Pack your bags, put on your walking shoes and get ready to trek, 'cause we are about to take this ‘trail’ to greater heights. See the awe-inspiring beauty around. See life in a new light.
By Virgina Jacob
What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare. —W H Davies, Poet
So, this winter, let us take some time off to soak in the gorgeous offerings of Mother Nature by hiking along the paths less trodden. Here are some of the best trails in India.
Ideal time: May-June and September to mid-October
Trail-head town: Galu temple, Dharmashala
Hike duration: 5-7 days
Difficulty level: Considered to be one of India’s favourite trekking spots, this trail starts from Dharamshala and spirals through varied terrain, making it a complete hiking experience. It passes through the magnificent Himalayan Dhauladhar range.
The two popular camping sites along the way are the Triund and Lahesh caves. The trek is a perfect blend of steady, uphill and steep climbs. This mountain pass hike is a camping, mountain-gazing and bird-watching expedition, all rolled into one. So, pack those sturdy walking boots and get ready for a ‘grand’ adventure.
Ideal time: April and May
Trail-head town: Manebhanjang
Hike duration: 3 days
Difficulty level: One of the most popular hiking trails along the gorgeous mountainside of Darjeeling is the Singhalia Ridge Trail. This expanse of fascinating flora and fauna is open to the public for the most part of the year, except from July to mid-September.
Reservations and booking for accommodation, hike guides and porters can be done in Darjeeling or Manebhanjang. The most fascinating feature of this trail is the view of the world’s third highest peak — Kanchenjunga that towers majestically along the Himalayan ridges on the Indo-Nepal border. Get ready for a dose of picturesque ice-capped mountains and lush greenery.
Ideal time: February-May and October-December
Trail-head town: Arai Village
Hike duration: 2 days
Difficulty level: This trail literally offers you an experience of boulder-to-boulder jumps. This recent entrant into the top hiking destinations in India is quickly becoming a favourite among seasoned hikers and adventure enthusiasts.
This hiking track is nestled in the Nagalapuram Hills, which spans over 10 acres of lush green landscape. Hikers on this route will enjoy gurgling streams, gushing waterfalls and dense forest cover. Given the rough, steep and stony nature of these tracks, Nagalapuram is one of the most difficult hiking stretches in the country.
Ideal time: April to September
Trail-head town: Taluka village
Hike duration: 2-3 days
Difficulty level: Often referred to as the ‘Valley of Gods’, this cradle-shaped valley is surrounded by captivating snow-capped peaks, glistening creeks, majestic waterfalls, gorgeous flower beds and glowing meadows — all of which make this hike utterly magical.
This spectacular 50-mile stretch of thick forest and flowery pastures makes for a comparatively easier hike because of its steady gradient, when compared to other Himalayan options. The trail passes through various remote villages and the camping site, Osla, where you can pitch a tent overnight. So, pack your cameras and get ready to capture some mountain magic!
Ideal time: January to March for a snow trek and July to August for a green trek
Trail-head town: Mandi
Hike duration: 2-3 days
Difficulty level: The jewel-like turquoise waters of the lake cocooned by the Dhauladhar range in the Kullu Valley is one of Himachal Pradesh’s best-kept secrets. Unharmed and untouched by civilisation as we know it, this is nature at it's most pristine. The hiking trail weaves through a lush forest, sleepy villages and various rivulets.
Along with the lushness of Lake Prashar, this expedition offers you a breathtaking view of the Kinnaur mountain range, the Dhauladhar range and Pir Pinjal. For those looking for something more, the temple of Prashar Rishi, located right next to the lake, promises an otherworldly experience. This trail is simply, nature at its best — paradise!
Ideal Time: March-May and September-November
Trail-head town: Sonada
Hike duration: 2 days
Difficulty level: Another hiking trail about 12 kilometres from Darjeeling, Tiger Hills is a place where you can relish the magnificence of Mt Kanchenjunga and the grandeur of the Himalayan range. As a popular hiking spot, it has thousands of nature-lovers thronging it to witness the magnificent sunrise and sunsets.
Along the trail is the quaint town Ghoom, where you can bunk for the night. The trail offers you views of blankets of tea plantations draped beautifully across the mountain range. You could also hop on the heritage toy train that chugs cheerfully from Siliguri to Ghoom or, if you're feeling adventurous, opt for whitewater rafting on the River Triveni. So, for all the adrenaline junkies out there, this is an experience worth having!
When you're in the mountains, there is magic in the air — you find that life becomes clearer, simpler. You understand that you are but a speck in the vast magnificence. So, this winter, get a new perspective on life. Answer the call of the mountains...
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