Musa Ka Musala stands at an altitude of 4080 meters at the junction of Siran and Kaghan Valleys in Himalaya. The name translates to "Mose's 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, some even attribute it to the prophet Moses. At the top, there is a Shrine made up of different stones and marked with colorful flags. Its status has always been debatable whether, it is a peak or plateau.
Musa ka Musala peak can be attempted using many routes. The conventional Route of Munda Gucha is more established and it’s easier to arrange logistics on this route. You can drive from Islamabad to reach Shinkiyari, a town up in the north of Manshera, and from there to Munda Gucha. Munda Gucha village is where your journey actually begins. You can hire a guide + donkey here who will guide you up to the mountain and also carry logistics like food, tents etc.
Then from Manda Gucha to Jachha, which is about 3.2 Kilometers and takes about 30 Minutes on Jeep. A walk on this jeep trek takes around 1 hour. Manda Gucha is a small village about 1614 meters above sea level. The melted road ends here in the market. There are small restaurants and tea houses. You can have a decent breakfast here before starting your trek.
Jachha to Dhor Camp Site is about 4.8 Kilometers and estimated travel time is about 1 Hour 45 Minutes on foot. Once you reach Jachha, either by walking or in a jeep, this is where you actually get on your feet and get ready for moving uphill. Jachha is at 1823 meters elevation. There is nothing interesting here. You just need to cross a small water stream and start the trek.
Dhor to Jabbad Meadow is about 4.5 Kilometers and takes about 3 Hours on foot. Dhor is a bigger village, and just after the village you will be able to see on your left along the river, the Dhor camp site, which is a little flat land, and a bridge that you can't miss. It’s a good place to rest for a while. Dhor Bridge is at 1989 meters elevation. From here you have two routes to Jabbad Meadow. You can either cross the big stream, and climb up the steep mountain, which will be a 4.6 Kilometer trek. In this case you will not be crossing the Dhor bridge.
The second route seems to be a bit longer but is actually 4.5 kilometers. This path has an average of 16% grade elevation, which is still quite tough, but easier than the first route that goes straight uphill. You get on this path by crossing the Dhor bridge. While on this path, you will move through a small village called 'Nabi'. You will mostly move through dense shrubs and trees and will reach a village called Bakki. Jabbad is a small and nice meadow. Definitely a place to take a break and some photos. Elevation is about 2683 meters.
Jabbad Meadow to Khodi Meadow, which is about 2.1 Kilometers and takes about 1 Hour 17 Minutes on foot. Jabbad Meadow to Khodi Meadow is a nice scenic trek of 2.1 kilometers. You get a mesmerizing view of Khanda Peak, also known as Khanda K2 on your left almost all the time. You pass through small meadows and grass fields and finally reach the beautiful Khodi village / Khodi Meadow at 2935 meters above sea level. This is where you will end your Day 1 and camp for the night. This is also the place where your donkey will be parked and unloaded.
Early next morning, you will leave your camp after breakfast, and head towards Gali. Khodi Meadow to Gali is about 1.3 Kilometers and takes aout 38 Minutes on foot. It is a steep 17% grade slope. It will be covered with ice during winters till late April. You will need ice axe to navigate through this patch. Studs on your boots or crampons can be effective too.
It takes about 40 minutes to reach Gali. In colder weather it might take twice or thrice the time. Gali is the saddle of the mountain and the summit push starts from here. Gali is at 3175 meters above sea level. From here onwards you will be able to see the ThandiGali Ridge on your right all the time, upto the summit.
Gali to Pehli Ziyarat 'The first shrine' is about 3.8 Kilometers and takes about 3 Hours 38 Minutes on foot. From Gali the steep starts, so does the snow even in the summers. There are two Ziyarats 'Shrines'. Both are stacked up stones, and look similar. The one of the Summit is called the Ziyarat itself, and the one 600 meters before the summit is called the Pehli Ziyarat.
From Gali, while moving up, you will obviously first bump into the Pehli Ziyarat, which is a good place to take a longer rest and photos. It took us 3 hrs 38 minutes to reach it. The elevation of Pehli Ziyarat is 3935 meters. Pehli Ziyarat to Summit is 0.61 Kilometers and takes about 39 Minutes on foot.
From Pehli Ziyarat starts the final push to the summit against a steep 22% grade slope, mostly snow covered. In winters its completely snow packed. Reaching the summit opens up an awesome striking view of the neighbouring snow covered mountains. You can see the Makda Peak in the distance. The summit on GPS reads about 4080 meters when placed on the snow.
On your way back from Summit to Khodi Camp Site is 5.7 Kilometers and takes about 4 hours on foot downhill. Camp at the same Khodi meadow for the night. Khodi Meadow to Jachha is approximately 9 Kilometers and takes about 5 Hours 30 Minutes on foot. Next morning, pack up the camps, load the donkeys and prepare for descent.
One way is a short cut towards the end of the trek and other is route 1 joining Bakki to Dhor, which is quicker to descent. Also, towards the very final patch approaching Jachha, you can take a short cut to save couple of kilometers. From Jachh back to Manga Gucha, have lunch there if you want to and drive to Islamabad.