Situated at a height of 21,778 feet, the majestic Mount Kailash is said to be an abode of Lord Shiva hailed as ‘destroyer of evil’. The grand mountain is nestled in the South-Western part of Himalayas Tibetan Plateau.  Also, located in close proximity to Lake Rakshasta and Lake Manasarovar, Kailash paves the path for four major rivers of Asia i.e. the Brahmaputra, Indus, Sutlej and Karnali.

Therefore, Kailash Mansarovar Yatra doubles as a pilgrimage for ardent Hindus and a journey into the magnificent Himalayas for wanderers.

The Most Fascinating Journey Ever!

The journey to Kailash Parvat is not just a regular yatra, it is a completely life-changing experience for those who undertake it. A hike to this breathtaking, isolated, eternal and fascinating sacred spot is like a journey within oneself. Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is like an experience of a lifetime!

Lake Mansarovar
Lake Mansarovar

Situated at a height of 15,015 feet, the emerald green and sacred blue Manasarovar Lake is just at a distance of 20 km from Kailash Parvat. The lake is said to be an embodiment of purity which has the power to wash away your sins and heal your wounds.  

The spiritual journey involves meditation sessions, satsangs and bhajans which would subsequently be followed by the difficult yet exciting trek to the North face of Kailash. You will get an opportunity at the Kailash Mount to meditate in the presence of the Almighty.

Hidden Jewels on Kailash Route
On this journey, one would visit the world’s highest city and the capital city of Tibet, Lhasa. There are several tourist attractions on the way to Kailash such as Jokhang temple, Bhakor Street, Sera Monastery, Potala Palace, and the lively Lhasa market.

One can enjoy the stunning picturesque sights of Darchen, Dirakphuk and Zuktulpuk.

My Journey to Sacred Mount
We all arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport which is situated 6 km away from the city centre. After reaching Kathmandu airport, I first met my tour representative, he gave me a warm welcome, and we later moved toward the booked hotel. I completed all the check-in facility and went to relax for a while after lunch. Later, the tour representative introduced me to 9 other trekkers who were set to undertake this exciting journey. He then briefed us about the program schedule. When the session got over, I thought to take a stroll in the hotel garden.

Next day, we woke up to a striking view of sunrise in the valley that was echoing due to pleasing sound of chirping birds. Afterwards, I enjoyed an appetizing breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant. Our guide came to the hotel and briefed us about today’s itinerary and then he took us to the most sacred temples in Nepal, Pashupatinath and Budhanilkanth dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu respectively. Our lunch was organised in a Nepali Restaurant, where we savoured some authentic delicacies like Thupka, Sel Roti and Momos. We also paid a visit to the Patan Museum and the Taragaon Museum.

Day 3 involved 6 hours bus journey from Kathmandu to Dhunche. Though the unsteady path was quite tough to handle, the drive through the majestic mountains was lovely. The one thing that propelled us throughout was acquaintance with the rare sights of nature away from the hustle-bustle noise of the city. We spent a night at a booked guesthouse. Next morning, after consuming yummy paranthas and curd, we moved toward Rasuwagadi, a point from where initial trekking began. The moving clouds, lush greenery mountains and chilly wind added an excitement to our journey. After a few hours of walk, we reached Lipulekh Pass where we waited for the Chinese authorities to complete the immigration facilities. After 1.5 hours of monitoring by the officials, we boarded a bus that took us to Kyirong. We spent a night at a lodge in Kyirong. We explored Kyirong markets and monasteries on the 5th day.               

Next day, while moving to Dongba, pictorial views of mountain terrains and blue lake, Pieko-Tso and Yarlung Zangpo (the Brahmaputra River) worked as a feast to our naked eyes. After 7 hours, we reached Dongba guest house for night stay.

Now, it was the day to trek to the highest and holiest lake in the world, Lake Mansarovar. We first crossed Mayumla Pass where we had our lunch. Later, we reached Prayang County and we stayed there for 15 minutes to catch a glimpse of striking Mount Kailash.

The view of blue and emerald green lake was overwhelming. The blend of snow-capped mountains, incredible vistas of sand dunes and white clouds were simply majestic and truly breath-taking. This was a spiritual day of meditation and prayers. I experienced a revitalizing and cleansing dip in the purest lake, which is said to have the power to wash away all our sins. We stayed overnight in the camp set on the banks of the lake. Next morning, it was a time to get ready for a trek that was as testing as it was rewarding.

Yam Dwar
Yam Dwar

We packed up our stuff and drove to the starting point of the trek, Yamadwar, and then hiked to Dirapuk. En route, we beheld the sights of cliff-top monasteries, and yak caravans gently wandering over snowy passes. Finally, the time to experience the powerful and inexpressible phenomenon of this sacrosanct mountain arrived. For half an hour, we indulged in the exquisiteness and immensity of the esoteric Kailash. We spent a night at its base.

Staying in Diraphukh
Staying in Diraphukh

On Day 8, we moved from Dirapuk to the north face of Kailash for meditation and then back to Dirapuk. Then we headed back to Manasarovar and one more night was spent in amidst the mountain and beautiful lake.

Next morning, the journey to Zuthulphuk began with a steep climb up to the Dolma-La Hi

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.

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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

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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.

Perched at an altitude of 3,500 m, Kheerganga is nestled deep in Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh.  It is believed that Lord Shiva’s son Kartikeya meditated here for thousands of years. On the Kasol to Kheerganga trek, you can experience a rare combination as you will take a bath in the hot spring while the surroundings are chilled and covered by snow.

Moreover, stunning views of mountains, waterfalls, mountain animals, and oak and deodar trees are a much-needed feast for the trekker’s eyes. The trail unveils a few of the most fascinating destinations such as Rudra Nag Waterfall and Shiv Temple.

A Serene Visit to Kheerganga
Trekking to the magical Parvati Valley still seems like a dream. It was a place which I wished would remain a secret as I couldn’t stop myself imagining about those majestic valleys, mountain goats, green lush mountains and peaceful oak forests.   

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My journey to Kheerganga began when I boarded a taxi from Delhi’s Paharganj to Kasol with my younger sister. After 12 hours of tiresome journey and covering 550 km, we finally reached Kasol. Kasol is one of the most beloved destinations among youth though, we preferred to move to Tosh, the nearby village.

In Tosh
In Tosh

We had Aaloo parathas at Sasi Restaurant and then we kept moving ahead. The trail had no roads and we walked through green land and reached the beautiful village of Tosh. 

On the first day, we wanted to take rest as much as possible. In the evening we visited local bazaars, enjoyed local delicacies and coffee in a nearby Amsterdam’s coffee shop. We played badminton with the local girls, gave them chocolates and clicked several pictures with them. At Tosh, villagers sit together after a long day of work and smoke chillums.

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Next day, the thrill of Kheerganga trek began from Barshaini, which is enveloped by lush green trees. Also, it is a confluence point of Rivers Parvati and Tosh. We reached the base camp at 10 am. We had delicious breakfast at Prem Cafe. From there, we walked through the splendid landscape and enjoyed magnificent sights of nature. While trekking, we passed a few wooden bridges, waterfalls and hamlets.

Camping on the trek from Kasol to Kheerganga
Camping on the trek from Kasol to Kheerganga

We both captured some amazing pictures in our DSLR. After two hours of moderate trek, we arrived at Rudra Nag and stopped there for a while to admire the beauty of nature. This dazzling serpent-shaped waterfall is considered as one of the main tourist attractions in the Parvati Valley. Here we met a local who told us that there are other villages as well, like, Kalga, Pulga and Tulga. He said that thousands of years ago, there was a very powerful demon, Tadkasura, who defeated Devas. The Devas  then visited Brahma, who told them to worship Mahadevi. It was Mahadevi who told them-‘I would soon reincarnate and get married to Lord Shiva, and the offspring would defeat the demon’.

Later, we kept climbing for 3 hours. We followed the marks imprinted on trees; the trail was quite an arduous climb. My sister asked me the same question for at least five times, “How far do we need to climb in one day?” Surprisingly, before she asked the same thing for one more time, we suddenly came across a sign saying “Welcome to Kheerganga”.

The green meadow of Kheerganga was right in front of us. There was nothing to wait for, we kept our bags in the tents and took a refreshing dip in the hot springs. It simply washed away the weariness of the trip. This pool was divided into sections one for men and the other for women.

Later, we visited Kartikeya Cave and offered prayers to Lord Kartikeya. Amazing weather, sights of mighty peaks, green forests, friendly locals and the therapeutic water of the hot springs made our journey worth. We spent a night at our campsite at Kheerganga.

Next morning, we woke up to a wonderful view of the sunrise. After taking a bath in the divine hot water pool again, we descended towards Kasol through the same route that we followed to reach Kheerganga. For me, it was mystery-packed trek which involved lots of excitement and thrill.

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Best Time to Visit
One can visit Kheerganga from Kasol from March to June or October to November. This place experiences soothing climate throughout the year. The weather remains pleasant and in summers, the temperature varies from 15 – 22 degrees Celsius while in winters, it varies from 3 to 10 degrees Celsius.

Must Carry Essentials

  • Sunglasses and Sunscreen
  • Trekking shoes and trekking pole
  • Camera and torch
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Warm clothes and rain coat
  • First aid kit

In the backdrop of the mystery hidden in the majestic Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh, it would be really exciting to unravel these untold tales on your own. Moreover, the beautiful views of the meadows and dense oak forests make Kasol-Kheerganga trek a must-do for every avid trekker. 

Everest is one of the most popular destinations in Nepal which is known for its majestic mountains and magnificent hills and peak. A trek to Everest Base Camp is a journey where dreams and expectations of an adventure lover turn into reality. Every step of the journey takes you to the most breathtaking mountain region and it also gives you an opportunity to get acquainted with the unique Himalayan culture and mountain climbers known as Sherpas. Moreover, while trekking to an altitude of 18,513 ft., you will be challenged by tricky slopes and curves, rough terrains and slippery path.

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My Meeting with Himalayas: A Journey That Changed Me Forever
There would hardly be anyone who doesn’t admire the stunning beauty of the mountains. The Himalayas have always intrigued me and I had never dreamt that it would ever be so accessible! While watching a video on YouTube, I learnt about the Everest Base Camp trek, and I was so fascinated by it that I decided to look more into it. After contacting a travel agent and planning a thorough itinerary of the trek, I began my prep in the rundown for this expedition and started working on my fitness level and physique.

Three weeks passed, and now it was time to board a flight to Kathmandu. I was welcomed by my guide at the airport and later we both headed towards our hotel. On Day 1, the guide held a pre-trek meeting where we were briefed about the trek and introduced to our fellow trekkers. Later, we visited world’s three UNESCO heritage sites i.e Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Boudhanath Stupa and Pashupatinath Temple.

Tenzing-Hillary Airport or Lukla Airport
Tenzing-Hillary Airport or Lukla Airport

Next day, we had an early morning flight from Kathmandu Airport to Tensing Hillary Airport at Lukla which is said to be the gateway to Everest. The landing at Lukla alone gave me an adrenaline rush as it is called the world’s most dangerous airport. Our porters were already waiting for us there. After breakfast and a brief stay in the tents, we descended towards Dudh Koshi River.

Dudh Kosi River
Dudh Kosi River

Our eyes were stunned by the beauty of the river. We clicked several pictures there and then moved towards Phakding. That day, the walking was quite easy and it took almost three hours to reach Phakding where the guide had arranged a night stay for us. We slept early that day as we were told that next day trek would be quite challenging.

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Our trek started at 8 am and we continued to walk along the bank of Dudh Koshi River. Crossing several suspension bridges, we entered Sagarmatha National Park which is a home to rare species like the snow leopard, musk deer and red panda. We met several Sherpas here and they shared their inspiring mountain climbing experiences with us.

everest From there, the trail climbs up steeply until we reached Namche Bazaar which is the largest village in the region. We were amazed to see quality restaurants, shops, hotels, bakeries and internet cafes at such height. Also, there were two banks and one ATM.

