Nestled close to the border between Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, Har Ki Doon natural beauty is like a pleasure to the mind as well as to the eyes. Well-known as a trekker’s paradise, Har Ki Doon trail brags of charismatic scenes and villages, exhilarating ascents and descents, majestic spectacle of Mt. Swarogihini, pilgrim spots, gushing brooks and splashing river alongside the heavenly camping sites and abundance of lush-greenery throughout the journey. If there’s any trek in Uttarakhand; unspoiled, unadulterated and also sparsely crowded, look no further than Har Ki Doon. So to sway you completely, we have encompassed reasons why one should go to Har Ki Doon at least once.

Experience rural life at Osla Village

trekking-har_ki-doon_1476363721_kcjqcmWith traditions dating back to Mahabharata era, Osla village can be reached by a trek to Har Ki Doon valley. People of this village worship the defamed character of Mahabharata, named Duryodhan. As per the theories, it is believed Duryodhan might have been a boon for these people during that era, hence the temple was built for him. Till date the villagers only preach to Duryodhan and no other god.

The village follows a king rule, who visit it once in a month. When the king comes, a big Pooja is done for the entire village. The village follows its own set of rules and regulation, abide by them when you visit it. Do not touch any of their temples or other religious things. They consider themselves superior than any outsider, but they are also equally warm in their hospitality if you are thinking to stay back in the village.

village_in_himalaya__pczwm har ki doonThe attire of these villagers clearly depicts their attachment to their roots; traditions and customs. Most of the villagers earn their bread and butter through agriculture. They grow rajma, potato and rice for living while the others weave their own wool to make jackets and coats. You can buy from them directly as it will help them to earn more.

Postcard-like Campsites

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Staying within the nature is a fantasy of many nature enthusiasts and when we talk about Har Ki Doon, it has numerous pretty campsites that will make your stay memorable. Pitching the tents near the river, or midst the valley, under billions of stars is what every trekker desires. And if lady luck is with you, you might see one of the most beautiful sunrise of this earth. The hues of orange and red in the backdrop of Himalayas steals the show and will be the best experience of this trek.

Discover wide-variety of Flora and Fauna

meadows-at-hata-beyond-har-ki-dun-you-will-surely-not-want-to-leave-this-placeWhen you trek from Osla to Sankri, you see varieties of trees, plants, animals and birds, this is due to its location in Govind Wildlife Sanctuary. Varied range of fauna like, Brown Bear, Musk Deer, Snow Cock, Golden Eagle, Koklas Pheasant, Bearded Vulture, Parakeets, and range of flora like Blue Poppy, Orchids, Lilies, Primulas, Potentillas and Anemonies can be found here which will definitely be a thrill for trekkers.

Spectacle Majestic Mountain Views

har-ki-doonDid you know Pandavas from Mahabharata took the very same route to ascend to heaven via Mt Swargarohini, which also dominates the sky of Har Ki Doon valley! The mountain views on this trek is just stupendous, with Swargarohini – I, II, III, Bandarpoonch and Blackpeak. You can also see the Ruinsara peaks from here. To summarize it beautifully, no other trek steeped in mythology justifies the title of “Valley of Gods”.

Isolation from the bustling world

En route Har ki Doon Trek

Nestled deep in the mountains, this unexplored trek allows one to admire the beauty of this Himalayan region all alone. The trail takes you back in time, where the unspoiled environment makes the trek divine for anyone who visits it. Walking through alpine meadows, moraine ridges, glacier basins and pine forests takes one in trance state. Populated with over 3000 years old villages, trekkers can also taste lifestyle of rural people.

With snow-capped mountains, rustic hamlets, striking temples, waterfalls, sacred rivers and exotic flora and fauna, the eternal charm of Uttarakhand remains unmatched and ever-lasting. The glaciers of Uttarakhand are home to several sacred rivers including the Ganges. The second tallest peak of India, Nanda Devi also lies here, and its aura works as an added charm to the scenery of the state.

Trekking in the ‘Land of Gods’
For travel enthusiasts, nothing could be better than exploring the Himalayas in Uttarakhand. This paradise, surrounded by the raw beauty of nature, is considered as an idyllic destination for both amateur and ardent trekkers from around the world.

