The most striking Himalayan peak, Kedarkantha is situated at an elevation of 3150 m, in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. The rewarding summit to the ridge peak offers great views of 13 Himalayan peaks, such as Ranglana and Banderpooch. The trail goes to the Govind National Park which is home to exotic flora and fauna such as bears, leopards and musk deer. One thing that motivates you to hike further on the challenging course encompassing rough slopes and sharp ascent and descent is the ever-modifying scenery of this spectacular place.

Moreover, this trek is considered an idyllic destination for both the nature lovers and an ardent trekker. The trek begins from a peaceful village called Sankri, which is surrounded by the dense oak forest and snow-capped mountains. Also, the trek offers an exquisite sight of River Tons, which is fed by the glaciers. Filled with the majestic natural beauty and stunning views of the snow-clad mountains, trekking in the ‘Land of Gods’ always pleases eyes and soul of the trekkers. The course combines the contrasting views of snow-capped mountains, glacial pools and frozen streams on the lush green landscape. For those who love snow, Kedarkantha trek is a must-try.

Duration: 6 Days
Grade: Easy to Moderate
Highest Point: 3810 m (Kedarkantha peak)
Distance Covered: 22 km

Base Camp: Sankri
Airport: Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun

Day 01: Dehradun to Sankri (1951 m) > Day 02: Sankri to Juda Ka Talab (2774 m) > Day 03: Juda Ka Talab to Kedarkantha Meadow (3429 m) > Day 04: Kedarkantha Peak (3150 m) to Hargaon (2713 m) > Day 05: Trek back to Sankri > Day 06: Drive to Dehradun

Here are the 5 reasons that would surely make your trekking experience a life-time experience:

  • A Drive in the Majestic Landscape
    Your venture to Kedarkantha Peak starts with a drive from Dehradun, which is a capital of Uttarakhand. The road from Dehradun takes you through the remotest routes and some of the most popular hill stations in Uttarakhand like Mussoorie and Purola. With bushes and green trees on either side, these picturesque roads offer an ideal surrounding to those who are hunting for peace, away from the buzz of city’s life.

    Kedarnath Temple Image Credits: photos.wikimapia.org
    Kedarnath Temple
    Image Credits: photos.wikimapia.org

  • Spiritual Walk to Kedarkantha
    Smeared in mythological connotations, Uttarakhand is one of the holiest of all Hindu pilgrimage centres. It is home to four great religious sites – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. Locals of Kedarkantha believe that this place was supposed to be Kedarnath as Lord Shiva wandered here in a bull’s avatar. After escaping from the Pandavas, he disguised as a bull to meditate in the valley. But the locals disturbed his peace and he fled from Kedarkantha to Kedarnath. Further, the villagers of Sankri believe that the Trishul of Lord Shiva, erected on the pile of rocks at the valley of Kedarkantha, guards them and fills the rivers of Himalayas.
    On the way to trek, you will come across an ancient temple, which comprises of Lord Shiva Lord Ganesha and Goddess Parvati idols. The temple is a must visit for Lord Shiva’s devotees and for the photography enthusiasts as it lends a great click for the camera.kedarkantha_trek__3_
  • Get Lost in the Mesmerizing Views of Smoky Mountains
    You will be rewarded with a dreamy view when green landscape will turn into snowy land. In winters, the forests of pine and trees showcase an ideal combination of frozen ice with greenery. The feeling of being surrounded by the smoky mountains is a completely a unique experience in itself. Also, in the winters, the Govind National Park remains open, allowing the trekkers to explore the hidden gems in the scenic mountains.
  • A night under glittery sky aside gushing river stream 
    The campsite of Kedarnath trek is one thing that will surely make your excursion faithfully spellbinding. Everyday with the end of 5-6 hours of trekking, your tents are set amidst pictorial scenery that would surely worth all your pain and weariness. A night under the fancy sky and on a frozen land is like that you have stepped into a dreamy world. The campsites of Pukhrola and Akroti Thach, which are surrounded by pine and walnut trees, give you a lifetime experience.
  • Splendid 360-degree view of 13 Himalayan peaks
    On accomplishing the summit, one can enjoy a dazzling view of famous 13 Himalayan peaks like Bandarpoonch, Kala Nag, Black Peak and Swargarohini. Nothing could be better than witnessing the magnificent and heavenly charm of these peaks with your naked eyes.

Best time to Trek to Kedarkantha Peak
Whether it’s summer or winter, one can trek Kedarkantha Peak at any time of the year. In summers, the trek which is filled with the vibrant fauna, green meadows, and lush emerald landscape always refreshes the trekkers’ soul. However, in winters, one can experience the breathtaking vistas of the grand Himalayan peaks and remotest villages, which are blanketed with snow.

Due to harsh climatic conditions in the high altitudes, it is vital for the trekkers to plan the trekking expedition carefully. So, one is required to choose the right time considering acclimatization as the priority before heading for the trek. The best time to hike Kedarkantha Peak is either from April to June or September to December.  

From April to June, the temperature varies from 3°C to 8°C in daytime and -5°C to -1°C at night.
From September to December, the temperature varies from -4°C to 6°C in daytime and -8°C to -3°C at night.

kedarkantha_trek__2_

On this expedition, you will definitely explore the beauty beyond your thoughts, and with that, you also get a chance to get a glimpse of the socio-cultural lifestyle of Uttarakhand’s folks. Meeting women who have come from far away villages in the dense forest, which is situated at a hilltop, to collect wooden sticks and fodder for their cattle is such a lovely experience that cannot be penned down in mere words. Kedarkantha trek is more than an excursion, it is an experience. 

The religious and spiritual heritage of India provides a profound insight into its history, culture and civilization. It is not only responsible for creating an image that defines the ethnicity of the nation but has deeply affected the religious life of other parts of the world. The gravity of this intangible cultural heritage is strongly evident in the popular spiritual yatras to Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra, Roopkund, and Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. It is a beautiful journey to see how spirituality has kept the roots stronger and contributed to the sense of oneness at the same time.

Home to many different religions and beliefs, India is a country which has been associated with spiritual significance since time immemorial. The spiritual energies have even added charm to those ordinary destinations which are now touted as significant religious places of the country. And as tourism has grown manifold, the spiritual places of India have gained immense fame worldwide.

What’s unique about trekking to these spiritual destinations?
While trekking itself boasts of a challenging journey, trekking to spiritual places like Roopkund and Kailash Mansarovar is symbolic of attaining spiritual bliss amidst en route moraines, streams and snow-capped mountains. Undertaking such pristine trails dotted with pilgrimage sites represent a unique bond between nature’s art and spiritual energy. Don’t miss the chance to get hypnotized by a spiritual yet adventurous rhythm of the trekking expedition to Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra (Roopkund) and Kailash Mansarovar.

Here are two accounts of trekking expeditions carried out to Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra and Kailash Mansarovar Yatra:

Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra, Roopkund

Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra includes a trekking expedition to Roopkund. Being the most significant pilgrimage in Uttarakhand, Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra holds immense spiritual importance. As it is organized in every 12 years, it witnesses a huge gathering where people from different faiths and religions unite to honor Goddess Nanda Devi. It is believed that it is a religious journey in which the goddess has to be taken to the abode of Lord Shiva, located in the icy folds of the mighty Himalayas. In particular, the journey is reckoned to be a significant event in the life of a Hindu devotee.

Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra
Mt. Trishul and Nanda Devi from Junargalli, Roopkund

Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra is a three-week-long grand procession that begins from Nauti village near Karanpraayg and ends at Hemkund near Roopkund. Often referred to as Himalayan Mahakumbh, it is a festive occasion in Uttarakhand in which devotees from both Garhwal and Kumaon regions of the state along with people from across the globe come together to participate. The yatra begins when the ‘Kunwar’ of the village Kansua inaugurates it in a customary manner.

According to the locals, the yatra is a testimony to the story which says that the Goddess Nanda Devi, the consort of Lord Shiva and the daughter of the ruler of mountains, left her village and went to Nanda Devi Parbat. It is also said that heavy rain occurs on this day symbolizing the goddess’ act of crying as she was leaving her home. It is a journey which lends a deep insight into the culture, lifestyle, flora and fauns of the ‘Land of Gods’, Uttarakhand. What adds a tinge of uniqueness to the yatra is that the devotees remain barefoot throughout the yatra despite the harsh climatic conditions.

Nanda Devi
Nanda Devi

Trekking expedition to Nanda Devi, the second highest peak of Indian Himalayas, is one of the most arduous treks. Home to the scenic beauty of the snow-clad peaks, the surreal nature that prevails around them and the exotic range of flora and fauna in the vicinity, trekking to Nanda Devi offers an experience of one-of-its-kind. The trek crosses through exhilarating passes, winding trails, lush forests and picturesque meadows. Also, it offers a plethora of opportunities to register the sublime beauty of nature in the mind which can perceive everything in its multitude and vastness.  

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra:

The best way to witness a divine circuit of thousands of pilgrims across the world is to embark on a spiritual journey to the Mount Kailash and Mansarovar Lake. The journey to these spiritual destinations is not only a jewel that reflects the nature’s beauty at its best but also serves as the source of inspiration for several religions and beliefs. There is nothing better than Kailash Mansarovar Yatra for those people who have devoted and wish to devote their entire life to a journey to wash their sins and seek blessings from the deity they worship.

Mt Kailash
Mt Kailash

The key attractions of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra include a sacred Parikrama around the Mount Kailash and a holy dip in Mansarovar Lake. The journey also provides a chance to embrace the beauty of the blue lake – Pieko-Tso and Yarlung Zangpo. It enables one to experience some cathartic moments and rejuvenate their soul by taking a holy dip in Mansarovar Lake, which is considered sacred in four religions; Hinduism, Bön, Buddhism and Jainism. Situated at an altitude of 22, 028 ft above sea level, Mansarovar is the largest freshwater lake in the world.

Another major attraction of the yatra is Yama Dwar, which means the gates of the lord of death. It is a place of great religious and mythological significance. Yama Dwar is considered as the entry door to the heavenly paradise, Kailash. It is believed that one must abandon the mortal self to enter the region of Kailash, which is equated to the divine world. Both geography and mythology combine to lend the Mount Kailash, a charm of its own.  

