Spread through varied terrains India is a country for the trek aficionados. The Himalayan range in the North & East India along with low altitude areas in the Southern part of the country are there to woo you with breathtaking views from the top. I am not an experienced trekker but rather prefer easy to moderate hikes for the views and pleasing sunsets. Done some and determined to do more of the *difficult* yet adventurous must-do treks in India, and so I have a compiled a checklist of the best trekking places in India for myself (& you).
The Must-Do Treks in India – Best trekking places in India
Hampta Pass Trek
Hampta Pass trek in the beautiful southern part of Manali (H.P) got its name from Hampta village. This trek is used by shepherds and villagers to reach Lahaul Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh. The trek is also known as beginners’ trek as it is easiest among all the treks of Himachal Pradesh. The whole trek takes five days to complete from ‘Manali to Chandrataal Lake’. The trek is graded as easy to moderate with an approximate distance of 26 km. The highest altitude upon reaching the top of the mountain is 14,100 feet or 4200meters.
This is one those must-do treks in India that have also got spiritual importance and is famous among Hindu pilgrims as ‘Stairway to Heaven’. According to Hindu Epic ‘Mahabharata’, Pandavas traversed through this path while on their way to heaven. It was Chandrataal where ‘Yudhishtra’ the eldest brother of Pandavas, was taken to heaven in his mortal form. The best time to visit this trek is May-June and September-October
Rumtze – Tso Moriri trek
Ladakh, India is famous for its incredible trekking opportunities. One of the most beautiful, but highly underrated treks in India is the Rumtze – Tso Moriri trek.
In 7 days, this trek will take you over no less than 6 passes well above 5000 meters of altitude! Throughout the trek, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife – such as kiang (wild asses), wolves, pika’s, red fox, blue sheep, and ibex. If you’re lucky, you can even stumble upon footprints of the ever elusive snow leopard.
Don’t get me wrong, this is one those treks in India which is not for the faint of heart. The altitude will seriously kick in on the second day of the trek and you will feel it! Some of the passes are steep, it might pour with rain or hail and you might wonder why you thought this was such a good idea.
But wait until you see the magnificent jaw-dropping views. Around every corner, the mountains are even more stunning than the previous ones. Trekking in this part of the world is incredibly rewarding and every bit worth it!
You can organize this trek from one of the many tour agencies in Leh, the capital of Ladakh. If you are a true adventurer, you can do this trek completely independent as well. Bring camping gear, food, a good map, and GPS. And a whole lot of courage. Check out this travel guide to Ladakh if you’d like to visit other parts of the town as well.
If that is all a bit too much – as it was for me -, you can join an organized trek. This includes a guide, cook and pack horses who will carry all camping gear and your backpacks. You’ll only have to carry a small daypack as if you are going on a one-day hike.
Kolukkumalai is a hill-station at the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and is famous for being the highest tea-garden in the world. The total trek to the edge of the hill is 9km however you can hire a jeep for covering 7.5 km. The bumpy ride through the unforgettable greenery is an adventure, even if you don’t want to trek the whole way.
The remaining 1.5km that you climb will lead you to the land of clouds and if fortunate the land of Neelakrurinji. Yes, the rarest flower of the world, which blooms only once every 12 years can be witnessed at the top of Kolukkumalai hills. The flowers had dried up already when we went there, but we were treated with many other rare species of flora which still graced the hills in November when we went.
You can halt at the highest tea factory in the world for a guided tour at just Rs.100 per person. If tea gardens and colourful blossoms are not enough, there are waterfalls, many of them to keep you motivated on this long trek.
Dunagiri is a delightful space under the District of Almora. It sits in Uttarakhand, a beautiful state in Northern India that constitutes parts of the Himalayas. Although Dunagiri is famous for the temple of Shakti, my friend and I opt to hike towards Pandukholi, a lesser-known Ashram that sat quietly by the cliffs. The hike was 3-hours along the edge of the mountains.
The dirt roads were surrounded by trees and greenery. Looking down, we saw miles and miles of farmlands and tiny wooden houses that dotted roads to the south. Against the backdrop of the setting sun, we continued on the path illuminated by rays of gold. It was absolutely magnificent.
This is one of those treks in India which is for the light trekkers like myself, so I’m absolutely going to add this to my list for best trekking places in India.
Kedarnath is one of the most popular religious places in India. Known for the valued Kedarnath temple of Lord Shiva, the temple is located at 11755 ft or 3500m amidst highly unstable terrain.
The 18 km trek starts from Gaurikund and after initial registration, the trek kicks off. The initial trek seems pretty easy, but the highly ill-maintained road, horses & ponies make the trek really difficult at times. The initial 6-7 km are greener taking us through some gorgeous terrain. The waterfalls by every few kilometres and the sight of the snow-laden mountains afar charge up the excitement. The majority of the second half of the trek is extremely tough with the steep mountains.
In 2013, the Kedarnath valley was struck with some of the worst floods North India has seen. Since the main route of the trek was almost destroyed then, the newer route opened after that is longer & tougher. The older route is being developed again and will be ready in a few years. The best time to visit Kedarnath is May to June & September to October and it is closed for the rest of the year because of heavy snowfall. May to June is the most crowded season with the sun shining at its peak & sharp enough to burn you – I literally came back home all sunburned. September and October are colder months and see fewer crowds. The Kedarnath trek is truly one of the best must-do treks in India best to experience the untouched natural beauty.
Dzukou Valley is one of the most surreal experiences in India. The green rolling hills and pristine streams crossing the valley look like a scene from a fairy tale.
Dzukou valley trek takes two days, as a rule. It starts from Viswema and Zakhama villages in Nagaland. First one is longer, second is steeper. While you don’t need a special preparation as such, the 1-hour steep climb will make you count every minute. Once you enter the valley though, the views will be totally worth the efforts.
There is a campsite in the valley with basic accommodation and food, where you can take rest and prepare to explore the valley the next day.
Although the main season is in July – August during the blossom of the Dzukou lily, you have to be ready for monsoon showers. There is its own beauty of visiting Dzukou in winters and see how the frost covers the valley and its rivers before the sunrise.
Essentials: take warm clothes (many of them, sleeping bag if possible), drinking water, power bank (if you need to charge something) and the raincoat.
If you are planning a trip to North-East India, Dzukou Valley is one of the must experience to add to your itinerary. Go ahead, add this to your best places for trekking in India list just like me.
So plan your next trekking adventure & save these amazing destinations to your must-do treks in India list.
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– The Wanderer