Round the year, several people come to explore the jewels of the Himalayas. Most of the trekking destinations in the picturesque region of Garhwal do not demand immense strength, but simply a willingness to accept the Himalayas, and courage to chase the rough and smooth trails of the mountains.

Have a look at some of the best getaways in Uttarakhand right here: 

Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib Trek

Base Camp: Govindghat
Duration: 6 days
Grade: Easy
Maximum Altitude: 3,600 m
Trekking Distance: 38 km
Best Time to Trek: June to September

Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand

Famed for a range of vibrant Himalayan flora, Valley of Flowers is a national park, which has received a title of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This heavenly site is situated in Chamoli District of the Garhwal region. Whether you’re a nature lover, mountaineer or botanist, trekking to this sublime beauty will offer you awe-inspiring vistas of the mountains and breathtaking surroundings. The course which passes through the off-beat trail, isolated hamlets, abandoned areas will take you to the scenic landscape and green meadows, encompassing diverse species of flora and fauna.

Best time: In the Spring season, thousands of species of colorful flowers bloom in the region. 

And if you’re lucky enough, you’ll get a wonderful sight of endangered animals, including Asiatic black bear, blue sheep, red foxes, Himalayan tahrs, and snow leopard. The expedition starts from the sacred city of Haridwar and goes through Auli, Govindghat and Ghangaria. You will enjoy the mesmerizing views of Zanskar Range, which is the place for the sages, who would have come here to pursue meditation and Yoga. Another best thing about this excursion is that it gives you a chance to visit one of the most sacred Gurudwara, the Hemkund Sahib. The lake besides the gurudwara is a scenic spot to just sit back and indulge in some nature photography.


Har Ki Doon Trek

Base Camp: Sankri
Duration: 7 Days
Grade: Easy to Moderate
Maximum Altitude: 3566 m
Trekking Distance: 54 km
Best Time to Trek: Mid April to June

har-ki-doon

Situated at the high altitude of 3,566 m, Har Ki Doon is among the most scenic treks of Uttarakhand. The cradle-shaped valley is surrounded by the splendid peaks of Fateh Parvat, Swargarohini and Jaundha. The trail is packed with vibrant Himalayan flowers, gushing streams, rare wildlife species and lush green meadows

On the way to the destination, the trekkers get a chance to explore the mountain ridges, ancient temples, glaciers, rustic hamlets and alluring caves. Locals believe that the religious significance of the valley is connected to the age of the Mahabharata. Not only this, there is an ancient temple dedicated to Duryodhana, who is said to be the eldest brother of Kauravas. At the initial stage, the trek starts from Sankri Village and goes to Taluka. The trail which is filled with moraine ridges, icy pools, alpine meadows and oak forests, motivates you to aim higher and accomplish the trek calmly. Har Ki Doon is also considered as an ideal trek for the photographer enthusiasts as it offers spectacular views of the valley, consisting of Brahma Kamal flower and Mahinda Taal.


Roopkund Trek

Base Camp: Kathdogam
Duration: 7 Days
Grade: Easy to Moderate
Maximum Altitude: 4570 m
Trekking Distance: 59 km
Best Time to Trek: Mid May to June, September to October

Mt. Trishul and Nanda Devi from Junargalli, Roopkund
Mt. Trishul and Nanda Devi from Junargalli, Roopkund

Perched in the snow-white majesty of Mt. Trishul (4,800 m), Roopkund trek offers picturesque terrains which give you an opportunity to explore the hidden gems of nature. Trailing through lush green valleys, alpine meadows, snowy terrains, enthralling ridges will make you feel that you have reached very close to the heaven. Also called as Skeletal Lake, Roopkund Lake is one of the major attractions on the trek. This ‘Mystery Lake’ gives you an adrenaline rush filled with both fear and excitement as you could see hundreds of skeletons either inside or around the lake. So, if you want to unravel the myths related to it then Roopkund trek is a must-try.

Moreover, the trekking starts from Loharjung and takes you through mountains replete with a wide variety of biodiversity and pictorial surroundings. Hiking on a scenic course that goes through forests of deodar and firs to Ali Bugyal, is a unique experience in itself. On your way to the summit, you get a chance to meet locals and explore their lifestyle. And you may also encounter mountain animals that come to graze on pastureland.