Holy Lake Mansarovar
Holy Lake Mansarovar

Further, the grandeur of Kailash does not lie in the height that other peaks of the Himalayan range boast of, but in its distinct shape resembling the cardinal points of the compass in the form of four sheer faces. Amidst the natural beauty that this area of permanent peace beholds lies an opportunity to set the mind free from all shackles. And, partake in the spiritual ecstasy that the solitary location of this place emanates.

If the best view comes after the hardest climb, there is no better example than trekking expedition to the Mount Kailash. With varied levels of difficulty, trekking to the Mount Kailash is not that easy as it seems to be in the slumber of your dreams. There is a lot of gasping and puffing involved in climbing an altitude of around 6638 m. At times, it even becomes difficult to put one foot in front of the other.  However, the natural surroundings of the place will keep you motivated throughout the journey. So, feel the thrill of challenging your inner potential to complete a difficult feat, Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.

Somebody has rightly pointed out that spirituality lends dimension and direction to the life that humans lead in the search for the truth about their existence. So, get ready to ride on the chariot of belief and hope to locate the key to you life and beyond. Do not hesitate to add a beautiful chapter in the story of your life that can become the source of inspiration and joy even when memories start ageing.

Nestled at the splendid peak of Fateh Parvat and surmounting a height of 3,566 m from the sea level, Har ki Doon is one of the remotest places in the Devbhoomi of Uttarakhand. Its desolation, alpine vegetation and snow-capped peaks make this cradle-shaped valley, a perfect spot for trekking excursion. In addition, it offers several delightful views that leave the trekkers awe-struck, starting from the raw beauty of nature to ice-covered peaks of Swargarohini and Jaundha. The valley which is packed with the alpine meadows, stunning streams, vibrant Himalayan flowers and exotic wildlife species has many hidden gems that add an extra charm to the trekking expedition.

A Dream-like Trek to Har Ki Doon
Believe it or not – walking through the eternal meadow of Har Ki Doon is one of those experiences that remain entrenched in the heart and mind for life. The trail rewards you with fascinating views of mountain ridges, glaciers, ancient temples, alluring caves and rustic hamlets.

It is believed that this valley holds a religious significance for Hindus and shares its past with the age of the Mahabharata. According to the locals, the eldest brother of the Pandavas, Yudhishthira, scaled the Himalayan peak ‘Swargarohini’ on his way to heaven. Also, there is a temple dedicated to eldest brother of the Kauravas, Duryodhana.

High-angle shot of Sankri village
High-angle shot of Sankri village

The initial phase of trek begins from Sankri Village to Taluka, which is located at a distance of 12 km from Sankri. Further, the course goes through icy pools, alpine meadows, moraine ridges, and pine and oak forests. On way to the summit, trekkers get an opportunity to capture spectacular views of the valley in camera and learn about the simple yet amazing lifestyle of locals. Also, eyes will be fascinated with a sight of Brahma Kamal flower that blooms in a beautiful alpine lake called Mahinda Taal.

Location: Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand
Duration: 7 Days
Trekking Distance: 54 km
Maximum Altitude: 3566 m
Grade: Easy to moderate
Start Point: Sankri
End Point: Sankri

Best Season to Visit: With pleasant weather conditions, the Har Ki Doon Trek can be undertaken round the year, except the monsoons. From December to March, the region experiences incessant snowfall, thus, adventure enthusiasts need proper physical training and experience to head for the trek during this time. Notably, the average temperature ranges from 11°C to 2°C, although at night temperature dips below freezing point.

Moreover, spring season i.e. from mid-April to June is considered as the best time to engage in this expedition. At this time, the average temperature ranges between 22°C to 10°C.

Several trekkers undertake this trek from September to November due to safe weather condition. The average temperature ranges between 18°C to 9°C.

Warm-hearted locals
Uttarakhand is not only known for its majestic hills and religious significance, but also for its warm-hearted inhabitants. They are the one who makes this place a travel-friendly state. Visit the religious memorials in towns and villages and explore the lifestyle of people and traditional practices followed by them.You will be surprised to see that people of Uttarakhand keep culture and religion very close to their hearts. Their generosity and admiration for the travelers make the expedition one of the most cherished memories.

Quick Overview of Elevation Points: Basically, the Har Ki Doon trekking expedition starts from the capital of Uttarakhand, Dehradun. The drive from Dehradun to Sankri goes through charming villages of Purola, Nainbagh and Naitwar, taking around 7 hours. Situated at an elevation of 1950 meters, Sankri is the base camp of the trek that offers astounding vistas of the quaint Himalayas. Next day, move towards a small village called Taluka at 2560 meters. A major perennial Himalayan river, Tons flows from here. The trek heads to the final destination Har Ki Doon that stands at an altitude of 3566 meters. Leaving the mountains behind, descend to Taluka and then to Sankri.

Itinerary
Day 01: Dehradun – Sankri > Day 02: Sankri – Taluka – Seema > Day 03: Seema – Har Ki Doon > Day 04: Camp near Kalkatti Dhar – Har Ki Doon > Day 05: Har Ki Doon – Seema > Day 06: Seema – Taluka – Sankri > Day 07: Sankri – Dehradun

Har ki Doon Trek
Har ki Doon Trek

My Footprints in the Paradise Called Har Ki Doon

Unlike other Himalayan treks, Har Ki Doon trek deserves a special mention because of the splendid views it offers. Without any doubt, this trek is a delight for those who want to witness exotic Himalayan flora and fauna. For city dwellers, this is a perfect escape from the mundane life. A walk on lush green landscape along with snow patches is surely a delightful experience to one’s eyes and soul.

After planning an excursion with my two best friends, I landed at Jolly Grant Airport from Delhi. At the airport, we met our tour representative who welcomed us with a beautiful flower bouquet and a charming smile on his face. He briefed us about Sankri and asked us to wait for sometime as we had to wait there for our other fellow trekkers. Later, we became a group of 10 people with their arrival. We all boarded the taxis arranged by the tour representative and moved toward Sankri. 

The views of snow-covered hills, monasteries and temples were so stunning that they cannot be described in mere words. We had lunch at a roadside Dhaba near Nagthat. After 7 hours, we reached Sankri – a stunning village at Uttarkashi, which is located 13 km inside an exotic Govind Wildlife Sanctuary, where I captured splendid views of mountains animals like black peak, swarg rohini and bandarpunch. Further, the trail passed through River Supin and the dense forests of pine, maple and chestnut trees. The sound of gushing water and birds’ chirping poured into my ears like a melodious song. After reaching Sankri, we had a dinner at GIO camp Sankari.

village_in_himalaya__pczwm har ki doon

Next morning, we woke up to a spectacular view of sunrise. After breakfast, our trek began from Sankari to Taluka via Osla and Seema. In the initial phase, the trail was quite easy as it was filled with pastureland and vibrant flowers. Suddenly, it started raining and our guide instructed us to not move further. So, we took out our raincoats and after wearing them we sat in a place covered with trees. Showers made the trekking difficult and the trail turned foggy, however, the vistas became more alluring and mysterious. We crossed Seema Market and reached Taluka gradually. We spent a night in the tents under the glittery sky.

Today, it was the day to make it to the final destination, for which we had been waiting so long! After breakfast, we moved towards Har ki Doon. The trail was pleasingly undulating with a steady gradient, which helped us in maintaining good speed.

The aroma of orchards, Himalayan primroses and the forest kept seeping inside us, just like a magic these flowers create to attract a swarm of bees. The clear-crystal views of Swargarohini and Bandarpoonch peaks were a feast to our naked eyes.

Further, we crossed a cantilever bridge and just after that the path became extremely high and slopes turned rough and perpendicular. Climbing on that giant and the demanding trail took a lot of concentration and efforts. Despite that, it was a remarkable experience as success gave us an immense pleasure. En route, we luckily met local school-going kids aged between 5 and 8, along with their parents. We clicked several pictures with them and it was quite an overwhelming experience. Thankfully, I had a few chocolates in my bag which were distributed among the children.

Our next resting point was Charota waterfalls where we spent around 20 minutes and it gave us immense relief after a long exhausting day. Later, we reached Har Ki dun after a total of 6 hours walk. Sun had already set down in the valley but the enclosing peaks were reflecting the blonde shades of the sun. We captured several group selfies there and spent a wonderful night under the tents.

Old wooden temple in Sankri
Old wooden temple in Sankri

Way Back to Sankri
On Day 4, we moved to Hata Valley after breakfast. Trekking to Hata Valley was an experience in itself. We encountered with Shepherds came there from far away villages with their herds. In the afternoon, we came to Har Ki Doon.

Next day, we woke up to a beautiful morning in the valley surrounded by lofty trees and mountains. After breakfast, we descended towards Seema Market. We first reached to a temple in the Osla Village, where we interacted with the locals and collected more information about the place. Later, we reached Taluka from Seema and spent a night in the tents. Next morning, on our way back to Sankri, we captured amazing views of flora and fauna in our cameras. We reached Sankri after 5 hours of tiring yet fascinating journey. On last day, I headed to the airport with my two friends, after bidding adieu to our fellow trekkers and tour representative.

Do Not Forget!

  • Respect nature, wildlife and local traditions
  • Travel in a group of 3 to 4 people
  • Respect local culture and be sensitive towards wildlife
  • People with heart disease, diabetes, asthma or high altitude sickness should avoid the trek
  • Work on the fitness levels for the trek
  • Prior research is a must
  • Don’t try to compete with fellow trekkers, just set your own pace

A Handy List of Trekking Essentials

  • Trekking shoes/Trekking pole
  • Warm clothes/Mosquito repellent
  • LED flashlight/Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Extra pair of woollen socks/ Raincoat/Gloves
  • Sunscreen Lotion/ Sunglasses/Lip balm
  • Water Bottles/Energy drink and bars/Emergency Medical Kit

This trekking expedition to Har Ki Doon not only gave me a plethora of wonderful memories to cherish but also help me in conquering my fears. A closer sight at the jewels hidden in the snow capsule mountains is something that one should definitely experience at least once in a lifetime.

Situated at an altitude of 2,050 m in the Beas River Valley, Manali lies near the northern end of the Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh. With sprawling pine and deodar forest and apple orchards, the resort town is known for its natural beauty and temples.

Majestic hills, its glorified past, blissful ambiance, religious beliefs, vibrant culture and time-honored traditions have rightfully christened Manali as ‘Valley of the Gods’.

