Trekking to Shankhpal - A perfect camping ground

Trekking to Shankhpal - A perfect camping ground

Shankh Pal is the spiritual deity of Lander region. A temple dedicated to this deity is located at the highest point on the Shankh Pal ridge. Situated at an altitude of 2,897 metres, the temple is just a few hours' walk away from Sanasar. Locals maintain that the original temple was over 400 years old and that no mortar was used to build the temple. However, looking at the stone idols lying around the temple, I believe that the original temple was much older. 

old stone idol at Shankh Pal temple Sanasar

The original temple has since then been replaced by a temple that is bigger and grander. However, this new temple still maintains its rustic charm with its pleasant proportions and the use of local rock in its construction. Every year on Sawan Dashmi, a festival is observed at the temple which draws thousands of people from surrounding villages and from places as far off as Ramban. 

Shankh Pal temple near Sanasar

Local folklore maintains that the Indian Air Force wanted to build an encampment near this temple. To this end, a reconnaissance party was dispatched to scout the area. The members of this party would camp at Shankh Pal for the night, but everyone would wake up at a completely different place in the morning. This happened a couple of times and the reconnaissance party was soon convinced that the "Devata" was unwilling to have an installation built near his abode. This air force installation was later built at Nathatop.  

the view north from Shankh Pal

Shankh Pal is one of the best camping ground around Kud-Patnitop. It is pristine, secluded and provides a spectacular view in every direction. The sunrise is a sight to behold as the sun emerges through the early morning mist and lights up the Himalayas in shades of pink and orange. On a clear night, the sky is lit up by countless stars which are rivalled by the twinkling lights of Udhampur city in the Southwest.

sunrise at Shankh Pal

Trek Details

The trek starts just short of Sanasar on the Patnitop-Sanasar Road. A well defined, stone paved path leads off west from the road head. Follow the path as it gradually winds north though electricity pylons and theras. 

trail to Shankh Pal

The terrain for the most part is grass or mud and the trail is wide and well defined. After an initial ascent of 2.5 kilometres the trail eases into a relatively flat walk. The next 2 kilometres are level and quite scenic with grassy meadows on your left and Sanasar Valley to your right. A few side trips to explore these meadows on your left is definitely recommended. This is also the right place to catch your breath for the climb ahead. After this relatively flat stretch the trail turns north-west and starts to climb for the next couple of kilometres. The temple is visible from this turn. The last couple of kilometres are a moderate climb along a grassy ridge covered with shrubs. Take your time to admire Nathatop on your left and the pristine forests that lie below the ridge on your right. The trail rises and falls over this ridge with four well defined humps. The temple is located at the highest point on this ridge beside a shallow depression.

Route overview - Sanasar road head to Shankh Pal

Elevation graph - Sanasar road to Shankh Pal (what is this?)

Trek Summary

DIFFICULTY

Moderate

DURATION

3.5 hours ascent, 2.5 hours descent

START & FINISH

Patnitop-Sanasar Road 2 km from Sanasar, with an option to continue to Lander village from Shankh Pal

TRANSPORT

Bus / Taxi. Bus available between Patnitop and Sanasar twice daily. Taxi can be hired from Patnitop. Hitchhiking is an option. Nearest train station is Udhampur J&K (arrivals / departures).

ACCOMMODATION

An unfinished hall for temple visitors, the floor was yet unfinished and covered with uncomfortable stone rubble as on July 2014

WEATHER

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

SUMMARY

A moderate ascent over a well defined trail. A highly recommended overnight stay.


caution.png
Caution - The ridge is exposed and it can get very windy. The author has experienced wind gusts in excess of a 100 kph during a thunderstorm. This wind speed can flatten tents and blow away anything that is not staked down. Ensure that you choose your tent site with care and your tent is secured with extra guy lines at night

Essential Gear

* Water - two to three litres per person. There is only one water point (a little off route, see waypoints) and there is no potable water at Shankh Pal
* Extra guy lines for tent as it can get very windy at night
* A warm windproof jacket is recommended for evenings
* Headlamp / Torch -  if you are camping overnight, or if you are delayed on your descent
* A camera tripod for those early morning and late evening photographs

Looking west from Shankh Pal (A tripod was required to make this photograph).

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 on Google Maps by clicking this link.

Nathatop to Chorgala - A child and family friendly day trek

Nathatop to Chorgala - A child and family friendly day trek

Climbing "Billo ki Powri"

Climbing "Billo ki Powri"