CDA in coordination with Himalayan Wildlife Foundation has recently opened up a new walking trail in the Darra Jangla valley of Margalla hills. A large area on the trail start had been occupied by the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) folks since 1980’s and had become a no-go area for ordinary citizens and hikers. Only after a long legal battle against the heavy odds, Margalla Hills Society has been able to get this area opened up again for the nature lovers and hikers.
The starting point for trail 5 is just before the eastern end of Margalla road in front of Judges Colony. A parking facility is also being developed there that will be able to accommodate 50+ vehicles.
Darra Jangla area is the one of the most scenic of the whole of Margalla hills. It is rich with the flora and fauna. While the restrictions on this area were not liked by the people who wanted it to be open for all, it has probably brought a very positive impact in terms of increased vegetation and presence of wildlife. This valley is also an ideal place for bird-watching specially in the wee hours of morning. Different species of pheasants can easily be spotted running around.
Trail 5 is a very interesting trail for hikers. Apart from its captivity, another major reason for its charm is the number of options it provides. Starting from the trail start, one can make very interesting loops or can even end in other parts of the hills. The walk can be started right from the parking area or alternatively one can come from Trail 3 parking through a 10 minutes walk. Once you start walking on the main trail, it is a 15-20 minutes gentle walk that crosses the camping site and climbs up gently to a place where a small stream bisects it. A few benches have also been put here by CDA guys to facilitate people. From here, a track on left joins climbs up and joins Trail 3 near the pine trees visible at the top. The main track from here climbs steeply up and after a little hike (around 30 minutes from the start), reaches an old banyan tree (marked as Point Ficus on the map). From the banyan tree, three different routes can be taken. One branching towards the left joins the Trail 3. The one going straight towards north joins the main Pir Sohawa road between Gokina and Pir Sohawa. The one turning right (marked as Trail 5B on the map) reaches the fresh water stream and continues on a zig-zagged path towards Murad Gali on the main Pir Sohawa road. It takes a total of 2-2.5 hours walk time to reach Murad Gali from the trail base. If one doesn’t want to go back through the same path, a very interesting option is to descend towards Ratta Hotar valley. Just before the Murad Gali settlements, a trail turns right before descending towards South. Make sure you remain on the main wider trail as a few smaller ones will branch off in different directions. As a rule of thumb, if on some trail, one has to cross into the bushes and way needs to be cleared through hands, this is not the main trail and not very frequently traveled by the locals. Main trail descends eventually to the village of Ratta Hotar where there are a few houses and a well built shrine. To reach back to Trail 5 starting area, take a right turn after a few meters from the road that starts after the shrine. After around 10 minutes of walk, take the wider trail going towards left instead of continuing on the main which will become less wider. This path will get one right at the back of camping site.
Main Trail 5 has an approximate length of 6.5 kms.