Rohtang, a very popular destination in Himachal receives footfall round the year, especially May-June and October-November. It was during the first week of September that we planned our Himalayan escapade. We expected less crowd on our offseason trip to Rohtang and Manali. Though Manali was beaming with tourists, Rohtang was relatively uncrowded.
Why is Rohtang popular?
At an altitude of 13,000 feet, Rohtang connects Kullu to Lahaul and Spiti valleys. The mighty Himalayas that offer such majestic views are reason enough to be in Rohtang. Additionally the onward journey to Spiti valley and availability of adventure sports makes it a tourist popular destination. On an average 5000-6000 people visit Rohtang daily during the peak season.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed a ban on tourism activities owing to rising pollution and impact on the green cover. The number of vehicles entering Rohtang was capped to 1000 in order to strike an ecological balance.
Our offseason trip
We were a little disappointed on learning about the ban of tourism activities. Yet we were geared up for our trip to Rohtang Pass, 51 km from Manali. Since snow had not touched the lower hills, we did not rent snow dress, which otherwise is a must have during heavy snowfall. Negotiate for your dress cost in the market, which may range from 200 to 500 INR per person. Do not rent from the shacks just before Rohtang.
Stop-over at Dett Marhi
Snow-clad hilltops, clouds in the way, lush greenery and beautiful waterfalls added sparkle to our journey. Apart from the fixed rate of the taxi, we additionally paid a toll tax of INR 50 only. (No driver should charge you more than this). The entire route is maintained by BRO (Border Road organization). The curvy roads, at times rough, pass through Marhi which is the last village before Rohtang.
Recommended to buy eatables or have meals here, since there are no shops in the 15 km stretch till Rohtang. The village has a Tibetan Temple which is a good place for photo opportunities.
Finally to Rohtang
As we touched Rohtang base, frozen winds hit our ears hard. We trekked towards the snow top braving the rocky steeps. Wear gripping shoes, warm clothes and do not carry heavy bag pack with you. As oxygen levels are low in mountains, you might feel dizzy, breathless or heaviness in chest. Its 14000 feet above sea level after all. Advisable to trek up slowly with short breaks in between. Do not forget to sip water in short intervals.
Snow falls up to a thickness of 12 feet in peak season, making it practically impossible to trek up. We were lucky enough to experience good visibility and comparatively warmer weather during this offseason trip to Rohtang. with. Trekking tests your endurance and gives you an unforgettable lifetime experience. When you see the clouds playing hide &seek, mount tops painted with snow, plush green hills disappearing in foggy blanket, herds of sheep grazing, massive yaks walking past and vibrant hues of mountain plants, you start wondering how much nature has in abundance to offer, which we are ignorant of!
An unforgettable journey
The mesmerizing experience gives a shudder in your body. You feel as if you have discovered something substantial or perhaps the substance of life. I suddenly wanted more; wanted to break free and carry on! Though Mithun faced a little difficulty during the hike, he patiently went ahead, beyond his limit just to accompany me. Such activities bonds people stronger, trust me!
We halted at multiple spots to catch our breath, sip water and watch the beauty around. It feels out of the world. Every halt that we made felt like an eternity and we only wished time could stop. We relaxed, soaked in the sunshine, breathed in pure air and kept moving towards the zenith. Seeing the locals and other mountaineers trekking to the snow point, gives you a kick within. I wanted to go on, but stopped, as higher altitude multiplies the risks. Also, Mithun was tired pertaining to less oxygen level. He was almost out of breath.
For many, trekking down seems an easy task. However, it is MORE difficult than what it looks like. While descending, your legs bear the maximum force to control and balance the body. Applying brakes to legs is more painful and difficult hence. Only good shoes can save you in such case. Be careful while stepping on stones for they might be slippery. The risk rises during snowfall. Expert guidance is needed there.
Rohtang is an easy trek for beginners. One only needs to be alert and careful while trekking the mountain, especially when it snows. Though we ticked Rohtang from our bucket list, we do wish to visit again.
How to reach Rohtang
We had booked a cab for Rohtang from Govt authorized Hiamchal Taxi Operators Office a day prior to Rohtang visit. Advisable to book from authorized operators who charge reasonably and drive responsibly. Bikers can obtain passes from authorized centers for bike journey to Rohtang or further.