Love is like a mountain, hard to climb. But once you climb to the top, the view will never disappoint you. These words are completely apt for the mighty Himalayas!
Blessed with a plethora of hill retreats, Himachal Pradesh is where you can see the charisma of nature in its full form. This Himalayan state is the home to so many communities, unknown stories and less travelled destinations. Nestled in the laps of majestic Dhauladhars in north and lower hills in south, Joginder Nagar is the heart of Himachal Pradesh. This hill retreat is still untouched from the hullabaloos of city life.
Located in the Mandi district, Joginder Nagar is not that much popular among travellers. This quaint town in Himachal is also called “The Electric City” as it is the only town in Asia which contains three hydroelectric power stations. Blessed with serenity, this hill town is known for its trout fish, offers extraordinary options for trekking, camping and other adventure activities.
Winch Camp – The Hidden Gem!
Overlooking at the entire Joginder Nagar valley, Winch camp is the highest peak in this region. This unexplored trekking and camping destination lies at an elevation of 8000 ft above sea level. The most unique thing about this trekking trail is the trolley/haulage way car that connects Joginder Nagar valley to Barot valley. In between the trek there are few stations such Shanan Power House, 18 Number and others. Though this haulage trolley lies in Himachal Pradesh, but managed by Punjab Government.
Trolley at Winch Camp is one of its own kind in the world. All thanks to Raja Joginder Sen and Col. B. C. Batty who planned this amazing project. The trek to this less travelled destination will offer you an offbeat experience!
Exploring Joginder Nagar Valley
After an overnight journey from Delhi I reached Joginder Nagar in Himachal Pradesh. The road from Kangra to this hill town passes through lush green forest area, aromatic coffee gardens, blissful valleys and captivating vistas of Dhauladhar range on one side. We stayed at Hotel Uhl – an accommodation run by Himachal Pradesh Tourism Board. The hotel is well-maintained, offers all basic facilities with a majestic view of Winch Camp hill and lush greenery.
Widely popular for its thrilling paragliding activity, Bir is a small town in the foothills of snow-peaked Dhauladhars. This picturesque hill retreat is highly influenced by Buddhist culture. Here you will find some good cafes to chill and enjoy the authentic taste of Himalayan food. Bir is dotted with vibrant Tibetan monasteries where you can pay homage and learn about Buddhist practices.
Surrounded by beautiful Bir forest, visit Palpung Sherabling Monastery secluded from the main town. Around the monastery there are several white-coloured stupas and colorful prayer flags waving in the cool mountain breeze. You will be mesmerized by the enchanting vistas of Dhauladhars in the background.
This sacred monastery in Bir is designed using traditional Tibetan architecture and painted with colorful figures related to Buddhism. Listening to the soulful hymns will make you feel rejuvenated in such divine and surreal environment.
A trip to Bir will always remain incomplete without visiting the paragliding landing site. This large verdant ground is the endpoint for paragliding activities, which begins atop mountain from Billing. Billing is mostly suitable for night camping and offbeat stays. Flying amidst Himalayas, at such an attitude, it’s just once in a lifetime experience. That adrenaline rush can only be felt! Paragliding in Bir-Billing is the most amazing thing to do here.
Other places to visit in Joginder Nagar: Baba Balakrupi Temple, Macchyal Lake, Tarangari Mahadev and Barot Valley.
Unbeaten Trek To Winch Camp
Distance From Jimjema To Winch Camp: 5 kms (5-6 hrs)
Located near Dhauladhar range, Winch Camp is an unknown and less travelled trekking trail in Joginder Nagar. Carry a light backpack and take a good meal before heading towards this Himalayan trek. The trail begins from Jimjema, a small village from where the trek to Winch Camp. There are two trails to reach Winch Camp: 18 Number and Sui Village.
Initially, the trail passes through numerous homes designed in traditional Himalayan style, with cattle and gaddi dogs tied in the verandah. While trekking, you can see the entire Joginder Nagar Valley and the lush green mountains, calling you wholeheartedly. The trail is steep at few places but offers captivating views of nature. Take periodic breaks at large lush green meadows for few minutes and again start your journey.
Walking on the rocky trails, passing through woods and capturing charming views, you will reach 18 Number (Adit Junction at 1800 m), the second haulage trolley station where you can fill water bottles. Head towards Hara bag, situated at few minutes walk from 18 Number, to relax for sometime.
Hara bag is a large virgin grassland where you will come across few shepherds grazing their cattle. It is a good place for a day picnic as you will get some fantastic views of soaring high mountains and quaint valley.
Trekking at an inclination of 90 degrees? Since the place is less known and not visited much. Therefore the trail is completely unbeaten, and this makes the journey even more adventurous. The last ascent towards Winch Camp is a bit steep and narrow at few places. While trekking you will pass through thick forests of Rhododendron (Burans) whose flowers are used for making squashes and other medicinal products.
Night Camping At Winch Camp
Winch camp is located at an altitude of 8000 feet above sea level. It’s good to be at such an altitude where you can feel the glamour of clouds. Relax in your camps, breathe fresh mountain air and get ready for bonfire. As the day comes to a close, the setting sun will give you some mesmerizing views of nature. You will feel blissful, away from the chaos of urban lifestyle in utmost tranquility.
Under million glittering stars, holding a cup of hot tea in one hand with soulful music being played at the background. What else do you need for a much awaited break? It was a great experience to spend some leisure time with people we have never met before. By interacting with the locals you will get a close insight into the place you are travelling to.
At midnight it started raining continuously till morning. Me and my friend from Trek Tribe didn’t sleep at all as we got really scared when a wild dog hit our camp from the back. We continued listening to some soulful tracks entire night. Finally, it stopped raining at morning around 6 am.
Delightful Morning At Winch Camp
There is something magical about the mornings in the Himalayas. The blissful ambience at the campsite will refresh your soul. Just feel the place, its calmness and peace!
The views of majestic Dhauladhar range in the background are treat to the eyes. Visit the Winch Camp trolley station from where you can see the pristine Beas River near Mandi, Joginder Nagar town, Bir and Hamirpur hills. On a clear day you can also see the Pir Panjal ranges of the majestic Himalayas.
After breakfast we wrapped up our camps, packed our bags and began the journey back to Jimjema village. We descended via Suhi Village, a quaint settlement secluded from the main Joginder Nagar. This route is mainly used by villagers to bring firewood and other essential materials for livelihood. Nature always gives us so much, but in return it’s our duty to maintain its dignity.
While trekking down we took a shelter at a local house near Jimjema village for few minutes. The locals are so welcoming that they even offered us water and tea. Their selfless love is what makes them an ideal example of humanity.
If you are just dying to get out of your moribund life, an offbeat trip to Joginder Nagar and Winch Camp will definitely surprise you with its unexplored aura.
So many reasons to be happy and feel rejuvenated, go travel to Himalayas and you will never feel disappointed!
Check-out Trek Tribe for exciting treks & camping in Himalayas.
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