Considered to be a soft adventure sport in the modern times; trekking has come a long way since the days immemorial. It meant a tedious journey on foot or gruelling hours of travel by horses in olden times. But it modern times it is considered that it satisfies one’s basic urge to travel forth and seek adventure. Almost anyone in reasonable physical condition can go for trekking hence its urge can be satisfied by young and old alike. It is an adventurous sport that demands physical as well as mental strength and requires a lot of stamina for walking long distances for hours together and mental ability to adopt changingenvironment.Trekking may involve to begin with day hikes with returning to the starting point in evening to moving on to a multi-day trek which is relatively easy, in order to get to know your ability and aptitude. It is always advisable to venture into the mountains with an experienced trekker, join an adventure club, or go with a reputed adventure travel company.The basic knowledge of camp craft, map reading and first-aid is essential before you go to trekking. It’s a good idea to do an adventure course from a mountaineering/ adventure institute and get as much information as possible about the trekking area, the people, their culture, the geography, terrain, medical/rescue facilities and weather conditions – before the onset of trekking. Moreover the first-aid course knowledge is also required.It is true that one needs very little to lead a jovial and satisfied life. Most treks traverse the uninhabited areas where modern amenities and huts are not available. The trekker learns to prune his needs to the bare necessities of life and discovers different means of sustenance.The current trekking scenario is very promising as India has some of the most beautiful trekking spots of the world which range from the above 5000m mountain passes in the Ladakh and Zanskar Himalayas to gentler and smaller trails, at different altitudes, both in the mountains and in the forests that traverse through Pir Panjal Range-J&K, Doons of Uttarakhand, Middle & Outer Himalayan Range in Himachal, Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills of south India that include Munnar and Wayanad in Kerala, Coorg in Karnataka, and around Ooty in Tamil Nadu etc.Proper kit may be managed (in total or as per requirement) before the onset of any trekking which can be got on rent from clubs or may be bought from any place from adventure- gear manufacturers. Do thoroughly check all gear before venturing out into the mountains.Small rucksack / knapsack, Sleeping bag, Lockable duffel bag, Karrimat / Therm-a-Rest, Tent, Personal toiletries, Water bottles (at least 2 litres), First-aid kit, Camera with spare batteries, Headlamp/torch with spare cells, Maps, Diary/pen/reading material, Sewing kit, Swiss Army knife, Whistle, Sunscreen – with high SPF (at least 30, to better protect you from harmful UV rays), Lip salve/ChapStick, Sunglasses with retainers/spare prescription glasses, Lighter, Emergency rations/ goodies, Parachute cord, Ski-stick/ice-axe,Rope (for high-altitude treks) and Plastic bags and Ziplocs for packing gear.Some tips for trekking are Hydration, clothing / staying warm (‘Cover your head if your feet are cold gentlemen’ is an old English saying), packing a rucksack, pacing yourself on a trek, timing – ‘Start early and arrive early’ is the cardinal rule of trekking, porters and guides – A guide, or guide-cum-cook, is important on routes that are remote, tougher and relatively less trodden. Porters, with the option of ponies, will come in extremely handy on longer trips, especially if you’re carrying lots of provisions. Mules and horses on the trail.If you have a previous medical condition, do remember to carry the necessary prescribed medication.Rajouri-Poonch has so many beautiful settlements situated at the foothills of Pir Panjal which are the prominent Base Camps for trekking to higher reaches. They include Chandi Marh, Bafliaz, Thannamandi, Darhal Malkan, Peeri, Koteranka/ Kandi and Budhal. The snow-clad Pir Panjal Range has its own attraction. In fact it stands out to be more prominent than the inner Himalayas as it is nearer to the plains and its majestic slopes are awe-inspiring. The crest of Pir Panjal is mostly covered with snow and there are several explored and un-explored areas including the climbed and virgin peaks ranging between 15,290 