- Ajaz Shaikh
Mukta Top Trek: An Unforgettable Experience
The enchanting forests, idyllic meadows and grand mountain views make Mukta Top trek an irresistible offer when coupled with the rewarding experience of exploring an undiscovered trek. This trek was explored in November 2018, and even though it begins at Uttarkashi, which is, so to say, a hub of trekking activities, it hasn’t seen much footfall as compare to its league of the popular Kedarkantha, Kuari Pass and Chandrashila winter treks.
The icing on the cake for me was to do Mukta Top Trek with Mr Mahaveer Singh Rawat the person who discovered and made the Mukta Top Trail.
A total of 28 Kilometers is the number at which the Mukta Top Trek Distance is specified at. Also, the whole trek is spread in a 4-day long week cycle to make sure that you can enjoy, rest, capture memories, and experience the surroundings in the way it's meant to. Mukta Top is essentially an isolated trek. Time to breathe some calm into the chaos of your mind!
How To Reach from Mumbai?
Kuflon is the base village for Mukta Top Trek located on the banks of Assi Ganga river, a tributary of Bhagirathi. Kuflon is 12 km from Uttarkashi. There is no direct connectivity to the base village or Uttarkashi from Mumbai. But Dehradun has good connectivity from Mumbai and from Dehradun you can reach base village easily for Mukta Top Trek. From Dehradun, it would take you 7-8 hrs with breaks to reach our base village Kuflon. The route to reach Kuflon: Mumbai - Dehradun - Uttarkashi - Kuflon. So here are some of the options for the people directly coming from Mumbai.
Via Train From Mumbai: Since you will be travelling from one corner of the country to another so be ready for a long train journey.
Via Flight From Mumbai: Dehradun has flight connectivity from Mumbai, but there is only two direct flight between Mumbai and Dehradun. So if you plan this trip well in advance you can get a roundway direct flight for ₹ 12,000 and with a layover of between 2-3 hours, you can get it for 10,000.
In either case, you will reach Dehradun by afternoon or late evening. So I advise taking a night stay in Dehradun around ISBT Bus Depot to avoid travelling in the dark. The frequency of buses between Dehradun and Uttarkashi is quite good but you need to take the first bus which leaves around 7:00 am to make it to the base village before evening. From Uttarkashi, you can get a shared taxi to Kuflon which will cost you ₹150 per seat. If you are travelling in a group you can book the full taxi for ₹800.
If you are travelling in a group of 4-6 member would recommend hiring a direct car from Dehradun to Kuflon which should not cost you more than ₹5,000 with hard negotiation but stick to travelling in the daylight
Via Delhi (The recommended way): I don't need to say anything about connectivity between Mumbai and Delhi. From Delhi, you can take the bus or train. Dehradun is very well connected by road from Delhi. The frequency of buses is quite high, and usually, bus leaves in the night from Delhi. It will take around 6-7 hrs to reach Dehradun from Delhi.
If you wish to take the train, 12687/Dehradun Express is the perfect option to reach Dehradun.
Where to Stay?
Kuflon is a small village, so it has a limited number of homestay but you will get the best hospitality from the local in this remote village. As mention, early Mr Mahaveer was my host as well as a local guide. (Drop a mail at email@example.com if you want any help to plan this trek ).
Mukta Top Trek: The Route
Day 1: Base Village Kuflon
Altitude: Kuflon - 4600 ft
After a full day of road travel, your body needs to rest, so on day one you would just travel to base camp and get your body to acclimatize to the new climate. The temperature at the base camp would be 5°C in the day and at night drop till 1°C. So your body must get acclimatize to the climate. Before going to bed you need to prepare your bag. You can carry your bag and trek or you have an option to offload your bag to be carried by mule. Incase of offloading prepare to separate bags one with the thing that you will need during the treks and one big one with other things. Do checkout what to pack section for details.
Halfway between Uttarkashi and Mussoorie, you will read the sign at this special spot atop the Nag Tibba ridge. "Tingling Point" named after a Kenyan Adventurer Sardar Pinder Singh Bagra who felt this tingling sensation as he came over the ridge to this breathtaking spot.
I may not have tingled, but as I wasn't expecting it, the sudden spectacular view was a breathtaking spot, which revealed such a spectacular view of Bandarpunch Massif. The views were enhanced by the wonderful birdsong.
Day 2: Kuflon To Shiladuni
Altitude: Shiladuni - 6782 ft
The trek begins early morning, the trail on this day has mild ascents, goes through a village and then passes through pine forests. It is a steep "Z" type of ascent that goes around the mountain. As compared to the popular snow treks in the region like Kedarkantha and Chandrashila are over-crowded at this time, the only noise that you will hear is beautiful sounds of chirping birds and a ringing silence that is typical of forests. The trail is a mild one which will give you the experience of being in a forest not just for a few hours but for a whole day. You will even get the chance to camp in the forest, an experience that treks rarely offer. After a 4 hours trek, without any rush, you can comfortably make it to reach a clearing forest, Shiladuni, where you camp for the night.
Day 3: Shiladuni To Chaithathar / Damini
Altitude: Damini - 9200 ft | Chaithathar - 9800 ft | Kuari - 7781 ft
The trek to Chaithathar gets comparatively challenging and passes through the bamboo, oak forests and trekking along the open valley. From Shiladuni you will head towards Kuari take a lunch break and trek till you reach the campsite. Trek between Shiladuni and Kuari passes through the Bamboo forests are rarely seen on other treks, so it is very surprising to find them here on this trek. For this patch you will trek through the forests, the dense greenery will be your best companion and walking under the shade of trees will be a great delight.