A Traveler’s Perspective
Are you fond of hills, snow-capped mountains, lush green landscape, quaint villages, waterfalls, rivers, and clouds? Then, Manali is the ideal place to be! Owing to its geographical positioning, serene landscape, high-altitude mountains and deep dense forests, this beautiful town, nestled in the state of Himachal Pradesh, offers the perfect blend of thrill and excitement to adventure seekers. Lofty fir trees and snow-covered pines are the attractions that drive one into the natural charm of the world. Also, if you’re in the woods, you might get a sight of snow leopards and brown bears.

Be it solo travelers, couples or families, this place has something special for everyone; starting from wonderful tourist attractions to recreational activities. Also, it is a gateway for trekking in the Parvati Valley and skiing in the Solang Valley. Further, Manali offers opportunities for rafting, paragliding and mountaineering in the Pir Panjal mountains.

Parvati valley's serene aura
Parvati valley is popular with youth for its scenic vibe, local restaurants and a ‘home away from home’ feeling

Trekking: A Taste of Adventure and Nature
When it comes to trekking, Manali wholeheartedly welcomes both the ardent trekkers and beginners, and does its best to fulfil the aspirations of adventurers and nature lovers.

Here, trekkers will come across uneven territories, slippery course, thick backwoods and high meadows while walking through the Kullu Valley. Further, the beauty of Himalayas cannot be ignored. This is why Manali attracts trekkers from around the world.

From Chandratal Lake Trek with Hampta Pass to Bhrigu Lake, Manali has so much to offer. Here are 8 must-do treks from Manali:

  1. Hampta Pass with Chandratal Lake Trek
    Duration: 5 Days
    Starting Point: Manali
    Grade: Easy to moderate
    Max Altitude: 4297 m
    Trekking Distance: 26 km
    Best Season: Mid June to August
    Day 01 – Manali to Chika > Day 02 – Chika to Bhalu Ka Ghera > Day 03 – Bhalu ka Ghera to Siagoru across Hampta Pass > Day 04 – Siagoru to Chatru > Day 05 – Chatru to Chandratal | Chandratal to ManaliThe Hampta Pass Trek is known for offering a dazzling view of Kullu and Lahaul valleys in Himachal Pradesh. The ever modifying scenery has been fascinating nature lovers for years. The trek offers an exquisite sight of some amazing hidden gems in the valley, including glaciers and alpine forests. Certainly, Himalayan flora and fauna contribute a lot to making this five-day trek truly spellbinding.The expedition goes to splendid foothills of the Pir Panjal Range and the great Himalayas. While hiking towards the summit, the course offers different shades of nature consisting green pastureland to awe-inspiring views of Indrasan and Deo Tibba mountains.
  2. Beas Kund Trek
    Duration: 3 days
    Starting Point: Solang Valley
    Grade: Moderate
    Max Altitude: 3800 m
    Trekking Distance: 32 km
    Best Season: Mid May to October
    Day 01 –  Solang Valley – Dhundi > Day 02 – Dhundi – Beas Kund – Dhundi > Day 03 – Dhundi to Solang Valley | Drive to Manalibeas-kund-and-bhrigu-lake-trek
    The Beas Kund trek stands out as one of the best in Manali. It is considered appropriate for all age groups and no prior trekking experience is required to undertake it. The dells of Bakartach and Dhundi are incredibly majestic. Also, the little cold lake of River Beas, fed by the glaciers, is breathtaking.The trek begins from the stunning valley of Solang and passes through waterfalls, green meadows, small streams, and continues towards the striking snow-covered mountains. On reaching Dhundi from Solang, trekkers would find themselves surrounded by dense forest of deodar and oak trees. Nothing could be better than spending a night at the campsite, set by the striking stream. Here, you get this opportunity!
  3. Pin Parvati Trek
    Duration: 10 days
    Starting Point: Rumsu Village
    Grade: Difficult
    Max Altitude: 5318 m
    Trekking Distance: 78 km
    Best Season: Mid May to September
    Day 01 – Rumsu Base Camp > Day 02 – Rumsu Base Camp – Kheerganga > Day 03 – Kheerganga – Tunda Bhuj > Day 04 – Tunda Bhuj – Thakur Kuan > Day 05 -Thakur Kuan – Mantalai > Day 06 – Mantalai – Pin Parvati Pass Base Camp > Day 07 – Pin Parvati Pass Base Camp – Pin Parvati Pass – Riverside Camp > Day 08 – Riverside Camp – Mud Base Camp > Day 09 – Mud Base Camp Kaza > Day 10 – Kaza – ManaliConnecting Kullu’s Parvati Valley and Spiti’s Pin Valley, the Pin Parvati Pass trek offers the stunning vistas of snow-capped mountains along with the green pastureland. While the Parvati Valley in Kullu showcases a flourishing green and grassy landscape, the Pin Valley in Spiti is mostly barren without any vegetation. Even culturally, both these places are quite different from each other.
    It is the most adventurous and difficult trek in Manali, which remains untouched by a large number of trekkers. And this is why this serene-clean beauty allows the visitors to capture pristine views of the valley. The journey begins at Manikaran and goes along the River Parvati and ends in the Pin Parvati Valley.
  4. Bhrigu Lake Trek
    Duration: 4 days
    Starting Point: Manali
    Grade: Easy to Moderate
    Max Altitude: 4235 m
    Trekking Distance: 29 km
    Best Season: Throughout the yearDay 01 – Arrival at Manali Base Camp > Day 02 – Drive from Manali to Gulaba | Trek to Rohlikohli Campsite > Day 03 – Trek to Bhrigu Lake > Day 04 – Trek back to Gulaba and DepartureBhrigu lakeA crystal-clear Bhrigu Lake is formed by the melting glaciers. A route from Gulaba to Rola Kholi goes towards charming small towns, apple orchards, rustic hamlets and icy pools. The sights of Gulaba, Rola Kholi and Pandu Ropa offer a dream-like journey making you realize that childhood tales of wonderland.
  5. Deo Tibba Base Camp
    Duration: 6 days
    Starting Point: Rumsu Village
    Grade: Moderate
    Max Altitude: 4480 m
    Trekking Distance: 37 km
    Best Season: June and July
    Day 01 – Arrival at Rumsu Base Camp > Day 02 – Rumsu – Chikka > Day 03 – Chhika – Seri > Day 04 – Seri – Deo Tibba Base Camp– Seri > Day 05 – Seri – Jagatsukh – Rumsu Base Camp > Day 06 – DepartureFor those adventure seekers who want to make their vacation in Manali absolute pleasure, the Deo Tibba trek is an ideal option. The picturesque trek begins from Manali and goes through several deep wild forests, moraines, meadows, waterfalls, steep climbs and a high-altitude lake with blue water known as mini-Chandratal (4480 m). Also, the trek offers a wonderful sight of snow-clad peaks of Indrasan (6220 m) and Deo Tibba (6001 m) along with the glaciers of Jagatsukh.
  6. Sar Pass Trek
    Duration: 6 days
    Starting Point: Kasol
    Grade: Moderate
    Max Altitude: 4206 m
    Trekking Distance: 50 km
    Best Season: May to first week of July
    Day 01 – Registration and Orientation at Kasol > Day 02 – Trek to Grahan Village > Day 03 – Grahan Village to Min Thatch > Day 04 – Min Thatch to Nagaru > Day 05 – Nagaru to Biskeri Thatch via Sar Pass > Day 06 – Biskeri Thatch to Barshaini and Drive back to KasolSar Pass
    Situated in the serene Parvati Valley, the Sar Pass trek takes you to alluring green meadows and serene villages. This trek offers an exquisite sight of waterfalls and the majestic snow-clad peaks. A trekker also gets a chance to spend nights under the dazzling sky at some beautiful campsites like Ramsu and Grahan.
  7. Great Himalayan National Park Trek
    Duration: 3 days
    Starting Point: Kasol
    Grade: Easy
    Max Altitude: 3199 m
    Trekking Distance: 22 km
    Best Season: April to November
    Day 01 – Aut – Gushaini > Day 02 – Rola – Shilt > Day 03 – Rola – Gushaini – Autgreat-himalayan-national-park-trek
    For an ecstatic trekking experience, say yes to the Great Himalayan National Park trek in Shilt Thatch. This trek is filled with a range of wild flora and fauna, curves, steeps and hilly paths. The park has stunning River Tirthan and here you can get glimpses of rare species of wild animals residing in the dense Himalayan forests.
  8.  Chandrakhani Pass Trek
    Duration: 4 days
    Starting Point: Rumsu Village
    Grade: Easy
    Max Altitude: 3657 m
    Trekking Distance: 22 km
    Best Season: April to June, October -November
    Day 01 – Rumsu Base Camp – Sterling – Rumsu Base Camp > Day 02 – Trek to Ghan Kulhadi > Day 03 – Trek to Chanderkhani Pass – Stay at Chaklani > Day 04 – Descend to Rumsu Base Camp and DepartureMalana Chanderkhani
    Chandrakhani Pass offers pictorial vistas of Pir Panjal, Deo Tibba crest and Parvati Valley. It gives you an opportunity to experience the surreal beauty of the mountains! Meet friendly locals on the way while crossing lush green forests, charming snow patches, colourful flora and scenic landscape. Further, the trek goes through bhojpatra trees, dwarf rhododendron shrubs, and forests of oak, pine, fir and chestnut trees.  

Get ready for adventure like never before! Go and enjoy the sights of glaciers and mountains from these thrilling trekking spots. Meet locals and learn about their unique culture and traditions. Capture those lifetime moments on camera and make wonderful memories as nothing could be better than a refreshing delight in the hills, away from the hustle-bustle of your daily city life.

For bike lovers, nothing could be better than just hitting the roads of Ladakh to experience the serene and heart-warming beauty of nature. The two-week long Ladakh motorbike expedition gives an unprecedented opportunity to explore the majestic charm of this cold desert which is hidden behind the snow-capped mountains at a relaxing and slow pace.

Go solo or have fun with a partner-in-ride!
It’s completely on you whether you want to undergo this expedition alone or with a partner. Your journey will be both picturesque and exhausting. The uneven, narrow and meandering mountain roads with pointed curves, deep canyons at frequent points will surely give you an adrenaline rush.

When Do I Need To Get Going
You can opt for the Ladakh motorbike expedition at anytime of the year, but one should avoid the winter and rainy season, as slippery roads may cause an accident. Further, it is advised to not visit Ladakh via bike in the months from December to February and July to August.

