Imagine beautiful snow bridges lining your path throughout a trek – even in summer! – and you, walking through the beautiful bridges, into the cedar forests, and across canyons of rivers and streams. Such a beautiful experience. If you’re looking for this mesmerising experience, the Rupin Pass trek is here to give you one!
The Surprising Rupin Pass Trek
A remarkable adventure, the Rupin Pass trek in India reveals a symphony of surprises against the backdrop of the Himalayas. At 15,250 feet, this high-altitude experience delivers the rush of conquering massive heights and a never-ending stream of amazing discoveries.
The trip from Rohru over the Chainsheel Pass is an incredible experience, even before you set foot on the hike. Unpaved roads meander through enthralling woodlands, offering constantly shifting views. At around 11,000 feet, the scenery changes from thick woods to wide meadows, preparing the viewer for the stunning treat that awaits.
There are several surprises even from day one. The abrupt emergence of a towering coniferous forest and the ridge-top hanging town of Jakha are only the beginning. The islands of Saruwas Thatch and the massive Rupin Waterfall, which plunges 1,500 feet, enhance the scene as the walk goes on. The waterfall-adorned glacial valley of Dhanderas Thatch displays the beauties of nature, and the unexpected pleasures come from climbing the snow bridges to the top of the Rupin waterfall.
Large snowfields of Rata Pheri may be seen in their alpine environment when ascending from the upper waterfall camp. Awe and excitement are generated when you see the Rupin gully from the borders of Rata Pheri, especially when you realise you have to climb it to get to the pass.
As you ascend to the knife-edged Rupin Pass, navigate snow slides, and descend to the last Ronti Gad campground, new surprises await you on the opposite side. Until the end, hikers are left speechless by the abrupt terrain variations, ranging from grassy descents to snow-covered summits. The surprises stop once you get to Sangla’s road.
The Rupin Pass trek maintains its standing as one of the best treks in India with its exceptional combination of breathtaking scenery changes and high-altitude adventure. It’s a tour that surpasses expectations in less than 400 words, showcasing the wonders of nature and surprising thrills against the grandiose backdrop of the Indian Himalayas.
Rupin Pass Trek: Detailed Itinerary
Day 1: The Unconventional Route – From Rohru to Jiksun – 85 Kilometres (Drive)
Take the less-travelled path and start a more magical and aesthetically pleasing Rupin Pass trek. Take the beautiful route less travelled, which goes from Rohru to Jiskun instead of the usual route from Dehradun to Dhaula. This diversion offers a different itinerary as well as an improved experience. Start your day early from Shimla and enjoy the amazing charm of Rohru, which is a better-starting place than the traditional route to Dhaula.
· When you get to Rohru, the road splits into two tempting routes: one leads to Janglik, the starting point of the Buran Ghati hike, while the other winds around to the lovely town of Jiskun. The captivating Chainsheel Valley, an experience unto itself, is revealed along the journey to Jiskun. (Explore the charms of the drive through Chainsheel Valley)
· Jiskun, at 7,630 feet, serves as the trailhead for Rupin Pass. Nestled just above the point where Rupin and Nargani converge, Jiskun presents itself as two distinct areas, with the lower Jiskun now referred to as Bawta. Beyond being a picturesque location, Jiskun is a useful stopover for restocking. For hikers, various necessities, including rice, wheat, sugar, spices, and vegetables, are available at local stores.
· With the stunning scenery of the Chainsheel Valley, this alternate route adds a dash of adventure to the voyage and enhances it visually. Jiskun promises a well-prepared starting point for your Rupin Pass trek with its own charm and convenience stores. Selecting this route will lead you to a new route and a symphony of sights and sensations that will prepare you for the high-altitude adventure ahead.
Day 2: Jiksun to Jakha Village – 4 Kilometres – 4 Hours
· It is a 3½ kilometre walk to Jakha, the highest and last settlement on the Rupin Pass trek. Heading out of Jiskun, the track drops quickly through a deodar and walnut woodland to an enthralling black fold in the mountains. The remains of an ancient wooden bridge may be seen in the upper levels of the fold, almost hidden by vegetation and completely darkened from human sight. A recently constructed wooden bridge at eye level draws attention and inspires you to look up a bizarre route carved out of the rock face. This architectural wonder begs you to wonder about its origins.
