Dainkund to Khajjiar is an easy 3.5-kilometre walk. The trek starts from the Pholani Devi Temple at Dainkund and it ends at a road head 6 kilometres from Khajjiar on the Dalhousie-Khajjiar Road.
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The trek route descends from Dainkund and can be covered in an hour if you are in a hurry. However, don’t let this short duration lull you into thinking that this route lacks variety or is boring. Despite a short duration, this route is full of photogenic viewpoints.
I have often camped along this route just to watch the sunset from one such viewpoint. From Dainkund, one gets a bird’s eye view of the awe-inspiring snow-capped Himalayas. The ridge that one follows has numerous campsites and a resplendent pond in a grass-covered saddle. One can better appreciate the anomaly of a flat and treeless Khajjiar meadow, as it lies embraced in an ocean of evergreen forest. To the North, the foothills rise to form the mighty Pir Panjals. Each different direction has a varied vista that is extremely photogenic. If you are an avid photographer, you will probably spend more time photographing the scenery than the actual walking time.
From the Pholani Devi Temple at Dainkund walk along a well-defined trail NNW that leads to a small village. A few village houses are visible from Dainkund and this makes the trail navigation quite easy. The trail starts descending from the temple, to a concrete water tank then on to a lone Gaddi shelter. From the Gaddi shelter, the trail is a little mixed up. However, keep on walking in the general direction of the village and make a steep descent from the grassy knoll to a ridge. After 100 metres of descent, you rejoin a well-used trail that leads towards the village. This trail winds its way along the ridge and onto a boulder-strewn strip. There is a steep drop to your left so be careful on this section. This steep left slope is also covered in a dense evergreen forest dotted with a few deciduous trees. The boulder-strewn strip provides a bird-eye view over this beautiful sylvan vista.
In autumn, these deciduous trees turn into a riot of golden and brown hues. These bright colours lend a beautiful contrast to the mellow green of evergreen trees and it is a beautiful sight to behold. From the boulder-strewn patch you emerge into a beautiful grass-covered saddle with a small pond. This meadow is an ideal camping ground if you pack potable water. From this meadow, the village is visible. Descend along a meandering path to the only shop in the village. The shop owner is a genteel man who loves a bit of chat and is only be too happy to provide you with a drink of water, free of cost. From this village, a direct route to Khajjiar meadow passes through a thick evergreen forest. However, there have been numerous bear sightings on this forest trail. On one of my treks, I came across an Asian black bear a mere 100 metres from where I stood. Due to these frequent bear sightings, I do not recommend this route and therefore will not share the GPS route for this trail. Instead, I recommend an alternate route. The alternate route is a broad village trail that loops through the village and backtracks its way to a couple of concrete houses and mud-built gaddi shelter, 750 metres from the village. The Dalhousie-Khajjiar Road is visible just below these two houses. Descend from the houses to the road head. The road head is close to a milestone that states “Khajjiar 6 kilometres”. From the road can choose to walk, hitchhike or wait for a bus or taxi to take you to Khajjiar. If you do decide to walk along the road, remember it takes just over an hour to reach Khajjiar and it is better to take a litre of water along.
- Type - Day Trek. Easy (3-season) to moderate (winter snow).
- Difficulty - Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) Scale - T1.
- Trek Duration - 1.5 hours
- Trek Distance - 3.5 kilometres one way
- Maximum Elevation - 2737 metres
- Starting Point - Pholani Devi Temple at Dainkund
- Ending Point - Roadhead on the Dalhousie-Khajjiar road 6 kilometres from Khajjiar and 16 Kilometres from Dalhousie.
- How to reach Dainkund and Khajjiar - There are no busses between Dalhousie and Dainkund. You can take a bus till Lakkar Bazaar (Dalhousie-Khajjiar route) and hike 5 kilometres along the metalled road to Dainkund. Taxis can be easily rented from Dalhousie to Dainkund. Taxis can also be asked to drop you at Dainkund and pick you up in a couple of hours at 6 kilometres to Khajjiar milestone.
- Hotels and Stay - None at Dainkund. There are hotels for every budget available at Dalhousie. Slightly expensive hotels at Khajjiar.
- Terrain - An easy to moderate descent over a trail that is clearly defined for most of the way.
- Weather - Pleasantly cold during the day, usually cold and very windy at night.
- Caution – Avoid the direct route from the village to Khajjiar (The alternate route is listed and is extremely safe). Bears can be unpredictable and aggressive and an encounter with them is best avoided. The trail to the village a sharp drop to the left, be careful.
- A camera with a wide-angle and a telephoto lens
- Sunscreen and a visored cap/hat for a sunny day