ft. to 16,000 ft. Some of them may be mentioned as Dhakyar-15,290 ft. Kotoria-15,000 ft., Budhal Pir-15,170 feet, Kaghalna-15,400 ft and Tatakuti-15,557 ft. etc. There are bewitching lakes like Simar Sar, Katoria Sar, Ghum Sar, Bhag Sar, Neel Sar, Nandan Sar, Chandan Sar Kaldichchni and many others at an altitude of 13,000 ft. to 14,500 ft. surrounded by towering snowy peaks. There exist more than twelve passes on the Pir Panjal Range between the Rajouri-Poonch Valleys and the Kashmir Valley. These are Galli Medhan pass, Jamina pass, Noorpur Galli, Chor Galli, Choti Galli, Pir ki Galli, Handoo Pass, Rupari Pass, Budhal Pir Pass and Pir Panjal near Konsarnag lake (between 11,500 ft. to 15,000 ft.) through which one can cross from one side to the other.The trails over these passes also provide great opportunities to watch and study the different tribes living in the lower valley and on higher slopes of the Pir Panjal Range one can see the Bakerwals, Gujjars, Paharies and Gaddies with their cattle herds and flocks who trek the area every year. This whole region has remained almost unexplored by out-siders and offers huge opportunities for soft trekking to such areas. All the passes remain covered with snowduring winter and the snow starts melting in April or May. The nomads migrate to their desired pastoral destinations once the passes are open.In spite of the fact that the entire world was on a stand still due to COVID-19 this year the local peoplef rom all walks of life including school boys and college/university students, teachers, professors etc. chose trekking to these areas (in small groups) to get rid of scorching heat and to evade the further spread of COVID-19. It proved to be a blessings in disguise as the locals not only accomplished their tasks successfully but increased their level of fitness and brought a lot of information back about the unexplored areas about which they would have listened in the tales and legends only.The Pir-Panjal stretch that lies in Districts Rajouri & Poonch has so many places which can attract huge numbers of tourists provided that they are thrown open to the tourists.The different routes that can be taken to reach to these places may be given as under:-Base: Darhal Malkan (A)Darhal – Base Camp at Thanamang (Darhal)-Budhkhanari- Reechwali-Kulian- Shaker Marg -Saiti- Cha Sari – Dood Wali -Jabbar- Bela-Chambran – Chamchi Sar Lake – Handoo Sar- Bhagh Sar – Sarota (the Valley of Flowers) – Neel Sar – Kal Dichni(Akaal Darshini)- Nanjan/Nadan Sar- Panjtari – Girjin – Noori Chamb – Bheram Galla and Back to Rajouri.Base: Darhal Malkan (B)Darhal – Base Camp at Thanamang (Darhal)-Khoriwali-Badhyar-Barmiwali-Khaari Marg-Shaker Marg -Dood Wali -Jabbar- Bela-Chamberan – Chamchi Sar Lake – Handoo Sar- Bhagh Sar – Sarota (the Valley of Flowers) -KalDichni-Neel Sar – Nanjan Sar- Panjtari – Girjin – Bela-Shakkar Marg-Kulian-Thambal-Budhkhanari-Thanamang-DarhalBase: Thannamandi1) Thannamandi – Dehra Gaali – Girjan – Panjtari – Khuha Gum Sar – Nandan Pass – Nandan Sar Lake and 6 Other adjoining Lakes – Jaddi -Haft Khour- Aliabad – Jumman-Mathan-Heerpur -Shopian- Srinagar.Base: Budhal1) Budhal – Saveri Marg – Khodra – Simar Sar Lake – Bella – Kotoria Sar Lake – Dhakyar Peak-Roopri Pass-Janjwali-Chche Sari-Saiti-Shakkar Marg-Kulian-Thambal-Reechwali-Budhkhanari-Darhal2) Budhal -Sarsote – Reta Wali – Harshou -Lunda Tung- Goray wan – Parhi Wali Marg – Konsar nag lake – Mahinag – Kungwattan – Aharbal (water fall) – Srinagar. (It is believed to be the most difficult pass of Pir Panjal)Base: Kandi/Koteranka1) Kandi – Kesri Hill – Nakki Water Fall – Dada nar – Talyan ni Marg – Talyan ni Galli – Marguri – Bela – Simar Sar Lake – BelaTop – Dhakyar Peak – Rupri Galli Pass.Base: Thannamandi1) Thannamandi -Dehra Gali-Girjan-Pnjtari-Khua-Gum Sar-Nandan Pass (with 06 other adjoin lakes)-Jaddi-Haft Khor-Aliabad Saraey-Dubjan-Heepur-Shopian-Srinagar. (It is to be mentioned that form Jaddi one can take a turn towards Pir-ki-Gali from where one can proceed o Srinagar by road.)Base: Bafliaz/Behram Gala/Chandi Marh2) Bafliaz-Behram Gala-Noori Chamb – Chandi Marh – Poshana – Baghla – Pir ki Galli-Pir ni Marg- Dohngi Marg- Aliabad -Dubjian- Hirpur – Shopian – Srinagar.3) Choti Thannamandi – Chandi Marh – Kabar Pathran – Baghla – Ganga Choti – Choti Marg – Choti Galli Pass – Kundhlan – Yous Marg – Srinagar.
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