While you might have hit some well known treks in India again and again, I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that India has just those and the Himalayas to offer. Plus, the heavy tourist influx took away the airs of surreal from many of the much loved treks. Thus, I sat down to do some research and got together some bits of my experience to make this list. While you might have heard of some of these, there are some little known entries too. Take your pick from these. If nothing, days spent with wildflowers, bamboos, and pines are assured. Happy trekking.
You hit this one at Manebhanjan, some 51 kms from Darjeeling. The highest peak in Bengal, Sandakfu lets you pore over Lhotse, Mt.Everest, Kanchendzonga and Makalu. To reach Sandakfu, you got to trek through Singalila National Park. It’ll lead you to Tonglu via Meghma (4 hours), which seems inviting enough for a tea break. Though trails from Tonglu can take you to Nepal, you better take off for Sandakfu in this race against rains that come seldom and uninvited.
An easy trot through bamboo coves will greet you on your way to Gairibas the next morning. A tiny hut for trekkers is built here, and you can doze off before hitting it off again. Once there, you can have a pit stop and clear your camera lens, for a whole forest of rhododendrons is spread till Kala Pokhari (3186 mts). Pack enough of water, for the Sandakfu-Phalut trek has no major source of water. Now, you are just 2 hours away from Sandakfu. While you soak in the views that have four out of the five highest peaks in the world, do not forget to look down at the sparkling waters of ice fed river, Teesta, winding around. You need an average of 4 days for this trek.
Harishchandragad Fort Trek, Ahmednagar
Harishchandragad Fort, which lies at the end of this trek, is nothing short of a mystery. The main complex is believed to have been built in the 6th century and found mention in both history book as well as Hindu mythology. Trekking enthusiasts hike all the way to this fort for the sheer charm of witnessing history from close quarters. You need to drive till Bailpada from Kalyan for the trek. It’s an easy one and you can reach the fort in some eight hours. Make Kokan Kada your pitstop at the top.
The nearby Kedareshwar Cave has an ancient shivalinga inside, which is usually half submerged in water from a nearby stream. Moreover, the cave’s roof rests on just one pillar, while the other three are completely broken! You can soak in a bird’s eye view of the whole of Konkan from the fort. You need a whole day for this trek.
Triund Trek, Himachal Pradesh
One of the most inviting treks for novice trekkers, this one starts from McLeodganj or what is lovingly called as Mini Tibet. It’s a 4-5 hour trek from Bhagsu Nath, the old shiva temple near German Bakery. Largely unexplored by Indian trekkers, you are bound to bump into quite a many foreigners on the trail. This one is perfect for the ones wishing to hit the hills before going overboard with the adventure, for their are small eateries and camping equipment available all the way. Start trekking early in the morning, for you’ll be safely in the shade of pines before the unblinking gaze of sun.
The mysteriously fascinating and always clad in snow range of Dhauladhars closes in as you reach Triund. Pitch in a camp right there, as the stars hang loose over you, at just an arm’s distance away. And yes, in the morning, you can walk up to the snowline. With some luck, you’ll have balls of snow hurled around by the people around. You need a leisurely 2 days for Triund trek.
Pemako Trek, Arunachal Pradesh
Also known as the beyul (meadow) trek, this one is for the lovers of mysticism and, of course, trekking. The trek name itself translates to “the hidden land the shape of a lotus”. For this one, you need to start from Tuting, the last motorable town, near the border of Tibet. Take off towards Kuging Village via the suspension bridge. You’ll cross some of the most beautiful scenery across terraced farms and Yangsang Chu River here. While a night’s rest here is much called for, you can trek to village Mabi the next day. The change in flora is quite evident here, as sub-Alpine vegetation marks the landscape here. Another 3 hours from Mabi will have you at Yungchak, where you can call it quit for a day and pitch your tent right in the forest of rhododendrons. Start early the next day for you need around 5 hours to reach the next stop that is Kanebenga. Try standing on tiptoes and you can see Chinese villages from here. While you spend a night here with the lightbulbs at those villages gleaming at a distance, trek to Pao Limik the next day. While there’ll be nothing in terms of vegetation now, you’ll stumble upon little know beautiful lakes on the stretch. Your next stop after it is the holy lake of Danakosha.
After trekking up a steep stretch, you’ll come face to face with the still distant peak of Titapori mountain. As you cross the five holy lakes and leave for Wangchen Phukpa you might find a freely loitering Ibex or Red Panda! A quick start the next morning can have you cover both Dungchen Droma and Tashi Droma the next day, taking you across a forest full of orchids to Tashigang Village. Your next stop after it is Payengdam village, where you’ll come across a little known monastery. Stay here for the night, for this is the last stopover of the trek before you begin the descent. Around 20 or more days are needed to do this trek.
Nanda Devi Trek, Uttarakhand
Hugh Ruttledge, the famed English mountaineer, couldn’t win over this. After his second attempt, he turned nonchalant and said that gaining even an entry to the Nanda Devi National Park is a task tougher than reaching the North Pole! Now, if you’re game for this tryst with the Himalayas, this one is for you. The trek starts from Lata village near Joshimath, from where you need to take the ridge towards the campsite at Lata Kharak. You’ll be able to see the peaks of Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, Dronagiri, Hathi Ghodi from here.
If you leave for Semi Kharak the very next day, don’t forget to capture the Rishi Ganga river gorge via your camera. Pitch a tent here for a calm, breezy evening. Next day, leave early for Jhandi Dhar, one of the steepest stretches. A really difficult 500 mt stretch starts from village Tolma, only to award you with a gorgeous, unforgettable view of Nanda Devi. You need around 3 days for this trek.
Ravangla Trek, Sikkim
Oaks, hemlocks and rhododendrons are your companions on this trek. The dense forests run right by the side of almost the entire trek. You can reach the trek start at Ravangla by taking a cab from the New Jalpaiguri Railway Station or from Bagdogra airport. You can spend an evening at Ravangla and check out the Ralanag Monastery there. If you start early the next morning from base camp, you’ll be at the top by dusk. The trek is a fairly easy and straight one and you’ll find a clearly marked trail to pick. One of the best parts about this trek is that there are a few trekkers on this.
While you go trekking on these wondrous terrains, do let us know if there’s more to the list. And like always, happy travelling.
About the author
Shikha Gautam loves to play with steering wheels, roads, words, flute and guitar among other things. Not necessarily in that order!