Nag Tibba Trek

Base Camp: Pantawari
Duration: 2 Days
Grade: Easy
Maximum Altitude: 3050 m
Trekking Distance: 20 km
Best Time to Trek: October to April

nag tibba

Beautifully nestled at a high elevation of 3,050 m in the great Himalayan region of Uttarakhand, Nag Tibba trek is an ideal trek for those searching peace for their mind and soul. Situated at isolated place, Nag Tibba is replete with the enchanting beauty of the lush green forest, snow patches and rare species of flora and fauna. Locals believe that Nag Devta dwells in the hills, thus, it was named as Nag Tibba, which means the abode of Lord Serpent. Several Hindu devotees visit the site to pay reverence to the deity.

On accomplishing summit, trekkers can enjoy a sight of great peals like Gangotri, Changabang, Kedarnath, Bandarpoonch and the Doon Valley. It is a circular trek, which begins from the rustic hamlet of Pantwari. Trekkers visit the temple of Nag Devta on the first day of the trek. Later, the trail goes through stunning waterfalls, gushing streams, dense forests, villages and alpine meadows. The camping experience is truly inexplicable as nothing could be better than spending a night under the glittery sky while being surrounded by the lush green forest.


Kedarkantha Trek

Base Camp: Sankri
Duration: 6 Days
Grade: Easy to Moderate
Maximum Altitude: 3,810 m
Trekking Distance: 22 km
Best Time to Trek: April to June, September to December

kedarkantha_trek__4_

Kedarkantha peak is situated in Uttarkashi district at an altitude of 3,150 m. It is located inside the Govind National Park, and is home to rare species of flora and fauna. The ever-modifying scenery of the place will motivate you to hike on the challenging and rough course. On your way to the summit, you will come across an old temple of Lord Shiva and his wife Goddess Parvati. Just beside the temple, there is a small shrine of their son, Lord Ganesha too. There is a Trishul erected in the valley at a certain place, which is said to be a weapon of Lord Shiva. And villagers believe that it is a reason behind their survival on such a height and extreme cold weather as it protects them from any kind of disaster.

Moreover, the trek begins from a peaceful village called Sankri and gradually leads you to the River Tons. From the summit, a stunning view of 13 different Himalayan peaks like Bandarpoonch and Swargarohini, is a delight for trekkers’ eyes and soul.


Kuari Pass Trek

Base Camp: Dhak Village
Duration: 6 Days
Grade: Easy to Moderate
Maximum Altitude: 3877 m
Trekking Distance: 33 km
Best Time to Trek: April, November and December

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Fact check: You know who reached Kuari Pass first? It was Lord Curzon who explored the place in 1905.

Locals named this place as Kuari Pass, which means ‘doorway’. The main highlight of the trek is the magnificent view of the twin peaks of Nanda Devi and several others like Kamet, Hathi Ghodi Parvat, Dronagiri, Trishul, Bertholi, Mana, and Neelkanth. Moreover, the course takes you through pristine forests of oak and deodar. On this venture, you can enjoy a common yet the breathtaking sight of Himalayan snow leopards and black bear. Spending a night at the dazzling campsite is one of the most amazing experiences!

This expedition also gives you a chance to explore the two most-charming sites of Uttarakhand i.e. Joshimath and Auli. Sri Shankaracharya has attained enlightenment in Joshimath and Auli is famous for skiing and astronomers. The journey basically begins from Haridwar but the trekking expedition starts from the beautiful village of Dhak. On your way to the summit, you will come across to the enthralling view of Devprayag, Bhagirathi and Alakananda confluence. The course that goes to Chitrakantha, Chaukhamba and Tali Top has many hidden surprises for you! ory.


Dayara Bugyal

Base Camp: Barsu
Duration: 5 Days
Grade: Easy to Moderate
Maximum Altitude: 3688 m
Trekking Distance: 25 km
Best Time to Trek: April to June, September to December

dayara bugyal

Standing tall at a high altitude of 3,688 m in the district of Uttarkashi, Dayara Bugyal is said to be the most amazing and breathtaking trek in “Land of the Gods”. In the lush green landscape of meadows, one can catch a beautiful sight of the Barnala Tal Lake. Moreover, you can enjoy a majestic sight of stunning peaks like Srikanth, Jaonli, Draupadi ka Danda I & II, Rudregaira, Gangotri I, II & III, Black peak, Bandarpunch, etc.