Namche Bazaar from the top
Namche Bazaar from the top

On Day 5, our guide told us that there were two acclimatization stops and after 5 hours of trekking, we reached Hotel Everest View, which is one of the highest perched hotels in the world. While sipping a coffee and gobbling a cup of Maggie, we enjoyed a beautiful sight of Himalayan ranges. On the way, we also visited Sherpa Museum where we saw photographs of mountain expedition of the greatest climbers i.e. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. The trail to the hotel offered spectacular panoramic views and luckily the weather was clear that day so we got a chance to see a magnificent view of Mount Everest and Ama Dablam. Another morning, the trek continued along the glacial river of Dudh Koshi. After 4 hours of trek, we reached Tengboche and visited local monasteries. It is believed that Tenzing Norgay spotted this monastery from the summit of Everest. The trail continued for one more hour until we reached Mong La, where we had lunch.

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Next morning, we walked through dense rhododendron forests and steep slopes. From the forests, we reached meadows and small grasslands. From there, we saw Cho Oyu, which is said to be the world’s sixth highest mountain. The trail took us to Inja Khola and then climbed up to Pangboche where we had our lunch. We captured mesmerizing views of Mount Ama Dablam and after 2 hours of trek we reached Pheriche and proceeded to the Imja Valley. Here, we passed through River Lobuche and went on a steep hike to Dingboche for overnight stay.

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Day 7 was an acclimatization day. As we didn’t want to lose this opportunity, we walked to a Nankan Sa Peak situated at 4,900 m. From here we got to see the world’s top three mountain peaks – Mount Cho, Mount Lhotse and Mount Makalu.

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Next day, we went from Dingboche to Dughla, the trail offered some of the best views so far as we enjoyed the sight of magnificent mount Pumori (7,138 m) and a glacial lake.

On Day 9, we climbed to Lobuche which is positioned next to the Khumbu glacier. We crossed Dughla Pass/ Thukla Pass.

Day 10 was the moderate trek of around 6 hours. It was an absolute glacier course which took us to Gorakshep (5,170 m) and it eventually proceeded to the Everest Base Camp (5,364 m). This part of hiking made me feel like I’m stepping towards heaven amidst the glaciers. It was the most important and difficult day of the whole trip. We continued walking on the side of Kumbhu glacier; it took 3 hours to reach the base camp where we saw colorful tents of mountaineers who were attempting to climb the gigantic Mt. Everest. We stayed here for a brief period and celebrated our accomplishment like winners. We clicked as many pictures as we could. Two hours later we found ourselves in the lodge at Gorakshep where we spent the night.

Mt. Everest in all its glory
Mt. Everest in all its glory

Next morning, with the support of the headlight, we hiked to Kala Patthar at around 4 am where we saw the most magnificent view of Mt. Everest. After breakfast, we descended to Loubouche for lunch and finally Pheriche which was an end to the wide Himalayan valley. Next day, we climbed down to Namche Bazaar and there we bought souvenirs. On day 13, we hiked to Lukla and on day 14, we proceeded to Kathmandu.

Take a Note!
Maximum Height: 18,513 ft
Difficulty Level: Strenuous
Nearest Airport: Kathmandu, Nepal
ATM: Namche Bazaar has two banks and one ATM point
Trek Time: 14 Days

Best Months to Visit
Except for January, July and August, all other months are suitable for the trek.

Trek Itinerary
Kathmandu – Lukla – Namche Bazar – Tengboche – Lobuche – Gorak Shep – Everest Base Camp – Kala Patthar – Namche Bazaar – Lukla – Kathmandu

What level of fitness is required?
A trekker has to hike at altitudes higher than 12,000 ft and that too for 6-7 hours daily. Also, due to lack of oxygen,  breathing issues are a problem. Thus, both mental and physical fitness are required for this trek.

Believe me, a meeting with the jewels hidden in the snow-capped mountains of Everest gave me an array of experiences and memories that one should definitely experience at least once in a lifetime.

Long gone are the times when adventure was reserved for Christopher Columbus-types. Today, mesmerising trails laden with snow and rhododendron leading to a majestic view of the literal top of the world are accessible to even people having 9 to 5 lives. Sandakphu trek, a rhododendron trek, is not just a treat for the eye, but a chance to walk alongside the Sleeping Buddha, and so much more! Here are ten reasons why you are missing out if you haven’t planned a getaway to this little paradise yet:

  1. Rolling with the Rhododendrons 

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    Out of the few rhododendron treks in India, Sandakphu trek carried out in the northern part of West Bengal is a beacon of beautiful trails that are covered by rhododendrons in the spring. It’s a spectacle to behold with your own eyes!

  2. Chitrey Monastery: A reservoir of Buddhist culture
    Picture Credits: India Mike
    Picture Credits: India Mike

    The trek will begin from the Chitrey village that boasts of a majestic monastery and stupas. The government of Bengal has recently decided to promote Buddhist tourism and this is definitely going to be the center of attention. And for all the right reasons, just look at it!

  3. Kalaphokri or ‘Black Lake’kaliphokli-or-black-lake
    A bean-shaped black lake that is circumambulated by fluttering Buddhist flags is another highlight of your Sandakphu trek. It is rumored that even in really low temperatures the lake does not freeze. This lends it a strange charm, an air of mystery even. This will be your next stop after you cross Tumling.
  4. Lushness of Sandakphu’s natural charms: Forests, Waterfalls, Alpine Meadowssiri_riverThe entire hiking trail looks resplendent in the greens of lush meadows, dense forests and gurgling waterfalls and brimming Siri River. Often times, an exhausting trek through a forest will open up to a splendid meadow. Like, after you cross Lamyadhura.
  5. Spring tales

    flowers sandakphu trekIf you would love the mountainous air with a gentle smell, come down in the spring. Mountain trail through forests showcase blooming flowers all along. Spot magnificent magnolias blooming all along the trail from Chitre to Meghma.
  6. Winter is coming!

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    Walk the willowy snow-laden trails of Sandakphu trek if you choose to visit in the winters. This way, the destination is not the only scenic spot on your map, the journey is filled with a whole lot of beauty as well!
  7. Wake up to the magnificent view of Sleeping BuddhaSleeping buddha sandakphu
    Kanchenjunga family of peaks seen from Sandakphu seem to be imitating Buddha in a sleeping position. The view is simply spellbinding.
    Right here, one can also spot the ridge between Goecha and Pandim which is basically called the Goecha la trek in Sikkim.
  8. Tumling’s tea estates and guest houses
    A guest house in Tumling
    A guest house in Tumling

    Tumling, lying on the Indo-Nepal border, houses beautiful guest houses. Lots of trekkers/travelers stay right here in the beautiful guest houses by the side of the ebbing river. To your right lies India and to your left is Nepal. Furthermore, on this trek, you will get to traverse through many a beautiful tea estate in the villages that lie on the border.

    After the ascent from Tumling, you will reach a point where from you can look at the entire Sandakphu trail lying ahead all at once. It will be the ultimate power-up you need to push through!

  9. Camping in Singalila National Parksingalila national park
    Spend a night camping at the best sites on this trek in Singalila National Park. As you wake up the next day, witness the sun rising from the Singalila range. This is truly what you came all the way for.
    You can also spot blue bamboos in the jungle!
  10. Witness the grandeur of world’s highest mountains in a 180 degree view

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    At Sandakphu, to the west lies Makalu, Lhotse, Everest, Nuptse, Baruntse, Chamling, Chomolonzo, Machapucchare and other peaks of Annapurna range. To the north, Sleeping Buddha and three sister peaks. To the east, Chomolhari. What more could a trek offer!

Is there any other trek that boasts of such spectacular views of the highest mountains in the world, blooming rhododendron alongside mountain trails that lead you through dense forests to vast meadows that are so lush, it fills your heart with an overwhelming joy?

Sandakphu trek can leave you speechless momentarily but it will give you a lot to reminisce and talk about later.

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.

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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

Located in the majestic Dauladhar Range of the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh, Triund trek (3,000 meters) is among the most popular treks in India. The main cause of popularity is its moderate climate, snow-capped mountains, natural grandeur, green-lush valleys and serene environment. The exhilarating views of Kangra Valley from the Triund top feel like some fantasy. One can experience the exquisiteness of nature at every step of the journey. While the tricky route and tiresome curves on the way bring difficulty for the first time trekkers, chilly breeze takes away all the weariness as soon as you reach Triund peak.

triund_trekkingIn Himachal Pradesh, places like Triund and Mcleod Ganj showcase the Tibetan culture with vivid monasteries, striking architecture, prayer flags, wheels, vibrant markets and Buddha’s stupas.

Night camping at Triund is an experience to die for!
It is true that stunning views of mountain ranges, green forest and water streams will make your trip memorable but what makes it a lifetime experience is night camping at Triund top. A beautiful campsite next to gushing streams and a night spent under the dark blanket of white glazy stars will turn out as the best camping experience ever!

Where do we start?
There are several starting points for the trek but McLeodganj or Dharamkot are among the most popular ones. From Dharamkot, a 7 km trial goes to Galu Temple. Here you will witness a beautiful sight of the valleys and Dharamsala cricket stadium. Triund is just a few metres away from here.

triund

The Best Time to Visit
Triund trek is available around the year, except from January to February. The best time to visit is from March to June and September to October as at this time, there is no snowfall and the weather is quite comfortable to enjoy clear views of the mountains.
March to June: The temperature ranges from 20 °C to 10 °C during the day time and 7 °C to 2 °C at night.
September to October: The temperature ranges from 10 °C to 7°C during the day time and 5 °C to -5 °C at night.

Pack a bag! 

  • Warm jackets, caps and gloves (in case of cold weather)
  • Trekking shoes, Trekking pole
  • Water bottles, energy drinks
  • A pair of sunglasses, camera
  • Basic toiletries, bed sheets
  • Power bank, Flash light (with spare batteries)
  • Insect repellent, First-aid kit

Attractions Nearby:
A day at Dharamsala Stadium: You don’t need to worry even if you’re not a cricket lover; a trip to Dharamsala offers an enriching experience. The stadium is situated 1,457m above sea level amidst the setting of the pictorial Dhauladhar Range. You may not know this but it is a favorite holiday destination of Aussie cricketer Mathew Hayden.

Offer prayers at St John’s Church:  Designed in neo-Gothic architecture and dedicated to John the Baptist, it is a perfect place to offer prayers and click pictures. The church which is surrounded by Deodars, has the Belgian stained-glass windows donated by Lady Elgin, wife of Lord Elgin.

Take bath at Bhagsunag Waterfall: Take an early morning stroll to the stunning Bhagsu Falls located just near to the Bhagsunath Temple. It is one of the best tourist attractions in Mcleodganj. A 20 m high waterfall offers a spectacular view and it holds the attention of its visitors in such a way that they want to get lost in its beauty.

Attention, Shopaholics: Don’t forget to take back some souvenirs!
Kotwali Bazaar in McLeodganj is an ideal destination for shopaholics. Tibetans sell beautifully handcrafted sculptures, accessories and utensils. Prayer Thangkas, Tibetan artifacts and dresses, rugs, carpets, bronze or silver statue can be purchased from here.

Triund

Triund Trek Tales 
For city dwellers, hills are the best place to get a break from noisy city life and mundane schedule. And what’s better than going on a long weekend trip in Himachal Pradesh. Taking the benefit of the opportunity, I decided to ask some of my friends to accompany me on a trip and our bags were packed immediately thereafter.

Home to Dalai Lama, Dharamsala is all about grand monasteries, colourful flags, rolling prayer wheels, ringing bells and an abundance of flora and fauna.

