Easy-to-moderate difficulty, and yet solid returns in the form of extraordinary beauty, many a trekkers’ journey into the world of trekking has started with this particular trek. To its credit, Kuari Pass has never failed to mesmerize, to bind the ones who come here into a lifetime of commitment to this alternative lifestyle of adventure, exploration, perseverance and skill.
Made famous by Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy and Governor General of India who travelled on this trail in 1905, Kuari Pass has since become a favorite of adventure lovers from all over the country who are looking for a gateway into one of the most scenic regions of Himalayas- Uttarakhand.
Kuari Pass trek is located near the pristine town of Joshimath in the Chamoli distrct of Uttarakhand, which is around a 10 hour drive from Haridwar. Trekkers usually start from Dhak, going through Guling and Khullara to reach Kuari Top and ultimately Kuari Pass. The way back takes another route through Chitrakantha and Tali and ending at Auli. You encounter varied terrain- dirt tracks, lush meadows and oak forests and bold mountain slopes, which keeps things interesting.
The whole thing should take no more than 4-5 days, and covers a distance of approximately 33km. Short and sweet, this trek is definitely worth your while. Besides, Joshimath itself has a number of places that you can visit. It is the home to Jyotir Math, a monastery of huge significance in Hindu religion, and is one of the four cardinal pithas founded by famous ascetic Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century. Nanda Devi National Park, a UNESCO heritage site, is also nearby, and is home to many endangered species.
A day in the life of Kuari Pass will amaze you because just as you start on this trek, you realize you are going to be blessed with stupendous, wide panoramic views of multiple mountain peaks, most of whom are 7,000m or more. The awesome twin peaks of Nanda Devi are right there just at the beginning, holding out a promise of further magic en-route.
All along the trek, you are treated to stunning views of big mountains which stand there in grand isolation, taking their place of pride in the glorious 360 degree skyline. Then you reach the top, take your pick out of Kuari Top or Jhandi Top, and it’s as if a show has been put up specifically for you. Kamet, Trishul, Chaukhamba and the great peak of Nanda Devi and its twin Nanda Devi East stand before you, then Nanda Ghunti, Hathi Ghoda Parbat, Neelkanth, Dronagiri, Mukut Parbat, Mana, Rishi Pahad, and Changbang- that’s a resume not many other treks, especially this accessible and easy, can boast of. Truly, this is an experience which one otherwise only gets on the more challenging, higher altitude treks with treacherous terrains.
A day in the life of Kuari Pass will keep you in awe as well because of the unmatched beauty of the forest which one has to go through to complete this trail. It is a forest of godly rhododendron, oak and deodar- a forest which never ceases to amaze you with its ever slightly changing views and the perfect density of trees. Fun fact- some of the trees in this forest are said to be more than a thousand years old. It is a forest which encapsulates you but also lets you peek beyond, which makes you want to appreciate the stunning forestry and the trees but also lets you gaze at the Himalayas which lie all around. The walk you will take through the luxurious meadows, also known to the locals as ‘Bugyals,’ is surely going to be unforgettable. Gorson Bugyal, vast and undulating and green, is among the more famous ones, and will be the highlight on trek back to Auli, which by the way is itself very popular for skiing in India.
A day in the life on Kuari Pass however, is most special because it offers something most other treks- and adventure sports in general- do not: wholesome family time! This is a trek you could take your kids to. Yes, you read that right. This trek, with all the beauty and all the expansive wide big mountain views it offers, can be done by kids who are 7-8 and above, provided they are under adult supervision. Now that’s an added bonus if there ever was one.
This trek, with its easy to moderate difficulty level, medium trail length, and trustworthy terrain, is totally suitable for kids. This offers a great opportunity for parents to get their children and elder siblings to get their younger siblings out for some days of grand fun, or to even get them introduced to the world of trekking. What wonders will that bring- imagine spending a day filled with adventure, activity and breathtaking beauty in the gorgeous Himalayas. Your children, at that early an age, can have the good fortune to bask in the glory of some of the most coveted mountain peaks of the world, to walk through some of the most gorgeous forests and meadows in India, and that too with the pleasant company of their parents. That day, a day spent trekking to Kuari Pass, will become a day cherished throughout your life, and the lives of your children.