Ladakh motorbike expedition

The Most Adventurous Ride of My Life
I always had a dream to take a ride that would remain as a lifetime memory with me. Home to unruffled pictorial lakes, sapphire clear waters, isolated roads and an uneven striking terrain, the Ladakh motorbike expedition came as a lifetime opportunity to me. A ride into majestic mountains and unfamiliar valleys always provide me with an absolute pleasure and good sense of adventure.

Before starting a long race, I met my tour guide to get the essential information. The guide provided map and details on each and every minute detail related to the expedition. The journey started from New Delhi.

Along with my four besties, I headed towards Chandigarh. While riding on the smooth highway road, I witnessed lush green farmlands of Haryana and Punjab. Also, the beauty of flowering plants kept us engaged. After completing a long and tiresome bike journey of around 260 km, we rested in the hotel for 4 hours.

As we didn’t want to waste our precious time, we began our day with a fresh start and headed toward Manali, a beautiful valley nestled in the state of Himachal Pradesh. While riding we came across stunning sights of Beas River, rocky slopes of the mountain, majestic hills featuring pine and deodar forest and sprawling apple orchards. Moreover, the tricky bends and stretches on the road were not only testing us but our bike’s strength too.

You and your bike - Spiti Valley!
You and your bike – Spiti Valley!

Next day, we started our bike expedition to Leh Ladakh while riding towards Jispa. On the way, we crossed one of the most spectacular destinations in the entire Kullu region, Rohtang Pass. It is situated at an elevation of 3,978 m. We noticed a sudden change in the scenery as trees had started disappearing and brown terrain with barren slopes was replacing the greener portions as we were reaching the Lahaul and Spiti district. The next stop was Sarchu, and after 3 hours, we reached the place for overnight stay. In the morning, an incredible view of the sunrise over the mountain appeared as a reminder that light always follows the darkness.

Thiksey Monastery
Thiksey Monastery

Now, it was a time to ride slowly and carefully on a comparatively difficult road through Baralacha La. The place is infamous for accidents due to the icy uneven runway, thus, it was very important for us to be extra cautious as we were supposed to cover 90 km distance today. As we entered the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, we left behind all anxieties and enjoyed the spectacular views on our way. While passing through passes such as Nakee La, Lachung La and Tanglang La, located at high altitudes, we realized that nature knows no bounds. We stopped at the popular Thiksey Monastery and observed the art behind the rare paintings like thangkas and ancient stupa. After capturing several stunning views and covering a distance of around 250 km, we finally touched Leh. That day we were extremely exhausted, so we decided to check into the hotel and rest.

khardung-la-top_1437473836

Next day, we all took our bikes for servicing as we wanted to be on a safer side before exploring more of Leh. We even got an opportunity to enjoy a sight of Stok Kangri and the mountain ranges of Ladakh. Later, we visited Shanti Stupa which was located on the hilltop in the Changspa region. And then we continued riding toward the Nubra valley, it was here when we crossed muddy routes and the world’s highest road pass, Khardung La. We spent a night at a campsite in this magnificent valley.

Remember the lake in Aamir Khan’s 3 idiot movie? It was the day when we were going to visit it. This ride came as the most exciting and adventurous one. Situated at the height of about 4,350 m, Pangong Tso Lake has been much-talked about due to the incredible sights that it offers. It is also a perfect place to set up an overnight camp.

The journey was not over yet! After checking out from the Leh hotel, there were many surprises en-route. We crossed Zoji La pass and entered the awe-inspiring valley of Sonamarg. Later, we hit the road that took us to Srinagar and here we visited numerous places of interest, such as Shalimar Bagh and even enjoyed a Shikara ride on the picturesque Dal Lake. The night was spent in the beautiful Kashmiri houseboat. From Kargil to Drass, Tiger Hill Peak to Srinagar and Pathankot, there were a plethora of astounding views that we enjoyed on our Ladakh bike tour. Next morning, we hit the road back to Delhi.

Must Carry Essentials

  • Riding pants and jacket with thermal liner
  • Insulated travel flask
  • Riding Boots
  • Tool bag
  • LED Flashlight/Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Waterproof Ziplock bags
  • Jerry Cans for fuel
  • Extra pair of woollen socks
  • Water Bottles/Hydration pack
  • Emergency Medical Kit

Dine in Leh! Must-try cafes and diners: 

  • Dzomsa
  • Open Hand Cafe
  • Lala’s Cafe
  • Tibetan Kitchen
  • German Bakery

ladakh-motorbike-2

The memories of this trek are so close to my heart that whenever I close my eyes or somebody say Ladakh, it reminds me the whole journey encompassing rough terrains, lush greenery, chilly winds, snow-capped mountains, dancing clouds, playing kids, mountain animals and what not…. It’s a far-flung trip for the adventure seekers searching solace for the soul, its snow-covered mountains and extreme climatic conditions are enough appealing for any biker who wants to go on a trip to Ladakh. Moreover, the essence of Ladhaki culture has left its imprint on my mind and heart. To experience the real adventure, one has to hit the road.

The initial point of Stok Kangri trek is at Leh. Here, you get acclimatized for the trek. Leh is accessible by road and air. The road travelers can reach here via Delhi, Chandigarh and Manali. Though, the road journey is quite hectic and considerably longer than a flight, the picturesque sights along the way will make it all worthwhile. The roads going to Leh are accessible only in summers because cold weather and snowfall during winters makes the roads unusable.

All Assemble at the Base Camp
Perched at an elevation of 20,180 ft., the Stok Kangri trek is known for real adventure. The height offers spectacular views of Tibet in the East and Himalayas in the South. The expedition starts at Leh and goes to the astounding Khardung La at 18,372 ft

Base camp
Base camp

Undoubtedly, the base camp which is situated about 15 km away from Leh, is an amazing place to be. It offers a course that requires physical strength and fitness for high altitude climbing. Moreover, the base camp is set beside a frozen river, which makes it an ideal camping spot for the trekkers. Not only this, the valley embraces striking pasture lands, which are usually covered with snow and alongside flows a water stream channeled from Gulap Glacier’s moraine.

Embark On An Unforgettable Journey Today (But first plan for it!)
Due to the heights, the temperature at Stok Kangri drops below freezing point. Considering the climate, the best time to embark on this trek is from July to September. The weather between October and November is harsh yet suitable for the trekkers who are willing to challenge themselves and take the risk. For the rest of the months, the route going towards Leh and Ladakh are padlocked and trekking is forbidden.
July to September: The temperature ranges from 20°C to 15°C during the day time and 7°C to 2°C at night.
October to November: The temperature ranges from 15°C to 10°C during the day time and 5°C to -5°C at night.

Go On This Trek For
Leh: One of the most friendly-places for the travelers in India. The place is surrounded by well-designed stupas and beautiful mud-brick hamlets. Travelling to an ancient town built by King Sengge Namgyal in the 16th century is a journey in itself, as it was once ruled by royal families whose relics still remain conserved.

Khardung La: Khardung La is a lifted mountain range that lies at an altitude of 18,372 ft. It is the gateway to the magical valleys of Ladakh’s Siachen Glacier and Nubra. The place that offers splendid views of the Karakoram Range is often known as the ‘Pass of Lower Castle’.

Stok Village: The structural designs of Stok Village blend ideally with traditional and the contemporary architectural styles. The two major attractions are Stok Palace and Stock Museum. Both these sites offer panoramic views of the valley from the rooftop.

shutterstock_1171141_bfgqf

Delve in the rich cultural experience with the locals
Peace loving locals in the region of Ladakh are absolutely distinct from the rest of the country. Their food, lifestyle and dressing are something that one should experience at least once in a lifetime. The reflection of Buddhism is widely visible in their culture with the Buddhist monasteries and its engravings. Generally occupied with their traditions and beliefs, the Ladakhi community finds joy in their religious and socio-cultural activities.

Stok Kangri: A story of fears and thrill
Stok Kangri Trek is not for all! It is a 9-day expedition that will test you emotionally, physically and psychologically. Moreover, when you will come back home, the summit will give you jitters for over a month. Low oxygen levels, dark surroundings, challenging winds and the uneven slippery path will make you curse yourself, asking why you decided to scale this peak.

The harsh rays of the sun, dry winds, freezing cold nights, surprising flower trails, thorns and rocks, beautiful rivers, snow-capped high passes -all of the elements joined hands to instill in me a lasting inspiration.

My trek to Stok began when I headed from Leh to Chilling, a village situated along the banks of River Zanskar. Accompanied by our guide and her staff, five of us started trekking from Chilling and crossed the River Zanskar through a pulley bridge. Later that day, we stayed at Chilling and paid a visit to Buddhist stupas, monasteries and local markets from where I bought a woollen sweater for myself. I had a great time with the local kids who were playing football; they got way too excited when we requested them to add us to their respective teams.

Next day before my scale to Chang Ma, for which I had been maintaining my fitness for these past four months, there was some uncertainty caused by the harsh weather and an unexpected decline in our team as two of our team members decided to go back. Chang Ma is situated in the South of Leh, and from the motor vehicle, I enjoyed dazzling views of magnificent mountains and the blossoming green gardens nuzzled amidst them.

Stok Palace
Before crossing the Stok Village, we visited Stok Palace which was home to the former Ladakhi royal family, and Stok Museum here showcases their belongings.

Diskit Monastery

When we reached Diskit Monastery, the locals told us that it was constructed sometime in the 14th century.

Around 5 pm, we arrived at a beautiful campsite at Chang Ma. After taking rest for an hour, our trek guide summoned us and gave us the following instructions, “Step your feet firmly and use your heels to move down”, as we headed out from our base camp to practice a little. The giant white shoes are also used by our soldiers on borders. The soft surface and heavy leather coating inside allow you to dig your feet firmly into the snow. While walking with heavy weight on my ankle, I fell down several times and couldn’t decide whether the practice session was fun or irritating. Our tents were set up on a rocky and uneven slopes, the experience was completely strange all together as it was hard to lie on the rough base.

At 2.30 am, we were rounded up for a marvelous early morning climb. I immediately wore my gears, which included snow boots, four layers of clothing, trek pants, harness, crampons and a rucksack with a warm water bottle, energy bars and food. And so, we all were ready to scale 3,000 feet in the next few hours, the trial started with a steep climb. At 5:45 am, the course welcomed us with colorful Buddhist prayer flags that marked the beginning of the ice masses. Yes, the white milky glaciers! The mount to the edge began here, and I felt both woozy and giddy with gratitude for where we have reached. We passed through stunning streams, alpine lakes and scenic high-altitude Ladakhi mountain valleys.