Our journey began from Delhi at around 10 pm. The thrill of going to our favorite holiday destination doubled this time as we had a plan to scale Triund. On that day, we hardly slept for an hour, most of our night was followed by researching about the Triund trek. Next morning, our Volvo dropped us at Dharamsala. It was around 7 am and we checked into our hotel.

Tip: Though the Best Western Indraprastha Spa Resort is quite costly, they offered us a good discount as we used to visit it at least five times a year.

After a warm welcome by the hotel staff, we went to our rooms. We had a scrumptious breakfast and some of my friends decided to sleep for a while. I was a bit impatient as I didn’t want to spend my precious time sleeping. Thus, I first visited Dal Lake that was located very close to our hotel. My family had warned me to not come back if I didn’t visit Bhagsu Nag Temple so I decided to go check it out. I had planned it in such a way that my friends were already at the waterfall (Bhagsu Nag Waterfall), I took a pleasing stroll from the temple to the decided destination. After spending a little while there, we decided to move ahead and pay a visit to Tsug Lhakhang together, it is the residence of Dalai Lama along with his private office and temple. As we reached that place, the weather changed and it all turned dark and breezy. The sudden change of weather is kind of usual here, don’t worry. The only thing that gave us a feel of heaven was the mesmerizing beauty of lush valleys surrounding us and a spectacular view of Tsug Lhakhang.

Next, we were hungry so our next two hours were devoted to a couple of cafés like Indique, German Bakery and Buddha Delight Café. You will find everything here to soothe your hunger pangs: maggi, momos, pancakes, thupkas, pizzas. The night was spent at the hotel. From there, we immediately rushed to Naddi View Point to capture the sunset in our respective DSLRs. The night was spent in our hotel.

The morning of Day 2 was quite a lazy one. After getting dressed, we moved to Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen where we gorged ourselves in white sauce pasta and smoky red wine sauce chicken. It was like offering you something just at half of what you get at Big Chill. It was hard to move with stuffed bellies but somehow we managed to reach shopper’s paradise i.e. the Kotwali Bazaar. I bought a variety of jewelry for my cousins and a Buddha sculpture for my father who is an ardent devotee. We shopped around for 2 hours and later we tried the traditional Himalayan momos filled with Pak Choi and Potato. The breathtaking view is worth the hike.

We spent a night at Dharamkot which is a small village next to Mcleodganj. Here, we enjoyed the wood-fired pizzas along with freshly made apple juice. We also ordered a plate of pita and hummus and I must say that an entire plateful of hummus is not meant for people with low-appetite.

Triund top view!
Triund top view!

The final day had arrived! It was a time to pave our way for some adventure. A 9 km trek to Triund from Mcleodganj provides breathtaking view of Kangra Valley and snow-capped mountains. The trial was getting steeper and the curves were making it difficult for us to continue the trek. We had Maggi and some snacks midway. Reaching the top was worth all the puffing and huffing. I headed further up, after consuming a cup of ginger tea. Another halt was ‘Magic View Mountain’ which offers panoramic scenes. The splendid views of Dhauladhar Range, and overlooking Kangra Valley and Dharamsala stadium from the top were way better than what I expected. Under the shadow of the glittery sky, we had a camp stay for the rest of night.

Landing at Bir Billing grounds
Landing at Bir Billing grounds

The last day was quite exciting, we moved to Bir Billing in Palampur, where we decided to jump off a mountain cliff with a paragliding chute, situated at an elevation of about 2,600 m. I felt like a free bird when I jumped from the top. While swaying under the sky, I enjoyed mesmerizing views of lush green tea gardens.

A closer look at the jewels hidden in the snow-capped mountains gave me a gamut of experiences that I would surely cherish until the next time I visit.

Hampta is a dream come true for trekking enthusiasts who are constantly on the look out for an unforgettable experience in the scenic valleys of Kullu and Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh. Why, you ask? Hampta Pass Trek is literally a paradise filled with eye-catching views and ever modifying scenery that captivates travelers in a lasting trance. Every turn of the trail is an immensely rewarding experience as it reveals nature’s hidden treasures. The rare sights of alpine forests, glaciers, and Himalayan flora and fauna make this expedition truly spellbinding.

Hampta Pass Trek – A Newbie’s Pleasure chi_4114
It’s a moderate trek that goes to magnificent foothills of the Pir Panjal Range and the great Himalayas. As you gain altitude, the trail offers different shades of nature, from green pine forests to the awe inspiring view of Indrasan and Deo Tibba mountains.

A Quick Overview of Elevation Points
The adventure began from Manali, situated at 2,050 meters. This is the point from where you will head towards Jobri by road, taking you to Chika at 3,100 meters. You will trek from here to your base camp – Balu Ka Ghera Hampta Pass at 3,600 meters. Also known as the ‘Heaps of Sand’, it is said that brown bears hibernate at Balu ka Ghera in the winters. The place offers the breath-taking sight of the magnificent Dauladhar Ranges.

Trekking will continue to an elevation of 4,000 metres at Shia Ghoru. The next stop will be Chatru and later you will arrive at the crystal clear Chandratal Lake at 4,270 metres. Moreover, steadily flowing streams, the long wavy bridges and a range of vibrant flowers offer great delight and peace.

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Measuring the Trek
Region: Himachal
Duration: 6 Days
Grade: Easy to moderate
Max Altitude: 14,100 ft.
Trekking Distance: 26 Km

The Friendly Locals: Living in the beautiful Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh, the locals are quite reserved about their traditions and living customs. The socio-cultural lifestyle of farmers and artisans is reflected in their conventional heritage. They are ardent lovers of nature and its creation. Uniquely designed handicrafts and paintings can be discovered in the markets. People share a great bond of togetherness and brotherhood. They will surely help you whenever you ask them about the route and even if you’re lucky enough, some may offer you scrumptious traditional delicacies at a reasonable price or free of cost.

A Way to trek
Hampta Pass trek originates from the places like Manali, Naggar and Dharamshala. Manali is accessible by rail, road and air and well connected to cities like New Delhi and Chandigarh. The nearest airport is Bhuntar Airport, which is located 52 km from Manali.

Joginder Nagar Railway Station is situated at the distance of 166 km from Manali. Volvos and taxis are considered to be more convenient to reach the scenic destination.

An Amazing Experience of 14, 100 ft.
Actually, the story started on a boring Sunday when on the spur of the moment I decided to gift a solo trip to myself. While doing my research, I came to know about an exciting trek to Hampta Pass. I flew from Mumbai to Delhi and then boarded a Volvo AC bus to Manali. As it was going to be my first solo journey, I was very cynical about taking a long bus ride without any familiar faces. Surprisingly, the solo trip ended right in the bus, as a Korean woman sitting next to me was going for the Hampta Pass trek. This is the fun part of solo trips that you move all alone but come back home making several friends. While sharing some wonderful travel stories, Alena told me that it was the 4th time she had visited India.

After reaching Manali, we both rushed to Rambaug Circle on Manali Mall Road where we met our other group members and guide. We stayed at our booked hotel that day.

Capture
Get, set, ready to capture the most scenic of views on this breathtaking trail

The next day we were headed towards the base camp – Manali to Chika via Jobra. We drove to a certain point and from there we started trekking. When we began, it started raining. Thankfully, we were carrying umbrellas. We climbed through the forest and lush green meadows. As it was just the first day of hiking, I was literally gasping for breath. At that point, I felt like I should have better trained myself for a month before saying yes to the adventure. However, the enchanting sight of a wide range of deodar and oak trees on the way can make you feel refreshed. The slope seemed to be very easy for my Korean friend who was constantly smiling as she was amazed to see such a pristine beauty of nature!

chika
After a span of 3 hours, we reached Chika which was the perfect site to relax amidst the serene surroundings.

In the evening, our trek leader briefed us about the program and handed out a route map. In the evening, I captured some beautiful views in my DSLR camera which was recently gifted by my father. Later, we enjoyed dinner at the camp.

sun

We woke to a stunning view of sunrise and after having Chai and Parathas, we were all set to go on a long trek. Though the trek was very challenging, the sights of the valley, rivers and meadows made it all easier. You know what? I did pretty well on the steep trail which was covered with snow. We reached Balu Ka Ghera. The camp was organised at an elevation of 11,900 ft with a stream on one side and river flowing on the other.

Balu ka Ghera
Balu ka Ghera, the most beautiful campsite ever!

Day 3 was the final day! The most challenging yet the most exciting one, we were going to conquer Hampta today! Many of us were excited and nervous. We wore our snow spike shoes, took out our trekking pole and hiked towards the destined end. I was playing safe as I was mostly trekking in the middle troupe. The green valley made our way to the icy mountains and glaciers.

Yoga at Shia Goru
Yoga at Shia Goru

We finally reached Hampta. It was very foggy there so we were supposed to move forward as early as possible. We stayed there for 20 minutes and descended to Shea Goru. It was a slippery route and many group members rolled down when they fell on the ground. And then we couldn’t control our laughter. We created a warm corner of memories by clicking a plethora of pictures that I couldn’t even count. When we reached the spot, we saw that our guides had arranged a bonfire night at our camp. So, we sang and danced together that night!

On day 5, we moved towards Chatru and this was the place that gave us an opportunity to capture the most stunning views we only ever dreamt of. The valleys of Lahaul-Spiti and Pir Panjal Ranges added a charm to the beauty of the place. Notably, Chatru is the base point for three locations namely Spiti Valley, Hampta Pass and Rohtang Pass. We spent the night at Chatru.

The glorious Chandratal lake
The glorious Chandratal lake

Next morning, we had to say goodbyes to some really nice people that we met on the trek. After taking selfies and exchanging some warm hugs, I boarded a cab that took me to magnificent Chandratal Lake, which is said to be a jewel of the mountains. It is believed that the lake was the home to one of Pandavas – Yudhisthira, the eldest son of Kunti. After witnessing the purest form of nature, I hit the road back to Manali.

Facts|Figures

Know About Mobile Connectivity and ATM Facility
You should withdraw money from ATM at Manali or Prini. No ATM service is available after Prini. So, if there are chances of falling short of money, it’s better to take some from here.

Mobile connectivity is quite good till Prini but beyond that, you don’t get such facility. You should make sure that all your important calls are made.

Take Note on Temperature and Trekking Time
The best time to go for Hampta Pass is from June to August and September to October. The harsh climatic conditions vary at high altitudes, thus, it is important to choose the right time to get acclimatized. There are chances that you witness heavy snowfall and rain during the monsoon season.
June to August: The temperature ranges from 20 °C to 15 °C during the day time and 7 °C to -2 °C at night.
September to October: The temperature ranges from 15 °C to 10 °C during the day time and 5 °C to -5 °C at night. During this period, trekkers can enjoy the clear views of snow-capped mountains.

Things to Carry

  • 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)
  • Insect repellent, emergency medical kit
  • First-aid kit, binoculars, sleeping bag

Got some time? Check out these nearby attractions!

  • Siyali Mahadev Temple
  • Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa Monastery
  • Museum of Himachal Culture & Folk Art
  • Rahala Waterfall and Jogini waterfall
  • Beas Kund
  • Tripura Sundari Temple
  • Solang Valley
  • Rohtang Pass

Don’t Forget to Carry Your Documents
You are required to carry your ID cards and photocopies of your driving license or voter ID or passport (along with visa for non-Indian travelers). Passport size photo is a must. When it comes to your fitness for the trek, you may need to show a medical certificate signed from your doctor.

hampta pass

Hampta Pass has been the best experience of my life so far! It came as a confidence booster to me as it had cleared all my hesitation for a solo trip. The natural landscape, amazing trek group and friendly locals gave me a bundle of beautiful memories that will remain entrenched in my heart forever.

Interested in knowing more about trekking in Himachal Pradesh? Read some of our other blogs!

