There are times in life when you feel that you have achieved everything what you wanted. The same feeling came to me when I was standing at the Rishikesh hill top. It felt like I was the master and ruler of the whole world. The feeling of climbing through broken roads and paths is rather unnerving but for a person like me, it doesn’t seem so. For me and my friends, the sheer excitement of adventure and travelling encompassed with some peace of mind is a lot more enticing. Trekking and travelling in the Himlayan ranges is one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life and it is worth sharing.
Once you have reached the top, nothing can compare and will ever compare to the kind of tranquility and satisfaction it brings to one and all. Some go to the extent of carrying their portable speakers to listen to their finest music while the others are lying down, amidst the free gifts of nature, going on a natural high. Well the silence definitely says it all. All that is felt is calmness and solitude which is extremely vital in our busy worlds today. If this is what an unplanned trek and travel sounds like, let’s get ready for some planned map work for travel and trek in the famous regions of the Himalayas.
When travelling is combined with trekking and adventure, then the whole definition of travelling changes. Travelling and trekking brings forth the spirit of adventure in you. Camping in the wild, cooking food, sleeping under the clear blue skies, late night dances around the campfire face to face with people from different places and backgrounds, surely makes trekking an activity to reckon with. India has innumerable beautiful places to go trekking to, making the choice a tad bit tougher but here are a few places that might just help you figure out the actual essence of this activity.
Trekking in the Himalayas
The Himalayas have had a lure for travelers since time immemorial for those seeking salvation to the plain adventurous. It is the land of the mystique and it has an unsaid charm that makes for a definite trekking destination. Its snow capped peaks, rugged mountain trails, meadows with high altitude lakes are a ‘must-visit.’
Trekking in Kumaon
Kumaon, famously known for its Corbett National Park, remains the largest tourist attraction having a lot of people visiting it. This is simply because of its lower hills around Nainital that helps see the great views of the Himalayas. Although the Kumaon Himalayas offer a really good ‘up close and personal’ view of the mountains, they do not seem to be very popular.
The trekking route to the glacier complex that comprises of Pindari, Sunderdhunga, and Milam are often found lacking in popular appeal but for those who have been there the experience is definitely one to remember. The peaks one feels can almost be touched by the stretch of a hand. Well, the real stretch is in making the effort to get there.
Trekking in Ladakh
Ladakh, situated between the Great Himalayan range and the Tibetan Plateau, is often described as desolate and barren. The average altitude here seldom falls below 3000 metres, making it a fairly tough place for those unaccustomed to the changes of altitude.
Ladakh is the land of high passes Khardung la; Phitse la and the names go on and on. Also very famous is the remote Zanskar, an area that until a decade ago was totally cut off from the main land. The sandy desert blends into high snow-clad peaks. The trademark Gompas with their flags fluttering all over brings a harmony that is ringing forever.
Trekking in Garhwal
Touted as one of the most beautiful regions in the Himalayas, Garhwal is a destination which trekking lovers cannot miss. Right from the towering snow peaks, flower carpeted meadows, iconic temples, wildlife to being the home to the revered Ganges, Nanda Devi sanctuary and Badrinath and Kedarnath among the holiest shrines in the country making the list endless, is definitely a combination hard to resist.
Trekking in Garhwal is all the more interesting due to the constantly changing terrain and weather. It is likely that while on a trek you will witness some wonderful sunshine for a bit and within minutes be deluged by a steady downpour. It’s only because of this extraordinary phenomenon that Garhwal offers, does it make for a study of a lifetime.
Trekking in Himachal
The land of Himachal is envisaged with a variety of choices; from the verdant Kullu Valley with its alpine meadows and conifer forests to the landscape of Spiti. The entire region is crisscrossed by four mountain ranges. The Dhaula Dhar, Pir Panjal, Himalayas and Zanskar. Due to this region which has a rich cultural heritage, it reflects in the mannerisms of the villagers, making it the most diverse trekking routes in the Indian Mountains.
Trekking into Lahul Spiti is a delightful experience as one gets to see a wide spectrum of the landscape. Treks that originated in Kullu and Kinnaur add some mystery and make it a ‘sure-shot’ discovery for oneself.
Trekking in Sikkim
In the eastern Himalayas and in the shadow of the imposing Mount Kanchenjunga lies Sikkim, the smallest state in India. It is a melting pot of four centuries with a mixture of the Bhutia, Lepacha and Tibetian races. Sikkim is home to a very diverse flora and fauna which includes a stunning variety of natural resources, six hundred varieties of orchids in all colours. Its fauna includes the elusive Snow Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Red panda, Musk Deer and Blue Sheep. A birdlife which includes over 500 varieties of Vultures, eagles etc.
If the flora and fauna is not enough for the trekkers of Sikkim,there is something that would thrill the heart of any trekker. Hiking through thick green forests, interlaced with meandering streams makes the journey completely rejuvenating. Trails leading to the peaks of Kabru, Talung, Siniolchu, Goeche La and not to mention the towering Kanchenjunga are something that the people of this little kingdom have been treading on for many centuries. Due to its recent popularity, the paths are not every crowded and nice to travel. Making it as memorable as possible are the age old monasteries built by the Buddhist, the most famous being Pemayangtse Monastery, situated in West Sikkim that ensures a fascinating view of Mount Kanchenjunga. The often repeated adage “Small is beautiful”, truly applies to Sikkim, a journey that has a beginning that hopefully ends in Shangrila.
The best time to go Trekking and travelling
The most appropriate time for trekking in India (in Kumaon and Garhwal) is between May 1st and June 30th and between September 1st and October 15th. Both seasons have their attractions. During the month of May the spring flowers bloom at the margins of the snowline while the weather is generally settled barring the occasional pre monsoon storm that can blow up at any time. Day time temperatures can rise to the mid 20s even at altitudes while at night they can fall to zero degrees Celsius. The post monsoon season is a time of settled weather with clear views of the mountains.
Quite unlike other regions in the Himalayas, Ladakh experiences nine months of winter and three months of summer. The best time to visit Ladakh is in the summer – from early June to end September. Beyond that period, the region gets too cold for comfort. By October most of the trekking routes in the higher altitude areas are closed on account of heavy snowfall. Another good reason to visit Ladakh during the summer months is that this is the time when some of Ladakh’s most important Gompas or Buddhist monasteries host their spectacular annual festivals.
How to reach the destination
These places are well connected with flights, trains and roads. Ladakh, Sikkim and Himachal are connected majorly through flights from Delhi. They are connected by road and rail as well. One can reach Garhwal and Kumaon easily through road and rail. Once you reach the destination, you can start your trek.
The September 1st to October 15th period tends to be cold so warm jackets are recommended. The upside of trekking during this time is that it tends to be dry and the air is clear making views phenomenal. Waterproof outerwear is also required. Every trekker’s personal clothing should include some of the following:
Wide brimmed hat(cloth/felt) balaclava/ski cap, scarf, T-shirts, Long-sleeved shirts, fleece jacket/warm jumper, fleece trousers, trekking pants, pajamas, shorts, socks/stockings, trekking shoes, light trainers, sandals, sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottle, day sacks.
All in all trekking and travelling is not a modern fad but as old any other exploratory instincts known to mankind. The mountain folk have been doing it forever. There are no boundaries to trekking and age is no barrier, you are never too young and as old as you believe yourself to be.
Trekking and travelling in the wilderness apart from showing you some of the most amazing scenery that nature has bestowed upon us gives you the luxury of introspection and a sense of achievement at the end of the day.
So, all that it takes to get going is a love for the mountains, expectation of the unexpected and a willingness to rough it out.