Posted on 28/09/2018

#Nature #India

These 13 nature trails will make you want to hike in India

What attracts you to hiking? What compels you to take on one arduous journey on foot after another? Is it for the adventure, or is it a way to reconnect with yourself? Is it to breathe in the fresh air of freedom from daily life, or is it for a sense of accomplishment? No matter what your reasons are, these nature trails in India will inspire you to get lost in the wilderness.

Stok Kangri Summit, Ladakh

Stok Kangri Summit, Ladakh © Oleksandr Roslyak/123RF

Let's start our hiking journey from the highest trekking point in India, Stok Kangri. Standing at an elevation of 20,100 feet, mastering this trail is no easy task. Having said that, a hike to Stok Kangri can be undertaken by beginners as well, but the most difficult part is the summit.

It's an eight to nine-day trek with dramatic views of the Himalayas and Karakorum. After two to three days of acclimatization in Leh, your hike will begin via the beautiful Stoke village. After four to five hours of daily walking and clear views of the Ladakh Range, Zanskar Range, the Indus-Markha Valley and the city of Leh as you leave it behind, the summit day will come. On this day, be prepared to face sub-zero temperatures and to walk for six to seven hours overnight on a glacier, followed by a two-hour walk on the ridge line to reach the summit. Once you reach the peak, give yourself a moment to reflect on what you have accomplished.

You're standing on a peak that's higher than Europe's highest mountain, Mt. Elbrus at 18,510 ft., and just a bit higher than the highest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro! Let this sink in, smile and enjoy your moment.

Dzongri and Goecha-La, Sikkim

Dzongri and Goecha-La, Sikkim © Nirut Saelim /123RF

Choose this 10 to 11-day trek starting from Yuksom in West Sikkim for a splendid visual treat. The route covers more than 14 mountain ranges, passing through the beautiful flora and fauna of Kanchenjunga National Park. It's one of the best treks in Sikkim at a total distance of 56 miles and maximum height of 16,000 feet. Samiti Lake enroute to the Goecha-La Trek is one of its major attractions. Reach here in the early hours of the day to see the sublime reflection of Mount Pandim in the calm still waters of the lake. More than anything else, this trek will help you see the dreamy sight of sunrise over Mount Kanchenjunga. The view is so majestic that you might see your fellow hikers with moist eyes due to the unbelievable grandeur of nature.

Now is the time to think about this trek because from September to October and April to May the forests are covered in varying shades and shapes of flowers.

Markha Valley trek, Ladakh

Markha Valley trek, Ladakh © Kraisol Siriwal/123RF

This fairly remote, nine-day trek is not an easy feat. Once you start your journey, you'll cover different terrains and come across several old Buddhist monasteries. It's an incredible repository of ancient Tibetan culture. But the trek demands physical fitness and high endurance to negotiate its 16,000-foot-high passes, along with the looming fear of snowfall at higher altitudes. Situated in the middle of the Stok Kangri Range and the peaks of the Zanskar Range, it's always possible to find a place to sleep, whether in a parachute tent or at a homestay in the villages enroute. Get onboard "the tea house trek."

Chadar Trek, Zanskar

Chadar Trek, Zanskar © Siriwatthana Chankawee/123RF

This 9-day hike will take you to India's most untouched trails. You'll be hiking over the frozen Zanskar River under extreme weather conditions, and be able to see the magnificent sight of a waterfall frozen from top to bottom. This hike is one of a kind due to its splendid views and frozen floor. The temperatures will remain between 14 degrees Farenheit (-10°C) in the day and -4 to -13 degrees Farenheit (-20 to -25°C) at night. Come prepared for difficult terrain. This is also one of the most remote paths in India and has been extensively covered by the Discovery Channel and National Geographic. Hike here for a unique experience and a thrilling adventure.

Nanda Devi East Base Camp and Milam Glacier, Kumaon Himalayas

Nanda Devi East Base Camp and Milam Glacier, Kumaon Himalayas © Panom Bounak/123RF

Your hiking journey to the Nanda Devi East Base Camp will start from Munsiyari, 74 miles from the town of Pithoragarh. This small hill station with an array of waterfalls already offers breathtaking views of five, snow-capped Himalayan peaks, the Panchchulia. Nanda Devi is one of the most beautiful and revered mountains in the world. Its peak is the highest completely within India's borders, and the second highest after Kanchenjunga, which is shared with Nepal. The majestic mountain is surrounded by smaller mountains, making it extremely difficult to access.

The 11-day hike through narrow ridges and rocky terrain requires at least seven to eight hours of walking every day and is a thrilling journey that will leave you with countless memories and sights to behold. The panoramic view of Rishi Parvat, Hardeol, and Trishul I from Milam Glacier (11,000 feet above sea level) is loved by one and all. But it's undoubtedly the view of the beautiful meadows at Nanda Devi Base Camp that's sure to stay with you for life.