Triund Trekhttp://www.adventurenation.com/blog/triund-trek-unraveling-himachal-pradeshs-treasure-trove/

Kasol-Kheerganga Trekhttp://www.adventurenation.com/blog/kheerganga-where-the-mountains-meet-the-moon-kasol-to-kheerganga-trek/

Sar Pass Trekhttp://www.adventurenation.com/blog/sar-pass-trek-a-little-heaven-in-parvati-valley/

Magical! Yes, it’s the one word that comes to mind whenever I think about the Roopkund trek. The fact that it has consistently been one of the most booked trekking destinations in North India owes to the snow-capped mountains, lush green forests, picturesque views and tricky routes. It challenges and thrills, puts your trekking potential to test and rewards you greatly, equally so. 

So, if you want to breathe amidst the striking icy glaciers of Nanda Ghunti and Mount Trishul, this is an ideal place to be!

Beautiful Views

Situated in the lapse of Chamoli District of Uttarakhand, Roopkund trek paves the way to Roopkund Lake which lies serenely at an altitude of 5,029 m. The biggest highlight for the trek though has to be the ‘Skeleton Lake,’ Roopkund Lake that supposedly consists of over 500 human skeletons. Spooky, right? [Legend: It is said that an ancient army who came on an unscheduled pilgrimage had faced the wrath of the Weather God as they travelled without his permission.]

The mythological mystery around Roopkund Trek; Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra
The ‘Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra’ is among the biggest religious yatras in the ‘Land of Gods’, Uttakhand.  The hill folks of Uttarakhand organize the yatra in every 12 years to honor Goddess Nanda Devi. It is said that people take her to Lord Shiva’s home which is located in the icy folds of the Himalayas. The three-week-long grand procession begins from Nauti village near Karanpraayg and ends at Homkund near Roopkund. Despite the harsh climatic conditions, the devotees remain barefoot throughout the yatra.

Where does it all begin?
Wan is the base camp of the trek and it is accessible from Kathgodam (210km) or Rishikesh (270 km). A trekker can take a bus from any of these two places. The bus will likely drop you at Deval which is 27 km away from Wan.

When should I start packing?
There are two phases during which a visit can be made safely:
May to June: The temperature ranges from 15 °C to 20 °C during the day time and 7 °C to -2 °C at night.
September to October: The temperature ranges from 10 °C to 15 °C during the day time and 5 °C to -5 °C at night. At this time, you can enjoy the clear view of snow-clad mountains.

Nearby Attractions
The Roopkund trekking experience is not meant for beginners. So, if you don’t qualify for the same or are simply not in the mood to explore the mystique of Roopkund, following are the places you can check out instead:
Brahma Tal and Bekhal Tal: These are two most stunning lakes situated near Hemkund.

Bedni Bugyals: One can witness the raw beauty of nature at Bedni Bugyal – a green pastures. It is also a stopover on the Yatra of Nanda Raj Jaat.

Hemkund Sahib and Hemkund Lake: It is the holiest place for Sikhs and Hindus. The glaciers from the peak of Hathi and Saptrishi feed the Hemkund Lake.

Facts and numbers for Roopkund trek
Duration: 7 days
Max Altitude: 15,696 ft
Trekking Distance: 53 Km
Grade: Moderate to difficult

Here is a shorter version of the itinerary…
Day 1: Driving from Kathgodam to Lohajung (2130m)
Day 2: Lohajung to Didana (2550m)
Day 3Didana to Bedni Bugyal (3350m)
Day 4: Bedni Bugyal to Bhagubasa (4100m)
Day 5: Bhagubasa to Roopkund and Junargalli(4750m) to Patal Nauchaniya (3850m)
Day 6: Patal Nauchaniya to Bedni Bugyal (3350m) to Wan (2550m) – Lohajung
Day 7:  Lohajung – Kathgodam

Roopkund Trek: A high dose of adventure filled with natural splendor all along 
To escape from the mundane city life, I decided to go on a trek to experience the serene beauty. The expedition was an opportunity to discover a wide variety of flora and fauna and the giant mountains that I had only ever previously dreamt of.

Kathgodam
Lohagunj– a fantastic starting point for your Roopkund trek

The journey began one morning with one of my closest friends from Delhi. We hired a cab that dropped us to Kathgodam – a town in the Uttarakhand’s Nainital district. From there, we both moved to Lohajung which was the base point of our trek. Even after a tiring journey, the excitement didn’t let us sleep on the bus. Travelling through a scenic route, we arrived at the destined place after 7 hours. The purest form of nature, Lohajung is replete with rich biodiversity. The beautiful surroundings of evergreen alpine forests were so captivating that we thought to not move further!

Next day, we walked through a pictorial forest lined with Himalayan cedar and oak trees. Crossing an old bridge over the River Neel Ganga, we reached Ruan Bagad after 2 hours of easy trek. Our guide told us that people also take a road route from here that goes to Wan Village. Despite the uneven terrain, the hike from Ruan Bagad to Didna village took just around 2 hours. The night was spent in a camp.

Meadows on the way to Roopkund
Green meadows that stretch as far as eyes go fill your initial trek

On day 3, the trail moved ahead to the village of Ali Bugyal which is one of the highest inhabited locations in India. Since I’m not a regular trekker, I opted for the easier route and it took almost 6 hours to reach the Ali Bugyal. To keep the pace with other trekkers and to reach on time, we were advised to consume dry fruits and energy bars. It really gave us energy throughout the expedition.  

Day 4 of Roppkund trek

Thankfully, we reached bang on time! We arrived at Ali Bugyal by noon where we enjoyed magnificent views of Nanda Ghunti and Trishul peaks. And it was right there that I couldn’t control my emotions and took around 170 pictures in just 15 minutes. Fun times! Later, we moved towards Bedni Bugyal – a campsite for our overnight stay.

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 Bhagubasa. A trail first entered to the coniferous forest that took us to an area of high altitude. After crossing a zigzag path, we reached the temple of Lord Ganesha ‘Kalu Vinayak’ which is constructed with irregular pebbles and bricks. We stayed there for about 20 minutes and we prayed for 5 minutes. After receiving much needed blessings from the Lord, we hiked further.

After 1 hour we reached a spot where we got an opportunity to capture the astonishing views of Chaukhamba, Neelkanth and Hathi peaks in our cameras. Though the distance was short, the slippery path made it a bit challenging for us. We reached our beautiful campsite at the hilltop of Bhagubasa after 1 hour.

Skeletal Lake; visit at a time when its not completely frozen to spot the skeletal remains buried in the ground
Skeletal Lake; visit at a time when its not completely frozen to spot the skeletal remains buried in the ground

It was day 5, our guide had set a goal for us and according to that, we were supposed to reach the lake in about 2-3 hours. The mysterious Roopkund Lake gave me an adrenaline rush. Our guide was carefully watching our steps around the lake as we were walking around the tricky terrain. It was quite a moment, as we viewed the human skeletons and bones. We all were so happy that there were tears of joy in our eyes. After hugging each other, some of our group mates moved towards Junargali ridge. However, I spend time in capturing gorgeous views of the mountains. After staying up there for an hour, we later headed back to Patal Nauchaniya. It was a long walk down and we stopped at two spots for rest along the way. After reaching the camp, we realized that it was time to celebrate our victory! We organized a bonfire, played cards and finally, clicked a lot of group photos.

Day 6,7 : The way back to Kathgodam
We woke up at 5 am and after grabbing toasts from the camp we tramped down to the forest of pine, rhododendron and oak to reach Wan village. We had a scrumptious lunch at a Garhwali restaurant which served us traditionally style Thali filled with local food. We went back to Lohagunj and spent the night in tents at the campsite. After saying goodbye to each other, we moved to Kathgodam.

Mobile connectivity and ATM facility
One can find ATM machines in two places i.e. Kathgodam and Dewal. Notably, there is no ATM after crossing Dewal as the trek begins from here.
Most of the mobile networks work at Lohajung. There is hardly any connectivity in the mountains which means all important calls should be made at Lohajung.

Things to carry

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

And with that, the dreamy journey of 7 days came to an end. What I brought back with me was a box full of beautiful memories.

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!

Situated at an altitude of 3,700 m, Beas Kund is an alpine lake which is said to be the original source of Beas River. Set in the backdrop of several peaks such as the Shitidhar Peak, Friendship Peak and others, Beas Kund has a unique way of making people fall in love with nature. Home to some of the most pictorial views of the region, it allows trekkers to embrace the beauty of fascinating lands, majestic peaks, hospitable locals and cascading waters. So, do not miss the chance to experience the respite and magnificence of the Himalayas with Beas Kund trek.

What draws the attention of the masses? 

There are several treks to enjoy your journey to the mighty Himalayas. However, Beas Kund trek is an ideal trek for those who have a desire to witness isolated miracles of nature away from the proximity of urban settlements. The natural splendor of Beas Kund that extends from the giant ski slopes of the Solang Valley to the meadows of Dhundi and Bakarthach is beyond comparison. Being a trek for everyone, it is convenient as well as easily accessible. Without any age restrictions and prior experience, it is a trek that appeals all equally.

Meadows and mountains on the Beas Kund Trek

A quick glimpse into my illuminating trekking expedition to Beas Kund: At times, it becomes difficult to deal with the curve balls that life throws. When the desire to do something new and different starts awakening, it’s time to paint it with colours of spirit. In my case, trekking to Beas Kund helped me to rekindle that fire.

Somebody has rightly said that it is better to see something than hear about it a thousand times. Many of my friends had been singing praises of their experiences, and I finally decided to embark on the journey. I packed my bags and left home with a desire to give voice to those unruly and wild screams which the din and noise of human settlements had pacified. With that welcoming hope in my heart, I reached the first leg of my trek, Dhundi. While driving with other group members from the Solang valley up to the Dhundi road, there were several views that left us awe-struck.

Following river Beas, witnessing the best skiing slopes of India and crossing the stream from one side to the other was a lifetime kind of experience. Surrounded by wildflowers and their scenic beauty, Dhundi served as a perfect site to set up camp for overnight stay.

Meadows of Beas Kund
Expansive meadows and exotic flora and fauna; let yourself loose!

The next day, we proceeded from the 9,000 ft tall quaint little mountain helmet, Dhundi, to Bakartach. Situated at 10, 800 ft, Bakartach is a high-altitude meadow which literally translates as ‘shepherd’s field’. The guide told us that these sun and windswept meadows are very popular pastures for a hardy nomadic tribe of shepherds, Gaddis. The sight of sheep grazing in this pastoral idyll gave us a pause, as we gazed upon the picture perfect scene.

The almost flat walk from Bakartach’s meadows gave gradual way to moraines and stray boulders that made the climb little steeper. It was little difficult to climb from boulder to boulder until we crossed the river that took us to the ridge which was marked by systematically placed cairns. At this point of time, we all were feeling tired and needed rest. To sleep in the lap of nature amidst its music and rhythm was a dream-like adventure. Our endless talks, excitement and the desire to explore more of the area kept us awake all night.

Beautiful verdant mountains as you make your way on the Beas Kund Trek

An early start the next day and a short climb up the ridge through Bhoj Patr got us to our final destination. When we reached here, the guide enlightened us about the historical and mythological importance of Beas Kund. He told us that it is believed that the author of the great epic of Mahabharata, Sage Vyas, had meditated here. Protected by an igloo-like stone structure, the Kund is a site of great religious importance to devotees across the country, especially Hindus. Besides being regarded as sacred, it is home to spectacular views of the nearby located Shitidhar, Ladakhi, Friendship and Hanuman Tibba peaks that can leave anyone numb for a while.

Beas Kund River Crossing
Waterfalls and rivulets galore; the trek is a retreat into nature

The best part of the journey was to locate the valley amidst the numerous streams and waterfalls. After discovering this lake nestled at an altitude of 3,700 metres, we decided to capture the splendid views that it offers. It was reflecting the pristine and untamed beauty of nature which was worth-experiencing after this long and tiresome journey. Before heading back, we decided to rest here for some time. 

