Chanshal is one of the mightiest peaks in the inner Himalayas, which rises many thousand feet above the Pabbar Valley in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh. Known majorly for its grandeur and immaculate beauty, Chanshal is a pass that links Rohru to Dodra Kwar area of Shimla district.
At an altitude of 4,520 m (14,830 ft) above sea level, Chanshal boasts of being the highest peak in Shimla district. Owing to its altitude and weather conditions in the area, the pass remains open only between May and October each year. Rest of the times, the pass remains covered with snow, making it difficult to concur.
The Chanshal Pass is now motorable, but it wasn’t until as recently as 2009. The local tribes were against the development efforts of Himachal Pradesh State Government since they believed their deity did not approve of a road to reach their area. This was the time when people of Dodra and Kwar on the other side of Chanshal did not have an easy way into Rohru, which is the primary commercial area of the region (a reason the two villages are still in backward state).
Chanshal, its beauty and access
The vast and luscious slopes of Chanshal Pass are its most unique features. And being at the highest point in Shimla is what makes Chanshal a pass worth visiting. The pass is home to few nomadic Gujjars and vast endless mountain ranges. The nearest human habitation on either side is at Larot (20 km down) and Dodra and Kwar villages far away in the oblivion on the other side.
Larot is the main point on the Rohru side of the pass. The place has the Chanshal region’s only school and there is also a small hotel along with HPPWD rest house in case you choose to halt here on your journey to Chanshal. Before the motorable road to Chanshal Pass, Larot was the starting point (base camp) for amazing treks to the Chanshal top.
How to reach Chanshal?
Chanshal Pass is 180 km from the queen of hills, Shimla. As mentioned, the pass is accessible by road via Rohru from May to October.
From Rohru a well-paved narrow road leads you along the Pabbar River to Chirgaon. On the way forward, you cross Sandhasu and Tikri and then climb up to Larot, which is from where the steep climb to the Chanshal Pass (20 km) begins on a rather uncomfortable road (though an experience worth every bit of it).
There is a helipad at Kwar village, where choppers land with special permission.
Main attractions around the Chanshal Peak are the two villages Dodra and Kwar. The villages with basic mud and wood homes along the Rupin River are worth a site for their cultural heritage and beauty. The temples at Dodra and Kwar with heads of various animals mounted on their exterior are a rare sight.
For trekkers and adventure seekers there is a trek originating from the area to the Rupin Pass. The Pass ushers you into beautiful Sangla village of Kinnaur district.