India represents a unique blend of intricate cultural fabric and a dramatic landscape that mesmerizes everyone visiting it. From the high snow capped peaks of our crowning jewel, the Himalayas to the lush green cover of the ancient Western Ghats, India is lined with all types of trekking trails for both expert trekkers as well as beginners. India is a playground for the wanderlust soul. It is a door to an experience that will remain etched in your heart forever. All the natural beauty along with the humble hospitable nature of the locals makes every trekking experience unique in its own way.
Here are the popular trekking trails in India:
Tarsar Marsar Trek (Kashmir)
Known to be one of the most popular Himalayan treks, Tarsar Marsar is located in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in the north-western region of the Aru Valley. The name of the trek comes from the two lakes Tarsar and Marsar, which are separated by the 4,000 meters tall peaks of the Kolahoi Mountain. Famous among both beginners and moderate trekkers, Tarsar Marsar trek is the best way to experience the true natural beauty of the mountain state. The trek lasts for a minimum of 7 days and transverses several scenic locations such as rivers, waterfalls, flowery meadows and plenty of montane lakes.
Chadar Trek (Ladakh)
Open only during the winters, the ‘Chadar’ or the blanket trek derives its name from the frozen Zanskar River, which allows the trekkers to access the innards of the Zanskar Valley. Known to serve only the most seasoned of trekkers, the Chadar Trek passes through several picturesque hamlets that are set deep in the Zanskar Valley. The Zanskar River is a tributary of the ancient Indus River and provides some marvellous views of the icy peaks of Ladakh. The trail is only open during the winters when the temperatures drop below -30 degrees, freezing the rivers for tourist access.
Goecha La Trek (Sikkim)
Located in the north-eastern state of Sikkim, the Goecha La Trek takes a minimum of 10 days and takes you through several scenic routes as you cross several lush green landscapes, orchards and deep forests that are teeming with innumerable variety of flora and fauna. If you are a J.R.R Tolkien fan, then the beginning of this trail will remind you of the Shire. The trek starts at a humble little hamlet in Yuksom Valley and passes through several picturesque locations like rivers, waterfalls, glacial lakes, flowery meadows and snow-capped peaks. A must visit for moderate and expert trekkers.
Nilgiri Hills Trek (Tamil Nadu)
Referred to as the ‘Blue Mountains’ due to the smoky haze of the eucalyptus plants and the rare Neelakurunji flower which blossoms once in every 12 years and covers the mountains. A part of the larger Western Ghats mountain range, the Nilgiri Hills comprise of several lush green hills, meadows and picturesque tea and spice plantations. With more than 11 peaks, this trek is great for adventurers as well as the nature lovers who find the routes to have a fine mix of challenges and several up-close and personal encounters with nature. The Nilgiris can be accessed from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka and feature several hill stations like Ooty, Coonoor and Kodaikanal which were developed during the British rule in India. A trek in the lush green surroundings of the Nilgiri Hills is sure to mesmerise your senses for years to come.
Valley of Flowers Trek (Uttarakhand)
Located in the larger Nanda Devi Biosphere reserve in the state of Uttarakhand, the Valley of Flowers is an 8 day trek that would leave you awestruck in the lap of nature. The trek route transverses the flowery meadows and the misty hills of the Valley of Flowers national park and several other picturesque locations in the Garhwal Himalayas. The protected reserve is known for housing the wide variety of montane flowers and herbs along with several rare and endangered wildlife species. Animals such as the Snow Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Flying Squirrel and a large number of endemic and migratory birds can be found here. Due to its proximity to Badrinath Dham, valley of flowers trek is normally taken up by devotees seeking to get in touch with their adventurous side. People on the pilgrimage especially on a Chardham Yatra by Helicopter can easily go for this memorable adventure on the hills.
Sandakphu Trek (West Bengal)
Sandakphu is a very unique trekking experience. There are very few treks on earth from where you can see the 4 of the tallest mountains in the world. Standing tall on an elevation of 12,000 feet above sea level, Sandakphu is a moderately difficult trek that should be experienced soon. The trail will take you along a ridge that offers unobstructed views of Everest, the sleeping buddha ranges and Kanchenjunga ranges. The trail will lead through many camps and tea points that have become extremely popular over the years. Unlike several other treks in India, Sandakphu offers a long distance view of its surroundings. Explore the great outdoors and let loose in the soothing arms of calming wilderness.
Rajmachi Trek (Maharashtra)
Nestled between two of the most famous hill stations of Maharashtra, Karjat and Lonavala, Rajmachi trek and easy trek that is perfect for beginner trekkers. The trail will take the trekkers through the twin forts of Manaranjan and Shrivardhan that offers stunning views of the green blanketed valleys. The trekkers will be greeted with a variety of flora and fauna along with a rich collection of insects, birds and lizards. even if you start off the trek from Lonavala or Karjat, trekkers will not be disappointed. The trail is covered with thick forests on both the sides and is the perfect option for star gazing and sunrise views. If you happen to trek during the pre-monsoon months, you will be greeted with fireflies at the camp sites that will make you feel like you are in a fairytale wonderland. If you are a first timer looking to get some taste of trekking adventure then this trail can be the first stepping stone.
