Dodra-Kwar: Beyond the Chanshal

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Dodra-Kwar beyond Chanshal Pass, from Rohru, is a region that I had been eyeing for a long time but never materialized due to various reasons. Once I even reached Rohru but could not go ahead. For the uninitiated, these two arevuplages beyond the Chansal Pass, which is a mortorable but challenging pass. This region is a part of Shimla district, but make no mistake, they are far away from Shimla City and as remote as the likes of Pangi Valley and Lahaul. In fact, these villages were connected with a road network only a few years ago. In fact, I have already included this area in my list of most unexplored regions in Himachal.
Atop Chanshal
Anyway, although I have still to visit it, In have managed to extract these details and photographs from Nivedhan, whom contacted me through Instagram (Yes, I do have an Instagram account that hardly anyone visits). He recently visited the area and is willing to share some details. Over to Him.
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Understanding Dodra-Kwar

Do note that Dodra and Kwar are two different villages (there are other smaller villages in this region) and I am naming them together to dnote this region. When you cross over the Chanshal Pass from Rohru, you get Dodra first, followed by Kwar.  The Dodra Kwar area is actually very near to Uttarakhand. You can hike over to the other side in Garhwal, which is not far from the iconic Har ki Doon trek. So, the area is also not far from the Govind Pashu Vihar National Park & Sanctuary. In fact, Dodra Kwar fall on the Rupin River Valley and it is possible to cross them during the Rupin Pass Trek which connects that area of Uttarakhand to Kinnaur region of Himachal. Rupin River flows between Dodra & Kwar.
Traditional Structures
Before reaching this region, you have to reach the Pabbar Valley, the region watered by the Pabbar river. This valley is comparatively unexplored and there are many things to explore here and the river is also famous for trout fish, which makes it an Angling destination. Rohru is the main town in Pabbar Valley. It is not exactly a touristy town that you usually find in Himachal. Nevertheless, there are many stay options including a big HPTDC hotel. From the bus stand here, you will get buses to most of the nearby places. Rohru is connected with regular bus service from Shimla. Also, from Rohru you can get a bus to Purola in Uttarakhand via Mori & Hanol. That area is the base for Har ki Doon trek.
Tree on the edge
Chanshal Pass is the 4500 meter high pass that you have to cross from Rohru to reach Dodra-Kwar. This road is dicey and the pass is an attraction itself, especially for those who love dangerous roads and want to cross them on their bikes and cars.
Chanshal (Reminded the editor of Hudan Bhatori)
Wild blossoms I
Wild blossoms II
Partial Mist

How to Reach Dodra-Kwar?

To reach Dodra Kwar, you first need to reach Rohru from Shimla. From Rohru you will get bus to Dodra & Kwar.
  • Bus from Shimla to Rohru in Pabbar valley will take 6 hours, very frequent buses – really good roads.
  • Bus from Rohru to Chanshal(50kms)-Dodra(70kms)-Kwar(90kms) – 5/6hrs-7/8hrs-~9hrs – only one bus a day at 10am from Rohru busstand.

Dodra-Kwar Bus Timing

Only one bus at 10 AM daily from Rohru to Kwar vias Dodra over Chanshal.

Bus from Kwar to Rohru leaves at 8 am – reach Dodra by 10-10:30 am and stay for an hour for food – then to Chanshal by 12:30-1pm – another hour of driving and stop for lunch at a dhaba before heading into Pabbar valley.

Dodra-Kwar Road Conditions

Shimla to Rohru road is good.

Rohru to Chirgaon road is decent.

Road past Chirgaon (70kms to Kwar from Chirgaon) is literally non-existent and is really challenging. This bus gets really crowded on weekdays, highly recommend getting to the busstand early and waiting in queue to get tickets before the bus becomes full.

Dodra-Kwar Distace Chart

Shimla to Rohru 110 KMs

Rohru to Chanshal Pass 48 KMs

Chanshal Pass to Dodra Village 19 Kms

Dodra Village to Kwar Village 22 Kms

High altitudes always have their own delights.

Where to Stay in Dodra Kwar & Chanshal?

As this area is still not very touristy, options here are limited.

Stay in Rohru

Rohru is a reasonably big town with one big HPTDC hotel and many local budget hotels.

Stay in Chanshal

A bolero camped there with kitchen 24/7 for very expensive food, water and tents for rent (we carried our own tent and camped – lots of really beautiful places to camp freely). Can hike over mountaintops from Chanshal – beautiful views – lots of trails and open meadows to explore around the top.

Camping at the Pass

Stay in Dodra

Stay in Dodra – Negi dhaba for food and stay – Rs.500 for a double room. Can talk to locals and camp in fields. A small hike to view a waterfall by the side of the village (Negi can help) ad other trails around fields can also be explored.

Stay in Kwar

Shimla Pani Guesthouse for food and stay – Rs.500 for a spacious, neat double room. Need locals permission to camp – unsafe outside the village because of bears. There may be a PWD Guesthouse too in the village if you have official connections. A trail leads to bottom of the valley to the Rupin river – very isolated, pristine and so very very beautiful. There’s also some 3-4 villages nearby such as Jiskun etc. to hike to and explore. Lots of trails from the village into the woods to explore as well.
Above the clouds

Best Season for Dodra-Kwar

The best season will be summer (May-June) and post-monsoon (September-October). Considering the high altitude pass that you have to cross, this region is not recommended in the snowy winters as well as the rainy monsoon months.

Connectivity at Dodra-Kwar

Everything works till Rohru including phone and internet. After that, do not expect much, especially data connectivity is unlikely.

Exploring Dodra Kwar

People in the valley are extremely friendly and hospitable. Rumours about locals poisoning outsiders food is very very untrue. Pristine and untouched throughout. Women enjoy a very respectable position in the society – equal treatment with men in social setting, right to divorce and remarry. But casteism a real problem. Within Kwar itself there’s an upper village (Dhandirwadi) and lower village (Pujarli). Recommend going all the way to Kwar first – spend 2-4 days. Then go to Dodra -spend 1-2 days and then stop at Chanshal on way back – 1 day.
Village roads at Kwar
Temple at the village
River crossing
Towers on the edge

Additional Explorations in Pabbar Valley

In Pabbar valley – go to Kharapathar (1 hour from Hatkoti)  and then take a cab to Giri Ganga (8kms) – temple and trek to mountain peak. Really green, lush and beautiful. Apples, pears, plums, peaches and apricots all over the two valleys; especially in Rupin valley (Dodra-Kwar) where you can just pluck and eat in a lot of places that are not private orchards. There is another maor trek here called Chandernahan Lake Trek, which is considered to be the origin of Pabbar River. Between Shimla to Rohru, you will touch places like Kotkhai, Jubbal, and Hatkoti, which have their own delights. You can also explore trout fishing/angling opportunities in and around Rohru.
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Contributor Bio
I’m Nivedhan Suresh, 24, Strength and conditioning coach/personal trainer specialising in training and nutrition for general population , amateur athletes and post injury rehabilitation – partner at Strength System, Chennai. I’ve been travelling to offbeat destinations in the mountains seeking undisturbed natural beauty and remoteness to escape the city life. I’ve travelled in Kerala, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland over the past three years. Hoping to add a whole lot more places to the list in the coming years.

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Jitaditya Narzary

Is a traveller disillusioned by the familiar and fascinated with the unknown... and of course the founder of this blog.

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