“And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:”
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Such a beautiful dream is the Pindari glacier in the Himalayas, a homage to the virtuoso of the great poet that is Mother Earth, with the “caves of ice” of the Kumaon valley and the sacred river of Pindar meandering “through the woods and the dale”, a masterpiece indeed.
The Pindari and Kafni glaciers in the Kumaon hills of the Himalayas are beauty- pure and unprecedented. Billions of years old ancient rocks cloaked with feet deep snow soaring over green meadows of rhododendrons, from where the crystal clear waters of the sacrosanct Pindari and Kafni rivers slowly take birth. The Pindari and Kafni trek is indeed a paradise for trekkers and nature lovers alike, where the exquisite wilderness and the thirst for exploration of Mother Nature come together in the most captivating way possible. For just 7 days, forget about the world out there and live on the aroma of the mountain air.
The Pindari Glacier, at an astounding altitude of 3660 m above sea level lies on the edge of the Nanda Devi Mountain in the Kumaon Himalayas of Uttarakhand and is the birthplace of the Pindari River, which later meets the Alakananda River thus unifying eventually with the holy Ganga. The river is thus considered sacred. The trek to the Pindari glacier is a journey canopied by enthralling dense forests and silver river beds. Its beauty along with its easy accessibility among other Himalayan glaciers lures mountaineers and trekkers towards it and the trek has earned the nickname of a ‘soft adventure’.
From Dwali, the trail to Pindari diverts to the Kafni Glacier, located further up at 3860 m above sea level. Kafni Glacier is an untamed and untouched paradise situated on the east of the Pindar valley. The 12 km trek from Dwali to the glacier is beautified by the presence of exquisite flora and fauna and ends at the foot of Nandakot parbat.
The Pindari Valley also thrives ancient trade routes which linked it to Tibet for centuries. The valley was explored by GW Traill, the first Deputy Commissioner of Kumaon, in 1830, on a shorter route to Martoli in Milam Valley from Pindari Glacier. He took the route through the Pindari ice-fall, crossing a dip now named Traill’s Pass after him.
Day 01: Kathgodam – Bageshwar – Loharkhet
The trek starts from Kathgodam from where the drive to Bageshwar via Almora takes approximately three hours. The town of Bageshwar is famous for the old Bagnath temple situated at the confluence of the Saryu and Gomti Rivers. From Bageshwar head towards Loharkhet which has rest houses for an overnight stay.
Day 02: Loharkhet – Dhakuri
Loharkhet at an elevation of 1760 m above sea level is the first stop of the trek to Pindari Glacier. The trek passes through dense forests and the major stop is Dhakuri Khal, which is situated at an elevation of 2680 m amidst dense forests. It offers a breath-taking view of the snow-capped peaks of the southern wall of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary. Stay overnight at Dhakuri Khal.
Day 03: Dhakuri – Khati
The trail continues to Khati which is the biggest and the last village en route to Pindari Glacier situated on the banks of the Pindar River at an elevation of 2210 m above sea level. The trail passes through dense forests of beautiful rhododendrons of all shades of pink and violet. The KMVN rest house about 500 m ahead of Khati is a decent place to spend the night. Villagers in Khati claim to be descendants of the race who provided shelter to the Pandavas, a claim which is well supported by their hospitality.
Day 04: Khati – Dwali
After Khati, the trek moves along the Pindar River crossing two wooden bridges. The tea and Maggi at a small dhabha en route called the Himalayan Hotel is the most delicious way to keep away the cold. The day’s trek stops at Dwali which is situated at an elevation of 2575 m above sea level and is enchantingly beautiful. Stay overnight at Dwali.
Day 05: Dwali – Phurkia
The trek gets steeper after Dwali and the 5 km trail from Dwali to Phurkia is graded the first moderate level climb of the trek. Crossing the frozen stream to reach Phurkia is perhaps the most adventurous part of the climb. Phurkia is the last place en route Pindari Glacier where you can find accommodation, about 3250 m above sea level. There is a beautiful waterfall near Phurkia which makes for a perfect place to rest and click some photographs to immortalize the moment. Camp overnight in Phurkia.
Day 06: Phurkia – Zero Point – Phurkia – Dwali
The last stop of the trek to Pindari Glacier is Zero Point- the mouth of the glacier which offers a magnificent view of the Himalayan range. About one kilometre before the Zero Point, is the famous Babaji’s house who serves food to people who make it to the glacier. If you also wish to trek further to the Kafni Glacier then trek back to Dwali and stay there overnight.
Day 07: Dwali – Kafni Glacier
Trek to Kafni Glacier in the morning from Dwali. The Kafni Glacier is situated to the left of the Pindar valley and offers an extravagant view of the major Himalayan peaks of Nandakot and Nanda Bhana. The glacier has a solitary charm and an awe-inspiring view of the Himalayan terrain.
How to reach:
The trek starts from Kathgodam which is also the nearest railhead to Loharkhet and is connected to all the major railheads of the state. The nearest airport is Pantnagar airport which is about 34 km from the hill town. Public and private buses are available from Delhi, Haldwani, Tanakpur and Almora to both Kathgodam and Bageshwar. You can also take a private or shared cab from Bageshwar to Loharkhet.