Pir Panjal Trek: The Dream Trek For Every Trekker

Four of us, Muazzam Ahsan, Danish Dhaar, Inayatullah Bhat and Aasif Bin Afzal under the leadership of Muazzam Ahsan truly explored Nineteen lakes and numerous expansive water bodies traversing Seven peaks in 3 days in South Western Pirpanjal in Shopian, Poonch and Rajouri districts of J&K setting a record of sorts by visiting most of the lakes in the area falling under three districts of J & K.

On 7th Aug 2021, early in the morning, we rode bikes on Historical Mughal Road and haulted at Dongi Marg near famous Pir Ki Gali pass.

We set out for the Hirpora lakes from Dongi Marg along Jaddi Nallah which is one of the main sources of Rambiara Nallah. We reached Chandan Sar at  around 2:30 PM and in a flash, it started raining like it hadn't rained for months. We hired a local pony walla back in Dongi Marg who carried our  bags and other trekking gear on his pony.  The Pony boy unloaded our logistics off the back of his pony and left for his home. The downpour was so heavy that we were unable to even unzip our bags to take out our rain coats. As it rained relentlessly we unfolded and wrapped ourselves in the tent and hid ourslves under it for 30 minutes. When the rain gods relented, we started the  ascent to Jadi Pass. While ascending we could hear growling of a bear coming out of the rocky patch. This made us shudder in fear as there was no escape if the ferocious animal would have decided to take a go at us. This, thankfully, didn't happen and we heaved a sigh of relief on trekking away from the spot where from the growling appeared to emanate. Trekking in alpine zones of Pir Panjal is fraught with such dangers as we all know. After some  45 minutes of ascent we saw a young Bakarwal lad Tariq and asked him if he can lead us to any safer place. He without hesitation welcomed us and took us to his dhok in Handu Valley. We stayed there for two nights with his family. Needless to stress that  the hospitality of mountain people is unmatched and something that every trekker worth his salt would vouch for. On day one we explored three lakes in the Jaddi Valley and Handu Valley viz Chandan Sar, Lakhsukh Sar and Handu Sar. When we were asleep in the dhok at night,  there was chaos outside. Later we were told that three wolves had descended from the surrounding ridges and devoured 8 sheep of Bakerwals.

Next day (8 Aug), at 7:50 AM we set off towards Bhag Sar which is the 3rd largest alpine lake in J&K after Kousarnag and Gangbal. Bhagsar is located within the Administrative  boundaries of District Shipian. As we trekked to see other lakes in the vicinity of Bhagsar, it suddenly grew darker and in minutes we were trembling in cold as a hale storm lashed the mountains with unspeakable ferocity. We had no luxury to wait out the  storm. We kept trudging on and on amidst the storm to reach the top of Neja Gali-a shoulder of the mighty  unsummitted Mount Pir Tikyad, erroneously called Dhakiyar by some, and the border between Shopian and Rajouri districts. The pass itself was covered by haze and large glaciers. Through out the ascent to the pass, we kept an eye on ridges to avert coming under a sudden rockfall from the scarily overhanging rocks above. The incessant lightning added to our woeful situation. At around 3:30 PM we were atop the Neja Gali. Our bodies were paralysed due to hail storm, gusty winds and the attendant freezing cold. But as they say, every cloud has a silver linings, once we arrived atop the Gali,  our eyes caught the sight of three enchantingly beautiful unexplored three  more lakes Neja Sar, Tikyad Sar and Beliyan Sar and we forgot all the trails and travails that we had to endure to reach the top. In between Bhagsar and Neja Gali we explored three more lakes viz Pada Sar 1, Pada Sar 2 in Rajouri vicinity and Chambara Sar in Poonch Jurisdiction. Everybody was so excited to be in the lap of Peer Tikyad and to behold the sight of those three pristine lakes. we explored all the lakes of Hirpora Lakes Trek in district Shopian and Pada Lakes of Rajouri district. This completed our quest  to explore all the eight lakes of  Hirpora lakes fame.  As the sun started to go down we trekked back to the dhok to rest and freshen our bodies for the next day.

Day third (9 Aug), was taxing, both physically and emotionally as over the previous two days we had braved unfavourable weather, faced some scary encounters with wild life, endured insanely difficult gradiant of the nallas and high passes.  We had summon last reserves of our physical and emotional strengths to carry on and explore 2 more lake of Hirpora Lakes Trek Sona Sar and Nandan Sar and 7 Lakes Trek of 7 Lakes Trek in Poonch namely Kadchi Sar, Katori Sar, Katarnal Sar, Neil Sar, Deing Sar and Kalditchni Sar. Rarely have trekkers and mountaineers had to cross seven 4000 Mtrs. But with God's grace we persevered and  indeed gave ourselves treasure trove of tales of grit, determination and decisiveness.

While trekking from Kalditchni lake to Nandansar we saw a black face peeping out of a den. We guessed it to be either a Wolf or a Bear. Nearly lay the corpse of a Himalayan Griffon with very long wings.  It weighed some 15 kgs approximately. We rested for a while at the banks of Nandansar soaking in the view and resumed our journey back to Peer ki Gali and reached there  at 8:20 PM riding back to Heerpora.

This trek was special for it makes us arguably the first group to have explored all the nineteen lakes, Passes and Valleys in and around Hirpora WLS.

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