“The beauty of the unexplored mountain of serpents will leave trekkers awe-struck“
Nag Tibba, near Mussoorie, is known to be the highest peak in the lesser region of the Garhwal Himalayas, Uttarakhand. With an altitude of about 9,915 feet, this hill station is ideal for budding trekkers as the terrain here is comparatively less steep than the other trekking areas in the state. The locals in this village worship the ‘Nag Devta,’ meaning serpent’s god, as they believe he safeguards their cattle from the deadly bites of the serpents. Hence, Nag Tibba is also known as Mountain of the serpent, where Tibba is locally known as hill or peak.
Mother nature has blessed this place with lush greenery and imposing surroundings. Fortunately, the path to this scenic beauty is still unknown from the mass population of the country and thus enjoys calm of mountains. However, travelers who are aware of this place mostly comes around for a winter trek. It is a perfect weekend getaway location from Delhi or any region in its vicinity.
Beginning of the journey
Pantwari marks the starting point of this trek, which is approximately 60 km away from Mussoorie. To reach Mussoorie, you can either take a bus from Delhi directly (285 km) or arrive at Dehradun first and then take a cab or bus from there. Choosing the latter one is more convenient as you would be able to get a rest day at Dehradun. The nearest railway station, as well as the airport for Pantwari, is also in Dehradun.
Now after reaching the Mussoorie bus stand, take a bus for Nainbagh and then a shared jeep for Pantwari. Try to take an early morning ride to have varied options of transportation mode. If you are open to spending a bit more, you can also take a cab from the taxi stand in Dehradun to reach directly to Pantwari. It will save the hassle of the break journey in Nainbagh and also be faster in reaching your destination. As it is an early morning ride, you can have your breakfast on the way from the many shops that sell home-cooked parathas and maggi. And the helpful Garwali people will also pack your lunch for the journey ahead.
Do you need a guide?
If you are trekking solo, then a guide is a must-have so as not to get lost in the forest. But, even if you are in a group, a guide is recommended as they will help you to explore better as being a local, they know this place at the back of their hand. Also, since you need to carry your own tent and kitchen supplies, they can guide you to the various drinking water sources you can use for your cooking while at the camp.
The journey begins: Trek to the campsite
It usually takes two days to complete the Nag Tibba trek, but the route you take completely depends on the tour guide you have chosen. The distance from the Pantwari village to the Nag Tibba campsite is about 5.5 km and takes about 4-5 hours to reach there. You can spend the night at the base camp, and don’t forget to have a bonfire if you visit during the winter. Take a visit to the Nag Mandir, which is quite popular among the locals. You would also be able to notice their lifestyles as they often take a trip to this mandir. Moreover, there is a water body close to the mandir; take a bucket when you go there so that you can fill it up and use it for your cooking.
On your way, you’ll find the trail is rich with varied types of trees, mainly Rhododendron, Pine, and Oak trees. If you are lucky, you’ll also get to see their wildlife animals such as Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, and Himalayan Eagle. Most of this path is on even surfaces, and the rocky trails have only minimal ascends. Don’t forget to gaze at the night sky filled with stars while you are at the camp; it is one of the most serene experiences in the entire trek.
Summiting the peak and coming back
The next day, wake up early and have breakfast so that you can start your trek to the summit as soon as possible. While beginning the climb to Nag Tibba, you will first experience a rocky trail and then the lush green forest. In the morning, this forest comes alive with the sounds of birds and animals. After a few meters of walking, you’ll notice a flag, a clear sign that you have reached the peak of the mountain. From the top, get a bird’s-eye view of some of the popular Himalayan peaks: Kedarnath, Gangotri, Srikanth, and Bandarpunch. After taking pictures to your heart’s content, get down to the campsite, have your lunch, and finally leave for Pantwari following the same trail you have used to reach here.
The goat village
This village is situated at the midpoint on the path to the campsite from Pantwari. Travelers who have already hiked to this summit would agree that it is a heaven in the Garhwal hills. This place has been crafted by the local artisans with local materials to maintain the authenticity of this place. The cottages here are beautifully adorned and are comfortable. They also serve home-made local delicacies to their customers. It has been intentionally made away from the main road to keep tranquil and peaceful surroundings. The entire village looks something out of a picture book, especially their cafeteria. It is a glasshouse where vegetables are grown through the greenhouse effect, so you know that everything there is organic. It is about 2-3 hours trek from the Pantwari village.
The average budget
Most tour guides take about Rs.5-6k that includes the necessary meals, camping essentials, and trek guides. Yet it varies from one guide to another. If you are planning to trek without a guide, then the overall expense would come down.
The best time to visit
Even though the Nag Tibba trek is suitable for all the year-round, January to March shows heavy snowfall, so you need to set your planning in that accordance. It is also the time when the crowd of trekkers starts to reduce, so if you don’t like crowds, this would be an ideal time to visit. However, summer brings clear, bright clear skies with lush green surroundings.