Valley of flowers, Uttarakhand

Valley of flowers, Uttarakhand ©Ruangrat Jutapongtham/123RF

At an altitude of approximately 11,000 feet above sea level lies the Valley of Flowers. From July to September, the valley is covered in blue, red, violet, pink, white, and yellow flowers with strong scents. It's a heavenly sight for the hikers. Plan your trek during this time and you're sure to have a lovely time. With a moderate level of difficulty, it's a six to seven-day trek and a perfect start for beginners. The taste of the Himalayas is hard to resist, and once you have it, you're bound to go looking for it again and again.

Hampta Pass, Himachal Pradesh

Hampta Pass, Himachal Pradesh © nivellen77/123RF

14,000 feet above sea level lies the Hampta Pass. It's a corridor between the Lahaul and Kullu Valleys and is perhaps the easiest hike in the Himalayas. Every trek is known for its blissful views, and Hampta Pass is no exception. The trip might be a cake walk for professionals, but it's an excellent first step for aspiring hikers.

The journey starts from the city of Manali, continuing to Chika via Jobra, but it's from Jobra that the walking trail begins. Spanning four to five days, it's a great way to surround yourself with the majestic sight of the mountain ranges of Pir Panjal and Spiti. Its major attraction is the Chandra Tal, also called the moon lake. The blue color of the lake mixed with the scenic surroundings makes it a must-visit during your four or five-day itinerary.

The Great Lakes, Jammu and Kashmir

The Great Lakes, Jammu and Kashmir ©Ronnachai Limpakdeesavasd/123RF

Kashmir is famously known as "heaven on earth" and rightly so. Visit the city and you're bound to be overwhelmed by its beauty, but its nature trails have even more to offer. The Great Lakes trek is a seven-day picturesque hike, starting from the city of Srinagar and ending in Narang. The seven-day trek has five alpine lakes, leaving you lakeless for only two days during your trip. On top of that, the colorful meadows, gushing waterfalls, and stunning snow-covered peaks make this a trek literally into heaven.

Chopta Chandrashila Trek, Uttarakhand

Chopta Chandrashila Trek, Uttarakhand © s4sanchita/123RF

Perched at 8,792 feet is the Chopta Valley in Uttarakhand. You can opt for this trek at any time of the year to surround yourself with the beauty of the Himalayas. A five-day trek from Chopta to Tungnath is full of adventure, twisted pathways, and forests of oak, rhododendron and deodar. This hike takes you to the highest Shiva temple in the world, at 12,074 feet in Tungnath. Be ready to experience Utarakhand's very own Mini Switzerland.

Roopkund Trek, Uttarakhand

Roopkund Trek, Uttarakhand © Martin MOLCAN /123RF

This is the most popular trek in India, and is for the professional hikers out there. This one will keep your adrenalin high as you walk through deep virgin forests, narrow brooks, undulating meadows, snow-capped mountains and unpredictable weather on your climb from 8,000 feet to 16,000 feet over the course of six to seven days. What's more is that the mysterious presence of 300 human skeletons found at 15,750 feet have been of interest to anthropologists, scientists and historians alike. But this mystery becomes all the more special with the local guides' excellent storytelling.

Dzukou Valley and Japfu Peak Trek, Nagaland

Dzukou Valley and Japfu Peak Trek, Nagaland © realityimages/123RF

This is one of the least-known hiking routes in India. The charming green Dzukou Valley, sitting atop a defunct volcano will impress you with its emerald green hills. Sunrise at Japfu's peak overlooking half of the city of Nagaland, the crystal clear sound of birds chirping in Vishwema Village, and the irresistable charm of this soulful city is what awaits you in Nagaland. It's an easy, five-day trek in total, from Kohima to Japfu Base Camp and back.

Pin Parvati Pass Trek, Himachal Pradesh

Pin Parvati Pass Trek, Himachal Pradesh © Galyna Andrushko /123RF

The Pin Paravti is among the most challenging trekking routes in India, and is only for seasoned hikers. With steep rocky climbs to snow- capped peaks in freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall, hiking here requires a high level of physical fitness and experience. Situated at 17,450 feet high, the Pin Parvati Pass is a hike through the natural splendor of the Parvati Valley and picturesque terrain of the Kullu and Spiti Valleys.

Start your 12-day trek from Kaza base camp. From there, drive to the village of Mudh and begin your grueling walking journey. You'll hike across the pulley bridge at Tunda Bhuj to the marshlands of Mantalai to the dense forests near Kheerganga and a glacier near the Pass. It's an all-encompassing trek that covers the cold dry desert of Spiti, the lush green valley of Parvati, and the flowering plateau of Odi Thach. Near the end of the trek there's a thermal spring, Parvati Kund at Kheerganga. There's no better feeling than a dip in Parvati Kund after days and hours of walking through the toughest hiking terrain and extreme weather conditions found in India.

Singalila Kanchenjunga Trek, Sikkim

Singalila Kanchenjunga Trek, Sikkim © Galyna Andrushko/123RF

The Singalila Trek is famous for its monasteries, views of several mountains including Mount Everest, and its beautiful landscapes. This narrow trek along the India-Nepal border is a rare venture into nature where you can learn about a centuries-old mixed culture, and various historic trading routes. This is a fascinating journey that can be undertaken by amateurs as well as professionals.