Let not routes puzzle your mind: 

There are several modes of transportation to reach the first location of the trekking expedition to Beas Kund. People can travel by air, rail and road as per their own convenience. However, the most convenient way to reach Manali is by bus. The view offered by the window serves as a microcosm of the entire journey that you wish to undertake in the lap of nature and in a desire of adventure.

As there is no airport in Manali, Bhuntar airport serves as the nearest airport. It is located at a distance of 50km from Manali and 10km from Kullu. Chandigarh Airport is 300 km away from Manali and runs scheduled flights from major cities likes New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

The nearest railway station to Manali is Joginder Nagar railway station. Situated at a distance of 166 km, it is known for connecting several important cities of the country. Chandigarh and Pathankot are the other convenient railheads.

Being well connected to major North Indian cities such as Delhi, Ambala, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Haridwar, Shimla, Dharamsala and Chamba/Dalhousie, Manali provides regular bus service that makes it convenient to ply between these stations. 

Flowers on the trek to Beas Kund

Do not let the wrong time spoil the fun:

The best time for Beas Kund Trek is from mid-May to mid-October. During this period, the weather remains quite salubrious and is suitable to explore the beauty of the place. 

Beas Kund Trekking Tour Highlights: 

  • Witnessing the stunning views of Indrasan, Hanuman Tibba and Deo Tibba Peak
  • Enjoying the calm and solace offered by Solang Nallah and the Manu Temple
  • An opportunity to seek information about the simple yet fascinating life of the inhabitants of picturesque villages such as Goshal, Sannag and Burua
  • Camping under the open sky, amidst the scenic landscape and to recall your own childhood.

Load your bags with some essentials:

  • Trekking shoes
  • Trekking Pole
  • Warm clothes
  • Trekking pants
  • Moisturizer
  • Torch
  • Synthetic hand gloves
  • Emergency Medical Kit
  • Required Documentation:
  • Original and photocopy of identity card
  • Medical certificate 

To sum up – it is not under our control to live longer but we can make efforts to live deeper. It is important to rediscover those impulses that fill one’s life with fun, excitement, thrill and tonnes of happiness.

 

Traveling is as much about the experience you gather while on the trip and the pleasure you take when sharing it while after the journey ends. One such place, a favorite among the most adventurous travel enthusiasts, is Hampta Pass and its better half, Chandra Tal Lake.

Read further why you need to go on this trek to make the best memories and tell the craziest stories later.

What’s so unique about this

Hampta Pass is not just splendid in its charm but a rare spectacle at that. It is a narrow pass that climbs out of the Kullu valley and overlooks Lahaul valley’s long, desertous and scenic stretches. There is a vast difference in landscapes that this trek packs.

Traverse through alpine forests, huge rock formations and exotic flora-fauna to reach the glistening Moon Lake, a mythicized beacon of nature. Not only does this trek offer Lahaul’s vegetation and cold deserts, it provides the best views of Dhauladhar ranges. What’s more is that you get to closely observe the culture of the inhabitants of nature’s high altitude marvels. Why travel? Experience.

What’s the trail like

Camping at Chikka
Camping at Chikka

Chikka: You will begin your journey from Hampta Dam. Trek to Chikka, close to Manali, after spending a day acclimatizing at the base camp in Manali.

Balu ka Ghera
Balu ka Ghera

Balu Ka Ghera: This location is basically a heap of sand (“balu ka ghera”) right below the Hampta Pass. This is one of the best campsites in the entirety of your trek. The whole view is picturesque. It is a lush, expansive plain ground on the bank of a river. Marvel at the surrounding Dhauladhar ranges, the outer Himalayan peaks.

Hampta Pass Trek is one with a vast difference in landscapes throughout the trek
Hampta Pass Trek is one with a vast difference in landscapes throughout the trek

Hampta Pass via Shia Goru: From Balu ka Ghera, you will trek further to Hampta Pass (4270 m) via Shia Goru. Gaze at the desertous Lahaul valley in a panoramic view. Notice the vast change in landscapes this trek has to offer. Descend back to Shia Goru for a star-studded overnight stay.

Chatru and moving on to Chandra Tal Lake – 

Chandratal Lake or “Moon Lake”; why it’s the best addition to your Hampta Pass Trek

The glorious Chandratal lake
The glorious Chandratal lake

The cherry on the top (quite literally, since it sits atop the Hampta Pass) is this high altitude glacial lake called Chandra Taal (Moon Lake). In mythology, this is the point where from Yudhisthra (in Mahabharata) ascended to heaven. Surely, the feeling of just standing by its side and holding its reflection in admiration is nothing short of heavenly in itself.

Likely on your last day of the trek before you descend, you will visit the lake. Set out on a early morning and trek to Pir Panjal ranges and to Chandratal from there. Descend back to Chatru, the point where Spiti valley, Rohtang Pass and Hampta Pass meet – for your overnight stay.

hamptapass-trek-himachal

So what is the best time to make your way to Hampta Pass and Chandratal Lake?

Best time to take a getaway and spend a charming week in Hampta Pass is from June to late September. Within this time frame, most people visit in June or the next month. It is clad with snow, perfectly and all over. What a breathtaking view!  

Hampta Pass, the starting point of your tryst with Himachal Pradesh

Hampta Pass in Himachal Pradesh is a favorite among trekker’s who are not too advanced but have some prior experience. These trekkers love an escape into the beatific Himachal which offers unparalleled views of the Himalayan peaks and is home to some of the most exotic Himalayan scenery and flora-fauna.

Once here, you will forever cherish and long for another visit. Most people go on to trek to other places in Himachal Pradesh after they get back from Hampta Pass. You are likely to continue being on a long and rewarding journey with nature after this one.

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. 

Perched at an altitude of 14,400 ft, Valley of Flowers is home to the pristine beauty of nature which most of us get a chance to admire only in books. Replete with rich biodiversity and breathtaking surroundings, Valley of Flowers is popular for drawing the attention of several tourists across the world. Located in the ‘Abode of God’, Uttarakhand, it is a striking UNESCO World Heritage Site. To step into the bed of flowers on this beautiful journey into wilderness is an experience in itself.

What sways the mind of millions?

Renowned for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers, Valley of Flowers National Park is a picturesque park that graces the beauty of the Western Himalayas. Hemkund Sahib is one of the major attractions of the Valley of Flowers trek. An abode of faith and devotion, Hemkund Sahib is known for receiving huge tourist traffic round the year. The trekking expedition to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib presents a unique combination of rustic beauty and spiritual grandeur. Abandoned areas, isolated hamlets and an off-beat trail makes the level of adventure and excitement shoot up!

uttarakhand_valley_of_flowers_trek

A quick glimpse of my trekking expedition:

It is often said that, ‘Nature is the friend of silence and peace’. And I met this friend when I trekked to the Valley of Flowers. To be honest, nothing was pre-planned. When it became a little difficult for me to go with the mundane flow of things, I decided to take a short break. Nature often comes to the rescue when survival becomes stressful and draining. And my case is no exception!

So I left the city and my troubles behind, and reached the first location of my trekking expedition, Haridwar. On the way from Haridwar to Govindghat, the best moment was to witness the holy confluence of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda Rivers forming the River Ganges. The long journey to this place did tire me, but the fascinating paths and religious enshrine kept my spirits alive. Despite the longing of exploring more of the place, I decided to rest in the hotel for some time.

Next morning, it was time to move from Govindghat to Ghangria.  With a short 14 km gradual ascent, I started the trek with a fresh and clear mind. On the way, I met several other people who joined me. While we were walking through the forest area, we came across a number of waterfalls and beautiful greenscapes that left us amazed. In a state of awe, we were trying to comprehend the mesmerizing beauty that was right in front of us. The thought of capturing that hypnotizing moment suddenly slipped into my mind. A lot of selfies and photos got clicked by all of us. Also, do not miss the chance to visit one of the most famous Sikh shrines, Hemkund Sahib. Being the world’s highest Gurudwara, it tops the list of the trekkers’ itinerary.

trek_uttarakhand_valley_of_flowers

And then, arrived the much-awaited moment!  After scaling a height of 3,858 m, we finally reached our destination, Valley of Flowers. Vibrating with hues of unique color codes, the sight was casting an enchanting spell. The balsam flowers flaunting light bright pink, blue and orange colors were lending a majestic appeal to the valley. The beauty of such exotic flowers took us on a flight of imagination where the valley seemed to be a dreamlike adventure. Stretched over a wide expanse of 87.50 km, the sight of a variety of flowers, including Himalayan Slender Tape Vine, Meadow Rue, Dwarf Globe Flower, and Marsh Marigold, was invigorating our senses.

Glazed by such a fantastic spectacle, I decided to pen down the experience deep in my mind. While all were celebrating their victory, I was silent and trying to give voice to my experience which changed my perspective towards life. Life is beautiful; however, it’s up to us to design it beautifully.

At last, it was time to climb down and to experience several other soulful moments waiting for us on the reverse journey.

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A part of the journey which was a spiritual surprise:

While trekking through numerous waterfalls, dense forests and astounding views of Himalayas, we were unaware of the surprise that was awaiting us! The view of Sri Hemkund Sahib  was enough to leave us in a state of spiritual ecstasy. The picturesque natural settings of the place replenished our soul and relieved us from all our worldly tensions.

Being an important pilgrimage site, Sri Hemkund Sahib is nestled amid the Himalayan ranges. Lying in the backdrop of snow-clad mountains, this holy place offers peace and tranquility away from the din and noise of the city. Adorned with beautiful and exquisite tapestry, the walls of Hemkund Sahib have pictures of various Sikh gurus who have inspired humankind with their morals and principles. Hemkund Sahib is not only a site of religious relevance, it also stands as a testimony to the sacrifice of those people in history who have fought for the welfare of the society.

Hemkund Sahib was one of the highlights of our trek. When every ounce of energy drained up, it served as a site that refreshed our mind and nourished us within a fraction of seconds. The guide told us that it is believed that Hemkund Sahib is home to seven snow peaks where Guru Gobind Singh meditated in his previous birth. The religious importance and spiritual joy attract a myriad of devotees every year. As it is considered that a dip into the holy water can purify our soul, we also felt that our souls were rejuvenated!

Load your bag with few essentials:

  • Walking stick
  • Trekking shoes
  • Head Torch
  • Moisturiser
  • Emergency Medical Kit
  • Insect Repellants

Amidst the noise and restlessness of my mind, I found something precious on this expedition. To sum up the experience in one line is to recall poet John Keats’s words, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”.

So you have finally given in to adrenaline’s demands and decided to go on a motorbike expedition all the way to Ladakh. Or maybe you are still in the process of finding out how thrilling an adventure it is.
Maybe you dare to make this journey all by yourself or maybe this is an extended bachelor’s party or a ‘girls gone wild’ trip which is actually going to be something that will be talked about for years to come instead of a night out or a vacation. Or you are someone who is down for some fierce, life-changing experience just for the sake of how valuable an experience like this one is.

For all of you, this is a beginner’s guide to exploring how you could have this heck of an experience and take the high road as you embark on your Ladakh Motorbike Expedition, in the land of high passes with all its hauntingly beautiful, snow-clad peaks, rugged and challenging routes that will make sure you have the time of your life.

Feel the rage of the winds in Ladakh
Feel the rage of the winds in Ladakh

Ride In The Right Season
The preferred season for Ladakh motorbike expeditions is from the months of June,July to September, October. This is the best time to minimise potential dangers and deal breaker weather. Some people choose to do this in winter too. The worst weather to do this is definitely the rainy season so plan accordingly.

How many days of work leave do I need to complete this?
You need at least 15 days to comfortably complete a the Ladakh motorbike trip and visit all the places that you should while you have the opportunity.

What’s the route like?
From Delhi, there are two possible routes that get you to Ladakh. Choose on the basis of three factors: a) how much time you have, b) what all you want to cover and c) what level of danger you desire.

