Day 01: Dehradun to Pantwari - 95km drive and 5km Trek to campsite
We begin the day early from Dehradun. This way we can avoid the traffic towards Mussoorie and Kempty falls. Mussoorie is 22km from Dehradun and Kempty falls another 17km further. The road continues downhill from here towards the Yamuna river bed and reaches the town of Nainbagh. One road continues towards Yamunotri while we take the narrower road which climbs uphill towards Pantwari village. This takes us behind the Mussoorie ridge and into shepherd territory. Gujjars with their domesticated sheep and goats are seen on hill tops. Terraced farms and hill slopes dotted with Bauhinia trees with their purple blossoms are a sight to photograph. These flowering trees are easily identified by their leaves which are in the shape of a camels' foot.
After an hour, we reach Pantwari village and begin our ascent to our camping site. With mules carrying the luggage one can enjoy the village setting and life. Women are seen working on the wheat and green pea fields. Men are mainly employed in government jobs in the plains or work as porters and guides. Our trekking trail rises beyond the farms and enters wild territory. Flowers and birds are in plenty here. Most prominent flowers are white anemones (a flowering shrub) while among birds the jungle babbler, red vented bulbul, blue cheeked bulbul, hill myna, warblers and tits are common. We reach our camping ground by late afternoon and enjoy the sunset over the hill spurs. The camping ground is flush with mint leaves which can be mixed to form a delightful brew of mint tea or the Kandali shrub can be washed and cooked to form a tasty saag.
Day 02: Trek from campsite to Nagtibba top and back to Pantwari – 12km; Drive back to Dehradun
We start the second day post breakfast and climb to the Nag Devta temple. It is an ill maintained temple premise with a pujari, who is present occasionally. The locals come here frequently to pay their obeisance. There is a vast open space near the temple which is often used as a grazing ground for sheep and goats. The Nag Tibba ridge rises further up and is another 2 hours hike ahead. There is a distinct change in vegetation from here. The forests become dense and is dominated by oaks and rhododendrons. The forest floor is also damp indicating the lack of sunlight reaching it.
This is an ideal habitat for a variety of orchids (locally called kachanar) to grow. However, with the pressure of grazing, lopping of oaks and trekking, this region is under anthropogenic pressure. A variety of birds like the niltava and flameback woodpecker are seen in the barks of oak trees. We follow the trail back to our campsite and after lunch head down to Pantwari village. The trek down is easy and fast and can be covered in a couple of hours. We then proceed onwards to Dehradun by our transport.
Things to carry:
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Nag Tibba lies on the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayas, North-East of Mussoorie. The peak is at an altitude of 3100m. It offers spectacular views of Mussoorie. It can easily be considered one of the best weekend treks. NagTibba is a typical ridge peak on the Nag Tibba Range of the lower Himalayas. In fact, along with the Pir Punjal and Dhauladhar; the Nag Tibba range forms one of the 3 main ranges of the lower Himalayas. There is a temple dedicated to Nag Devta and the range owes its name to this temple. Snakes have always held an important status in the Hindu religion. According to Hindu mythology, snakes are considered as the representation of rebirth, death and mortality, due to its casting of the skin and being symbolically "reborn". The trek takes you through dense forests rich in flora and fauna.
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