· The next hour’s climb to Jakha reveals one of the most fascinating walking routes. The route first zigzags along the slope’s crest, changing the landscape often. When viewed from below, it looks massive, reaching the sky. But its grandeur fades as soon as you start climbing. The walk is a captivating experience as it winds through a captivating mixed forest, with lovely bird cries as your companions and a cliff face on the opposite side of the valley. Around two-thirds of the way up, look out for a wide route that splits off to the left and leads to the settlement of Dhara, which is higher than Jakha. Follow the path that bears right.
· There are sporadic leisurely hikes interspersed with the largely steady climb. The community of Jakha is devoted to the Satsang philosophy and abstains from meat intake. Guests are not recommended to order live animals or eat canned meat. The campground doubles as a kids’ play area just above the hamlet. There’s another camping in the school courtyard.
· Jakha is the last stop for restocking supplies and, if required, looking for porters. You will seldom come across other trekkers over the following several days of the journey; instead, your main companions will be shepherds caring for their sheep until you reach Sangla. The peaceful but difficult stretch of road ahead is set in motion by the quiet.
Day 3: Jakha to Saruwas Thatch – 6 Hours – 3.5 Kilometres
Starting at Jakha, the Rupin Pass trek offers an enthralling climb across various terrains. The route climbs past the playground in Jakha hamlet, across fields, and plunges hikers into a spectacular fir forest, with an entry so sudden it seems like you are passing through an invisible portal. The air is pure and undisturbed, with towering blue pines that are centuries old and occasionally sprinkled with golden maple leaves.
· On the other side of the route, high above the V-shaped valley, snow-capped cliffs rise to reveal the most surprising sight of the day: a large snow bridge that crosses the Rupin at a lower level. This amazing phenomenon is discovered after an hour of climbing through the fir forest, and it inspires a thrilling sprint to the snow bridge. Trekkers enjoy the unusual delight of feeling the snow beneath their feet while wearing sunglasses.
· Past the snow bridge, the track gets narrower as it follows the Rupin’s path through river beds dotted with large boulders. Between sporadic stream crossings, the terrain shows streams originating in the mountain’s highest parts, many of which have permanent snow patches. An hour and a half later, the route rises to Burans Kandi, a tiny open meadow with crystal-clear water that makes for a lovely campsite.
· A little farther on, the climb beside the Rupin reveals little waterfalls before levelling out to reveal hundreds of Rhododendron flowers in full bloom. Some of the route crosses the Rupin as it snakes between their roots. A larger clearing with the Rupin forking and the well-known Rupin waterfall in the distance is revealed as rhododendrons ascend the hills; this previews the incredible experience that trekkers will have at Saruwas Thatch.
Day 4: Saruwas Thatch to Dhanderas Thatch – 2 Hours – 3 Kilometres
The U-shaped valley offers a breathtaking view from Saruwas Thatch, with thousands of waterfalls tumbling down brown slopes to reach the Rupin. Vast green fields with numerous yellow marigolds extend ahead, contrasting this untamed beauty. The Rupin meanders elegantly across rolling meadows dotted with sprinklings of powdery white snow.
· Go down to the valley of yellow marigolds and stroll to the first difficulty of the hike, a steep snow bridge across the Rupin. A solid grip is essential for the ascent because the slope is unexpected. The excitement builds when the bridge levels out, making crossing the Rupin’s left bank simple.
· The route continues through verdant meadows where brooks meander beneath feet, and the scenery is adorned with wildflowers in shades of blue, purple, green, yellow, and white. The Rupin meanders pleasantly across the valley, its colour crystal blue.
· Once you go over a noticeable rock, you will see the Rupin widening into a broad riverbed. Approach the base of a substantial snow bridge, the biggest one yet, along the river’s bank. Once again, across the Rupin, a short ascent brings you to a plateau with a much-anticipated vista.
· The trek’s most beautiful meadow is revealed during the ascent, akin to crawling to the top of a roller coaster. The stunning location begs for an instant camp setup. With the mountain Dhauladar Range in the background, the Rupin tumbling over three tiers of waterfalls, and snowy surroundings, this valley oasis offers an unmatched setting. A Himalayan sanctuary, Dhanderas Thatch welcomes you to set up camp and enjoy the splendour of nature from its largest well-manicured grass.