Stok Kangri Expedition
Stok Kangri Expedition

Soon, an hour-long hide-and-seek game of the Sun ended as it shined out brightly against a blue charming sky. While rest of the environment was subtle, the only thing that was moving ahead with us was the crystal-clear white clouds. Around 9 am, we arrived at Mankorma, we spent our day there for acclimatisation and training at a few smaller peaks here. Mankorma was a treat to the eyes since it offered us a picturesque sight of grey and purple mountains that seemed like something out of a fairy tale.

Next day, while on our way to base camp we enjoyed the views of some beautiful peaks like Parcha Kangri and Gulap Kangri. Along the way, I captured spectacular pictures of mountainous meadows and sheep grazing on soft green grass. After 3-4 hours of trekking, we arrived at the base camp. It was day 6, we rested in our camps to get acclimatized to the geographical conditions and weather. Our guide provided us key information that was a must to scale the summit. She talked about various challenges and hazards that we might face during the trek. She also handed me a trekking map with all the important guidelines mentioned on the back of a map. Later, we took out our cameras and captured some stunning views of valley and sunset.

Stok Kangri in the Himalayas
Western Flank, Stok Kangri

Next day, after 9 hours of steady climbing, we reached over 19,850 feet, it was the highest point that I had ever climbed in my life. To be very true, our guide’s instructions and training helped us a lot in dealing with breathing issues, and also motivated us to aim high. The slope was at about a 75 degree incline and the trail was loaded with small rocks and massive boulders. The Stok Kangri trail was packed with moraine, glaciers and steep snow-white slopes.  In total, it took us around 9 hours to reach the destination. It was right here when we were surrounded by the colossal Himalayan ranges of Karakoram and Zanskar, including K2, the world’s second highest peak with an assortment of gentle clouds around it. With the feeling of scaling Stok – so high above the unaware beings that exist on Earth, I was enveloped by a sense of gratitude for my team.

I settled myself in the right place and delightfully absorbed the panorama around. But the picturesque views eluded us too soon as we had to descend to return to the base camp before sunset.

We moved downwards, the dusty snow made it effortless for us to slide down rapidly. I felt like I’m a part of some Telugu action film as we held our trekking poles like a handle and swiped down like a rocket. Just kidding! After 8 hours, we reached the Buddhist flags from where the story of our glacier walk had started. Next day we were back in the abode of Leh valley. I boarded a flight for Delhi next morning, thinking that despite all the odds, it was the best trek of my life till date.

And, whenever, I look back at the journey encompassed with gigantic mountains overpowering the beautiful landscape, my heart says only one thing, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves”.

Important Information: Permits
A person is required to carry driving license, voter ID or passport (along with visa for non-Indian travellers). A passport size photo and a medical fitness certificate are a must for the trek. Notably, a person has to take a climbing permit from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation in Leh which is mandatory for the trekkers. It takes almost a day to be issued.

Region: Leh Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir
Duration: 8 Days
Grade: Difficult
Max Altitude: 20,180 ft.
Approx Trekking:  40 Km
Airport: Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, Leh

Trekking Gear You’ll Need

  • Trekking shoes and 4 to 5 woollen socks
  • Thermal innerwear, heavy fleece clothes
  • Torch, whistle, camera
  • Winter jacket and water proof coat
  • Trekking pants, woollen cap, gloves, etc.
  • Sunglasses, Trekking Pole, Water Bottle
  • Sun screen lotion and other toiletries
  • First aid kit, Swiss knife

The Divine beauty of Sikkim – Goecha La (16207.35 ft)

Situated in the Himalayan range of North-East Mountains, Goecha La is a tiny yet unforgettable place for thousands of adventure lovers across the world. Perched amidst striking hills and multi-colored flora and fauna, Goecha La trek takes you toward the astonishing beauty called Kanchenjunga National Park. It is not just the third-highest mountain in the world, Kanchenjunga, that makes the Goecha La trek such a great pleasure but also the other big summits that can be clearly seen from here around the year. You can also spot the splendor of various mountains like Talung, Kabru, Pandim and Simvo during the trek.

Mt. Kanchenjunga
Mt. Kanchenjunga; it is said that when government officials first witnessed the view of majestic Kanchenjunga from Goecha La, they were so impressed by the scenic sight that they thought to feature it on the Rs.100 note!

Get going to Goecha La

One should visit Goecha La from September to November as during this period you can see the snow-clad mountains clearly. Trekking in the cold climate would be a bit tough but if you’re aspired to scale the mountain, you will notice that you’re easily tackling both the rough and slippery paths. Moreover, you can also start your trek anytime between April and June.

Temperature Tally 

April to June: The temperature ranges from 15 °C to 22 °C during the day time and 7°C to -1 °C at night.
September to November: The temperature ranges from 10 °C to 15 °C during a day time and 5 °C to -5 °C at night.

Facts about Goecha La you need to know before you visit 

Trekking Distance: 90 Km
Maximum Altitude: 16207.35 ft (approx)
Duration: 11 Nights and 12 Days
Grade: Moderate to Challenging

Are you ready for a challenge? Beware: Goecha la is not for beginners!
Are you ready for a challenge? Beware: Goecha la is not for beginners!

Exploring the charm of Goecha La; a step-by-step guide 

The adventure began from Bagdogra Airport to Jalpaiguri, West Bengal. I boarded a vehicle to reach a hamlet called Yuksom which is located in the West District of Sikkim. On my way, I witnessed the amazing sight of striking mountains, lush green valleys, misty clouds and locals who were dressed beautifully in their traditional
dresses. The one thing that actually put me at ease immediately was how the locals, especially kids, greeted me with a heartfelt smile.

Once I reached the hotel, I gorged on some hot snacks and a cup of delightful coffee. I didn’t want to waste any time, so, in the evening, I visited Tashiding Monastery and Khecheopalri Lake with one of my trek companions whom I had met in the hotel. Next morning, we woke up to the beautiful views of the sunrise. Our guide briefed us about the program and then, we all were ready to move towards Sachen. We arrived at the destined place after crossing the valley of the river called Rathong, a trail that entered to the coniferous forest, several villages filled with mud houses; Pha Khola – a suspension bridge over a stream; a stunning waterfall, and Mentongang River.

bridge
Crossing Sachen, one step after another

We started our trek to Tshoka the very next day. While trekking to this sublime beauty, we passed through a bridge over Perk Chu stream, the off-beat trail, isolated hamlets, and Bakhim – a place surrounded by diverse species of flora and fauna. At Bakhim, we stopped by a food stall that served scrumptious momos and Maggi. Here, we got an opportunity to call our family members or friends as the networks of BSNL and Airtel were working quite well at this place. We spent a night at this charming campsite that completely won our heart!

The way to Dzongri via Phedang is quite beautiful, it is an easy climb and I found myself up there just after 1 hour of trekking. Frankly, I was a bit scared because a few people warned us beforehand that it would be an 80-degree steep climb.  However, setting up camps and staying at Dzongri while being surrounded by mountains from all sides was absolutely heartwarming.

Don’t forget to take a good number of pictures and group selfies after reaching Dzongri!

Camping on the Goecha La trek
Camping on the Goecha La trek

We arrived at Thansing via Kokchurang – an uneven slope with a river flowing beside it and evergreen coniferous vegetation. Thansing was a place where I felt like I was walking in the clouds, with crystal clear views of Mt. Kanchenjunga and Mt. Pandim. The clouds turned dark and the valley echoed with the sound of thundering. Though the views were splendid, the joy and excitement stopped right there, as we were freezing. By god’s grace, we woke up to clear skies and sunny weather the next day.

We wore our headphones and enjoyed the 2 hour trek to Lamuney. Before ending the journey for that day, we spent some time at Samiti Lake where we got an opportunity to see wild blue deer, a natural rarity. In the end, it was quite a lucky day for us as it was a full moon night and we enjoyed a glimpse of Mt. Kanchenjunga in the shadow of stars and moonlight.

Climbing to Goecha La was the toughest part of the whole expedition as trekkers are not only required to scale the heights of Goecha La but also supposed to pave their way back to Kokchurang. We woke up at 3 am. We hiked to the mountain and reached the plateau of Zemathang glacier that was covered by a thick layer of snow. Around 5.30 am, we witnessed the sunrise over the Kanchenjunga Range. We reached Goecha La pass in another 2 hours. It is said to be the highest point of the trek which acts as the base camp for the mountaineers who take a challenge to scale Mount Kanchenjunga.

After capturing picturesque views of mountains and group pictures in our cameras, we began our trek down to Kokchurang. That day, we erected the tents for ourselves to spend a night by the riverside.

The ending of a journey: Kokchurang to Tshoka – Tshoka to Yuksom – Drive back to NJP

We started our downward journey to Tshoka via Phedang. As there was no elevation, we quickly covered a distance of around 10 km within 4 hours. We rested for a while in Phedang and then started our journey towards Tshoka that took around 3 hours. Here we met some locals who served us lip-smacking traditional foods such as Dhindo, Thukpa and Sha phaley.

Yuksom; get a cultural fix on the trek as you get to interact closely with the locals
Yuksom; get a cultural fix on the trek as you get to interact closely with the locals

Next day for Yuksom, we followed the same route that we used to reach Golcha via Bhakim and Sachen. The night was spent there in a lodge. The last day, it took us around 6 hours to be back at New Jalpaiguri.

Essential Trek Gear You Need To Get For Goecha La

  • Sweaters, warm jackets, caps and gloves
  • Trekking shoes, 6-7 pair of socks, trekking pole
  • Power bank
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Water bottles, backpack, energy bars and drinks
  • A pair of sunglasses, camera
  • Basic toiletries, bed sheets
  • Flash light (with spare batteries), Swiss knife
  • Insect repellent and an emergency medical kit

What You Need To Do (and don’t)

  • One needs to work on the fitness levels for trek at least two months before.
  • Prior research is must!
  • Don’t try to compete with fellow trekkers, just set your own pace.
  • Don’t take off your clothes just after reaching the camp as this drastically cools down your body.
  • Greet the locals well and talk to them to grab more information about the place.
  • Respect mountains, fellow trekkers and trekking staff.
  • Last but not the least, take out your camera at the right time to capture as many memories as possible!

