The short 2.3-kilometre trail between Mani Mahesh and Kalah Pass is the best place to watch the sunset over Chamba Kailash. In the south, the landscape stretches endlessly till the Dhauladhars. A huge glacier and Kuja peak welcome the weary traveller in the east.
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After the dirty Hadsar-Mani Mahesh trail, the Kalah pass trail comes as a breath of fresh air. This is how a trekking trail should be – clean, pristine and accompanied with some breathtaking views.
|At Kalah/Sukhdali pass that connects Holi in Chamba valley with Mani Mahesh, Bharmour (Himachal Pradesh)|
The trail to Kalah pass is well marked from Mani Mahesh. The stones along the route have been dabbed with white paint and the trail is visible from the south end of the lake. The entire Kalah Pass trail is scree and moraine and it is important to watch your step. The trail starts with a steep ascent for the first 500 metres. The path zig-zags its way to the top of the knoll. The next kilometre is a relentless yet a slightly less steep ascent over large slate and boulders. The prayer flags looming over Kalah pass are visible in the last 500m. Prayer flags and three cairns mark Kalah Pass.
The view south from Kalah Pass. Zoom in to see the trail towards “Tiyari” village along the mountain stream. The white capped mountains in the background are the Dhauladhars.
|The ascent to Kalah/Sukhdali pass from Holi, Dhauladhars in the background|
- Type - Day Trek. Moderate (3-season).
- Difficulty - Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) Scale - T2.
- Trek Duration - 90 minutes ascent and 50 minutes descent.
- Trek Distance - 2.3 kilometres one way,
- Maximum Elevation - 4624 metres (Kalah Pass prayer flags.
- Average Gradient - 30%.
- Start and Finish Point - Mani Mahesh Lake and Temple.
- Getting To Mani Mahesh - A lot of pilgrims from Holi travel to Mani Mahesh via Kalah Pass. Kalah Pass links Holi ( Google maps ) with Mani Mahesh. The pass is accessible from “Tiyari” village ( Google Maps ) or from “Hadsar” ( Google Maps ). The trail from Tiyari is a steep ascent and usually requires an overnight stop at “Jail Khud”. The easier access is via the Hadsar-Mani Mahesh trail
- Hotel and Stay - None at Kalah Pass. Mani Mahesh has a tea shop that’s open from June to November (usually till Diwali). The tea shop provides food, bed and blankets and there is a shop where you can buy souvenirs and snacks. A meal costs Rs. 100 and overnight stay complete with bed and blanket costs Rs. 150/night (2016 prices).
- Weather - Extremely fickle weather at the lake and even more so at Kalah pass. The best time to attempt Kalah pass is September-October.
- Mobile Phone Connectivity - No phone connectivity beyond Kalah village when approaching from Tiyari village. No phone connectivity beyond Hadsar on the Hadsar-Mani Mahesh trail.
- Caution - Kalah pass is at 4624m altitude and receives heavy snowfall. A whiteout can make descent tricky. As with all passes, the trick is to start early and descend quickly if the weather turns inclement. The descent down to “Jail Khad” should not be attempted in anything but clear weather.
|The glaciated field around Kuja peak as viewed from Kalah Pass|
- Sunscreen, cap and sunglasses on a clear day
- A litre of water per person. There is no potable water between Mani Mahesh and Kalah Pass
- Trekking poles can make your ascent a lot faster and easy on the knees
|The moraine filled route on the Mani Mahesh to Kalah Pass (Himachal Pradesh) trek|