 

  • Delhi-Jalandhar-Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil-Leh-Karu-Sarchu-Manali-Delhi

    You will be covering almost 2,300 kms. Best weather and road conditions. Round trip.  
  • Delhi-Manali-Sarchu-Leh-Khardung La-Nubra Valley-Kargil-Srinagar-DelhiYou will be covering almost 2,600 kms. More distance, more challenging routes and rough roads. Covers picturesque Ladakhi locations.

Petrol: On a mileage of 35 kms per litre, you will be needing close to 100 litres of petrol. (Rounded off) 

Manali to Ladakh- a ride of a lifetime 

I do not have a bike. Where do I find one?
If you do not already have a bike that can be your partner in exploration then you will have to rent one. Delhi’s Karol Bagh is one rental hub where from you can rent a bike at a cost as minimal as a thousand bucks per day.
If you are starting from Manali instead, you can find bikes there a bit on the costlier side. They range from a thousand to fifteen hundred INR per day.
Keep in mind the security deposit and the valid ID proofs that need to be submitted to rent these bikes.

As a general rule, make sure to test drive before you finalise anything. Also, get it duly serviced before you begin your long tryst with the high roads.

Undoubtedly, the beauty along the way is unparalleled but you need that eye wear to really appreciate it
Undoubtedly, the beauty along the way is unparalleled but you need that eye wear to really appreciate it

Biking Gear Tips
If you were thinking you only need a bike to do this, you were wrong. There’s a ton of other things that are easily available everywhere but that you definitely need to make this ride a successful expedition:

  • The best full face helmet you can get(you can rent this too); a pair of eye goggles of supreme quality; a pair of solid gloves
  • One or two leather jackets to protect you from the biting winds when they glaze through you; you are going to be mostly covered so sunscreen might not seem that obvious a gear essential to you but having some will not hurt you
  • Clothes that suit the weather; wisely pack enough some warm clothes that will last 15 days of use
  • At least two pairs of trekking shoes are important. One will get dirty after some time, trust us
  • A first-aid kit is absolutely necessary for the rider. And for the bike, a tool kit
  • MAPS! Make sure you have physical maps as well as GPS readily available to you
  • Camping materials such as tents, sleeping bags and essential toiletries as per your need
  • Swiss knife, torch, matchsticks are important for any potential dangers  


A camera to capture beautiful and exotic landscapes is also an essential for many. Do not forget chargers, power banks for your phones.

Apart from this, not part of the biking gear, but equally if not more important, are the valid ID proofs (including the driving license) you are going to need for the ride to go hassle-free!

What to do while in Ladakh  
If half of the success of your bike trip is dependent on the bike itself, the other half is the beautiful locations you’re going to be visiting. So, decide beforehand which ones you are sure to visit and plan routes accordingly. Here’s a list of all the Ladakh highlights:
Please note that these are the most popular sites. You can very well choose less popular or even off-beat locations to explore.

The many colors of Pangong Tso
The many colors of Pangong Tso

Pangong Tso Lake
130 kms of stretch of water that extends from India to China. Camp overnight by the sides of deep azure waters. If you visit off season, you are bound to find it completely frozen.

Nubra Valley
Be ready to be mesmerized by far reaching cold mountain deserts. The mountainous air here is everything. This is another beautiful campsite.

Magnetic Hill
The mystery of Magnetic Hill is such that it is an uphill ride on the Srinagar-Leh highway yet if you were to completely shut your engine down, the vehicle will still keep moving. Test it for yourself!

Indus Zanskar Confluence Ladakh
Indus Zanskar Confluence, Ladakh

Zanksar Valley
Long stretches of brown surrounded by snow-white peaks. The beauty of Zanskar is a heartening sight.

Lamayuru Monastery
On the Srinagar-Leh highway, this Tibetan Buddhist monastery is a must-visit. It is situated at a height of whopping 3,510 m. A masked dance festival is performed here annually.

Shanti Stupa
Overlooking all of Leh, this marvel atop a hill (4,267 m) is the perfect stop to witness a beautiful sunset.  

Khardung La Pass
World’s highest motorable pass called Khardung La at 18,490 feet. Accomplishing this feat is obviously a pass for show-off later. 

Drass Valley
Drass, the second coldest place on earth. Climb up to the Tiger Hill Peak and then restart your road journey. En route, cross Zoji La pass and enter the breathtaking valley of Sonamarg, which is a famous ski resort.

Camping by the lake side
Camping by the lake side

Health Tips
Do not forget that you are going to deal with high altitude so make sure you don’t fall prey to altitude sickness. Carry important medicines to deal with that if need be. Hydrate as many times as you can. It is very important and a very easy thing to pull off. Half of your traveling sickness will go away if you hydrate adequately.

Ladakh Bike Tour
Take care of your partner-in-adventure, your dearest bike
Make sure you take the bike for a test drive if you are renting one. Check the lights, the tyres and let the mirrors be. Fill the tank before you set out.

Extra information it wouldn’t hurt to know

  • From Manali to Leh, there are only two petrol pumps you will find on your way. However, Srinagar-Leh has plenty of pumps.
  • You will find mechanics on the way. Don’t worry if you get a flat tyre. But it is advised to take all precautions.
  • Carry enough cash with you for meals and accomodation. You are not likely to find many ATMs on your way.
  • Only a few mobile network services work in this area. Check with the concerned authorities before you are stranded without network.

Plan a whole day’s route before you set off. And try and set out with sunrise and come to a halt with the sunrise. Riding in the dark is not that safe, still make sure all your lights work.

This is your life. What will you make of it? A Ladakh Motorbike adventure is an experience worth having at least once in a lifetime.

Great people have dubbed the hike to Everest as the “stairs to heaven,” and rightly so. Wrapped in wonderment and thin air, this monument of nature sees travelers from all around the globe, exploring the nearby monasteries and bazaars if not the base camp itself. Naturally, this beacon of glory only deserves the bravest of trekkers to even imagine what an experience it must be to even feel the mountain air that surrounds it, to scale the height and make a life-altering journey to the roof of the world. Here is a list of the most basic to slightly advanced requirements for deciding if you should even consider going on the Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek. This should not be treated as a final word; it is advised that you speak to your doctor and a professional trekker before you decide on making this incredible hike.

everest-base-camp-trek_14397983871. Are You Experienced Enough?
For reasons very simple, more experience with high altitude – especially altitude that can be compared to EBC’s (29,028 ft) – will mean you are already mentally and physically equipped to deal with this to a significant extent. More experience reduces the chances of distress calls that you are most likely to face on a trek like this. With temperature that drops as low as -60 degree Celsius in the coldest month of the year, only trekkers of advanced calibre are advised to do this.

Everest Base Camp
A view of the mighty Everest from the Base Camp

2. Do you have the level of strength it takes to make it to EBC?
Recognize your strengths if you dream of climbing the highest mountain of the world:

a) You are generally fit with no life-threatening diseases that may or may not be elevated due to high altitude (eg. heart disease, lung disease).
b) You have a great skill in walking for long hours. You will be required to trek for 4-10 hours with sufficient breaks on the EBC trek. The key to surviving this is sustained effort.
c) You have a passion for trekking. It is very important to stay focused and inspired throughout this trek.
d) You appreciate team work. Know that taking on this journey with a few more interested people will inspire you and help you in crucial conditions that you are bound to face on this heck of a trek! 

EBC Trek

3. Have you recognized the areas you have to work on?
All humans are fallible and all of us have our faults. However, you need to start planning ahead immediately and  ramp up your physical fitness training regime at least 6 months prior to the trek.

 If you have a potential health risk from a heart or lung disease, unfortunately, you will not be allowed to undertake this journey. If you are a smoker or someone who regularly drinks, it will be considerably tougher for you to accomplish this feat as compared to other people who are in a better physical position to deal with the stress of high altitude trekking. Smoking will impair your breathing skills at high altitudes and drinking or influence of any other substance impairs judgement which is a potential health risk again.  

4. Do you understand how important acclimatization is?
Please note that Altitude Sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a real health danger triggered by high altitude. High altitude, lower oxygen levels, and low air pressure coupled with exertion leads to AMS, generally felt after 8000 ft and above. The symptoms will include dizziness, nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath. Most instances of altitude sickness are mild and heal quickly. In rare cases, altitude sickness can become severe and cause complications with the lungs or brain.

Namche Bazaar
Spend a day or two in Namche Bazar; acclimatize while having fun exploring really popular tourist spots!

To combat with all this, steady acclimatization to high altitude by spending one day or two at some areas before you begin trekking or while trekking is absolutely necessary. Pick itineraries that heed this advice and allow you enough time to acclimatize properly in order to avoid health problems. Generally, an EBC trek should take you 13-20 days to complete. 

5. Do you have all the essential trekking gear that you need to bring with you?

a. Sunglasses + Sunscreen

b. Clothing (Base=Thermal wear + First Layer=Warm Trekking T-shirt/Trousers + Second Layer=Fleece jacket + Third Layer= Waterproof Shell Jackets you need in case it is especially cold/rains)

c. Headwear (Hats and buffs to keep your head and face warm to avoid catching disease)

d. Gloves (Inner + Outer Insulated)

e. Footwear (2 pairs of thermal hiking socks + Hiking shoes. You can also get leg gaiters!)

f. Bags and Backpacks (Keep it waterproof!)

g. Sleeping Gear

h. Trekking Poles

i. Medications and Toiletries (A first aid box is necessary. You should also carry medicines for relieving any slight to serious AMS symptoms.)

What you need to bring
What you need to bring

6. Do you have a fair idea about nutrition on this trek?
Consider this very important. Nutrition is extremely important in order to complete the trek in a healthy condition. A proper diet needs to be followed while you are trekking to EBC.

Apart from the food that your sherpas/guides will provide you at the tea-houses you stay in and it is most likely going to be a light meal that is easily digestible, you will need the following to soothe your munchies:
Herbal tea
Electrolytes
Light snack bars and energy bars
Dried fruit
Digestive biscuits

7Have you started preparing already?
Prior to the trek, almost two to three months before the actual trek, you will have to devise an effective exercise regime that lets you build stamina for long treks over time.

a) You can try walking for 4 to 5 kms daily for 60 days before the trek.
b) You should do some shoulder exercises like planks.  
c) Practice a bit of yoga to help improve your breathing problems, if any, and build core strength.
d) You can swim/cycle once a week to build a bit of lean muscle.

Very many encomiums written and paeans of praises sung after it, naturally, Mt Everest remains to be one of the most popular mountains in the world; thousands of trekkers decide to undertake a trek to the Everest Base Camp each year. If you think you can handle the glory of being one of those lucky ones to have scaled the skies, good luck!

For a city dweller, nothing could be more relaxing and joyful than travelling to hills that are covered with lush greenery and fresh air! Such enchanting beauty and peace can be witnessed in the ‘crown jewel of Dharamshala’, Triund. With all its natural appeal and majesty, Triund is positioned beautifully between the laps of Himachal Pradesh’s Dhauladhar Ranges and the captivating Kangra Valley. Also, Triund is among India’s most popular trekking destinations for the youth, and attracts lakhs of adventure lovers from all across the country. The tricky terrains and curves offer a perfect treasure trove to its trekkers.

Here’s why to pack your bag for Triund

Triund boasts of the lively and distinctive Tibetan culture with splendid monasteries that are equipped with beautiful cloisters, idols of Buddha, wheels and supplication banners. While on your trek to Triund, you will witness some of the finest views of the lush green mountain ranges, white clouds and the dense forests. One of the best experiences to be had on this trek is to witness the myriad starry constellations setting the night skies dazzling.

Notably, the Triund trek is a steep ascent of over 1,100 metres. It is neither a lengthy nor a difficult trek.  From Galu temple, it only takes around 3 hours to reach Triund. The journey of steep climbing begins at the last 2 km from Snowline Café, which means the trekking is quite hassle-free.

