The Himalayas are a special place to be. The Garhwal Himalayas are home to many and had been known for its life, beauty and culture. There are many famous hill stations, temples, treks and valleys where people from all over the world visit. But there are many lesser-known trails hidden quiet and beautifully among the vast expense of Himalayas. One of many such trails is Chenap valley.
This valley is known to only a handful of people. The beauty here is untouched and pristine. The trails are usually empty for most of the part or shared only with a handful of trekkers.
Chenap valley sometimes also referred to as Chenab valley is 5km sq meadow at a height of 13,000 feet above MSL. At least 300 different species of flowers are found in this valley. A plethora of colourful species such as primulas, orchids, poppies, Brahma kamal, marigold, anemones and daisies are commonly found here making it the other valley of flower. Snow clad peaks, waterfalls, streams and glaciers surround the valley beautifully. Oak and Cedar forests, lush meadows and undisturbed campsites are some highlights of this trek. Also one gets a panoramic view of the mighty mountain peaks of Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot, Dunagiri and Hathi Godhi. The best season to visit is from July- September when the flowers bloom and valley is in its full glory.
The trek starts from Joshimath till the road head of Chai village taking left from the Marwari Bridge 10kms on Joshimath-Badrinath highway. The roads aren’t in good shape from here so it depends entirely on the vehicle and driver as to where he drops. Local vehicles do ply here but are very less in number and so find one could be hectic and time-consuming. Depending on whether one find’s vehicle or not. One could start the trek from Marwari Bridge or Chai village or at most from Thaing road head.
On the first day of the trek, we reached crossed Thaing to its outskirts. Thaing is a small village in the laps of the Himalayas with beautiful panoramic views. The people are mostly indulging in farming. Beans and potatoes are grown here in abundance. The walk towards the main village is a steady ascent all the way to the village. Walking past the main village one reaches the upper part of the village. One could camp here if in a small group or walk furthermore till Dhar Kharak in case of big groups. One could interact and see the hospitality of the villagers here. Since we trekked from Marwari bridge we made it till the upper reaches of the village covering of some 10-12kms in 8 hours. We camped here for the night in an empty space we found for two of our tents. Since the rainy season brings a lot of rains in these parts so be prepared for some good amount of rainfall which could happen anytime and especially during night if you happen here during the rainy season. Weather particularly favoured us a lot during this whole trek at the peak rainy season.
As it rained heavy after midnight we woke up a little late in the morning and it was 10 am till we packed and started for the second-day trek. As one leaves behind the village, make sure to refill water bottle since the next water source it a valley. The trails ascend again and the views get better. The trails are open till Dhar Kharak and the flowers like daisy all over the steep mountain face are a welcoming sight.
After a sharp ascent of Dhar Kharak, the trail goes through the dense forest over the mountain ridge. Walking through the forest and trails ascend all the way up gaining relative height. The whole forest walks in on a ridge which has a sheer height of hundreds of feet to its one side and a dense forest on the other. After the tree line and a final sharp ascent takes us to the highest point called the laughing Buddha between the local peoples. If the weather is clear, the views one gets from here are mind-blowing. Deep down one could the village, further down one could see Joshimath, far away the higher Garhwal ranges like Nanda Devi, Bithartholi, Nand kot, Baramal peak stands firm. After another few hundred meters, a small stone temple marks the starting of the valley. find a suitable space for camping near a water source which is here in plenty. It took us good 10 hours to reach the valley from the village. This could be covered earlier with lighter bag packs.
The valley welcomed with its small yellow flowers, then the red, then blue. The different colours and species of flower run all over the valley. There are forests of rhododendrons running throughout the valley hence making it a magical spring season trek when these flowers bloom. There are few caves here perfect for 3-5 people. We found one of these caves for the first night, cleaned the shelter, lit up the fire and prepared the meal. We had a sound sleep and were welcomed by clear weather the next morning.
This morning was a lazy one since we planned to just explore the valley this following day. Although the weather was cleared, the clouds would just some rushing from the bottom valley and fill up and then just pass as they came. The view around were astonishing high mountain peaks and their gullies, glaciers and water streams, the whole valley was covered in green. The higher ranges appeared close yet too far.
The entire day was spent exploring the valley, watching out its ever-changing weather. Walking the valley up and down, to and fro we experienced joy in this no man’s land. The valley was very lively at this time of the year. The flowers were bloomed or were to bloom very soon. The views from every corner were different and beautiful and can keep one hold to itself. Due to little carelessness in our camp setting the night wasn’t a good one and we waited eagerly for the morning.
The next morning came with a ray of warmth. We all soaked in the sun well. The views this morning were much more majestic than the previous two days. The clouds played hide n seek with the peaks around. The peace and serenity here are unmatched. The minimum human interference, the untamed wild, thrilling trails and uninterrupted views is a perfect getaway to get lost in the laps of the mountains. We packed our bags for the one last time and with a heavy hearts bid goodbye to one such pristine place. we trekked for 19kms for the day till we reached our pickup point near Chai village.
These are the few untouched trails which are to be kept way better than we find them. Visit them only if you can help it to keep it better if or not at least the way it is. Respect the trails and the traditions of the villages. And take back all you can without leaving any impression on these places. These places make you realize why Uttarakhand is called Devbhoomi and there might be a reason Gods choose these places to be their home.
Day1:- Joshimath to Thaing(12 km drive, 10kms trek).
Day 2: Thaing to Chenap valley( 10 km trek).
Day 3: Exploring chenap valley.
Day 4: Chenap valley to Joshimath ( 19km trek, 12 km drive).