Rhododendron trek in lap of Indian mountains

“You should have trained more”, squealed my calf muscles not even half way through the trek. I couldn’t agree more, but i tried to find a solution to finish this fast, or turn back; at the same time secretly cursing the friend who convinced me to join this trip. I looked ahead to identify any familiar faces who started out with me but there was nobody in picture.

I tried to motor myself, looking at the glistening snow capped mountain; after all i was going to see and feel the snow first time in my life. A little more ahead and I saw some bright and luscious red flowers. They became more common with thicker canopy, giving a much required respite from the harsh spring sunlight.
I overheard a tour guide explain to a bunch of students about these flowers and how important they are to the state cuisine. He made a student taste the flower petal, exclaiming that in Kangra and Kinnaur valleys of Himachal Pradesh, their red juice is quite popular and its pickle is considered a delicacy. Intrigued about these flowers, I pressed my ear hard to know its name. With no internet in my phone I had no other option to either wait to get back to town to know about this red flower or go upfront and ask the guide while shamelessly claiming that I overheard him.

Trind trek amidst rhododendron

I couldn’t contain my excitement as the sight of these flowers along the trek helped me forget my calf muscles and I gave in to find out more. “Burass” he said in his heavy pahadi tone. Great, so I had the pictures and the name.. the only problem was that they disappeared during the last 2 kilometers of the trek making it one of the most difficult moments. Well, the snow helped a bit but made me slip in my sports shoes.. so much for the snow excitement!

Rhododendron in bloom

I was climbing Triund in the Indian state of Himalayas. Triund, known as the crown jewel, is situated 18 km away from Dharamshala in Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is one of the popular destinations for the breathtaking views of Kangra valley during the trek and Dhauladhar Mountains from its top.

With a well laid path passing through rhododendron, oak and deodar, this easy 9 km trek is easy to complete within a day.

Reaching triund: The major transportation hub is Dharamshala which is well connected via air and bus. If you are coming by train best is to get down at Pathakot and hire a cab till Mcleodganj.

From the main square of McLeodganj, take a cab or walk for 3km to reach Dharamkot. The trail starts from Dharamkot primary school so as to reach the Gallu Devi Temple which is the main starting point for Triund trek.

Best time to visit (to catch Rhododendron): Mid March to End of April

Difficulty level: Easy to Moderate

Time taken: About 5 hours one way

Food: Best to carry food. Couple of tea shops available which sell tea, biscuits and maggi noodles

Accommodation: Camping in tent is possible (however there are no toilets on top)

Once I came back home, I learnt that Rhododendron treks have actually gained a lot of popularity in the last few years amongst the Indian travellers. Not only does it offer the better of two seasons – winter and spring, it certainly elevates the notch for trekking making it an extremely beautiful and relaxing trek. Imagine walking over a flower bed with views of snow capped mountains ahead of you and a valley behind you!

For those of you trying to understand what is Rhododendron and how does it make trekking relaxing – it is the national flower of Nepal and state flower of Himachal Pradesh. It appears as ornamental shrub or tree, with large clusters of bell-shaped flowers and typically large evergreen leaves majorly found in Indian Himalayan Mountains. It grows around the forest trails of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim. Thanks to them, the already existing trekking routes are gaining popularity during the months of March-April thanks to these flower blooms.

 

Other rhododendron treks to consider in India for months of March-April:

• Brahmatal, Uttarakhand: Here the scarlet rhododendrons bloom in the lower sections and pink ones take over the upper sections.
• Sandakphu and Phalut, Sikkim: With the views of four tallest mountains in the world, the trail leading to top has pink Rhododendron flowers making it one of the most beautiful treks.
• Deoriatal – Chandrashila, Uttarakhand: Get rewarded for an easy trek in shades of crimson, magenta and bright pink.
• Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Sikkim
• Chopta-Tungnath, Uttarakhand
• And many many more..

Read about my waste volunteering during the Triund trek here

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Rhododendron trek

23 thoughts on “Rhododendron trek in lap of Indian mountains

  1. Awwwwn. I didn’t want it to finish. Your experience of ‘walking over a flower bed with views of snow capped mountains ahead of you and a valley behind you’ is so captivating and dreamy. I was picturing it all in mind and was, I killed the trek. Side not: I’ve never gone on a trek before. The red flower is such a gorgeous one and good to know it’s sight is soothing. Perhaps, if there was a Burass in all mountains, I’ll consider a trek?

    1. Haha come to India in spring and you’ll them everywhere. But seriously? Never ever been in trek is shocking. No mountains in your country?

  2. That opener made me laugh! “Should have trained more” can definitely relate. Good for you for making the trek! Thanks for adding the other suggestions, I’ve heard really good things about trekking in India.

  3. “You should have trained more” haha that is what I am thinking everytime I do hiking. I have “office work” so I sit down too much and get too lazy sometimes. Looks beautiful there tho 🙂

  4. Rhodedendrons are my favourite flowers ever! I fell in love with them whilst in a nepal! I’m planning a trip to India soon and will definitely be checking out some rhodedendron treks!

    1. That is great to know. I’ve included some possible treks in my post as you might have noticed. Hope you’ve a good trip to India 🙂

  5. I’ve similar thoughts whilst trekking – muscle ache is the worst! Looks like an incredible hike, those flowers are beautiful, so colourful. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I would love to see the snowcapped mountains. Your post reminds me why I love hiking. There’s always something out there that excites my senses when I’m dead tired of walking. 🙂

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