The trek begins from the little hamlet of Barsu and takes you to the summit through the dense forest of oak, clear-crystal water bodies and sprawling meadows.

Take a break from the nine-to-five grind and explore the hidden beauty of the Himalayas to gain a lifetime of experience. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Har ki Doon Trek
Har ki Doon Trek

My Footprints in the Paradise Called Har Ki Doon

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

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

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

village_in_himalaya__pczwm har ki doon

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

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

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

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

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

Old wooden temple in Sankri
Old wooden temple in Sankri

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

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

Do Not Forget!

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

A Handy List of Trekking Essentials

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

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

Trekking in Uttarakhand has lately become so much more than an adventure sport. Now a popular destination for weekend getaways, long treks, river rafting, camping, mountaineering, ziplining and other adrenaline-inducing adventures, it has also long been a important location for pilgrims for decades for it harbours the origin of GangesGangotri. The Garhwal and Kumaon ranges offer the most promising treks, courtesy its position in the foothills of famous Himalayan peaks.

The second highest mountain in India and the highest mountain located entirely within the country, Nanda Devi (7,816 m) lies right here in the Garhwal Himalayas; it is the holy site for a lot of cultural festivals that take place annually. Lots of other 7000 m+ peaks loom over this region in North India. Therefore, so far as cultural, geographical and historical importance is considered, Uttarakhand is naturally a winner.

Gangotri, on the banks of Bhagirathi and the origin on Ganga
Gangotri, on the banks of Bhagirathi and the origin on Ganga

Keeping in mind a lot of factors that make a trek worthwhile, the best treks located in Uttarakhand are Roopkund Trek and Har Ki Doon Trek. These treks offer great views of the Himalayan peaks, challenge one’s trekking skills and endurance in controlled limits and are spread over a comfortable number of days to accommodate the best experiences without exhausting oneself completely.

But the major catches remain: Expansive alpine meadows; lush valleys; dense oak, deodar and pine forests; high altitude lakes, moraines, ridges, hanging glaciers; towering Himalayan peaks looming over. These trek features are entirely unique to Uttarakhand’s picturesque locales and that is what makes it such an invigorating experience for trekkers of all backgrounds.

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The best time to visit any of these treks are the sunny summer months: April to June. Avoid monsoon season for there’s possibility of flash floods, landslides, slippery trail and other dangers.  

First one on this list is Roopkund Trek, The Mystery Lake:

Roopkund 1

  • Everything a Himalayan trek can offer!
    Alpine meadows that stretch as far the eye goes, oak and pine forests, frozen waterfalls, scenic peaks that make this trek incomparable. So picture perfect!
  • The mystique and the memory of a past forgotten
    The Skeletal Lake is said to have buried in it skeletons of travelers that were caught in a hailstorm. So far, no conclusive research has shown where exactly the group of travelers was headed. Spooky, right? Visit in the summers so that the lake is not completely covered by sheets of snow.
  • The adventure, the thrill, the views
    Roopkund trek, over the years, has remained one of the most popular trekking destinations in North India. Each year, thousands of people set out to make it on this trek. Perhaps, the biggest selling point of this trek are the adrenaline-inducing climb up to the lake and the chilling views of Mt Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, Badrinath. The trek is not meant for beginners.  

Har Ki Doon, a paradise in the lap of Himalayas on the border between Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh: The valley is reached through Govind Wildlife Sanctuary which is a repository of the most exotic variety of flora and fauna.

Har ki Doon Trek
Har ki Doon Trek
  • Follow Pandavas’ steps to the Swargarohini
    This trek offers mesmerizing views of Swargarohini – I, II, III, Bandarpoonch and Blackpeak, Ruinsara, etc. In the Hindu mythology, Pandavas ascended to heaven following the very route trekkers take. How is that for some rich history?
  • In the foothills of Fateh Parvat, Har ki Dun is one of the most scenic valleys and, therefore, perfect spot for your photography passions! So is the nearby Hata valley.
  • Enjoy camping next to Kalkatti Dhar
  • Trek to Jaundhar Glacier and spot lush greens and snow-capped peaks. An exhilarating view that will leave you wanting for more, definitely!

