Nathatop to Chorgala - A child and family friendly day trek
The grass swells up as a green sea juxtaposed against a cobalt blue sky
Chorgala and Shantigala are two lush green meadows and they are the best kept secret on the Patnitop - Sanasar Road. Easily accessible via a short trek from Nathatop air force station, they make an ideal getaway for the entire family. The two meadows are spread over a ridge with three well defined humps and together they cover over two square kilometres. At 2681 meters, Chorgala is the highest point on this ridge and provides an enchanting view in all directions. Gazing north from Chorgala you can see the Lower Himalayas spread out in an undulating wave before climaxing in snow clad peaks. To the Southwest, the Chenani - Mantalai Valley spreads out and beckons with open arms. This is a perfect spot for a picnic with friends, children or that someone special. A bottle of sparkling wine is especially heady with such a vista.
Chorgala makes an excellent trek for beginners and it is child friendly as well. The walking trail is wide and well defined, and the ascent is challenging yet not overpowering. You may experience a variety of terrains ranging from mud gullies to rocky ledges and soft grass. Being cocooned in nature's lap while civilisation (if needed) just a short walk away, is a luxury that very few treks can afford.
Approach the trek from the road that leads to Nathatop air force station. Nathatop is midway between Patnitop and Sanasar on the Patnitop-Sanasar Road. At Nathatop there is a well defined bifurcation. From this bifurcation, take the uphill road that leads to the air force station. 1.2 kilometres along this road there is a sign to your left, that says "Restricted area ahead, trespassers will be prosecuted". You can park your car or motorcycle on a grassy area to your left, just before this sign.
The trail starts as a wide two meter mud track starts off from this grassy field. Follow the track as it meanders along the hill below the air force encampment. Take some time to look at the valley on your left, there are some great views to be had over the radar station and along a natural cleft in the hills. 2.4 kilometres from the starting point you shall see two electricity pylons downhill on your left. Leave the main trail at this point and follow the path as it descends towards these pylons along a burnt tree. The pylons make a good place to catch your breath and prepare for the oncoming 1.1 kilometer climb. At the second electricity pylon you shall see a gully striven ridge dead ahead. This ridge looks like it has been cleaved apart by some cataclysmic act of nature. Follow this east west ridge till the mud gullies give way to boulders and rock. Keep walking along the ridge over these rocks and you shall arrive at the meadows. They stretch before you in a sea of green grass.
Easy (child and family friendly)
2 hours ascent, 1.5 hour descent
4.1 kilometres one way
START & FINISH
Bifurcation that leads to Nathatop air force station, just a short distance away from Patnitop-Sanasar Road.
Windy and pleasant during the day. Usually very windy and cold (about 2 degrees Celsius) overnight in summers
An easy walk of 2.4 kilometres along a well defined mud trail, followed by a stiff climb of 1.1 kilometres over mud and grass
Caution - The weather is fickle and may change suddenly, keep an eye out for storm clouds. Lightening can be dangerous because you are on an exposed ridge. Descend to a lower altitude if there is a chance of thunderstorms.
- Water - two litres per person as there is no drinking water en route or at Chorgala
- A windproof / waterproof jacket is recommended in case the weather turns inclement
- Sunscreen and a visored cap / hat for a sunny day
- Camera with panorama function / wide angle lens. The 360 degree view from Chorgala is bewitching
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.
- Route Map - Nathatop to Chorgala via East West Ridge.GPX
- Route Map - Nathatop to Chorgala via East West Ridge.KML
- Waypoints - Nathatop to Chorgala via East West Ridge.GPX
- Waypoints - Nathatop to Chorgala via East West Ridge.KML
View the trekking route on Google Maps by clicking this link.