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Mystical Mountains

Vidya Gajapathi Raju Singh

Princess of Vijayanagaram Wedding Planner - Sumyog

10 min read

It is always a good time to begin thinking about outdoor activities; the ocean and mountains immediately come to mind and for me, the call of the mountains is always more appealing, at any time of the year. Trekking is one of the most fun and soul-satisfying activities and here in India, we have some amazing trekking destinations, whether in the majestic Himalayas or the mountains of South India. Whatever your ability, this is something that can be done with family or friends.

If U R a mountain person, then the incredible heights of the mountains can be a challenge and some level of basic fitness may be needed. It’s a good idea to start planning a trekking adventure. There are so many choices from mild walks to serious heavy-duty climbs—there is something that can appeal to everyone.

Trekking in Himachal is good in and around Chamba, Manali, Kullu and Lahaul with Manali being the base. Manali is a good base for easy trekking and can be the best option for beginners. A lot of people club a trek with their summer holidays in Himachal.
Pin Parvati Pass - 5300m / 17388ft

Probably the most beautiful trek in India it is a challenging crossover trek from the lush fertile Parvati valley to the moonscapes of the Pin valley in Spiti.
Grade – challenging

Bhabha Pass - 5000m / 16404ft

Bhabha Pass - 5000m / 16404ft

Another stunningly beautiful trek that starts in the Apple orchards of the Kinnaur valley and crosses over to the Spiti valley via the Bhabha Pass.

Grade – Moderate

Friendship Peak Climb

A 5300 m / 17388ft peak just outside Manali, The Friendship Peak is an ideal adventure for people who are low on time, but who want to experience the adrenaline rush of climbing a high Himalayan peak.
Grade – Challenging

Ladakh

Ladakh

Ladakh is breathtakingly beautiful, flanked by two of the highest mountain ranges in the world—the Himalayas and the Karakoram range. Ladakh has so much to offer, as there are treks of different types—Monastery treks, High-altitude treks and Alpine meadow treks. The best time to visit is between July and September.

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Stok Kangri Trek

This trek takes you from Zingchen, from where the trek begins, through the Stok La Pass at 4890m/16043ft, to the Base Camp of Stok Kangri at an altitude of 4975m/16322ft, through Mounkarmo. From here the Glacier at5395m / 17700ft is a good trek up into the mountains, the Summit climb to 6153m/21000ft takes several hours and is a tough challenge.
Grade – Challenging

Markha Valley Trek

Markha Valley Trek

This is the most popular trek in Ladakh, that follows the Markha River, a tributary of the Zanskar river, that passes some quaint Ladakhi villages as well as some ancient monasteries and high mountain passes. The trek can be extended to climb the Kang Yatze Peak at 6400m.
Grade – Challenging

Sham Valley Trek

A short and easy trek ideal for beginners; this trek gives you a glimpse of Ladakhi lifestyles and landscapes with relative ease. Located close to a road head it’s ideal for family and beginners.
Grade – Easy

Chadar Trek, Ladakh

Chadar Trek, Ladakh

The Mother of all treks; you can follow the frozen Zanskar river from Chilling to Lingshed and even beyond. This trek has a short window of about 2 months in the winter when the river freezes. It’s the most unique trek in India with relatively easy walking on the flat river but the challenge is of handling the cold when temperatures can drop to -25 to – 30 degree in the nights. A must-do for any trekking enthusiast.
Grade – Challenging

Uttarakhand - Rupin Pass

A stunning and spectacular trek through the mountainous region of Uttarakhand. Starting at Dhaula, the first days’ trek takes us to about 1950m/6600ft and from there on it is a steady climb up into the mountains. The River Rupin flows in this region, the route takes you past the most beautiful villages and forests, finally crossing a glacier before reaching the Lower Waterfall Camp. From here to he Upper Waterfall Camp and then over the Rupin Pass at 4625m/15173ft, Spectacular visuals of the surrounding mountains. Finally, the trail leads the beautiful town of Sangla to the Banjara Resort on the banks of the Baspa River.
Grade – Challenging

Kumaon - Adi Kailash Trek

Kumaon - Adi Kailash Trek

At – 4000m / 13123ft – This is located in Pithoragarh district and is a wonderful trek for those who can’t make the journey to Mount Kailash in Tibet. Revered by Hindus, the Adi Kailash and Om Parbat Trek provide a great alternate.
Grade – Moderate plus

Pindari Glacier

One of the most popular trekking destinations in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand is the Pindari glacier, which is incredibly beautiful! The trek starts from a road head called Song, near Bageshwar. Song to Loharket (4 km), Loharket to Khati (19 km), Khati to Phurkia (16 km) and Phurkia to Pindari Zero Point (6 km) is the trek course which takes about eight days. The trail also offers us some really beautiful landscapes and is a photographer’s delight!

Grade – Moderate

Garhwal

The Garhwal Hills has some of the highest peaks in the world and the treks are not considered easy, but the incredible beauty of the region and the variety that it offers is amazing. However, there are some easy to moderate routes for beginners and somewhat experienced trekkers.