Day 5: Dhanderas Thatch to Upper Waterfall – 2 Hours, 3.5 Kilometres
Today is a critical day for the success of your trip since it is the acclimatisation climb to the top of the waterfall, which prepares you for the next ascent of Rupin Pass. Altitude sickness is a serious risk because of the almost 2,500 feet rise from Dhanderas Thatch to the pass. It is wise to climb 1,500 feet to the top of the waterfall, allowing for gradual acclimatisation.
· Start the day slowly, allowing your legs to recover, and prepare for the ascent after breakfast. The walk from Dhanderas Thatch to the foot of the waterfall offers views of yellow marigolds and streams to cross.
· Use caution when negotiating the snow spot near the waterfall’s base. For assistance, use an ice axe or trekking pole. If there is a track, thank it; if not, carefully cut steps with an ice axe or boots. You reach the peak of the lower waterfall by doing this.
· The magnificent snow bridge across the Rupin is reached after snow patch crossings and sporadic climbs. Standing in its centre is an amazing sight, the Rupin running under you and the waterfall above you. Reaching the meadow above the waterfall requires a strenuous ascent that skirts the hillsides, forming a ledge sequence with a little snow area.
Day 6: Upper Waterfall to Ronti Gad via Rupin Pass – 9 Kilometres – 10 Hours
Set off at 5 AM on the most exciting day of the walk, fueled by packed lunches. Difficulties start as you climb steep snow-covered hills, gaining significant elevation in less than an hour and ultimately arriving at the Rati Pheri campground. That is when the terrain changes, providing sweeping vistas across huge snowfields of the mountainous Dhauladar range.
· Navigate the strenuous journey from Rati Pheri, where snow conditions create slick and knee-deep obstacles, equipped with snow gear from your trip guide. You arrive at the bottom of the steep and narrow Rupin Pass valley, which is prone to stone falls, after around 3.5 hours.
· After a strenuous ice climb, one is treated to a moment of pure joy when they see Rupin Pass slicing through the Dhauladar Ranges. The Kinner Kailash range and the Rupin valley are beautifully visible from the ridge, decorated with prayer flags and stone cairns.
· As you near the Ronti Gad campground and slide down snow chutes for an exhilarating and swift descent, the excitement level of the hike increases. The walking is simple because of the levelling ground. Once you cross the snowline, be ready for another steep descent to take you to the lovely Ronti Gad Campsite, a never-ending meadow with a softly running stream and towering snow-capped mountains in the background. You set your tent here for the night in the tranquil surroundings, enjoying another delightful view change.
Day 7: Ronti Gad to Sangla and then to Shimla – 13 Kilometres Trek + 335 Kilometres (6-hour – 6 Hours Trek and 7 Hours Drive
Around 9 AM, after breakfast, start the descent from Ronti Gad campground to Sangla. Mule traffic and shepherds periodically cross the dusty shepherd’s trail. See the Ronti Gad valley disappear after almost two hours to show the breathtaking Kinner Kailash mountain covered in snow.
· As you get closer to Sangla Kanda, the first traces of civilisation appear, providing a brief stop for a steaming cup of tea in the middle of the steep descent. The route quickly descends through woods of blue pines and winds past charming stone cottages, apple orchards, and terraced farms.
· When you get to Sangla, take one last look at the majestic mountains and say goodbye to one of the best cross-over hikes in the nation.
Best Time to Do the Rupin Pass Trek
The Rupin Pass trek is an all-year-long trek that is full of surprises. You can do it in winter as well as spring. If you do it in spring, you can experience the summer-like weather with snow bridges here. The best time would be the same – from March to June.
Rupin Pass Trek Cost
If you choose to embark on the Rupin Pass trek with operators, it will cost you between Rs. 15,000 and 20,000. If you choose to do it yourself, it will cost about 25,000 to 30,000.
The Rupin Pass trek is an important and surprising trek of India that one must choose to do. You can embark on this moderate-tough trek if you’re physically fit.
What are you waiting for? Pack your trekking gear and head on to the luscious greenery that awaits you at Rupin Pass!