The beauty of Himachal Pradesh in its finest form
So, pack your bags for Triund to experience beauty in its purest form!

Reaching Triund from Mcleodganj

Galu is a starting point of the Triund trek. In order to reach Galu, one can either hire a taxi from Mcleodganj, or just start the trek right from there. Many travellers start their trek from Bhagsu Nag which is famous for the stunning waterfall. Moreover, while trekking from Galu, one has to follow a path which goes through a dense forest covered with deodar and oak trees. In case, you face any difficulty while climbing up, you can hire a horse/pony to reach the top.

The beginning of My Triund Adventure

I started my solo journey at around 5am from Delhi, taking a route via Sonipat, Panipat, Ambala, Chandigarh and Solan. Because I didn’t want to miss the Parathas of the most famous restaurant, Amrik Sukhdev, I stopped my car at Murthal.  I gobbled 3 buttery Parathas with a glass of creamy Lassi that was actually a divine treat to my taste buds!

I reached Dharamshala by 5pm, and searched for a place away from the hustle-bustle of the town. After visiting several guest houses and hotels, I ended up settling at a hotel in Naddi village which was much more secluded and peaceful than the other places I had searched. Enclosed by the village, the hotel offered wonderful views of the splendid Dhauladhar Ranges.

On the next day, I decided to go to Bhagsu Nag Temple which is situated in Mcleodganj. Before reaching there, I came across St. John’s church. Without a second thought, I parked my car and went down to the cathedral.

Later I visited Bhagsu Temple, Dalai Lama Temple and Dal Lake. After capturing several photos with my DSLR and getting mesmerized by the calmness of the soothing environment of Dalai Lama Temple, I went to Jimmy’s Bakery for breakfast and Taste Of India for lunch.  In the evening, I explored Tibetan Market, where I did some shopping for my friends and family.

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On the second day, I started my long awaited trek to Triund from Naddi village at around 9 am. After collecting information from locals, I first reached Dharamkot covering a distance of 3 km. The trek was delightful, with sights of colourful prayer flags, flowers, mud houses and alpine trees. Meanwhile, I met few other trekkers as well. After introducing ourselves we headed towards Galu Devi Temple, which serves as a base for the trek. I stayed there for 10 minutes to refill my water bottle and to click some pictures. One thing that I can’t forget was the group of talented mountain goats; talented because they were balancing themselves amazingly while grazing on that steep mountain!

The last one hour of the trek was a test of my fitness, as I was exhausted by the end. I reached the top of this majestic hill by 2 pm which, I think, was good timing. The glance of Triund top was the curtain raiser to all my expectations. It gave peace to my mind while soaking away all my tiredness. The biggest surprise that was waiting for us was snowfall. I stayed overnight in the camp that was set on the top of Triund hill, and the night sky, with all its twinkling stars, mesmerized me.

Camping at the most serene site
Camping at the most serene site

Best time for the Triund trek

March to May is considered as the best time for the Triund trek. However, September to December is also a good time to go. It keeps raining in June and July, but people who enjoy the monsoon can still go for the trek.

Things to Do

  • After reaching Triund top, don’t be in a hurry! Sit there, and enjoy the majestic views.
  • On the way to Triund, get some energy by gorging on some healthy snacks and refreshing tea or coffee at the cafes there.
  • If possible, stay at Triund top for the night to get the most beautiful camping experience.

Must carry essentials

  • Jackets and sweaters
  • Water-resistant shoes and an extra pair of socks, skin moisturizers and sunscreen lotion
  • Energy bar and snacks, water bottle
  • Good camera and a pair of sunglasses
  • Torch, trekking-pole
  • First aid kit and insect repellent

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Checkpoints of Trek

  • Galu Devi Temple
  • ‘Rest A While’ Cafe
  • Magic View Cafe and Best View Cafe

Some amazing nearby attractions

  • The Namgyal Stupa
  • Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts
  • Bhagsu Waterfalls

Must-visit Cafes

  • Magic View Café
  • Shiva Café
  • Best View Café
  • ‘Rest a While’ Café

What more do you want? Try out the Triund trek in Dharamshala to make an invigorating exploration of the Dhauladhar peaks and camp under a star studded sky to fully unwind. Beware the feeling of not wanting to come back!

In the abode of Himachal Pradesh, lies a beautiful place called Kheerganga (3500m) at the extreme end of Sylvan Hills’ Parvati Valley, where it is believed Lord Shiva meditated for thousands of years. The lush greenery of the mountains, the elegant River Parvati and picturesque skies are undoubtedly a much-awaited delight to a trekker’s eyes and soul.

The place has a religious significance for both Hindu and Sikh pilgrims. Situated 22 km away from Manikaran, Kheerganga is popular for its hot water spring even during heavy snowfall and bathing in it is an experience you will definitely cherish. While trekking, the trail unveils popular tourist destinations en route like Rudra Nag Waterfall and Shiv Temple. You should go ahead for the Kasol – Kheerganga trek to experience peace in the soothing sights of the great Himalayas.

The enthralling beauty of Kheerganga
The enthralling beauty of Kheerganga

How ‘Kheerganga’ came to be called so

A few believe that it was the son of Lord Shiva, Kartikeya, who came here after losing a race to his brother Ganesha. He remained in a ‘Samadhi’(meditation) for thousands of years. It was Lord Shiva who tried to tempt his son by channelizing a stream of Kheer (rice pudding) to bring him back. The actual meaning of the word Kheerganga is ‘milky white sacred water’.

A Trek to Kheerganga

Almost three years back, when I went to Kasol with a group of my childhood friends, I heard about Kheerganga from the people who were coming back from the trek. They told us that despite its obvious challenges, the trek was an incredible experience that would make for a lifetime of memories. Since then, Kheerganga had been on my list of places to go, till the opportunity finally presented itself.

Last month, I decided to go for the trek, and after my packing, I went to Shivaji Stadium from where I was supposed to board a tempo traveller bus at 10 pm. I wore my headphones comfortably, turned on the music, and settled back. We took a pit stop at Murthal for dinner, where I enjoyed Pyaaz Parathe with pickle and curd, then we headed for the road again. This was for the first time I was travelling solo, so my over-excitement hardly let me sleep on the bus.

The morning started with a stunning sunrise view that I enjoyed from a local Dhaba where we relished tea and sandwiches. After crossing the bumpy path of Manikaran and Kasol road, the bus dropped me at the Kasol Bus Stop at around 2 pm. I met a few other people at the bus stop who were planning to trek to Kheerganga at 2pm. Rather than saying yes to them, I decided to find a hotel for a night stay in Kasol as I wanted to be completely rested for the journey. After relaxing for 2 hours, I took a stroll to the Kasol Street that is also referred to as Mini Israel, because of the many Hebrew inscribed signboards and a variety of scrumptious Israeli dishes that are being served in the restaurants and cafes.

Next day, I started my expedition at 6 am after grabbing some toast from the hotel’s restaurant. I first visited a nearby temple where I met my guide, who had 8 years of experience in trekking. We set our target to reach Kheerganga by noon. From the temple, we moved to Barsaini, the base camp, which is also the convergence point of the Parvati and Tosh Rivers. On our way to the top, we walked through the majestic landscape along with a splendid sight of nature. We passed a few wooden bridges, tricky terrains and slippery curves. I captured several mesmerising views of the sky, waterfalls and birds in my camera. We reached Rudra Nag Waterfall at 10am, where we stayed for 15 minutes to admire the beauty of the hills.  

Trekking from Kasol to Kheerganga
Trekking from Kasol to Kheerganga

We also came through villages Kalga and Pulga, where the locals sang a few Himachali folk songs for us, and that moment was truly divine! They briefed me about their lifestyle and the locals offered me a traditional desert of Himachal, Mittha, which is prepared with rice, jaggery, raisins and dry fruits. Further on, the route became sublime, with sights of temples, flowing water streams, flowers, mud houses and alpine trees.

We reached the green meadow of Kheerganga bang on time!  I took a refreshing dip in the hot spring that washed off all my tiredness and leg pain from the journey. That day, I decided to spend a night in the camp. To celebrate the achievement of trekking, a bonfire was arranged for all of us at night. Playing cards, Antakshri and dancing set the tone right for the night. That was another sleepless night as people were busy interacting and sharing their experiences with each other.

Trekking in Kheerganga
Trekking in Kheerganga

I had a sleep for about 2 hours and I woke up to the chilly morning breeze with a splendid view of the sunrise and flying birds. After having breakfast, I went to take another dip in the hot water spring.We started the trek back to Barsaini after breakfast at 11:30 am which took us 3 and a half hours, and then we returned to Kasol, which is just 3 km away.

Things to Carry

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Trekking shoes and trekking pole
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Warm clothes
  • First aid kit

Kheerganga Trek Highlights

  • Length: 1 Nights 2 days
  • Maximum altitude: 3050 m
  • Delhi to Kasol: 520 km
  • Kasol to Barsaini: 40 km
  • Barsaini to Kheerganga: 12 km

kheerganga_4

Things to keep in mind

  • Avoid taking shortcuts in the mountains
  • Leave the least amount of ecological footprint by choosing to not litter on the trail
  • Watch your steps at the slippery Hot water spring
  • No mobile networks at Kheerganga

Must-Try Cafes

  • Buddha Place
  • Moon Dance Cafe
  • Mama Cafe
  • Jim Morrison Cafe
  • The Evergreen Cafe

Recommended Hotels

  • ADB Rooms Summer Hills
  • The Woodward Two
  • Hotel Sandhya, Kasol
  • Parvati River Kasol

Soak in the rejuvenating essence of Pin Parvati valley as you explore the breathtaking views of Kheerganga, setting out from Kasol. Unwind and unravel in the arms of nature.  

Lying in the magical Buddhist ex-kingdom Ladakh, Stok Kangri is among the most fascinating and adventurous trekking spots on the earth. Perched at an altitude of 6,000 m, Stok Kangri peak is located in Hemis National Park. The different shades of the expedition give you an opportunity to experience the absolute peace and swift breathtaking changes in the scenery. However, the blissful landscape attains an ideal splendour in winters as it provides you with the stunning sight of the Zanskar and the Indus Valley. The best part of the trek is that you would be back to the base camp of this high altitude peak, just after 2-3 days of tricky trekking. Moreover, the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) has declared the Stok Kangri, Ladhaki Peak and Friendship Peak as trekking peaks, keeping you safe from extra paperwork proceedings. While tramping to this awe-inspiring beauty, you will pass through many thrilling sights, such as abandoned areas, lofty mountains, trails with plenty of ridges and isolated hamlets which would surely be a dream-like journey to the hill admirers.

Stok Kangri Expedition
Let that sweet, sweet adrenaline course through you.

A Rendezvous with Stok Kangri

Wohoooooo! Yayyy! We finally did it. Oh, God! We accomplished it together. Yes, it feels exactly like this. This was me shouting at the top of my lungs after reaching the end point of Stok Kangri. Looking at me and a few of my crazy friends, our guide, Singpa Oeki too joined in. After few minutes, he directed us to avoid the edge of the peak as a slip would’ve caused a steep 1000 m fall. Just to express their joy and emotions, everyone was busy hugging and thanking each other, after all, we were almost higher than any mountain in five continents. The team members were appreciating and congratulating my brother who was the youngest member of this expedition, at only 20 years old. Even I was speechless, not because I made it to the top after 9 hours of continuous climbing in the harsh weather conditions but because I was freezing and exhausted. I wanted to go back to the base camp as soon as possible and suddenly some words rang in my ears –  ‘Life is a journey and not a destination’. It was my little brother who held my hand and asked me to think about the incredible journey that we had completed together.

The beginning of the journey: For me, this journey began around three years ago, when I first visited Ladakh and became aware of this amazing peak called Stok Kangri. Due to my tight schedule, I had no time to invest in this adventure, thus, I made a silent promise to the mountains that I would return one day. And I kept my promise. The nine day expedition started last month with a trek from Leh to the Stok base camp.

