“Billo ki Powri” is a staircase of 270 steps carved in mountain stone. Towering over Kud town, these stairs bear an uncanny resemblance to the straight stair over Cirith Ungol that Tolkien writes about in his book, The Lord of the Rings.
Table Of Contents
This is closest I have come to re-living Frodo’s journey.
Although the exact date of this landmark is debatable and lost in the shrouds of time, locals claim it was built by the former king of Chenani as shorter and easier access to Batote town. The skill and craftsmanship that has gone into creating this landmark is astonishing, given that this was built in a pre-mechanical tool era. It is a shame therefore, that the lower quarter of this staircase has eroded with the ravage of time. From the original 400 steps, we are still left with only 270 steps.
Climbing these 270 steps is an exhilarating and rewarding experience, although one needs to be careful. The steps are steep as a ladder and throughout the climb, I was aware of the long fall behind me. Nonetheless, if you choose to climb on, you will be rewarded with some beautiful views over Kud town. On a clear day, one can view the national highway as it meanders along the valley down to Chenani town. On rainy days, you will be enveloped in dreamy low flying clouds, and for a brief heart-stopping moment you can experience solitary existence in a whiteout as you cling on to the mountainside.
This trek starts at the Kud-Patnitop NH44 National Highway just after Hotel Jai Skahan. Start by climbing the hill on your left just along the hotel boundary. This brings you to an area enclosed with barbed wire. Though a gap in this wire, walk west to a flat plain. Follow a stream uphill along this plain through a grove of deodar trees till you come to a second grassy plain. This area is an excellent camping ground since it is close to the water and it offers a sheltered flat and grassy terrain for a tent pitch. Walk uphill from this camping ground till you cross two water pipes and then a reach wide 45-degree rock face on the mountainside. “Billo ki Powri” is carved diagonally across this rock face.
- Type - Day Trek. Difficult.
- Difficulty - Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) Scale - T3.
- Hiking Duration - 1.5 hours one way.
- Hiking Distance - 1.2 kilometres.
- Starting Point - From NH 44 between Kud and Patnitop, just after Hotel Jai Skahan.
- Finishing Point - Patnitop-Sanasar Road, 1.7 kilometres from Patnitop.
- How to reach Patnitop - Bus / Taxi. Buses ply regularly (every 30 minutes) between Kud and Patnitop. Taxi can be hired from Patnitop. The nearest train station is Udhampur (Station Code UHP).
- Hotels and Stay - The trek starts from Hotel Jai Skahan, lots of hotels at Patnitop and Sanasar.
- Weather - Windy and very misty during monsoon.
- Summary - 600 meters steep climb through a wooded area, followed by a moderate stair climb of 100 vertical meters over an exposed rock face.
- Caution – The steps are worn and smooth at the edges, and some are broken. Be careful when climbing over broken sections, especially if it has been raining. Tourists have taken to throwing beer bottles on these steps, so be careful where you lay your hands.