Dzukou Valley Trek (Nagaland)
Dzukou valley in Nagaland is known for its charming valleys offering a spectacular visual treat of emerald hills, lush forests, gleeful little streams and a myriad of colorful flowers. This trail is by far the most popular treks in North east India. The topography of the region is a blessing in itself. Dzuko valley is right at the bottom of a long extinct volcano that represents a very special, desolate sort of a natural beauty. The best part about the trek is indulging in untouched natural beauty consisting of pristine valleys, green hills, bamboo thickets and deep forest clusters. The trail starts off from Kohima and takes you to the Dzukou trekker’s hut which takes about 6 to 7 hours to complete. This is a moderate range of trek with some steep stretches and ascents but every effort is worth it.
Kodachadri Trek (Karnataka)
The Kodachadri Trek has popularly been referred to as the trek where beauty meets history. The trail is situated in Shimoga district in the heart of the Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary. Unlike Himalayan treks this trail will make you feel closer to the south Indian culture and lifestyle mainly because it goes through quaint villages, paddy fields, thick forests and marvellous grasslands. To add on to this scenic brilliance, trekkers get to also visit a temple which is believed to have been built thousands of years ago which is famous for its rich historical values. The great sage and philosopher of 7th century, Adi Shankara is said to have meditated at the peaks here. This trek on the western ghats unfolds the raw, impeccable and natural beauty of Karnataka. From the thick canopy of shola forests to the rolling green hills dotted with green bushes, this trek offers everything for an adventure buff and a nature lover.
Hampta Pass Trek (Himachal Pradesh)
Considered to be one of the most dramatic crossover treks in the Himalayas, Hampta pass is placed at a whopping elevation of over 14,000 feet above sea level. One side of the trek is blessed with the lush green Kullu Valley while the other side is a stark contrast consisting of arid and stark landscape of Lahaul. The ever changing landscape depicting two different worlds is one frame is what makes this trekking expedition totally worth it. As the trek progresses these dramatic changes are further amplified ten fold making the entire experience very thrilling and a super exciting endeavor. This trail of 25 kms takes 6 days to cover and the campsites are as stunning as the trail itself. Manali is the starting point for the trek and it goes through Jobra, Jwara, Balu Ka Ghera, Shea Goru, Hampta Pass, Chhatru and then finally Manali.
Chandratal Lake Trek (Himachal Pradesh)
Chandratal Lake trek has to be one of the most fascinating trails in India. The desolate landscape of Lahaul Spiti district gives the lake an otherworldly look. The trekking experience in itself is considered to be of moderate difficulty with the highest trekking point being 16,000 feet above sea level. This enchanting lake is perched on the Samudra Tapu plateau that lies in very close proximity to the Chandra River. The lake is crescent shaped and the perfect place to go for a laid back yet an adventurous holiday. En route you will get to climb through the glaciers wedged between the Kunzum Pass and Rohtang Pass. Sprawled over an area of 2.5 kms the lake, camping by the lake, under the star covered skies is an experience that one would cherish for a lifetime.
Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary Trek (Sikkim)
If you have ever wondered what a trekking experience in north east is like then go for the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary Trek in Sikkim. Experience a slice of paradise where the hills are covered in different shades of pink and red colored rhododendron flowers, clear blue skies and snow capped peaks. Nestled comfortably between the Kanchenjunga biosphere reserve and Singalila National park the trail is located within a heavily protected area that will leave a lasting impact in the life of the trekker. The sanctuary is home to several species of flora, fauna and trees which adds to the charm of the national park.
Kedarkantha Trek (Uttarakhand)
Kedarkantha trek is famous as the best and the most preferred winter snow trek in Uttarakhand. It is also the finest summit climb for beginners. This 6 days long trek takes place in the Govind Pashu Vihar National Park that starts off from Dehradun. Although the climb is a bit on the difficult side and the stretch goes on to be steadily steep, it is not impossible. With the maximum elevation of just over 12,500 feet above sea level, reaching the Kedarkantha peak gives the trekkers a deep sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. From the scenic drive up to the basecamp to staying in cute little homestays, exploring the snow swept forests, clearings, and simply watching the sun set below the horizon is an experience that remains indescribable in words.
Also Read: Places to Visit Near Kedarkantha Trek
Kheerganga Trek (Himachal Pradesh)
Kheerganga offers a unique Himalayan trekking experience. Adored with immaculate meadows, forests of pine trees, cascading waterfalls and a feeling of ultimate peace, this trek should definitely be done during your visit to Kasol in Kullu valley. The best part about the trek is the destination where trekkers get to soak up in the natural hot water spring that is the main feature of this place. Accompanying you throughout the 14 kms long trek is are the snowcapped Himalayan ranges. This iconic Himalayan trail is all about peace, serenity, waterfalls and a shiva temple that will definitely take your breath away. The trek takes just one day to cover that starts off from Barshaini. Although a day long trek, it has to be one of the most life changing trekking experiences that a trekker may experience.
Phulara Ridge (Kashmir)
Ridge treks remain one of the most uncommon types of treks in India. This makes the Phulara Ridge Trek especially unique and awe inspiring. There are ridges crossed on other treks but this trek involves walking along the ridge for a full day with nothing but scenic, unparalleled natural beauty on both sides. While one side of the ridge gently sweeps down into a meadow while the other side of the ring dips into a valley. All these factors makes trekking in Phulara ridge truly a one of a kind experience. Descending from the ridge walk the world will open up to the sprawling Pushtara meadows, an experience that can only be experienced first-hand.
Due to its diverse geography and culture, India has always been a place of special interest for the outside world. Be it spiritual relaxation through yoga and meditation, or simply quenching your thirst for adrenaline and a little alone time in the wilderness, the above trek routes will certainly make your trip to this country a memorable one.