First two days:  As I landed in Leh’s Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport from Delhi, along with my brother, I was welcomed with a familiar greeting, “Juley” (salutation in Ladakhi). From there we booked a taxi to reach Ladakh. On reaching the guest house, I met Rajesh and Tanya who were Everest Base Camp (EBC) veterans. They told us that there would be a  group of 18 people, including us, that were going to be trekking together for the next few days. I decided to rest in my room for a while, and in the evening, I went ahead to stroll through the town where I found the stunning Thiksey Monastery. On the next day, the other members of the group also reached the guest house in the early morning. After their arrival, we indulged in breakfast and dashed off for an acclimatization hike of 3-4 hours. We paid a visit to various Buddhist Stupas and even did some shopping for our family, before wrapping it up and going back to sleep at the guest house.

Stok Palace
Stok Palace

A drive to Stok Village (Day 3): It was a time to drive to the picturesque Stok village that was located in the south of Leh. We came across many captivating views of clouds, mountains and lush green trees. Our guide informed us that Stok village was the home to the former Ladakhi royal family and he took us to nearby Stok Palace Museum where we came across some belongings of the King’s family. It is an ideal place to witness rich Ladakhi culture. In the first stage of the trek, we tramped through the mountains to Chang Ma. On arrival, we saw our tents were set up on rocky slopes and we knew that it was a time for us to tighten our belts as it was not going to be as easy as we thought.  

Chang Ma to Mankorma and then Back to the base camp (Day 4 and Day 5): When we woke up in the morning, our guide told us to be ready for the rough yet pleasant trekking experience. It was a 3 hour trek where we passed through the barren grey landscape and small streams. After crossing the first brook, we noticed some extreme changes in the surroundings. Earlier, the mountains had looked grey, but now they all were turning purple with a heavy amount of sunlight. Gradually, we were realizing why Ladakh is known as the cold desert. After 3 hours, we reached Mankorma, that consisted of wide and flat terrain with typical scattered desert vegetation and thorny bushes. There was a narrow stream flowing just below our campsite. Moreover, we witnessed millions of twinkling stars in a white band late at night.

Next day, we started on our way back to the base camp. During the daytime, we enjoyed the views of some beautiful peaks like Parcha Kangri, Gulap Kangri and many others. Along the way, we took amazing pictures of several alpine lakes, mountainous meadows and sheep grazing on soft green grass.

Time to get trained (Day 6): Finally, the most important day of trekking had arrived. It was the time when our leader gave us a few tips on how to adapt to the weather and harsh conditions of Leh. He also briefed us about the challenges that we might face during climbing. Further, our guide handed over to us a trekking map with all the important guidelines mentioned on the back of a map.

Base Camp to Stok Kangri (Day 7): On day 7, we woke up around 5am and prepared our minds for the biggest climb. After breakfast, we took a group picture and then moved ahead following our guide. While travelling through a glacier we encountered slopes, rivers of ice and sharp and lengthy ascents. It was a point when many of us complained about breathing problem. To reach the top of Mount Stok Kangri, we climbed for about 3 hours towards the southern face of the mountain. The slope was inclined about 75 degrees, and the path was loaded with massive boulders and small rocks. In total, it took us around 9 hours to reach the destination.

Here, we got a clear view of the summit and colourful prayer flags decorating it. We felt that Zanskar Mountains in the South and the Karakoram Range in the North came closer to us. We stayed there for 45 minutes and then we descended back to our base camp.

Base Camp to Leh and Leh to home (Day 8 and 9)

The trek came to end when we reached Stok Village with memorable views of streams, glaciers, snow and mountain ranges. After packing our bags, it was time to drive to Leh. After exchanging numbers and gifts, all the members of our group returned back to their homes with the nostalgia of a superb expedition.

Stok Kangri in the Himalayas
Western Flank, Stok Kangri

Does it require experience?

A person should be both mentally and physically fit to scale this giant as it would challenge you emotionally, physically and psychologically. People with high blood pressure, anxiety issues, asthma, heart problems and epilepsy are not eligible for the mission. The difficulty begins at high altitudes when a person might face problems in breathing which might  leave you with nausea and headaches. Despite all these troubles, when you reach the end of this insuperable peak, it will surely be worth your efforts. You would be welcomed by blue sky and shining stars amidst purest shadow of the moon. Trust me, it would be a memory to treasure for a lifetime.

Best time to Trek Stok Kangri

June to mid September is considered as the best time for Stok Kangri trek. Notably, due to heavy snow June is said to be the most technical trek.

Where to Stay

You can stay in the guest house or hotel on Day 1, Day 2 and Day 8 in Leh. However, rest of the days you have to survive in the camps.

Mobile Network and Internet Services

While staying in Leh you would hardly get any network connectivity. The only service providers there would be Airtel and BSNL, with limited coverage. You won’t be getting any network connectivity in your initial stages of the trek or while staying in camps.

Trek essentials

The trek essentials that you shouldn’t leave behind include back and day pack with rain cover, walking stick or trekking pole, head torch, water bottle/hydration pack, one thermos flask, snacks, energy bars, dry fruits, ORS, personal medical kit and trekking shoes. One should not carry more than 15 kg of luggage for the expedition.

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

Known for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers, Valley of Flowers is located in the ‘Abode of God’, Uttarakhand in Chamoli District of the Garhwal region. Be it nature lovers, mountaineers or botanists, a walk to this striking UNESCO World Heritage Site is an apt choice to enjoy the eponymous Himalayan valley, which is replete with rich biodiversity and breathtaking surroundings. While trekking to this sublime beauty, you will pass through an off-beat trail, isolated hamlets, abandoned areas and diverse species of flora and fauna, which is an experience of a lifetime. Perched at an altitude of 4,389 m, the valley is home to endangered animals, including the brown bear, blue sheep, Asiatic black bear and snow leopard.

Experience of ‘Paradise’ before Reaching the Final Destination

Being one of those rare natural botanical gardens in the country, a trek to this floral city is known for evoking an unfathomable elation in the mind of trekkers. When one of my friends, who is an ardent trekker, asked me to accompany her to the Valley of Flowers, I quickly signed up without any second thought. Next day, we began our journey at 4 am. Traveling via Dehradun brought back so many fond travel memories for me. We soon reached Haridwar, which is the starting point of the Valley of Flowers trek.

The journey started with a trail from Haridwar to Govindghat. We reached Govindghat via Rishikesh, Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag, and Karanprayag. However, one can also reach the place via the winter abode of Lord Badrinath and Joshimath. Along the way, do not miss an opportunity to witness the holy confluence of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda Rivers that together form the River Ganges. Though it’s a long journey, the path is fascinating when one notices the stunning convergence of these two rivers. It is likely that you may get tired, therefore, it is advised to take a short break and relax in a gorgeous apple orchard on the way.

After some rest, it was time for us to move from the base camp Govindghat to Ghangaria. The first day of Valley Of Flowers trek began with a 14 km gradual ascent from Govindghat to Ghangaria. The beauty of a number of waterfalls and lush greenery hypnotized us. In addition, the villagers told us that the world’s highest Gurudwara and the most revered of all Sikh Shrines, the ‘Hemkund Sahib’, is situated nearby, at an altitude of 4,329 meters. Ghangaria is a base camp for the Valley Of Flowers trek, and people can avail different services that include hiring a mule or using a helicopter. We had booked rooms at Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam, which is considered as the best place to stay in Ghangaria.

Divine Beauty in the Valley of Flowers
Trekking in Uttarakhand to the beautiful Valley of Flowers!

Time to Explore ‘Flowery Wonderland’

Next day after having some scrumptious Aloo Paranthas, we started a trek through Ghangaria to Valley of Flowers. The most difficult thing during the trek was to face heavy winds, but it was heartening to see that trekkers were helping each other to move ahead comfortably. As we scaled a height of 3,858 m to arrive at the Valley of Flowers, we witnessed thousands of flowers in full bloom. Our eyes were glazed by a fantastic and beautiful sight. At the starting point of this national park, I came across the Balsam flowers that sported bright light pink, blue and orange colors, followed by Himalayan Slender Tape Vine, Meadow Rue, Dwarf Globe Flower, and Marsh Marigold. The majesty of ‘Brahma Kamal’ (Saussurea obvallata) too was evident among the cluster of white and black Daisy flowers. It took around four hours to admire the rare and exotic beauty of the flowers spread like a blanket sheet, stretched over an expanse of 87.50 km. A unique blend of snow-capped mountains, green meadows, and white clouds made our trek a dreamlike adventure.

Know how the Valley was discovered?

As we had hired a guide to know better about the place, he told us that the credit to discover the valley goes to two British people i.e. mountaineer Frank Smith and botanist Joan Margaret Legge, who explored the valley together in the 1930s. However, botanist Prakash Chandra Kala from the Wildlife Institute of India spent a decade in the valley. During that period, he compiled two books known for having an inventory of all the flowers that blossom here, with their common and scientific names.

uttarakhand_valley_of_flowers_trek

Travelers Take Some Notes!

The floral site is a feast for the eyes and lends a unique experience in itself. The trail will become steeper, however, the finest creations of nature will keep you inspired and enchanted. When the much-awaited destination is right in front of you, it seems that every ounce of energy lost in the trail did not go in vain. Most of the people experience mixed emotions where excitement and relief come together to celebrate the joy of achieving something that you have aimed for.  You should spend some peaceful time in the lap of nature and capture some scenic images in your heart. Notably, it is a tea house trek because there are a number of tea-houses that bring you the finest qualities of fragrant teas.

The best time to visit the valley is from July to September, as flowers are in full bloom at that time. However, don’t forget to carry your rain gear, because it is the monsoon season after all, and it keeps raining here. Importantly, shoes play a major role during a trek, so one should avoid wet shoes and opt for shoes with water resistance.

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What to Eat inside the VOF?
VOF doesn’t offer any food facility to its visitors. You need to carry food packets with you but you are required
to eat the food outside the valley as there are no options to eat inside the park. Please don’t ruin this pristine
paradise by leaving wrappers and plastic bottles. Let’s not waste admirable efforts of Bhyunder Eco-
Development Committee (EDC), Bhyundar which is working hard to keep the valley clean and green.

Accommodation Options
There are hardly any accommodation facilities available outside the VOF. One can avail the guest houses,
lodges and camps in Ghangaria. So far, the best option to stay is GMVN, Ghangaria by Garhwal Mandal Vikas
Nigam. Some people prefer to stay at Govindghat, Auli or Joshimath as the hotels available there offer better
facilities. Remember, if you book your hotel or camp any of these three areas, you need to travel for around
30 minutes to reach the base camp i.e. Ghangaria.

Helicopters and Pony Facility
Helicopters and pony facility is offered to the tourists. As compared to pony ride, a Helicopter ride is quite
short and relaxed. However, its operation entirely depends on the weather condition. During bad weather,
helicopter facility is not provided. Travelers who are planning to trek can also buy wooden sticks or trekking
poles to ease their 6-8 hour journey.

Mobile Network and Internet Services
Before you head for VOF, keep in mind that Ghangaria offers electricity but there is hardly any mobile
network facility for the travelers. You may find fellow travelers getting signals of Idea at the VOF entry gate.
Notably, there are satellite phone booths in Ghangaria from where you can make calls.

Timings for Trek
You are not allowed to trek after 2 pm from Govindghat to Ghangaria as you need to trek 17km. In order to go
back to Govindghat on the same date from Ghangaria, you need to reach the base camp by 3 pm. Then only
can you start the trek down to Govindghat at 3 pm as it would take around 4 to 5 hours. Horse riding isn’t
available after 4 pm as there is a fear of wild animals and landslides.
Let your fears speak out loud and explore the valley to the fullest, take photos and let the fresh air and
pleasing scent of the flowers revive all your senses on this beautiful trek.