The best viewpoint in Mcleodganj no-one will tell you about. Durga Temple perched atop Gallu Temple ridge.
Last week we visited what we reckon is the second best viewpoint over Mcleodganj. Today we share the best viewpoint over Mcleodganj with our readers. It is a moderate 1.2 km / 1.5-hour trek to this viewpoint but the views along this trail are dazzling. Read on to find out more.
“This trek is not for the fainthearted” suggested Tinku grinning like a Cheshire cat over a cup of tea. Tinku, the owner of Rest-A-While cafe knows how to press our buttons. A trek that is unknown and difficult is just the thing we crave for.
It is 0800 hours and I am perched precariously on the edge of the Durga temple watching sunlight spread across the hilltops. The summer sun goes from hazy dawn to blinding fireball in a matter of seconds. It lights up the Kangra valley in hazy blue hues, dispelling the mist that hangs over the valley. It is then that it transpires on me, I haven’t seen a view this splendid from any place close to Mcleodganj. Not unless, you count Himani Chamunda, which is much further east. Framed in the north by Dhauladhars, with their glistening snow covered passes and falling sharply into Kangra valley to the South, this Durga Temple rests on the edge of a green meadow. This is a place for solitude seekers and introspection. I have the meadow to myself for the entire day. No tourists, no day trippers, no distractions. This is what Triund should have been yet alas, it is not!
A languid walk around the meadow reveals hidden treasures. A huge boulder that resembles Shiva’s mount Nandi. A partly hidden grove of Tibetan prayer flags and a panoramic view over Bhimghasutri pass. Butterflies flutter around me adding a sparkle of colour to the green meadows. I run my fingers over the pink and red rhododendrons that are in bloom this time of the year. I figure if I climb further I may finally descend to Laka Got just below Snowline cafe. But that is a trek for another day. Today is all about being one with nature at this wonderful secluded viewpoint.
This trek is only a kilometre and a half yet, in that short span it ascends 450 vertical metres. It is a relentless climb at a 42-degree grade to Durga temple with no level patches or descends en-route. The trail starts at Sagar cottages near Gallu Temple. Just above Sagar cottages there is a half-completed gate. From the half-completed gate, a narrow single trail winds its way uphill. The trail is faint, and it ascends along the natural curves of the hill.
The trail is rocky for the most part, yet certain sections run under dense patches of trees. The trail gets slippery in these tree covered sections due to rotting leaves and a pair of trekking poles can be a big help by providing additional anchor points.
A stone cairn, perched on the edge of the hill signals the midway point. 200 metres above the first cairn, lies another smaller cairn with a magnificent view over Kangra valley. Keep ascending for the next 250 metres and you get your first glimpse of the temple next to a prospective camping ground. This camping ground is enclosed by two huge boulders that form two excellent lean-tos. The second lean-to is a bit difficult to locate (see GPS Waypoints) but it is the most scenic pace to camp for the night. The Durga temple is perched just above these boulders and it is a 70 metres walk to the temple.
The trek does not end at the temple. Explore the boulder strewn green meadow over the temple. The north edge of the meadow overlooks Bhimghasutri pass and the Dhauladhars.
Moderate. T2 Swiss Alpine Club Scale. Understand Swiss Alpine Club Scale.
1.5 ascend and hour descent
1.2 kilometres one way
START AND FINISH
Sh. Gallu Devi temple, 2 kilometres from Dharamkot (5 kilometres from Mcleodganj main square)
Gallu temple is an easy 2-kilometre walk from Dharamkot along a well-defined trail. Taxis and auto-rickshaws can be hired from Mcleodganj. Taxis usually charge Rs. 400 for a one-way trip, auto-rickshaws charge Rs 300. A single seat on either a taxi or auto-rickshaw costs Rs. 100 one way.
6 guest houses at Gallu Temple. They charge between Rs. 500 to Rs. 2000 for a room. We recommend Sagar cottages and Eagle’s Crest Guest House. Lots of home stays and hotel options at Dharamkot.
Pleasant during the summer, Sun can get hot during the day. We recommend using a cap or a hat.
The trail is leaf covered which makes it slippery. Trekking poles or a simple walking stick comes in handy. There is no potable water source en route. Carry a litre of water per person, more if you are planning to camp overnight.
- Trekking poles
- A peaked cap / hat during the summer
- Trail snacks