Sattal is a cluster of 7 lakes at varying altitudes near Dharali. (There is a similarly named place near Nainital too – don’t confuse this one with that). The only way to reach them is to climb up the mountain on your feet. No motor-able roads here. Some of the lakes have dried up over the years due to changing weather patterns, deforestation or maybe simply neglect. The ones which survive are beautiful beyond words. Maybe the difficult access has kept them safe.
We had a spare day to kill at Harsil. That’s when our local host pitched the idea of Sattal trek to us. It starts from near Dharali, some 2 KMs away from Harsil. We liked the idea of visiting these offbeat lakes that most people don’t bother about. Maybe because of the trek involved or maybe because of disinterest.
The morning at Harsil was bright and sunny. We finished our breakfast quickly and dashed towards Dharali. Our guide was to carry the lunch and cooking utensils. Unfortunately, we forgot to pick up the ingredients for tea. Something everyone missed dearly once at the camp site. Maybe we will plan another trip, with the missed ingredients, to strike it off our list. Lol!
PREVIOUSLY ON THIS TRIP Harsil – A supremely beautiful and quiet hamlet
It starts off pretty steep. But, trust me, this is just a trailer. It gets much more steep in the later parts, specially after crossing the first lake. We were out of breath pretty soon. While our friend and guide was way ahead! Made us realize how healthy we were! Lol! The trek route passes through a beautiful village, some apple plantations, farms, etc. It was nice to see the relaxed pace of the local life.
The first lake is approx. 3 KMs away. The water is so clear you can actually see right down to the lake bed. We enjoyed the view and cool breeze momentarily and then moved on. The real steep section starts after this. At some places, we were hard pressed to find the route and were about to chicken out. Our guide kept motivating us and ensured we do not head back down.
The excruciating climb did not seem to end.
When our guide pointed to a distant temple, which was our next pitstop, we were somewhat relieved.
The second and third lakes are close by. Second one has completely dried up and it’s more of a swamp now. The third one is also on the brink of extinction. There is a temple on one side of this second lake. There are some interesting stories about this temple and various caves on the hill face, some distance away. The fourth lake is just around the corner from the second lake. By the time we reached the fourth lake it was close to 1 PM. It took us roughly 2-2.5 hours to climb this far. We gained an altitude of approx 1000 ft. during the trek.
Sattal, well, almost
Lake number five, six and seven were still some distance away.
We were tired, hungry and thirsty.
Mission Sattal aborted at the fourth lake 😩
We found a cool spot around a tree and just collapsed on the grass! Our guide, meanwhile, built up a small fire to cook Maggie. Though it took a long time, it was insanely delicious! Or maybe it was just our hunger pangs. As for the thirst, drank straight from the stream which was feeding the lake. Water was chilled, and what sweetness! Beats our artificially filtered, cooled water any day! Lying there in the green grass was an experience I will cherish for a long time.
WATCH The video log of the trek
Unfortunately, soon after lunch, it was time to head back as our destination for the night was Uttarkashi.
The downhill trek was a different beast! We took a different route (a.k.a shortcut) and it was a lot more difficult compared to the climb up! Damn those shortcuts.
TOP TIP: Never go for shortcuts, with a 2 wheel drive 😎
Maybe, we will return to Sattal someday to go right upto the 7th lake. Have you been there? How was the experience? Have a story or photos to share?
Return to Uttarkashi
We started back for Uttarkashi around 4 PM. It is close to 75 kms from Harsil. Mid way, we stopped at Sukhi Top, to enjoy the amazing views which we had missed during our onward journey due to the cloud cover. Today it was clear and we could admire the vast valley.
After a hot cuppa, Maggie (less spicy 😉), and some lazying around started for Uttarkashi. We reached our stay by 7 PM. Had an early dinner and crashed!
Home Run to Delhi via Mussorrie
The last leg of the trip was the usual home run, drive back to Delhi. Onward journey was through Haridwar so we decided to return via Mussorrie/Dehradun. A pretty late start from Uttarkashi (10 AM), and I was prepared for a late night arrival in Delhi. The road to Mussorrie bifurcates at a later bend after Dharasu. This road is newly laid out and tarmac is super smooth. It gets a little narrow at places but nothing too problematic. The traffic is not much but due to frequent twists and turns, you will not be able to maintain anything over 30-40 KMPH.
As we neared Mussorrie, the cloud cover was back and it was reminiscent of our onward journey where we encountered similar mist on the road. We took the Mussorrie bypass and stopped at a dhaba for lunch around 4 PM, on our way down to Dehradun.
Once in Dehradun, we also gorged on the famous KC Momos😎. Indeed, they were awesome! From Dehradun, it’s a simple run to Roorkee, through Rajaji National Park and Chhutmalpur. We did encounter some congestion in Chhutmalpur and then at a railway crossing but nothing too bad. The roads are fabulous all through out and inspite of being state highways you can easily stick to the speed limits. The traffic is sparse. Finally made it home by 11 PM after dropping off everyone. 13-hour run with 2-3 breaks, not bad compared to our onward journey which took close to 14.5 hours!
With the trip finally over, the big question that looms over my head now, is, where to next? Haven’t really thought of anything yet but the long Independence Day weekend is tempting me. Fingers crossed. 😉
Have you trekked up all the way to the seventh lake? Share your story, we would love to know!