It was December 6, 2017 when I was travelling to Narkanda late night. It have been my favourite spot since I visited Hatu Temple & the highest peak in entire Shimla district. While getting back from Narkanda, I heard the news about 2 NIT Hamirpur students who are found dead in Shikari Valley while trekking to Shikari Devi Temple, Karsog (Mandi).

No trekker on planet would ever wait for such news to come out of nowhere. On the top of that, one of two bodies was half eaten. No one knows whether they were climbing to the temple or getting back from top but their bodies were merely at 1km distance from the temple.

Coming to the story, Shikari Devi is another form of Maa Durga. In early years, hunters of the area used to worship the goddess to get success in their hunt. Thats the reason she is called “Shikari Devi”, Goddess of Hunters. This temple finds its reference in  great epic Mahabharata as well as Markandya Puran. It is also said that sage Markandya meditated here for years.

One of the interesting facts of the temple is that its all open. No one could ever manage to build a roof over the temple. In winters, when it snows, you will not find snow around temple. As per stories, snow does not fall over the temple or it never stays there. Although whole shikari valley witness massive snowfall of around 6-7 feets every year. This is interesting!

Well, after the NIT Hamirpur student’s tragedy, I literally came to know about such a temple in Mandi district.Apart, very next month, found a chance to be there with 4-5 of my friends.

We started from Shimla & travelling around 120kms, reached Karsog on the same day travelling across Naldehra & Tattapaani.

This time, I was carrying my pet cockatiel on my soulders all the time.

Karsog Valley
Taken on Road!

Very first day, we made our stay in a much economical hotel nearby & early morning, our initial plan was to trek Shikari Devi. However, my friends suggested two more must visit places to have a go. They were:

  1. Kamakhya Devi Temple
  2. Shiv Temple, built by Pandavas having 81 Shiva Lingams

You can have a look at both of them by clicking above two links (If linked). It took us 3-4 hours to finally plan up for Shikari Devi Temple & time was around 3:00 PM. We really did not know how long it is going to take to complete the trek. Otherwise you can say that we were so busy admiring the valley on the way, its beautiful.

During Navratra fest, there use to be huge crowd coming all over the world, but before/after that you can not expect much people around. You will have no food or water on your way. So, that should be a must carry in your list.

We asked locals around about the best route & they suggested us to start from Bakhrot. Google Maps too suggested us the same way as the closest & good one. We went all the way back to Bakhrot & started towards Jhenjeli, a small village & kind of midpoint between Shikari Devi & Bakhrot. We covered till Jhenjeli by car but believe me, road is at its worst to drive.

Apologies for bad quality

I really have no idea how could I manage to drive up & really dont remember the moments I was driving back to bakhrot. It was thrilling. We got stuck at 4-5 points, when all of my friends had to get down & stand behind car in case it slips & gets out of balance. If it does, right behind us was our very death spot. Although, we could have get a little temple roadside later as remark of a major tragedy. Yes! in himachal pradesh, people believe to build a small temple at major accident spots & you can find them everywhere here.

It took us around 2 hours to cover 10kms of distance & then by 5:00pm we were somewhere to start the trek leaving vehicle behind. Although, we tried to travel still by car but at that point, I was pretty sure that this car can’t take anymore. She is brutally tortured & she can’t take anymore!

Another incident which reminded us of Jan 6 event, happened when we asked locals about the distance & conditions of the valley & they were like “You can give it a try, but dont you try to force yourself for anything, if you feel like getting back, just do that, but don’t get obssessed”. This was little demotivatve though.

Our trek started from two lone houses of Pandits & took us to a water tank around 1km from the starting spot.

Although, the road which we covered goes straight to Shikari Mata Temple, but we knew there will be snow from 1km ahead which was another reason of abandening the vehicle.

On our way, we travelled through dense palm trees, wide landscapes, apple gardens, abandoned homes and much more.

Inititally there was no snow around but as we keep on climbing, things were getting much whiter. To be honest with you, its a wild trek to be trekking alone. I would never ever recommend it. The area is territorial part of Snow Leapords & many doubt that those two students from NIT hamirpur were actually killed by a leapord instead of snow. Although, there point makes much sense by now to us.

I would recommend carrying water & food along, although just after 1 km, you can find water near a water tank leaking from pipe alongside but not food. This is near a small temple of a local diety as shown  in image below:

In case, you are late or you have been planning to stop by, there is another place for you on the way. Merely 2kms from this water tank, there are 2-3 abandoned houses with fields alongside where you could feel little safe nightly.

When it comes to sighseeing, the best part of this trek is into the woods, instead of great mountain ranges on the left/right of your side. It is easy to loose your way into such a dense jungle unless you keep your trek route alongside newly built road. It happened to us once & we were right in middle of dense bushes. Somehow recovering from the lost, we managed to walk throughout the road.

Snow started appearing in front in form of patches, which later kept on getting whiter & whiter.

Till the midway, we could see paw marks of cows, dogs & few of unknown ones. Even a dog was trekking beside us to the halfway who gave up at this point. This dog was our hope against any kind of threat we could face on the way. But after he left, it made us think twice about shall we continue?

Then once we covered around 4-5km, there was no sign of anything. It was all in peace. We could hear the wind, trees & our steps on snow at high accuracy. The most peaceful but still thrilling place I have ever travelled so far. It could be best one to meditate & leave everything behind, but that needs courage which Sage Markandya had once.

By now, (after another hour), we were walking over 4 feets of snow. Unpaved road was completly invisible in such a way that we could not differentiate between it & rest of the jungle at some points. A lone handpump was giving us readings about the amount of snow this area is having at the moment & how much it could be there on the top.

By now, clock was ticking at 5:00pm & we still had more 4 kms to go, which could take 2 hours approximatly. Then travelling back to vehicle could take a total of 4 hours as we thought. Being aware of the incident happened last month, we were not in mood of risking ourself in such a situation.

Although, I was all set to continue but few alongside were not thinking the same way. I have no idea which side could be correct at those times, but finally we decided to get back & give it another go in early morning some other day. This was a hard decision, a hard one for me as I am not habitual of giving up. You can call me “Ziddi”, “Deeth” but really I am that kind of. I dont blame myself for it, nature made me in that way.

But this time, no one was ready to continue further & nor I was willing to go alone as a foolish one, so we decided to get back from merely 4kms from temple. However I could see the temple from the sight & could say that trail gets a curvy turn from the top.

I can bet that the trek part we left could be the most amazing compared to the one we travelled so far. Because, then you dont climb, you walk over a mountain peak.

I hope, I will be there very soon again & as I said, I am Ziddi, so I will be! 🙂