Mcleodganj to Guna Devi temple trek

Guna temple is believed to have been built by Gaddis. Gaddis in Kangra District have immense faith in Goddess Kali and this is a temple they often visit before a trip over the Dhauladhars.

Roadblock on the trail - Naddi to Guna Devi temple

Table Of contents

Trek Diary

It’s 4 AM on my dashboard clock and I can’t go back to sleep. Turning and tossing doesn’t help. I kick my sleeping bag aside and step out of the Gypsy (which also doubles as my bedroom). Utter silence and desolation shroud Gallu Temple early in the morning. The possibility of securing breakfast at one of the many tea-shops looks bleak. The tea shops only open by about 7 AM. I know that the broad trail to my right leads to Naddi town and I decide to see if I can find some food there. Thirty minutes down the trail I come across a handsome fellow. We walk together through still and sleepy Naddi town and my partner urges me on an unpaved trail. The GPS tells me that this trail leads to Guna temple and I decide to join him for a scamper. We half jog, half walk along this trail. When the sun finally comes up it finds us both on a rock bridge over a beautiful mountain stream. The refreshing and sparkling water tempts me and I realise it has been two days since my last bath. My partner reads my mind and leads me to a waist-deep pool flecked with yellow and green stones.

The trail and a handsome fella for company

Since there was no-one in sight I strip and plunge in for a quick bath. In a few minutes, the cold water mottles my skin red and numbs my senses. As I lie floating in the water I spot a young man walk across the bridge. If he is flabbergasted to be greeted by the sight of a naked guy floating in a water-pool at sunrise, it doesn’t show on his face. He then proceeds to open up a tea shack and sweep it clean. By then my stomach is rumbling ominously and I ask him if I can get a bite to eat. Sure thing, the cheerful lad replies and starts rustling up a cheese omelette and masala chai.

We talk in the kitchen as I dry myself against his stove. As it turns out, the lad is a mountaineer with an advanced mountaineering course diploma from ABIMANS, Manali. He owns this cafe and it is aptly named ‘Adventure Cafe’ to reflect his passion.

We stand around his stove talking about our travels, mountains and the Dhauladhars. During our conversation, he hints that Guna temple has an excellent view over Bhimaghasutri pass and it must not be missed. His comment clinches the idea for my morning excursion and I decide to find out if what he says is true.

At Balh water tap, I come across an old man with a distraught look on his face. On probing gently he reveals that he was unable to get in touch with his daughter. It is his grandson’s tenth birthday and the entire family had decided to get together and make pay homage at the temple. I try calling his daughter from my phone for half an hour, but her number is unreachable. Nonetheless, it doesn’t bother the old man who is fixated in his belief that no harm could befall anyone who wants to visit Guna temple. After waiting another thirty minutes together, we decide to walk to the temple. Along the route, we have a long discussion on faith that draws people from far and wide to this remote temple. The view from the temple does not disappoint, and I spend the next hour taking photographs, talking to pilgrims and devouring ‘Kangri Dham’.

A dham is typically a vegetarian feast prepared on special occasions and cooked by Brahmin chefs who are known as botis. The dishes served at a Himachali dham varies from one district to another, but the one in Kangra district is known for its Chane ka Madra, Khatta Mahni and Meetha Chawal.

"Dwarpala (is a door or gate guardian often portrayed as a warrior or fearsome giant, usually armed with a weapon - the most common being the gada (mace).) at Guna Devi temple"
As I am about to head back, lo and behold, in walks the old man’s daughter with his grandson and son-in-law. Their taxi had met with an accident; yet, other than a broken mobile phone screen, everyone was unhurt. A happy reunion ensued and I couldn’t help but wonder if this is just another everyday miracle at Guna Devi Temple.

Trek Detail

It is an easy trail from Gallu Devi Temple to Guna Temple via Naddi. There is only one strenuous climb from Bhated nullah (stream) to Balh village. Other than this one climb, the trail is a gentle ascent at an average grade of 0.2%.

The trek starts at Rest-A-While cafe near Gallu temple. Just adjacent to the cafe parking a broad mule path links Gallu Temple to Naddi. This path winds through the shoulder of the knoll that seats the [second best viewpoint over Mcleodganj] ({% post_url 2016-05-13-The-Second-Best-Viewpoint-In-Mcleodganj %}). It is 2.2 kilometres to Naddi town, a distance that is easily covered in half an hour. The trail is wide with no significant ascents or descents.

The mule track ends at a huge mobile phone tower near Naddi. A muddy and broken patch leads down from the tower and joins a metalled road. Take a right on the metalled road and walk along a few public toilets and some beautiful stone houses. In 300 metres the road transforms into a concrete path and there are two beautiful viewpoints flanked by benches to your left that overlook Naddi town.

Follow the concrete road across town till it descends in a series of steps to a broad yet kutcha (non-paved) trail. This kutcha trail loops along a wooded section and it is dotted with water points. There is no significant elevation change for the next two kilometres. After two kilometres the trail emerges at a stone bridge over Bhated stream.

Bhated stream is the highlight of the trek. It is an excellent place to take a breather and enjoy tea house fare. Along the stream, there are four tea houses that will serve anything from omelette, noodles, tea, coffee and mire. Just next to the bridge, there is a small yet beautiful wading pool that entices one for a quick swim (see GPS waypoints).

From Bhated stream, the next 350 metres is a stiff climb to Balh village crossroad. The route winds along a knoll in a series of concrete steps that end at a crossroad just before Balh village. There is a water tap at the crossroad. Follow the trail to your right that leads through a white gate. This trail ascends gently for the next 1.5 kilometres, ending at Guna Devi Temple.

Trekking trail from Naddi to Guna Devi temple (near Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh)

Trek Summary

  • Type - Day Trek. Child friendly. Easy (3-season) and moderate (winter snow).
  • Difficulty - Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) Scale - T1.
  • Trek Duration - 2.5 to 3 hours one way
  • Trek Distance - 7 kilometres one way, 14 kilometres round trip from Gallu temple.
  • Maximum Elevation - 2128m
  • Average Grade - 0.2 %
  • Start and Finish - Sh. Gallu Devi temple , 2 kilometres from Dharamkot (5 kilometres from Mcleodganj main square)
  • Getting to Dharamkot/Naddi - Gallu temple is an easy 2-kilometre walk from Dharamkot along a well-defined trail. Taxis and auto-rickshaws can be hired from Mcleodganj. Taxis usually charge Rs. 400 for a one-way trip, auto-rickshaws charge Rs 300. A single seat on either a taxi or auto-rickshaw costs Rs. 100 one way.
  • Hotel and Stay - Guna temple has a capacious dormitory that will accommodate 500 people at a stretch. It is free for pilgrims and all you need to carry is your own sleeping mat and sleeping bag.
  • Weather - Pleasant during the summer, the sun can get hot during the day. We recommend using a cap or a hat.

Essential Gear

  • There is no need to carry water on this trek. This trail is dotted with ample water points
  • Carry a sleeping bag and mat if you intend to sleep at Guna Temple

GPS Map, Waypoints & Log

A ‘photography is prohibited’ sign hangs inside the temple premises and I chose to respect the sign. Therefore, I do not have any photographs of the temple. I believe trekkers need to respect local beliefs and customs, no matter how ridiculous they may sound.