Quit being afraid. The world awaits.

Trekking in Uttarakhand
Trekking in Uttarakhand is more than an adventure, it is an experience worth a thousand memories that will last a lifetime. Underneath the picture perfect hillocks touching clear skies, in the lush valleys and amid flowing rivulets, through pine and oak lands, find your own nature calling!

Undoubtedly, there are some beautiful chapters in our lives that cannot be described in words. A trek to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib was one such chapter for me! Located in the ‘Land of Gods’, in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand at an altitude of 3,600 m, this stunning paradise was unknown for centuries. The site was explored by the British mountaineers in 1931 when they came to visit Uttarakhand and lost their way. And then they stepped in the magnificent valley brimming with wide varieties of flowers. Hence, the gorgeous dale was named ‘Valley of Flowers’.

In 1982, the Indian Government included it in the list of national parks and UNESCO gave it a title of ‘World Heritage Site’ in 2004. The course to the valley also goes toward Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib which is situated at an elevation of 4,320 m.

Valley of Flowers National Park
Valley of Flowers National Park

Here’s when to plan a getaway 
One can visit the valley from mid-May to September as it is the time when the site is splashed with thousands of bloomy colourful flowers. It is known for 600 different types of flowers including the Brahma Kamal, Snake Lily, Cobra Lily and Blue Poppy.

Valley of Flowers in Hindu Mythology 
The dazzling land is said to be the abode of various Hindu deities. Some say it was garden of Lord Indira, Nandan Kanan. A few others believe that Lord Rama‘s devotee Hanuman found Sanjeevani here, the magical herb that brought back unconscious Lakshmana to life. Whereas the locals believe that this place was home to fairies.

My ‘Flowery’ Tale: Exploring the flowery bed on a 3-day trek 
I’m the kind of a person who wants to travel to each and every corner of the world. But my plan to travel Valley of Flowers turned out to be an alternate to Kashmir. Each journey brings out a unique experience leaving its imprints on my heart and soul in the most special way. When I visited the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib I truly felt that ‘Dev Bhoomi’ is nonetheless a heavenly paradise.

My journey began from Delhi to Rishikesh. My journey through lush green fields was simply mesmerizing. I had breakfast at Gulshan Da Dhaba, Roorkee. And the next stop where I halted my car was Haridwar, I visited Triveni Ghat and took a dip in river Ganges. I spent around 2 hours at this divine land. It was interesting to witness the religious significance that influences the lifestyle of the people of Haridwar. After two hours of driving, I reached Rishikesh and a cup of chai at a tea stall. There, I heard news that a landslide occurred on a way to Govindghat on the same day. So, as advised by locals I decided to spend a night in Rishikesh only. I had a dinner at Choti Wala and an amazing night at the rooftop of my hotel that was located along the bank of Ganges.

I could only manage to reach Govindghat by noon, which in itself was like an adventure before the trek began. Seeing locals cleaning the rocks on the road after landslide, I found myself trapped in Govindghat. Thankfully! My trek leader reached right on time, the man-in-charge greeted all my confusion and apprehensions with a stoic smile and somehow managed to assuage my fears of reaching the base camp Ghangaria. He also briefed me about the trek plan and introduced me to two other persons who were ready to hike with us.

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Day 1: Govindghat to Ghangaria
We started our trek to Ghangaria after a langar in gurudwara. The delight of visiting gurudwara is always amazing as it gives peace to one’s soul and it is open for everyone – regardless of beliefs, caste or colour. After walking 1 km, our guide advised us to submit our luggage to the porter as he thought we could not carry it anymore! We enjoyed a cup of tea and pakodas at Barsati Wali Chai ki Dukan. The course to Ghangaria goes along the River Lakshman Ganga for most of the way. It was quite a smooth trek as I didn’t have to trek uphill.

It was not only us, as there were hundreds of people who were going up in palkis and horses. Moreover, beautiful streams, waterfalls and lush greenery on our way hypnotized us. While trekking to this sublime beauty, we came across isolated hamlets, oak forests and diverse species of flora and fauna. We covered around 13 km to reach Ghangaria, we spent a night at Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam.