Popular treks include the Har Ki Dun trek (easy), Dodi Tal trek (easy), Valley of Flowers trek (easy), Nanda Devi trek (moderately tough), Kalindkhal trek (tough) and Kedarnath trek (tough).

Gaumukh Tapovan Trek

Gaumukh Tapovan Trek

This is one of the most popular treks in India that starts from the holy Gangotri shrine following the Ganges River all the way to its source at Gaumukh and further beyond to Tapovan. A high altitude meadow with close-up views of the Shivling, Thalaysagar and other mighty peaks. Can be continued to beautiful high altitude lakes like Kedar Tal and Vasuki Tal with a glacial walk.

Grade – Moderate plus

Har ki Dun

At 3500m/ 11482ft and located in the Govind Vihar National Park, this is a beautiful family trek of enchanting beauty with incredible views. It is also a popular trek among solo trekkers as it flows along the bank of the river and is easy to find the trail.

Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers

Perhaps the most popular trek in India, the Valley of Flowers, in the Gharwal mountains is best visited in the monsoon months of July- August when the valley floor is covered with thousands of flowers of different colours. There is a stone pathway throughout the entire trek making it easy to navigate in the monsoon. A very popular trek among people of all abilities.
Grade – Easy

Locals thought this was where the fairy’s lived! Then botanist Frank Smith found his way up to the valley and named it the Valley of Flowers. Smith did not have to rack his brains to come up with that name, as rare flowers bloom in such profusion, you might wonder why they are called ‘rare’ in the first place. These include the Himalayan poppy and Bhramakamal, among the 300 species found there. The best time to visit would be July and unlike Smith, you don’t have to slog one bit. The valley is easily accessible—jeep to Rishikesh, on to Joshimath and beyond to Ghangria, from where it is only 14 km away. The valley retains its charm, but it pays to know that the ecosystem there is extremely fragile, so don’t litter.

 

Tamil Nadu Nilgiris

The gorgeous Nilgiris Hill range of Tamil Nadu has wonderfully pleasant weather throughout the year. With their no plastic policy of the state, the hills are spotlessly clean too! Owing to plentiful rainfall, the trekking routes in these hills are lush and green all the time. Apart from treks, there are opportunities for soothing nature walks too. The best time for trekking in the Nilgiris is from October to May. The rains come down in June through August and it would be wise to avoid this region, during those months.

Kodaikanal - Dolphin's Nose

Kodaikanal - Dolphin's Nose

It is always good to be in Kodaikanal, probably one of the most untouched of all the hill stations in India. At about 7000ft, there are lovely treks, some mild and some of them tougher. The ones that I love to go back to, on every trip, is the trek down to Dolphin’s Nose. The scenic beauty and the spectacular visuals of the mountains around you and the plains below are visible. It is a couple of hours to climb down from Vattakanal and out on to the rock that makes Dolphins Nose and a pretty steep climb back up to the to again. Breakfast at Altaf’s Cafe is a must after you make it back-up!! Cloudland Trek and Perumal Malai are the other two treks that are day treks and you are rewarded with spectacular scenery all around.

Mukurthi

For those of you drawn to trekking but apprehensive of the Himalayas, a wonder awaits in the Nilgiris Hills. Whoever said ‘No pain,No gain’ certainly had not been to Mukurthi or taken the family along. An ideal outing, this day-long trek could be done as a picnic with a leisurely stroll thrown in and so is ideal for family groups with different abilities! But this no ordinary stroll; the hills are decked in crimson rhododendron and languid lakes and the air alive with the hoots of Nilgiri langurs. Don’t forget to pack a hamper and carry a bedsheet to spread out to picnic on.

Kerala-Silent Valley

Kerala-Silent Valley

Walking through a rainforest that has been evolving for five million years, this incredible ecosystem can leave you simply awestruck. Silent Valley in the Palakkad district of Kerala is as primal as primal could ever get. The views and sightings of unbelievable wildlife are totally amazing—tigers, elephants, gaur and a host of other animals make this part of the mountains their home and make this trek really worthwhile. The camps at Sairandhri, Poochipara, Walakkad, Sispara and Anginda are located on hilltops to show the forest to its best advantage.

There is a fundamental question that comes up in everyone’s mind, including ours! What is it that draws us to these mountains, why do we want to take ourselves out of our comfort zones, go out to these remote areas and push ourselves beyond our physical limits? The mountains are an incredible place to be, you begin to realise how insignificant we are as human beings when you are walking in the midst of them. Their magnificence awes us and we feel the presence of greater power as we look around. The incredible beauty of these mystical mountains can silence you.
There is an enormous respect for the hardy people who live in these regions, their lives are so hard on an everyday basis, just to survive.

The challenges that we face every day, while walking and climbing are so satisfying, as the terrain is rough, the altitudes are high and the paths are sometimes fraught with danger. There is a feeling of immense satisfaction at the end of every trek.

We realise that we are the fortunate few that can experience and live out our dreams. Others may think of it, some may want to do it, but we are the lucky ones that have the ability to go out there and achieve this experience