If I were to choose a name for this mountain, I would have named it as Makra instead of Musa ka Musalla. It certainly deserves the name Makra more than the peak with this name in the opposite valley across Kunhar river because of the very much spider like structure it has. Ridges come from all directions and converge near Musalla summit giving it a shape pretty much of a spider.
Musa ka Musalla peak stands at an altitude of 4050 meters at the junction of Siran and Kaghan valleys. The name translates to Moses’ Mat which has different stories associated with it. While some believe it to be named after a local shepherd with the name of Musa who used to pray at the peak here, some even attribute it to the prophet Moses. There is a small flat structure made up of different stones and marked with colorful flags of type one finds in all the shrines of this region. On a clear day, the summit offers exciting panoramic views of the entire area and surroundings.
There are many possible options to reach Musa ka Musalla top. It can be accessed from both Kaghan and Siran valleys. Trekkers have been using four basic routes to access Musa ka Musalla which are described below…
1. From Mandakucha/Jacha village: One can reach here through Mansehra/Shinkiari. Public transport is available from Mansehra for Mandakucha with a fare of Rs. 150 per head (May 2010). The road goes through Jabori and takes around 2-3 hours. One can also hire a hiace van or a jeep that can be taken up to Jacha village. Porters can be taken from Mandakucha village. From the starting point, the trek to the top of Musalla takes 8-10 hours. One can camp at Bikhi or Khori on the way which are 4-5 and 6-7 hours of trek from Mandakucha respectively.
2. From Naddi Bangla: One can reach Naddi bangla from Balakot on a jeep road which comes through Hangrai and takes around a couple of hours. Rest house here is mainly used to monitor the forest and is not in a very good condition. The road is metalled up to Hangrai and a little beyond after which a left turn takes one to a jeep only road. A normal jeep would take Rs. 3000-4000 one way up to Nadi Bangla and can accommodate a maximum of six persons. A loader jeep if available can be hired if one wants to save some bucks. It charges between Rs. 2000-3000 and can accommodate a group of 10+ people along with the luggage very easily. The disadvantage of a loader jeep is the lack of proper sitting space and often you have to spend the journey which standing in the open roof jeep which is quite an adventure in itself. It is recommended to take the jeep further few kilometers ahead to a place called as Kachal Katha from where the trek can be started. From here one can take a) Bagheer meadows route towards Northeast of Naddi Bangla b) Maidan route towards Northwest. Both the approaches converge at Shaddal Gali (also known as Thandi Gali) where one can also camp. Fresh water is available here at a short walking distance. From Bagheer, one can reach the top of Musalla in 5-6 hrs via Shaddal Gali.
3. From Kund Bangla / Shaheed Pani: There are forest rest houses on both the places and they can be reached via Masehra/Shinkiari. This is the longest re oute in terms of walking distance but is less hectic in terms of steepness. Jeeps take 3-4 hours from Shinkiari to reach Kund where one can stay at forest rest house for the night. From Kund, a 3-4 hours trek can take one to Shaheedpani where there is another rest house. From Shaheehpani, one can reach Shaddal Gali/Thandi Gali in 4-5 hours on a relatively flat terrain where the trail coming from Naddi Bangla joins in. From the gali, summit of Musalla can be reached in 2-3 hours. In all, the whole trek from Kund Bagla to Musalla peak takes 10-12 hours.
4. From Sharan: Sharan is a beautiful forested place that can be reached from Kaghan (Paras) on a jeep. There is a rest house and youth hostel available at Sharan. This is the most difficult option in terms of steepness and is not generally recommended for reaching the top. This option can be considered however for coming back which is all descend and takes around 7-8 hours.
Out of the above mentioned options, Naddi Bangla option via Bagheer is the most recommended path in terms of natural beauty. It is advisable to get the porters arranged beforehand as the population is scarce and locals might not be willing to go on a time of your choice.
Best time to do this trek is from mid June to mid September. Some groups also attempt it in winters in harsh conditions as a winter survival expedition. As with the other treks of the region, porter rates are not already defined and would have to be negotiated. Porters would charge on per day basis and it could be anything between Rs. 500 and 1000. A horse or mule can be hired on something between Rs. 1000 – 1400 per day (Rates as per summer of 2010).