Day 2: Ghangaria to VOF
We woke up to a stunning view of sunrise amidst the ravishing panorama of lush green mountains. After breakfast, we started our way to VOF. The striking mountains helped us to regain our energy. A trail was filled with beautiful flowers and we finally scaled to Valley of Flowers. My eyes were glazed by an incredible sight of different kinds of flowers I had never even dreamt of. I enjoyed a sight of majestic flowers such as Balsam, Dwarf Globe, Brahma Kamal and Marsh Marigold. These exotic flowers were spread like a flower bed sheet that was stretched over an expanse of 87.50 km. A quote that comes to my mind as I write this is, ‘Nature is never in a hurry, yet everything is accomplished’.

A unique blend of snow-capped mountains, green meadows, and white clouds made our trek a dreamlike adventure. After spending 2 hours at VOF, we descended to our base camp where our guide had arranged a bonfire night and dinner for us.

Day 3: Ghangaria to Hemkund Sahib
We woke up early in the morning and started our trek to Hemkund Sahib, a revered site for Punjabis and Sikhs. It was a 7 km long expedition which began with a gradual incline through the Himalayas. On the way, we clicked several pictures of grazing cows and goats, stunning waterfall and lakes. It was like a tea house trek, as the course was lined with a number of tea plants. After two hours of trekking, we reached the point where the views of snow-capped mountains started getting better. Later, we reached a river gorge from where the oxygen levels started reducing. Somehow, we managed to reach the Hemkund Sahib gurdwara bang on time and the Hemkund Lake was just behind it. We paid homage at Laxman Mandir. We spent around 3 hours there and later descended back to Ghangaria.

Exquisite!

Spend some time in the serene lap of nature and visit this tranquil bed of flowers overlooked by towering Himalayan peaks. Don’t miss out on capturing some beautiful pictures when you do!

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

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

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

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

Manali Leh Highway during winters
Manali Leh Highway during winters

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

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

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

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

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

Sikkim during winters
Sikkim during winters

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

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

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

Chadar Trek
Chadar Trek

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

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

Auli Skiing
Auli Skiing

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

Sunderbans
Sunderbans

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

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

Little did I know that my short adventure trek to Chopta Tungnath Chandrashila will turn out to be the adventure of a lifetime! I could so much relate to a quote that I read recently by Lin Yutang, “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow”. But for me it was more like an adventure which I survived and at that moment all I wanted to do was to go home and be warm and comfortable!

The only reason that this trek is so close to my heart and I will remember it forever is because I remember how I almost gave up! I gave up on walking further, to save myself from all the pain. It’s good to travel in a group sometimes. If I was on a solo trek I would have been stuck somewhere in the mountains. Not that I mind that, but I would have been surely hopelessly lost!

The three months of monsoon with heavy rains and humidity are the most irritating time of the year, especially if you stay in those polluted cities. Before you can dry yourself with a towel after bathing, the humidity and sweat negates everything. You don’t feel like going out because the roads are all flooded as are parks and grounds. I always get the urge to leave home and go some place, where rains can be enjoyable. You will never believe what I found on the internet while searching for ways to spend the monsoon away from all the fuss. I found that I could go trekking in the Himalayas! Now, many believe that trekking is not a monsoon activity, but there are several hikes in the Himalayan Region that are specially meant for the rainy season. So, keep reading to learn about some incredible places you can trek to if you want to escape the fussy rains. Explore these monsoon treks in the Himalayas and take an experience of a lifetime!

Hampta Pass – Himachal Pradesh
A moderate level hike with a maximum altitude of around 14000 feet, it will take you to a surreal meadow with snow-capped peaks in the background and colourful flowers on the valley bed. Increase the fun by trekking further to Chandratal.

The Himalayas is one wonder of nature that has intrigued us since time immemorial. Its high snow-clad mountains, rich flora and fauna, and scenic beauty have enchanted one and all. But in all this, we have somehow missed another wonderful aspect of it – its people. So, read on and find out more about the people living in the Himalayas, their history, faith, occupations and living conditions.

