Time: 3 days
Ideal Season: Jun to Oct
Location: In Kullu District, to the source of the River Beas from above Manali
This trek to Beas Kund through the Solang Valley is an easy trail that meanders through some of the most beautiful mountainscapes in Himachal. One can extend the trek by starting the walk from Manali and then camping at Solang Nallah, instead of Dhundi, on the first day. An additional day also enables exploring the upper Solang Valley by making a base camp at the Beas Kund. This is one of the most popular treks in the Kullu Valley, as Beas Kund serves as the base camp for climbers going upto Hanuman Tibba.
Solang Valley is a must-see on the itinerary of anyone visiting Manali. Its ski slopes attract winter sports enthusiasts while others settle for joy rides on snow scooters. In summer, horse rides on the flower-bedecked slopes, and para sailing, beckons tourists. In season, Solang bears a festive look with chaatwallahs, ice-cream and popcorn stalls, Kullu souvenir sellers and photographers catering to the tourists. It is also a favoured locale for outdoor film shoots. Despite this, Solang is far from being an overcrowded tourist destination, and has always enthralled me on my many visits to the valley. In fact, a walk through the woods in Solang is as refreshing as it was years ago, before Manali had seen a mushrooming of hotels. About 21/2 km from the Mountaineering Institute of Skiing at Solang, a natural Shivalingam of ice forms every winter and becomes a place of pilgrimage. The height of the lingam varies from year to year (10-18 ft).
PALCHAN-DHUNDI DISTANCE 15 KM TIME 4-6 HOURS LEVEL EASY
Beas Kund is the source of the River Beas, although the main rivulet rising from the Beas Kund is called Solang Nallah, till it joins the stream flowing down from Rohtang Pass. The trek to Beas Kund is along the Solang Nallah. From Palchan, near the confluence of the Rohtang and Solang streams, a road branches off to the left (west) to cross the Beas (a little downstream from the confluence). It heads up the Solang Nallah to where the Mountaineering and Allied Sports’ Ski Centre (2,480m/ 7 km) is located (Manali Tel: 01902-252342). Along the motor road, it is a leisurely walk through a forest with the Solang Nallah flowing down on one’s right. On both sides of the road, a large number of hotels have mushroomed in the last decade. From the car parking area (near the ski centre) a well-trodden path heads north-west to Dhundi (2,800m/ 8 km).
The trek passes through a mixed forest of blue pine, deodar, spruce, fir and wild walnut trees. The path ascends gradually over a stone strewn trail before descending to cross to the Solang Nallah left bank over a temporary wooden bridge. Thereafter, the track climbs up still heading north-west to reach the Dhundi camping ground. The Hanuman Tibba Peak dominates the horizon to the west during this climb. A jeep road also goes up to Dhundi where the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE), Manali, has a study unit. One can camp anywhere near the abandoned Border Roads Organisation camp or SASE’s study unit. Enough water is available nearby.
DHUNDI-BEAS KUND DISTANCE 6 KM TIME 3 HOURS LEVEL EASY
The trek from Dhundi starts along the left bank (north side) of Solang Nallah. It climbs up, turns right, or north, and descends to ford a side stream. The Solang Valley narrows down in this stretch. The trail ascends due west to a ridge, turns right and climbs steeply for about 2 km before crossing a log bridge to reach Bakkar Thatch pastures, surrounded by birch trees. Splendid views of the Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges can be seen from here. After Bakkar Thatch the trail continues on the right (south side) of Solang Nallah, and winding up, turns round a ridge to the north before dropping down to Beas Kund (3,540m), a small lake at the edge of a ground. The terrain around Beas Kund suggests that the area was once filled with glaciers that have receded over the years.
Throughout the climb, Hanuman Tibba (5,930m) is a towering presence on the west. From Beas Kund, apart from Hanuman Tibba, one can see Ladakhi Peak, Shiti Dhar and Manali Peak. A difficult 10-hr walk to the south-west can enable a trip to the base camp established by climbers attempting Hanuman Tibba. Both topography and local belief favour camping some distance away from the Beas Kund lake. Locals believe that it is a bad omen to camp by the Beas Kund. In general, camping or living close to rivers or lakes is not favoured in the hills, possibly because of the havoc that flash floods or a sudden rise in water levels can cause. It’s also possible that these myths have arisen to prevent shepherds camping near the lake with their flock, and polluting the water source. Observe the sentiment, and camp away from the lake so that the lake’s pristine condition endures. Camp can be established on the western or northern side of the lake. Water is available on both sides.
BEAS KUND-SOLANG NALLAH DISTANCE 14 KM TIME 4-6 HOURS LEVEL MODERATE
Return by the same route. Take a taxi from Solang Nallah to Manali.
By Deepak Sanan and Minakshi Chaudhry
About the authors: Deepak Sanan is an IAS officer, Himachal Pradesh cadre, who has trekked extensively in the state. His writings include a book on exploring Kinnaur and Spiti, as well as numerous articles about Himachal in magazines and books.
Minakshi Chaudhry has trekked throughout Himachal over the last decade and authored two books: Exploring Pangi Himalaya: A World Beyonf Civillisation and A Guide to Trekking in Himachal. Her interest in studying nature and people’s lifestyle grew in Nigeria, West Africa, where sge spent her formative years. This was nurtured on her return to Himachal Pradesh where she travelled extensively as a correspondent of The Indian Express.