the time of Pandavas, a real adventure, I must say.  I could really imagine Indra welcoming the tired Yudhishthir and later they all enjoying the wonderful view chit-chatting about the ‘Mahabharat’ days on Earth and Indra trailing around with His apsaras (celestial dancers).

Yea !! I fantasize overmuch.

If we believe the villagers, when a local village man returned after conquering the peak, he had lost his senses and roamed around insanely. The locals also claim to have seen a small golden temple which is considered to be the gate to Indra’s heaven. And if you can see that, you are the purest of the souls worthy of heavenly luxuries 😉

Loitering into such fairy tale imaginations and enjoying a bonfire as the sun bids adieu brings alive the warmest night in the valley.

Trekking to the Glacier Lake

Har ki doon trek
The snow seems to be eager to submerge into the lake and join the river Tons in her journey through the Valley of Gods

The next day you can go on a leisure trek to a nearby lake walking on the melting snow helping each other balance on the slippery trail. Or you can move further to a glacier with the help of the locals or your guide.

On our way back, I decided to go off the trail and visit the mystic village of Osla which has a temple of Duryodhan and the women in the village followed the custom of marrying all the brothers of a family till very recently. I even chanced upon talking to the elderly women who had succumbed to the obsolete ordinance of that time. Thus, I called it the Kingdom of Duryodhan as he is venerated more than the Pandavas. It was like reliving in the era of Mahabharat and seeing its characters alive before us.

The same heavenly trail from Seema led us back to Sankri. Certainly, the moments of the trek would only be remembered and felt by those who had been on the trail. Words can hardly describe the feelings and the fun. Want to experience the words of my write-up?? Grab your trekking gears, pack your bags and rush for this enchanting trekking trail. But, don’t forget to carry all that you need in the hills.

Pro tips:

  • If you are bored of Dehradoon and Mussoorie, Sankri is the right place for you to get some fresh air.
  • Direct buses to Sankri are available from Dehradoon at 8 am.
  • Many cheap hotels and homestays are available in Sankri.
  • You can also request the locals to allow you to set up tents on their farms or outskirts of the village.
  • The village has many small restaurants and Maggi stalls but you can ask any local who is willing to provide food for a minimal amount.
  • GMVN rest house would be available for as cheap as 100/200 INR.
  • You can either hitchhike or trek till Taluka village. But, if you plan to trek, you must leave as early as possible to reach the next camp on time.
  • The trek is relatively easy but the trail between two camps is quite long. (To and fro 50 km)
  • no equipment or trekking gears are required unless you are doing it in winter,
  • Summer is the best time for Har ki Doon Trek. (April-June)
  • Be ready for unexpected showers; especially in the afternoon.

Enjoy the beautiful Himalayas.

Have you ever experienced any other beautiful treks in the Himalayas?? You can recommend me some beautiful treks in the comments and I would love to take up a new trekking trail and write about it.

Follow me on Instagram for mesmerizing pictures of Himalayas.

5 thoughts on “Trekking through the Majestic Kingdom of Duryodhan

  • January 28, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Great information on the trek. Thank you, Purvi. Would you have Hrithik Mathe’s contact number by any chance?

    • February 11, 2017 at 5:53 pm

      Sorry for the late reply, the village hardly has network and he is still too young to get the mobile phone as per the village standard.

  • May 17, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Wow! A great article. Loved the read, will definitely share with my friends.

  • September 7, 2020 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks for sharing the article. I love the way this article is written by the author. I will share this article with my friends and family.

  • April 27, 2021 at 4:39 pm

    These travel bloggers literally influenced me to ‘get out and travel’. very nice article


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