Know more about Trekking in the Himalayas

The Great Himalayan Story
The mighty Himalayas rise beyond the Indo-Gangetic plain of Northern India, extending through the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand to Northeast India, Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. This entire range of the Himalayan Mountains serves as home to more than 50 million people, with another 450 million settled at the base of it. And this entire population flourishes on the resources that flow from the Himalayas.

Today, the Himalayan population can be classified into three ethnic types, namely Aryans, Mongoloids and Negroids. But the truth about its original inhabitants is still a point of debate. There is a belief that the first settlement in the Himalayas began in 1500 BC when a warrior tribe called Khasa migrated to its western range. This was followed by the migration of Tibeto-Burman people from Southeast Asia to the eastern and central Himalayas in the early part of the millennia. These people were called the Kiratas. However, if one takes into account the Hindu epics and Puranas, then it is deduced that the native inhabitants of the Himalayan region were the Kinnars, Kiratas, Kulinds and Kilinds, with later migration of the Darads and Khasas.

Some of us are just happy with the way our life is, but a lot of us are sitting at our office desks, staring at the computer screens wondering, if this is the life we want! Are we doing what makes us happy? Are we taking out enough time to relax and rejuvenate? I am sure these questions pop into many of our heads as we really dream about setting off on the adventure of a lifetime!

I can’t stay for long without travelling! If it has been more than four weeks, I get restless and want to take a break and wander off to the Himalayas! Where I choose to go often depends on my mood. If I am in a mood to relax and rejuvenate, I would prefer going to Kerala or Goa than the mountains. To get solitude and some “Me” time, the Himalayas are what I need! I make it a point to travel to the Himalayas at least once in 2 months because living in Delhi is a blessing if you love Himalayas. I always try to find different ways of travelling to the mountains and explore the yet unexplored and remote villages and places. Trekking is one of my favorite adventure activities as it always shows me a different side of mountains! The best part about trekking is that I get a chance to be close to the mountains and I feel that I belong there!

Am I the only one who wants to go out to some peaceful yet thrilling place and not return for a while? While thinking about making a plan to plan a vacation, I came across a lot of amazing and unexplored places to stay in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Himachal has always been my favorite place to escape from noise, stress, people, and of course the increasing pollution in Delhi. Mountains are my first love and whenever I feel a little low in life, mountains are like solace to my soul. The fresh crisp air, the warmth of the locals and the amazing food always allure me!

I would love to spend some time in an amazing camp in the lap of the Himalayas, curled up with my favorite book, my playlist, some hot tea and the mountains. Here is my pick of some of the best camping experiences in the Himalayas, for that perfect break that we all need! Spend some peaceful days deep in the unexplored Himalayan Valleys of these beautiful mountain states. Remember to gaze at the starry sky when there in the mountains!

Camping in the Himalayas is a treat to the senses!
Camping in the Himalayas is a treat to the senses!

Is it even scarcely possible to pinpoint exactly what actually drives hundreds of trekking enthusiasts to the great Himalayan Mountains, every year? Probably not! There are far too many facets to it that even posing such a question may seem preposterous. The mighty Himalayas have intrigued mankind since time immemorial and continue to do so, even today. Like a sage in deep meditation; aloof from the worldly pleasures, these mountains represent, as a painter would like to put it, a picture of calmness and stillness. However, it is a far cry from reality as these peaks pose several challenges for those who try to conquer their heights. But an adventurer would never mind such a scenario, and would actually thrive on it. No wonder, trekking in the Himalayan region is such an adrenaline pumping activity for adventure enthusiasts. Here we look at some of the most popular and the best Himalayan treks that have charmed these enthusiasts from decades.


ROOPKUND
If you are a novice trekker but a daredevil at heart, then nothing can boost your confidence more than a trek to Roopkund in Uttarakhand. With an elevation of approximately 15700 feet, it is almost equivalent to the highest summit in Europe – Mont Blanc! This mountain trail has everything that one can expect from a Himalayan trekking experience – vast meadows, dense forests (oak in this case), snow land and astounding vistas of nature. This expedition would give you an opportunity to witness the majestic Trishul Mountain from a close distance, and admire the beauty of Bedni Bugyal and Ali Bugyal – the largest high altitude meadows in India. Time and again many trekkers have expressed that going on an expedition to Roopkund has been among their most cherished adventure experiences. The duration of this trail is for 8 days and 7 nights.