Musa Ka Musalla (4080 meters)

Musa Ka Musalla (4080 meters)

If you’re looking for a challenging but relatively quick trek that takes you above 4000 meters, Musa Ka Musalla near Kaghan valley may just be the right fit for you.

Situated conveniently close to the city of Balakot, this route to the trek is accessible via only a few hours jeep ride into the forest.

There are actually a number of ways to get to Musa ka Musalla, the most popular route being the one that goes through Manda Gucha. The Manda Gucha route is a 3-day excursion which involves camping for 2 days in between.

But the route that we are about to take, takes just 1 day to reach the summit. So blocking a weekend out, we packed our bags, and headed out straight to Balakot.

Some Facts about Musa ka Musalla:

  1. Musa Ka Musalla literally translates to ‘Moses Mat’. Some people have claimed that it is named after Prophet Moses, who used to come and pray here. This, however, is false. The peak was named after a shepherd who used to herd his sheep here, and often climbed to the top to pray.
  2. It is a 4080 meter peak, which is considered a high-altitude area. Physical fitness is important to do this trek. If you plan to do this in one day, bear in mind that the total trekking time can be above 12 hours, with an elevation gain of 1800 m in one day.
  3. Water is only available in the first quarter of the trek in the form of fresh streams. After that, there is no water for the entire summit bid. It is therefore advised to be prepared in advance.
  4. Since the trek is a high energy consumption trek, energy bars and energy gels are strongly recommended.
  5. This trek requires good hiking boots with a good tread to complete it. Bear in mind that the weather can turn rainy at any moment, so trekkers are advised to come prepared for any such situation. Rain coats, jackets, waterproof pants can come handy.
  6. That being said, in summer days, the sun can also burn without warning. So good hats, ample arm covering, sunblock and good sunglasses are also recommended for the trek.

A short car drive and a jeep ride later, we arrived at the beautiful Forest Guest house, which sits right in the middle of the jungle. The guest house is entirely made of wood, and there is a stuffed bear standing right in the middle of it. The bear stands stoic, almost as a friendly warning that this site is built on the home of a lot of wild animals, so ample precautions are necessary.

Since our trek was to start early morning the next day, we had an early barbecue dinner, and dozed right off in our tents/ sleeping bags.

The Day of the Trek:

Woke. Up. Late.

It is advised to leave at 430 am, so that we may start the trek at the break of dawn. However, in all the excitement (and tiredness) of the previous day’s journey, we got an hour late, and left for the jeeps at 5:30 am. If you’re not awake by then, the jeep will surely wake you.

Packing into old-fashioned jeeps, we made our way through the dense forest as dawn broke around us. The rumble of the jeep drowned the chirping bird cries outside, as we flew past pine trees and rocky streams. We held on tightly to the rails as the jeep jumped and bounced over rocks and tree roots, occasionally banging our heads on the roof as we attempted to marvel the beauty outside.  After an hours journey of rattling through the forest, we arrived at the start point of the trek, where we stretched, gathered our belongings, tightened our shoe laces, and set off.


The beginning of the trek itself is a steep climb on its own. As we started climbing almost immediately, our breathing got heavier, and we very quickly came to the realization that this is not going to be as easy as we thought.

After an hour of gaining altitude on the mud road, we came across these beautiful meadows, with lush green grass and towering pine trees around it. Had we made it to heaven?

As we walked along, we met a number of shepherds and shepherdesses. In summers, these sheperds migrate here and bring their flock of animals to graze on the delicious grasslands. They build their own summer homes made of plain wood that they gather from fallen trees. They insulate it with goat and cow manure. Life is as basic as it gets. They grow their own food, and milk their own cows to make fresh lassi and cheese. Saag and Makai ki roti is a staple food, and one can tell from the spring in their step, that they’re all healthier than we’d ever be.


 But the thing that struck me most about them was how happy they seemed. Despite living the absolute basic lifestyle, these people had contentment and purpose, something us city folks long for all our lives. It was truly a pleasure interacting with them and learning about their very organic and sustainable lifestyle.

Our first rest was at the beautiful meadows called Naaga. This is where the hospitable people of the mountains offered us some delicious breakfast for our onwards journey to the summit. Happy to be able to rest, we basked in the beauty of our surroundings and had some delicious chai paratha, before heading off onwards.

Naaga is the last stop that has water. After there, while the route is lush and beautiful, there is no drinkable water stream. One should keep at least 2 water bottles on them, as the way ahead is quite steep and water is essential.

As we trekked along, the scenery turned more and more beautiful. We started walking treacherously along a few areas with steep falls on one side. The trees started dwindling, and more and more grassy lands started appearing.

It seemed straight out of a movie!

We reached a point called Gali, which is an important point, as you can see the Sharan Valley, Shinkiari hills,Shogran, and a number of other valleys from here. From here, we could also see the snow-peaked mountains of Himalayas on the Naran side.

A short rest later, our test began. Gali is situated at around 10,000 feet. It is here that our fitness trackers started warning us to climb slow, as we were in a high altitude area.

As we gained more height, we started noticing a change in the landscape.

Wild flowers sprouted everywhere. Yellow wildflowers dotted the entire region in a stunning burst of colour against the bright green grass. Little critters scuttled their way from under rocks and disappeared into the ground around us. We felt like we were inching through a haven for little animals and rodents.

By now,we had started getting a little breathless. The air above 10,000 feet starts getting thinner the higher you climb, so it was in our best interests to take frequent breaks to avoid exhaustion.


Sights from Hell:

As we climbed higher, we came across a truly horrifying sight. At first it seemed like a one-off instance, of witnessing the remains of a sheep, its bones white and spickle clean. But things quickly took an ominous turn for the worst, as we stumbled across not two, but hundreds of bones, ribs, skulls and hooves, strewn all over the side of the mountain. It was a scene straight from a horror movie.




The guide told us that this was the result of an incident that happened 3 months ago. A shepherd was herding his sheep, when a sudden bolt of lightning crashed onto them, killing his entire flock right there and then. The shepherd himself sustained injuries, but was lucky to survive.

Apparently, lightning falls in this area quite frequently, and it is strongly advised by the locals to not go hiking if there is a forecast of rain or thunderstorms.

Suffice to say, that was enough of a motivation to start walking quickly, as we saw that some clouds had started appearing in the horizon near the summit.

Summit Push:

When we came to the foot of the summit, we decided to all gather together and push for summit together. This is because the way ahead was now steeper than ever before, and we could risk slipping and getting lost if we didn’t stick together.

As the incline got steeper, clouds descended upon us softly, as a gentle reminder of how far we’d come. Red flowers started appearing beneath our feet, and rocks started jutting out through the grass.  


As we neared the summit, the incline turned steep enough to forced us to climb on our hands and feet.



And after another grueling hour of climbing vertically, we finally saw it. The summit!

We were finally here. Musa ka Musalla. 4080 M. 13,500 feet.

Exhausted, we flopped over and rested for a bit. The views were shrouded by clouds, but that didn’t stop us from celebrating in our own way. A few people prayed at the top, where the shepherd Musa used to pray. Others sat and quietly marveled the landscape around. It was an achievement that demanded a lot of hard of work. Standing at the top made it all worth it.

Musa ka Musalla. 4080 meters. We did it.


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