Jia to Aadi Himani Chamunda. A child friendly overnight trek

Jia to Aadi Himani Chamunda. A child friendly overnight trek

Summary

The Jia - Aadi Himani Chamunda is a moderately difficult 7.4 kilometer trek near Chamunda (H.P.). This trek involves a moderate yet relentless climb. Shelters, shops and solar lamps dot the trail. The trail itself is partially paved and it is clearly defined. The relatively gentle and clear trail does not involve any technical skills or any precarious drops; the temple complex provides a dormitory and bedding for an overnight stay. All these factors make this an extremely attractive trek to complete with children.


Aadi Himani Chamunda temple lit up in evening light.

Barfani Chamunda or Aadi Himani Chamunda is a Hindu temple near the town of Chamunda (Himachal Pradesh). At 2810 metres and flanked by Dhauladhars; Aadi Himani Chamunda temple is accessible via two well-defined trek routes. The more frequented trek route connects Chamunda temple with Aadi Himani Chamunda via Jadrangal. This is a route frequented by pilgrims and it is a much straighter and paved with stone steps. The other trekking route is lesser known, but is more scenic. This route starts near Jia Village. Jia is a picturesque mountain hamlet nestled in Dhauladhar foothills. This picturesque village is 7 kilometres from Chamunda town. The village is dominated by a hydroelectric power project overlooking the village. If you are driving to Jia, plan a visit to the upper reservoir of this hydroelectric project. The drive is quite scenic and is worth a detour.

Chamunda also known as Chamundi, Chamundeshwari and Charchika, is a fearsome aspect of Devi, the Hindu Divine Mother and one of the seven Matrikas (mother goddesses). She is also one of the chief Yoginis, a group of sixty-four or eighty-one Tantric goddesses, who are attendants of the warrior goddess Durga. The name is a combination of Chanda and Munda, two monsters whom Chamunda killed. She is closely associated with Kali, another fierce aspect of Devi.

Hanuman temple overlooking the ridge

The trek from Jia to Aadi Himani Chamunda is 7.4 kilometer long and it involves a moderate yet relentless climb. You start at 1363 metres and steadily gain an altitude of 1500 vertical metres over the next 4 hours. The route is a mix of paved concrete, stony steps and grass mixed with scree. This trail is dotted with shelters and solar lamps and it is clearly marked. In November 2014 almost all these solar lamps were defunct, so do not count on them for illumination. It is recommended that you start early and reach the temple by the afternoon. Although, it is possible to complete this trek and return back to Jia in one day but we do not recommend it. The temple lies in a natural glade flanked by Dhauladhars and the natural beauty of this place is best savoured in late evenings or at early mornings. Late evenings paint the Dhauladhars in hues of  purple and orange. The setting sun turns these frowning stone massifs into smiling friends. Once the sun goes down the town of Dharamshala lights up in a sparkle of twinkling lights. The sunrise is equally splendid as it parts the mist over the Kangra Valley and illuminates the valley for miles and miles. 

Overlooking Kangra valley at sunrise.

For those looking for a quiet time, November and March are the best time for this trek. The temple stays open from 15th March till 15th November every year. After 15th November the temple is unmanned owing to cold weather. However, after 15th November the living quarters are left unlocked along with some essential supplies such as cooking utensils and bedding. The temple has two dormitories for visitors and a room for the priest and his helpers. These dormitories are well stocked with mattresses and blankets. However, if you wish to avoid the temple altogether or are looking for a secluded stay, a meadow close to the temple makes an excellent camping ground. In the summers it is not unusual for para gliders to land or take off from this meadow and in autumn this meadow is the home to a family of wild goats.

Cairn marking the way to the temple.

There is no potable water to be found on this route or at the temple. Any drinking water has to be carried from Jia or sourced from one of the two springs close to the temple. However, these springs are not perennial and they tend to run dry.  Thus, it recommended that you carry your own drinking water. The shops that dot the trail stay open from March to September and usually stock potable water.

Lake near the temple. The flare is the sun rising behind the Dhauladhars.

It is quite ironic that the government chose to build a helipad near the temple but is yet to provide for something as basic as potable water. For now, drinking water is carried on foot from the nearby springs or mountain streams and this takes a couple of hours.

Trek Details

The starting point for the trek 800 metres after crossing the new bridge over "Baner Khad".  A hand pump and a foundation stone along the road mark the start of the trail. The trail is divided into three distinct sections; a paved concrete section, a series of stone steps and finally over grass and scree. The paved concrete section is 3.5 kilometres long and it zig-zags it's way through a wooded section and along the hill side. As you climb higher, take time to admire the Himalayan vultures as they soar the thermals. Towards the end of this section, the view towards the Dhauladhars is especially delightful. The second stone stairs section is 1.4 kilometres long. The stones climb through a glade of firs and end at the base of a meadow. A temple dedicated to Hanuman sits on this meadow. From the temple the last 3 kilometres are over grass and loose rock and scree. Stone cairns and solar lamp guide you through this last section. In addition to these markers, red arrows  are painted on prominent stones that mark the route to the temple.

A Himalayan Vulture soars overhead.

Trek Summary

DIFFICULTY

Moderate

DURATION

4 hours ascent, 3 hours descent

DISTANCE

7.4 kilometres one way

MAX. ELEVATION

2864 metres

START & FINISH

Jia village near Chamunda town, with an option to trek straight to Chamunda town

GETTING THERE

Bus / Taxi. Four buses ply daily between Chamunda and Jia. A taxi can be easily hired from Chamunda (H.P.). Chamunda is 17 kilometres by road from Kangra (H.P.) and 20 kilometres from Dharamshala (H.P.)

ACCOMMODATION

The temple provides a dormitory and bedding for pilgrims and trekkers. However, if you are visiting after 15th November or during a Hindu festival it is best to carry your own camping and sleeping gear

 

TERRAIN

A gentle to moderate ascent over a clearly defined trail

WEATHER

Pleasantly cold during the day, usually cold and windy at night

route overview - Jia to Aadi Himani Chamund (view in google maps)

elevation graph - Jia to Aadi Himani Chamund (what is this?)


Caution - No perennial source of potable water en-route or at the temple. Carry at least 3 litres of water per person if you plan to camp overnight. 


Essential Gear

  • Water - three litres per person as there is only no water source en route  or at the temple
  • Trekking Poles - The trek is a gentle though relentless uphill climb that takes a toll on the knees, especially during descent. Adjust your trekking poles to a longer length when descending. Your knees shall thank you at the end of the trek.
  • Extra guy lines for tent if you plan to set up your own camp. It can get windy at night
  • A warm feather jacket is recommended for evenings
  • Headlamp / Torch -  Essential if you are camping overnight
  • A camera tripod for those early morning and late evening photographs

Downloads and GPS Logs

GPS route map in .GPX and .KML format. GPX works with most GPS devices like Garmin and TomTom while KML works with Google products like Maps and Earth.

View the trekking route in Google Maps by clicking this link.

An emergency kit for trekking in the Indian Himalayas

An emergency kit for trekking in the Indian Himalayas

Chattargala pass to Sonbain Glacier - a novel and difficult route

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