Presenting a delightful mix of adventure, pleasure and self-fulfilment, trekking has been close to the heart of fun-lovers. And what better place to fulfil this desire then trekking in the lap of the mighty Himalayas?

Sikkim is a hidden treat for many people, and the scenic beauty it has to offer is yet to be fully explored. For me, the Goecha La trek was a journey of self-realization, the steps that took me to the raw beauty of the natural world. And, if you are willing to take up the challenge, mark my words – it is going to be the most thrilling discovery nestled in the abode of nature!

Read more about Himalayan Treks that can get your blood pumping on our blog!

The beauty of the snow-clad Himalayan peaks and the blessings of Lord Shiva make Kailash Mansarovar Yatra trek an incredibly spiritual journey where one can attain Nirvana. People of different religious communities participate in this sacred expedition where adventure comes with a tinge of faith, belief and devotion. Often referred to as the sacred land of historical and natural mysticism, Kailash Mansarovar Yatra trek is symbolic of a unique blend represented by cultural significance, religious values, mythological importance and exquisite beauty of nature.

What magnetic pull does the activity exert?

Being one of the world’s most revered holy places, a trek to Mount Kailash and Mansarovar Lake has something more to offer than just adventure. Standing tall at 22,000 feet, it is said to be the abode of Lord Shiva and is famous for the spiritual energy that the place emanates. Kailash Mansarovar Yatra trek is primarily known for two things – a Parikrama of Mount Kailash and a holy dip in the Mansarovar Lake. In addition, it lets you experience the thrill of discovering high elevated regions nestled in the beauty of nature and its grandeur.

Kailash Mansarovar from Kathmandu
Kailash Mansarovar trekking from Kathmandu

A quick peep into the deep itinerary:

During my school days, I had often heard about Mount Kailash and its awe-inspiring height and beauty. The journey to Kailash Mansarovar always used to fascinate me, and it seems that all this while, I was waiting for the right time to embark on this journey.

The journey to my long-awaited dream started last month. That morning, I left my home and reached Indira Gandhi International airport to board the flight to a bewitching city in the foothills, Kathmandu, which served as the first location of my Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.

The first day of the trek offered us a chance to get acquainted with the beauty of the place. I and my new friends began the sojourn by seeking blessings at Pashupatinath Temple and Budhanilkanth Temple, two of the most revered temples in Nepal, dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu respectively.

Next day, a big step to Kailash Mansarovar journey was waiting. We drove from Kathmandu to Dhunche. Due to the traffic conditions of the place, driving consumed extra time and became tiring as well. But, a plethora of photos clicked of the beautiful scenery made it worthwhile. Then, the day came when we set foot in Tibet.  Home to several majestic landscapes, the place boasts of a mystical charm that stole our hearts right away!

We reached Kyirong after completing all the immigration formalities. Acclimatizing ourselves to the high altitude was the most important part of the journey, so the guide took us on short hikes to familiarize us with the air and temperature of Tibet. Also, drinking warm water at regular intervals helped us a lot to get back to the even breathing process.

We then moved on to Dongba. Crossing the beautiful mountain terrains and witnessing a panoramic view of the blue lake, Pieko-Tso, were some special moments that I will never forget. On our way, the astounding views of Yarlung Zangpo (the Brahmaputra River) and the Northern route through the beautiful town of Saga, situated at 15,879 feet above sea level, left us amazed. Before we got a chance to express awe over God’s beautiful creations, the high plains of Tibet left us speechless. It was difficult to decide what to take note of! With every ounce of energy drained, we came to rest at guesthouses, which featured dormitory style rooms.

Bath at Mansarovar Lake
Bath at Mansarovar Lake

The time came to begin the spiritual sojourn, as we were not far from one of our destinations, Mansarovar Lake. During our drive to Lake Mansarovar, we also managed to get a short glimpse of Rakshas Tal (Demon’s Lake) which lies on the other side of the lake. Famous as Kailash Parvat, Mansarovar Lake is described as Supreme Holy Lake where it is believed that  the Gods Shiva and Indra swam as swans. It is quite hard to reach such a high altitude, which is why only a few thousand pilgrims are able to do the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra every year. Without any doubt, we were considering ourselves lucky to be a part of this cathartic and highly emblematic journey. The spirituality of the place seeped into us when we took a holy dip in Mansarovar Lake. What an overwhelming experience it was! Finally, the time arrived to start our trekking expedition to Mount Kailash.

Darchen Guest House
Darchen Guest House

Moving ahead from here, the first day of Kailash Parikrama began. Last night, Darchen was our stop point which served as the base point of Mount Kailash. Today, we reached the first location of the actual trek, Yama Dwar. Due to gradual climb, the trek was easy initially.

Yam Dwar
Yam Dwar

After crossing Derapukh, the first view of Mount Kailash was visible. It was a moment which will always remain etched in our memory forever. I am not a morning person but when I woke up that morning, I was rewarded with the falling rays of the sun on Mount Kailash turning it into ‘Golden Kailash’.

Mt. Kailash in all its might and divinity
Mt. Kailash in all its might and divinity

When I climbed up to the Dolma-La High Pass, located at about 18,172 feet, the path became uneven and steep making it difficult for me to put one foot after another. At the top of Domla-La, we visited a place covered with prayer flags and other Tibetan ornaments, Shivasthal. It is said to be a place where you can feel the divine connect.

The steep descent came into play. The rocky paths and loose stones made it a tough descent and we were asked to keep excessive care and maintain concentration. Finally, we reached back to Kathmandu, totally exhausted and satisfied.

When to visit this land of spiritual beauty?

One of the crucial elements of the journey is to choose the right time. It becomes important to understand the changes in the weather before beginning the journey of Kailash Mansarovar yatra. The best time to go for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra trek is between mid-May to mid-October. During this period, weather conditions remain normal enough to explore the astounding scenery of the Tibetan mountain area on which Mt. Kailash is located.

Let routes not confuse you!

In order to reach Kailash Mansarovar, people can travel either by flight or train, and even by bus as per their own convenience. The area does not have any major international airports. For those who wish to travel by flight, the nearest airport is Ngari Gunsa airport. As the area does not have any railway station of its own, the nearest railhead would be Lucknow Railway Station. People can hire a taxi or a cab to travel further from the station. You can even travel by bus.  From certain regions in India, China and Nepal, the bus service to Kailash Mansarovar is available. Other modes of transportation include a jeep safari or helicopter.

Load your bag with essentials:

  • Warm clothes
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Trekking shoes and trekking pole
  • Torchlight or Flashlight
  • Sunscreen and Sunblock
  • First Aid Kit

Things that need a constant check:

  • Avoid spoiling the beauty of the trail by littering
  • Do not take shortcuts and walk with the team members
  • Watch your way through uneven and steep paths

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is far from just a trek. It is a journey to self-actualization, the steps to heaven. If you are ready to listen to the calling, this experience is surely one to be had. 

The beauty of every trekking expedition is unique in its nature and form. Sar Pass Trek in Himachal Pradesh is the most popular one amidst the stunning trails of the world. So, do not miss the chance to share the vastness of the Himalayas and challenge your inner potential for some thrill, adventure and excitement.

Know About Sar Pass Trek Before Your Visit

There is a lot of mystery, excitement and thrill involved when you go for the Sar Pass trek. Located in Parvati Valley of Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh at an altitude of 13,800ft, Sar Pass Trek is perfect for those who wish to experience all the beauty that nature has to offer.  The Himalayas have continued to inspire the human race since time immemorial. From towering peaks to lush green meadows and beautiful valleys with crystal clear streams, there are several amazing views that await you on your journey to Sar Pas. Moreover, coniferous trees, rhododendron plants and colourful flowers resemble that sublime beauty which makes this place look like a prelapsarian Eden world. Rediscover eternal beauty and tranquillity as you make your way to your final destination.

Sar Pass Trek in Himachal Pradesh
Trekking in Himachal Pradesh is a whole new experience!

Sar Pass Trek: The Highs and the Lows
The starting point of trekking for Sar Pass is Kasol, which acts as a base for most of the trekking trails in Himachal Pradesh. The town is known for providing a chance to relish the authentic Israeli food. The first day of the journey starts with a trek from Kasol to Grahan village. Initially, the trail seems easy to navigate and enables one to cover much distance in a couple of hours. However, the gentle gradient of the trail begins to transform soon as it becomes little rocky and steep after crossing the river, Grahan Nalah. Grahan village, situated at the top of the hill, will be visible after a steep climb of about an hour. The surreality and the beauty of the village, formed some 500 years ago, lends this place an extraordinary charm. It appears to be more appealing for those who love art, as it is considered to be a stoner’s and painter’s paradise. Replete with the beauty of traditional Himachali houses, pine forests and Rhododendron trees, you can relax in the company of nature.

The next stop on the trek is at Min Thach. Commonly used by locals to access their farms or cattle, the trail of Min Thach is replete with natural beauty. The sunset painting the sky golden is one of the most soothing sights after an exhausting trek from Grahan village to Min Thatch. As you climb higher towards the north, the trail becomes steeper and leads into the woods. However, Rata Pani, the most amazing lunch point, can make you forget the tiredness as you gaze in wonder at the hills on one side, and the deep valley on the other. Passing through the dense forests, you will witness mesmerising views offered by the thick canopy. During the course of the journey, be sure to admire the Chanderkhani stretch and many more ranges from the campsite at Min Thatch. Moreover, it would be helpful for the trekkers to acclimatise and warm-up to regain the energy lost during the trail.

On the way!

On the next day, trek through the pastoral forest covered with snow as the trail from Min Thatch to Nagaru commences, which is the highest point of this expedition at 12,500 ft above sea level. The most beautiful experience of this expedition is to face the towering peaks and simultaneously feel the force of biting wind that literally pushes you to scale even further. Snow could be a tricky part of this trail, as the path becomes slippery, making the trail tougher. It helps a lot to have a trekking pole handy and an experienced guide at your side to ensure your safety. Starting the trek before noon is advisable in case the path is covered by snow, as the weather remains favourable during the day.

Though it may seem difficult at some points, particularly for a beginner, this is exactly where the adventure lies that inspires you to challenge and self-actualize. Once you reach the campsite of Nagaru, you will experience a different world altogether. To enjoy the picturesque views of magnificent mountains across the Parvati valley and the small glittering lights of the Manikaran town reflecting the rustic charm of nature is an experience of a lifetime. Manikaran is well-known amongst the religious pilgrims. It has a hot spring around the gurudwara, which has curative properties, and a visit to this town is considered to be as auspicious as a trip to the holy city of Varanasi.

