There is a saying that says cold weather makes everyone more polite. It’s true the days of winter are when people come together and help each other out, sharing food and warmth like never before. However, not all years can be like this. There are times in which winter is harsh and unforgiving enough that it prevents its own people from even getting out of bed. The Chadar Trek is one such journey.
It takes place in the remote kingdom of Ladakh, a region that has been isolated for centuries, when it is at its coldest. The Chadar Trek basically consists of trekkers who go through the Chanderkot Pass and reach Tashur Gompa. This is a remote monastery perched on the frozen mountain top.
The Journey to Chadar Trek
The journey is known to have been started by an ancient Buddhist monk called Gomang Tsari, who in 1804 first carried the tradition across the frozen river. The locals refer to it as “Chadar Trail”, or “Tsari Chandar”. It is commonly believed that this journey had been carried out since ancient times.
Facts of Chadar Trek
The locals say that the Chadar Trek is one of the most dangerous treks in India. This is because it is very tough terrain and you have to cross freezing cold water. The difference between the freezing water and the extreme chill in the air can be as much as 30-40 degrees Celsius. The Chadar trek has not been graded by the India Government. But it has been listed as a difficult one. This is why the trek takes place only in the winter months of late January to late February.
The starting point is usually Tashur Gompa which is at an altitude of 12,400 feet, from where the trek starts. It all begins with a three day walk from there to Chanderkot Pass itself. This takes around three and a half to four hours. The Chanderkot Pass is situated on the right bank of the Indus river, which freezes even further as time passes. Getting through this pass can take anywhere between thirty minutes to three hours. It depends on the amount of snowfall.
The first day of the Chadar Trek is usually quite a refreshing one, as the Chanderkot Pass is fairly easy to get through. The trekkers hike along frozen streams and rivers, while crossing small snow covered dunes.
During this time it is not unusual to see large groups of yaks, ponies and mules. You can expect all these animals to accompany the trekkers across the Chadar. The first two days of this trek are known to be very peaceful. Because it takes place in relatively warmer climate conditions. But two days later, the trek begins the real climb. The next three days are known to be extremely difficult. Hence, it is considered by many as one of the toughest in this part of India.
Reasons to Take on The Chadar Trek in Ladakh
While the Chadar trek is an arduous six-day journey and has been known to take its toll on some people, it’s well worth the effort for those who want an unforgettable experience
You’ll be able to see one of nature’s most remote places firsthand. The Chadar trek will lead you into a land where sunlight rarely appears and it can get bitterly cold during winter. But that’s not the only thing that makes this trek special. The region is extremely hostile and it will take a truly intrepid traveller to survive in such a hostile setting.
If you’re one of those daredevils, why not make this trip? You’ll be able to explore some of the most striking landscapes in the world. During your time here, you’ll see mountains that go on for miles upon miles, frozen lakes and tiny villages on top of snow-covered hills.
How to Reach Chadar Trek?
If you’re at all outdoorsy, one of your bucket list items should be to hike the Chadar Trek in Ladakh. This journey takes place on the frozen Zanskar river in the Himalayas, and is absolutely breathtaking. Therefore, it’s one of those adventures that will change your life and bring you closer to nature.
The easiest way to travel to Leh is by air. The airport nearby is Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport (IXL) which is in Leh. This airport is connected with many international airports in India like Delhi. It also receives flights from Srinagar, Jammu, Chandigarh, and other known destinations in India.
Permits & Rules for the Chadar Trek in Ladakh
All trekkers must:
- Accomodate in Leh for two days, after arriving & before departing for the trek
- You also have to do a medical check-up and get a medical certificate from a local medical board in Leh. That certificate should state that you are suitable for the altitude and are physically fit to go on trek.
- Essentials like personal accident insurance is a must have for the trek
- Make sure to get a permit from ALTOA post submission of NOC as well as medical certificate
Things You Need to Take to The Chadar Trek:
- Woolen cap, socks, mittens & scarf
- Warm clothes
- Walking stick
- Rain cover
- Waterproof windcheater
- Water bottle
- Extra pair of socks
- Backpack with waterproof linings
- Fleece jackets and thermals
- Led torch (with extra batteries)
- Lightweight quilt or blanket
- Mosquito & insect repellent
- Toilet paper & wipes
The Chadar Trek – No Other Trek in India
Described as “one of the world’s most spectacular treks,” the Chadar Trek is a frozen river crossing through a barren and beautiful valley in Ladakh. One of the Chadar Trek highlights is Tibb Cave, an ancient cave becoming a famous spot for all hikers. The temperature here is twenty degrees below the freezing point . Sometimes it is even colder!
First place people would not believe it is India when it comes to trekking a frozen river. They will think of Iceland or maybe even Antarctica. This place is as stunning and elite as these other locations are. No matter what the Chadar Trek has to offer in terms of difficulty and unique treks.