On the west of Dhauladhar lies the magnificent Kareri lake - floating below the Minkiyani pass that leads to Chamba via the hidden lakes of the Dhauladhar range. Including Kareri, these 5 lakes bejewel the mountains and passes around them. All of these are much revered among the locals and have been part of yearly pilgrimages for ages now.
Turning west from the Kangra airport and going via Kheda village leads to Kareri village (aptly named after the lake that serves the village hundreds of metres below). The village is undergoing rapid construction given the traction the lake has been generating. Yet, with locals going on about their daily chores and abundant free space and farms around will make you feel at ease on arriving. Some would say that this is the next McLeod Ganj in terms of footfall and the construction activity could well bear a sign of that. All the more reason for one to visit Kareri as soon as you can!
Long work nights before our journey followed up by the longest deviation we had to take to reach Himachal because of the farmer agitation in the first week of December 2020 had tired us to the brink. We reached our homestay around 11 PM the night before we were to begin our trek and were lucky to receive the warm hospitality of Mr Kamalesh at those odd hours. Nonetheless we got late the next morning and started walking only around 1 PM in the afternoon.
Day 1: Kareri village to base camp for Kareri lake
We made good speed and walking through the village first and then taking on the regular path to reach the base camp Revati just a while before sun set. The base camp besides the river was a bit crowded for our liking and our guide Mr Sanjay found us a nice spot slightly ahead and we barely managed to put on our tent before sunset. We setup our minimal cookware, made some rice, boiled some readymade ITC rajma lentils, topped it up with some cuppa noodles and masala oats to end the day for another long one tomorrow. The route was easy on a well beaten trail crossing the river a couple of times gaining steady elevation. The hike lasted around 4-5 hours.
Day 2: Basecamp to Kareri lake to Jammu Got
A quick breakfast of bread and peanut butter later, we started for the Kareri lake. This route was laid with snow and ice making it slippery requiring us to put on our spikes. We reached the lake in about 2.5 hours and sat for a while to soak in the view of the frozen Kareri lake. We paid our tributes to the temple, the lake, played with the snow twirling dogs, enjoyed a tea from the stall set up in this weather as well and came back to our camp in 1.5 hours. We made oats and boiled eggs for lunch.
Our night was to be at Jammu Got which is a Triund like hill and given the lack of water supply, it is hardly frequented by trekkers. (On a side note, even Triund has no water supply of its own but since it became a famous destination, long pipes were setup from the glaciers to provide water to the ever increasing crowds). Coming back to Jammu Got, given the water situation there, we boiled rice and eggs for the night at our camp itself to save on the water that we had to now carry on us for the essential tasks.
Route to Jammu Got is a deviation upwards just before the basecamp. It is a more than steady incline for 2 hours before we reach the hill. The top grants you a view of the entire Himachal below you apart from the breath taking sunset captured to some extent in the photo below. Local shepherds spend their entire summers on this hill grazing their animals and to cater to this extended stay, they have setup up the most beautiful huts atop the hill. They’re vacant in the winters and our guide assured us that the shepherds wouldn’t mind if we took shed in their huts for the night. We made dinner, talked into the night and made ourselves comfortable in the relatively warm stone hut.
Day 3: Back to Kareri Village to our homestay after a 2.5 hour downhill walk through the forest. We had the leisure of staying with Mr Kamalesh’s extended family at their homestay for the rest of our trip. Next morning we took a bath in the waterfall that is coming from the lake miles above and drove back to Delhi.
In my Walker 65 Litre Rucksack
Regular Clothing: 2 Lightweight Tshirt, 1 Regular Trousers, Undergarments, 2 hiking socks, 1 pair of slippers, 1 pair of trekking shoes, Quick Dry Towel
Winter Clothing: 1 Fleece jacket, 1 Snow Hiking trousers, 1 Woolen socks, 1 Down jacket, 1 woolen cap, 1 snow gloves,
Camping: 1 2-Man tent, 1 sleeping bag for 0 degree comfort, 1 inflatable mat,
Accessories: Solar panel, Go Pro, Charging accessories, Snow UV glasses, Head torch, Toilet paper, Toiletries
Food for 3 people: Butane gas and stove, 2 mug, 3 bowls and spoon, 1 cooking pot, 1 knife, Pril etc for cleaning, Masala oats, rice, milk powder, coffee, sugar, tea sachets, dry fruits, snacking bars and chocolates, ready made daal packets, onion, salt/pepper, bread, peanut butter, maggi cuppa noodles
Basic medicines: Diamox, PCM, Allegra, Cotton, Dettol and Bandages
The hidden lakes of Dhauladhar are much intriguing. Crossing the Minkiani pass and visiting the 4 lakes to reach Chamba would make a thrilling hike!