Moving ahead from here, the next trekking destination will be Biskeri Thatch via Sar Pass. The lush green meadows, wildflowers and variety of birds at Biskeri can rejuvenate your body and mind with new energy. Biskeri Thatch also serves as an ideal location for film shooting. Apart from providing clear and majestic views of ice-covered peaks, the simplicity of the place will leave you spellbound. As you climb upward, it is crucial to keep a slow and steady pace. Though the snow is easier to walk on, it is likely that you end up exhausting every ounce of energy that you have. However, there is nothing to get anxious about. The heavenly surroundings of the location will keep your spirits high and will inspire you to celebrate the joy of completing the trek. You will be rejoiced to see the much-awaited arrival of your final destination, Sar Pass. While beholding a breathtaking view of the lofty mountains, you can take a sigh of relief and enjoy the lush green scenic beauty that nature beholds.

At the Sar Pass top
At the Sar Pass top

Like most of the hikers, you can also acclimatise and spend some quality time at Sar Pass Top. The trek to Sar Pass can provide you with an absolute escapade from the mundane struggle of your daily l

The Stok Kangri trek is a dream for many of us, for avid travelers and beginners alike. For the former, it’s their most cherished achievement and for the latter, it’s a spot high up on their to-do list. So, if you’re someone who is open to adding a deserving title on their list of travel goals in 2018, this one is for you.  

Stok Kangri in the Himalayas
Western Flank, Stok Kangri

Trekking In Ladakh

Ladakh is home to the most exotic valleys, glacial lakes glistening ice-solid in the sunlight, most splendid Himalayan peaks, and breathtaking gorges; and all of it is serene due to the sparse population. Trekking in Ladakh is definitely something to write home about.

Don’t just enjoy, explore.

Why just visit a place? Stok Kangri Expedition gives you an opportunity to actively explore the area and immerse culturally as you interact with the locals and roam around on the very first day. Responsible tourism is not just indulging, but engaging with the wonderful world around you. Your takeaway from a trekking experience should not just be the achievement of scaling a certain height but also deeply appreciating the cultural, local and environmental significance and respecting it.

So surreal! Indus zanskar Confluence Ladakh
So surreal! Indus zanskar Confluence Ladakh

Highlights

  1. Set up tents at Chang Ma at an altitude of 13,087 ft!
  2. Witness the Orion arm of the Milky Way Galaxy with millions of twinkling stars as is clearly visible from Mankorma.
  3. Be ready to walk on all fours as you tread the southern face of the mountain which has an approximately 75 degree gradient slope.
  4. Let yourself loose as you behold the brilliant views of Zanskar valley and Karakoram mountains
  5. Camping on the lush green meadows alongside a brimming water body is the perfect refuge.

A lot has been said about the difficulty level of Stok Kangri all over. First-time trekkers are not encouraged to do this. And even experienced trekkers are bound to face some difficulty in carrying this trek out. But that is no excuse to deny yourself the joy of this life-changing experience. If anything, that should encourage you to prepare and take this challenge headlong. However, there are few things that you could keep in mind to ensure a great time.

Acclimatization and AMS
It is essential that you spend a few days in Leh before you begin the trek. This is done to acclimatize to the increase in altitude after arriving. If you have not done a high altitude trek before, you mustn’t attempt Stok Kangri(20,500 ft) because the rapid increase in altitude on this trek could trigger AMS and make it impossible for you to reach the summit.
In order to avoid AMS, make sure you’re on a DIAMOX course before you leave for the trek.  This will prevent clouding of judgement due to altitude as you near the summit.

Stok Kangri trek is not just a trek. It is an experience that will change the way you go through life after it. Make sure you’re well prepared, then nothing can really stop you from emerging triumphant.

 

Is winter the right season for trekking in the Himalayas? Of course it is! The Himalayan slopes turn magical as it begins to snow.

As the temperatures plummet below zero degrees and the sun rays breathe life into icy terrains for increasingly shorter duration, trekking can be a daunting task. But the rewards of traversing through snow are immense – the shroud of white covering trees and meadows meeting the clear blue sky is a treat to the eyes. You will be surprised to see how the weather changes from sunny to overcast in the blink of an eye – it begins to snow in no time. Listen carefully if you are inside a tent when it is snowing – you might mistake snowfall for raindrops at times.

Snow treks are little more challenging than normal treks because it involves more equipment to allow smooth movement. Common accessories like waterproof gloves, woolen socks, and scarves are a must along with specialised gears such as micro spikes, trekking poles, ice pick and gaiters that you learn to use during the trek. These gears are especially designed to ease your walk through both light and deep snow as well as ice sheets of various densities.

Bhrigu Trek with SnowMost of the winter treks in India include camping for night halts. You will not forget the surreal experience of taking a nap inside your sleeping bag laid on the snow. Nor will you forget the efforts made to drag your legs out of fresh, loose snow or doing a ‘Penguin walk.’ A typical style of walking resembling that of Penguins, this requires sturdy moves without lifting your leg much from the ground. This prevents tripping and falling on hard ice.

The best part of winter treks in snow is that it acquaints you to a new you! And more often than not, a good one, that you can take pride in. All successful and memorable snow treks are result of good team work; you make friends in the face of adversities and as is said, a friend in need is a friend indeed!

Snow treks in Himalayas will continue to beckon the adventure enthusiast in you. With its magnificent scenic beauty and a host of sporting options such as sledging, skiing, skating, snowboarding, and ice climbing, the experience will be unparalleled.

Here are some of the best winter treks in India.

Brahma Tal Trek

Brahma Tal stands as an exception when most of the popular trails of snow trekking in India are closed. As you wade through waist-deep snow on the trail rising steadily to the lake, take some time out for the fantastic view of the surrounding mountains – Mt. Trishul and Mt. Nanda Ghunti being the most prominent of all. Look around you to see the blob of colours indicating your fellow trekkers amid the white carpet of snow covering the forests and the meadows. Here’s a photo story of the ever beautiful Brahma Tal! Know more about Brahma Tal Trek!

Brahma Tal Trek in Winters

Winter Kuari Pass Trek

This trek takes you close to the highest mountain peak in India, Nanda Devi. So close that you can actually see the entire south west flank of the mountain, perhaps one of the rarest full flank views of any mountain in the world. Kuari Pass snow trek is ideal for fit beginners as well as experienced trekkers and passes through forests of oak and rhododendrons, covered in snow. The campsites are equally spectacular; the Khullara campsite has Mt. Dronagiri in the background while the Padiyar campsite is flanked by snow-capped pine trees. Know more about Winter Kuari Pass Trek!

Winter Kuari Pass Trek in Uttarakhand

Chadar Frozen River Trek

As the name chadar (meaning sheet) suggests, the trek takes you through the deep and icy gorges of Ladakh formed by the Zanskar River that freezes every winter. Revel in the sun rays, shining out of an azure sky, that reach the trail only around mid-day. Listen carefully to the sound the thick and thin layers make to watch out for thin ice layers and decide on where to step. The caves, where locals stay during their travel in winters, are an added attraction as much as the frozen waterfall and the elusive snow leopard conspicuous by their pug marks. Know more about Chadar Frozen River Trek!

Chadar Frozen River Trek in Winters
Walking on the frozen Zanskar River

Kedarkantha Trek

When most of the snow treks in India draw to a close, Kedarkantha flaunts snow until as late as April. From the Kedarkantha base camp, you get an unparalleled 360 degree view of the mountains. This trek also offers the prettiest of campsites, set on the edge of pine forests or amid snow-sheeted meadows as well as a refreshingly scenic drive passing through Mussoorie, Nowgaon, Purola, Mori and Naitwar. Know more about Kedarkantha Trek!

Kedarkanta Trek in Uttarakhand

Prashar Lake Trek

If you have only a weekend at your disposal, opt for this trek in Himachal Pradesh. The trail passes through forests, rivulets and local villages, and offers a wonderful view of Dhauladhar, Pir Panjal, and Kinnaur mountain ranges. It is one of those rare treks that bring to you a unique mix of natural beauty and Himachali culture. Know more about Prashar Lake Trek!

Prashar Lake Trek in Winter Snow

So, winter is here. Have you booked your trek yet?

Off late, have you been cancelling your holiday plans because everyone around you is too busy to accompany you on the trips? Then, it is high time that you stop postponing your plans and do what you have only imagined in your thoughts all these years – solo travelling. At first, the whole idea of travelling alone might give you a few jitters, but trust me, as you start thinking more about it, all the doubts and negative thoughts would simply fade away. And, once you clear that stage, you are ready for the adventure called Solo Travel. But before you embark on such a trip, first you need to decide on your destination. So, read on and know about some of the top destinations in India, where you can travel completely on your own.

If you know a bit of history, then you would be aware of the fact that India has been ruled by numerous dynasties. Many of these were not from the subcontinent, but from Central or West Asia. And back then, there were no proper roads, cars, aircraft or any other contemporary means to travel. Now, look at the geographical map of India for a while. You will realise that all those, coming from the north or northwest of the Indian subcontinent, had a natural barricade in their way in the form of the mountain system of the Himalayas, Karakoram and Hindu Kush. In the absence of modern transportation means, the question arises, how did they cross the mountains?

In the words of the famous Greek storyteller, Aesop, “Adventure is worthwhile”.
When it comes to holidaying, I guess most of us become a little too mainstream. We go where everybody else is going and do what has already been done by many before. The true adventure is when you take the road not taken; step into the unknown, without having an idea about what might come next.In the book of India, Arunachal Pradesh is a chapter which is skipped by most readers. The north-easternmost state in the country is still a virgin territory, waiting to be discovered by adventurers, who dare to do something new, something different.

Trekking really is a great activity for a nature lover and adventure freak. Seeing nature at its best, breathing the cool, clean air, climbing mountains, such bliss. But, like everything in the world, it has a downside, in the form of health risks. Every now and then, we keep reading about avalanches and rock falls high up in the mountains trapping hikers. Did you know that on the strategically important Siachen battlefield, more soldiers have died due to adverse weather conditions than from bullets?! Just last year, a massive earthquake hit the Everest Region, killing at least 19 people! While none of this could have been avoided, there is one weather-related condition which can be, and mind you, it can be a killer too: AMS.