The trail between Kuari and Damini gets notably steeper and vertigo-inducing on the way up – through this doesn’t deter those in pursuit of heart-pounding adventure – but jaw-dropping views and beautiful scenery on the way up make the trek all the more worthwhile. At some points, the path demands scrambling up the steep slopes and over the rocks.
You have two options for campsite one is Chaithathar or at the base of Chaithathar range know as Damini. The fundamental rule for a campsite is it should be near the source of water. If you are lucky you will encounter snow for the first time at Chaithathar. I was among the super lucky people who got to experience snowfall and snow trail at Damini, which is at a much lower altitude as compared to Chaithathar.
Mukta Top Trail is a beautiful trail already which became super special due to the snowfall. And another plus point of camping at Damini is you get to witness an amazing sunset.
I saw snowfall and felt like the happiest person alive. I wouldn’t have regretted going home at this point without the summit. Fresh snowfall felt amazing and the whole region was now pearl white.
Day 4: The Summit Day - Mukta Top
Altitude: Mukta Tal - 10800 ft | Mukta Top - 118380 ft
The summit day is the most important. This is undoubtedly the most scenic day of the whole trek. Trek to the summit from Damini would be little long as compared from Chaithathar. Enroute for the day will be Damini - Chaithathar - Mukta Tal - Summit.
You will encounter snow at Mukta Tal. Walking on snow is an experience of a different world altogether. From Mukta Tal, you will witness breathtaking views of Mt. Bandarpoonch, Kalanag and Nag Tibba. From hereon you climb to Mukta Top by following a trail from the lake. Meandering across pine forests, you will be blessed with snow-capped views of Mt. Bandarpunch and Kalanag. As you approach the top, you will come across a ridge, which are fairly difficult but doable because over her wind blow heavily from left to right. Another difficult aspect of the submit point is the sub-zero temperatures that plunge as low as -8°C.
But don’t forget to take a picture when you’re at the top makes up for a great Instagram post that you might share with the world, under a wanderlust hashtag. From the summit, you will head down to campsite Damini or Kuari. If you started from Chaithathar then make Kuari your base camp or do it Damini to Damini.
Day 5: Return to Base Village
The trek to base village Kuflon is simple mostly descending following the same path and you can easily make it to the base village from Damini without taking a night halt at Kuari or Shiladuni.
Mukta top trek is something which you might not want to miss in winter, the reason being that it packs everything you were looking for in a trek. Starting from green forest to snowy capes, you name it and it’ll be there. Now, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced trekker having quite much of an experience in your bag. For everyone, Mukta Top is one of those few places which can make you fall in love with travelling once again.
When To Do?
For those of you who want to experience trekking in snow, the ideal time to do this trek is December-January. This is the time when Uttarakhand receives snowfall. You can also do this trek from April-May and October-November when the temperature is rather comfortable and the mountains are in full bloom.
The Mukta Top weather is quite enough to set your mood on the right path and prepares you to deep dive into the world of exploration. And you need to visit Mukta Top in December at least once, as it blossoms during that one month.
What to pack?
The average minimum temperature on this trail is 3°C to -6°C, with temperatures often plunging even lower when it snows.
You must carry pair of trekking tracksuits (collared and full-sleeved t-shirts. Do not carry loose t-shirts as they tend to make you feel cold ), fleece jackets, weather-proof down-jackets with hood, inner thermal, pair of cotton and woollen socks each and ankle-length trekking boots.
The sun is very strong at such high altitudes, so you must carry sunglasses for your trek but avoid reflectors.
Waterproof and fleece gloves, scarves, woollen caps, towels, and essentials like torches, energy bars, poncho.
Most important walking pole, if you are a beginner and carry two thermal water bottle, preferably of 1 litre each.
Toiletries – Hand Sanitizer, Moisturizer, Light Towel, Lip Balm, Toothbrush & Toothpaste, Listerine, Tissue Roll (for pit type toilet)
Polythene Bags or Zip-lock Bags – These help to segregate wet clothes.
Why Choose Mukta Top Trek?
See firstly, the trekking distance is a total of 28 km which is to be covered into 4 nights and 5 days. Yet, it comes under easy to moderate level because of the things that this trek has to offers.
Mukta top trek is a low altitude mountain trek altitudes is 11838 ft.
Views of Gangori peak, Bandarpunch peak, Top of Nag Tibba, Mt. Jaonli, Mt. Kala Nag and Draupadi Ka Danda.
No high altitude mountain sickness due to forthcoming of the forest region. And this is an easy level trek
The trail is not that abrupt and sheer as compared to other treks. So, beginners can easily do this trek.
You got to see so many heavenly bodies at one place like the panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges, meadows, lakes, pine forests, different variety of flora and fauna surpassing through bona fide Garhwali heritage and culture Gangori range.
During the winter season, this fascinating Mukta top remains covered in snow and the white sheet of snow makes it look like a magical wide snow-land.
And, in summers, the valley turns different and amusing because of meadows, wildflowers and woods blooming in different colours.
Listen To Me:
The trail has recently been discovered, it is virgin and doesn't receive any other footfall at all. Since the trail is new and unmarked, it is best to take a local guide who also takes care of your food and camping than attempt this unmarked trail yourself.
Carry an Id proof and some photocopy
Rucksack – If you are offloading your Rucksack, you will need a small daypack to carry your essentials
Talk to the native villagers gently and give respect to them, because you are their guests.
An empty tiffin box to carry day lunch or refreshment.
Avoid using wet wipes on a winter trek
Follow 6-7-8 rule. Wake up at 6, Breakfast at 7 and Leave camp at 8.
Temperatures in the Himalayas during winter drop easily at night which means you have to keep yourself warm enough for the night.
Trek Level: Easy - Moderately
Base Village: Kuflon, Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand
Altitude: 11838 ft
Time Required: 4-5 days (For beginner and moderate trekker)
Region: Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand