This moderately difficult 19.8 kilometre trek connects Poonch House, Kud with the beautiful camping ground at Shankhpal. This route includes the climb over the majestic Billo ki Powri for good measure.
Poonch house – an interesting history
Raja Padam Dev Singh from the princely state of Poonch (J&K) was coronated the Diwan of Kashmir in 1927. He was married to Rani Manek Kunwar of Kunadi in Kota. It is believed, that once the Rani fell sick, and the Raja’s doctors recommended that she must seek a place where the water agreed with her health. The Raja sent out people in different directions looking for such a source of water. After much searching, water from a spring near Kud agreed with her. Raja Padam Dev Singh then proceeded to build a house near this spring. The house was called Poonch House was completed in 1936. The residential complex has a house with four bedrooms for the Raja and Rani, an outhouse and kitchen for his servants and stables for horses. Built in stone, artisans and stonemasons from Lahore worked on the house. Rani Manek Kunwar’s younger son, Capt. Raja Bhupendra Dev Singh was born in this house. The house was then passed on the four daughters of Raja Padam Dev Singh.
In 1942-43 the Rani re-visited the house in great opulence. The road leading to the house was covered with canopies (kanat) and people were prohibited from using vehicle horns for a couple of kilometres along the route. Various dignitaries from countries as far off as the United States were invited to this event.
This house was then bought by Sardar Kahan Singh for Rs. 18000 in 1962. Sardar Kahan Singh was a pioneer and a transport magnate for J&K. The house has been in the Singh family since then. Gurshish Singh, Sardar Kahan Singh’s grandson, kindly allowed us to stay and photograph his home. Gurshish Singh runs and manages Hotel Jai-Skahan, the starting point for our Billo ki Powri trek.
The trek starts at Poonch House, Kud. Follow the cleft in the hill through groves of deodars to the boulder which forms the starting point for Billo ki Powri climb. After the climb, walk along the ridge just below the Patnitop-Sanasar Road as it winds its way through woods over Kud and emerges at Nathatop view point. There is a small shop at this viewpoint which sells tea, omelettes, noodles, dosas and other assorted snacks. From the viewpoint, take the old unused road that re-joins the Patnitop-Sanasar Road at Nathatop. Walk along this road to the starting point (road head) of Shankhpal trek.
7 – 8 hours one way
19.8 kilometres one way
START & FINISH
Starts and ends at Poonch House (Kud) just after Hotel Jai Skahan
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)
An unfinished hall for temple visitors at Shankhpal, the floor was yet unfinished and covered with uncomfortable stone rubble as on July 2014. Hotel Jai Skahan, Poonch House, near Kud
Pleasant during the day, usually cold and windy to extremely windy at night
A long day walk with a steep climb and moderate ascent over a well defined trail. Overnight camp at Shankhpal
Polarised sunglasses and visor / cap / hat on a sunny day
An extra pair of socks, to switch socks when taking a break
Two litres of water per person. There are only two water refilling spots en route
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.