How beautiful would a place be, the name of which translates into the Abode of Clouds?! I am talking about Meghalaya, one of the seven states in Northeast India. The Northeast is arguably the least explored part of the country, and this is perhaps why it is not as chaotic and commercialised, and also as polluted as the rest of India. If you are anything like me, then you would want to stay in such a place, rather than concrete jungles. Now, I know it is a bit exaggerated as it is not possible for us to leave our job and comfort of city life to go live in the middle of nowhere. But, at least we can take a trip to a place like this; just to see how amazing nature looks, undisturbed by human influence.

Whenever I ask someone if they like winters, most answer me in the negative. And I think it is justified to some extent as the season, especially in North India, brings with it coldness, smog (not fog or mist) and sometimes strong and chilly winds. The sun seldom shines, and most of the times it does, it is shadowed by the light haze, which sometimes persists for many days. At least, this is what happens in Delhi. I have been patient up till now, letting winters pass as I lay curled up in a blanket or underneath layers of clothes, but no more. Enough is enough, I say. Let us get up and go out there  even in the season, when everything seems gloomy.

Contrary to our belief, winters, and specifically winters in India, are not a cause for that much worry. Compare the season in our country to some other places like the Baltic, Siberia and northern Canada, where nothing grows and temperatures of –40 degree Celsius are regular. Does any such thing happen here? No, right? Winters here are much more bearable, and we still cry about the season being too cold. And, what if it is cold?! We have thermals and woollens. So, let us put them on and head out so we can live life to the fullest, leaving the so-assumed dullness of the season behind.

Here is a description of what you could do and see in the country during the winter season.

Visit the Hill Stations of the North
India has no dearth of hill stations, and these are the kind of places I love the most. Nainital, Srinagar, Shimla, Dalhousie, Munsiyari, Manali, there are so many in the Himalayas. All these lie between elevations of 5000 feet and 10000 feet, making them ideal for a relaxed vacation. It snows in all these places, but not as much as it does higher up in the mountains. For me, this is the perfect altitude range to have fun and not be frozen by the cold. All these places have coniferous trees that are all covered with snow. I just love such sights; it is the quintessential mountain scene.

Manali Leh Highway during winters
Manali Leh Highway during winters

You could walk around the towns, admiring the vistas, and visit the popular places of interest there. Also, remember to try some local delicacies that would make your experience even better. If you go during Christmas, there may be some celebrations going on, especially on the Mall Road of Shimla, where the famous Christ Church is located. The Dal Lake in Srinagar is completely frozen during the season, resulting in an astonishing sight. Another such scene to admire would be of fresh snow, falling on the waters of Naini Lake as you take a walk on the quiet Thandi Sadak.

Go Trekking
Aah…trekking, a good way to explore mountains and be close to nature. Most consider trekking as a summer activity, and rightly so as the paths are clear then. But those, with an adventurous soul, can also try hiking in winters, when the landscape would be white with snow. There are numerous sites within the Himalayas, to where trekking tours are organised in the winter season. While no trek would be easy in winters, they all promise loads of thrill; is it not why we would trek in snowy conditions? For the challenge? Some of the places you could trek to in the Himalayas in winters are Naggar, Brahma Tal, Dalhousie, Kasol, Kheerganga, Tirthan Valley, Triund, Kedarkantha, Prashar Lake, Tungnath, Chandrashila, Kuari Pass and Indrahar Pass.

Winter trekking has its own charms
Winter trekking has its own charms

For those of you, who cannot summon the strength and courage to go trekking in snow, there are loads of hiking trails in the Western Ghats as well, where the cold will be nowhere as much as in the Himalayas. Even in the height of winters, the weather here remains cool and pleasant. The hills are not even as rugged as the Himalayas, making it is easier to hike here. So, if you are considering this option, you can go on a trekking tour to Mullayanagiri, Antaragange, Durga Hill, Ramanagara and Kodachadri.

Explore the Northeast
If you want to see primitive cultures and learn about warring peoples, then the north-eastern part of India is perfect as it is home to hordes of tribes. The summers here can be quite warm, and the rains are like a pestilence; hence, the winter season is perfect to come here. There is so much to see and do in the region that one trip will never be enough. Among the best things to do in the Northeast is taking a walk through the lush tea plantations of Assam and learning about the different types of teas produced in the state. A mystical place in Assam is the village of Mayong, where a large number of occultists, who claim to have spells to cure various diseases, live.

Sikkim during winters
Sikkim during winters

I’m personally planning to head to Meghalaya to explore astonishing caves, many of which have a river. But, what I’m most interested in is trekking to a Living Root Bridge that the locals make by letting the branches of rubber trees entwine around the trunks of betel nut trees. Nagaland is where I would be heading in order to meet the indigenous and eponymous Naga people, who have a rich warring culture. One great way would be to take trips to villages deep in the hills for a chance to stay with the tribesmen and get a first-hand look at their customs. If you don’t have that much time, then do attend the Hornbill Festival in December, where people from all Naga tribes display their dances, music, customs and food.

For those, who want to learn about the Buddhist faith, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim are the best places to visit in Northeast India. There are so many monasteries or gompas in these states like those in Tawang, Rumtek, Taktsang (different from the one in Bhutan), Urgelling, Bomdila, Pemayangtse and Phodang. Natural ponds like Sangetsar Lake in Arunachal Pradesh and Tsomgo Lake in Sikkim, and the town of Lachung in Arunachal Pradesh are also great destinations to explore in winters. The town, with snow-covered spruce trees, and typical mountain homes with sloping roofs, might remind you of a hamlet from a fairytale; it is that pretty!

Dare to go to Ladakh
Ladakh, the northernmost region of India, is arguably one of the best places for an adventure lover. Only the bravest venture there in winters as the season is characterised by heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures for 4-5 months at a stretch. Just reading about it gave me shivers, but I am determined to push myself to the limit, let me see what I’m made of. Though Ladakh is a summer destination, it is so famous around the world that it gets clogged with tourists during this time also. If you want a quiet retreat and desire to come face to face with its true magnificence, then winters are perfect for a visit.

Chadar Trek
Chadar Trek

The essential thing to do here during the season is the famous Chadar Trek on the frozen Zanskar River. It takes you past numerous frozen waterfalls and lets you spend a night in a cave.  You could either head to Naerak Pullu and head back to Chilling or go all the way to Lingshed, tracing the ancient route, taken by the locals of Lingshed to transport wooden logs to Leh, every year. There are so many monasteries here; many built on hills overlooking rivers. As the entire landscape would be covered in snow, the monasteries would look amazing, like something right out of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth movies.  

Try Skiing
One reason, which is desperately making me wait for the arrival of winters, is so I can go skiing. I just love watching people come down snow-covered slopes on skis, twisting right and left. I had followed the recent Winter Olympics religiously and am now determined to do it at least once. I earlier thought that the sport is only tried in places like the Rockies and Alps, but to my pleasant surprise, the Himalayas have no dearth of ski resorts. There are so many I could pick from; Gulmarg, Kufri, Narkanda, Solang Valley and Auli. Another plus about trying skiing is that many ski tops are reached by cable cars, something I really want to ride. As all these are popular destinations, they are well connected to major cities and towns; therefore, reaching them is not a problem.

Auli Skiing
Auli Skiing

Go on Wildlife Safaris
The incredible geographical diversity of the country blesses it with an astonishing variety of animals. As the summers are quite warm and monsoons are a strict no-no for tourism in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, winters give you the perfect chance to see India’s biodiversity. Head up North to see animals like Himalayan wolves, Tibetan wolves, black bears, Himalayan brown bears, Himalayan tahrs, bharal and yak. If you go to the Spiti Valley or Hemis National Park, then get a chance to spot the snow leopard, the Himalayas’ most celebrated predator. Peninsular India, on the other hand, is known for its wide distribution of tigers, ranging from Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand all the way to Eravikulam National Park in Kerala, which is also home to the Nilgiri tahr.

Sunderbans
Sunderbans

Gir Forest in Gujarat, the only home of the majestic Asiatic lion, is another must visit. If you, by any chance, like snakes (like me), then I suggest you head to the forests of Agumbe in Karnataka. Winters are when migratory birds come to India, and the Rann of Kutch, Keoladeo National Park, Chilika Lake and Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary are the best places to see them.

With so much to do and see, winters will never seem boring to you again. I for one have always loved the season for this particular reason. So, wait no more. Welcome winters with a smile, and pack your bags for a wonderful time.

How many times have we seen birds soar across the sky, and thought to ourselves, “Man, wish I could fly like them.” And, during one such instance of thinking about flying, it struck me…I can actually do it. No, I wasn’t all of a sudden going to sprout wings and fly like a bird. But, what I was going to do was go for paragliding, and that is exactly what I did recently. Now, before I start telling you about my experience, let me just give you an overview of the activity.

People have all sorts of dreams and fascinations about travelling the world. Then, there must be some, who would like to never get out of their home and for whom travelling could be exhausting. I personally have never encountered one such person in my life, and therefore my conclusion is that most of us love to experience what the world has to offer. Going back to my point that different people have different choice of destination in mind, yet when planning a vacation, most of us come up with names like Goa or Shimla and the likes. Do not get me wrong here, these mainstream holiday destinations are by all means totally worth it. But, the fact is that they are mainstream after all! Most of us have actually been to a few of these locations as kids. Don’t believe me? Just ask your mom and she will take out those huge old photo albums consisting of pictures of you as a toddler, sitting in your parents’ lap against the setting of at least one of those generic holiday destinations. Well, this blog is not written to discourage your grand plans for a memorable break from your routine life, I am just trying to remind you that our incredible country has more than just scenic beauty. The world knows that we as a nation are proud owners of some of the richest wildlife areas found on earth. So, how about ditching the sceneries this time and going off on an adventure with the intriguing fauna of Bandhavgarh? Allow me to elaborate more on this proposition and make you want to arrive at this majestic location by the next flight!

“Surely, of all the wonders of the world, the horizon is the greatest.” ― Freya Stark

This line pretty much sums up the kind of person Freya Stark was. She believed in travelling unimaginable distances, seeing endless possibilities, even when most could see none. For those of you, who don’t know who this wonderful woman was, she was a British-Italian traveller and explorer, renowned for her writings about the Middle East. Her parents are known to have been quite liberal, resulting in her knowing numerous languages as a child, even though she never went to school.