Have you ever thought how it would feel to defy gravity and suspend yourself solely on the strength of your arms and shoulders, with nothing but a steep vertical below you? If you’re the kind who loves challenges and are an adrenaline junkie, we just might have the perfect recommendation for you. What is rock climbing, you ask? Rock climbing is one sport that extensively challenges your strength, endurance and agility. Depending on interest and availability, climbing involves manoeuvring up, down and across natural or artificial rock wall formations. Climbing as a sport demands extreme physical fitness as well as mental endurance.

To experience the thrill of completing an elaborate ‘boulder problem’ or conquering a rock wall formation is exhilarating and something a true sports enthusiast would not want to miss. With some basic training and practice, climbing is fairly convenient to take up as a sport. Apart from some basic bouldering and climbing techniques for beginners, rock climbing is majorly a freestyle sport where you climb solely backed by your own body strength, with minimal equipment being used mostly for safety. Artificial climbing walls (also known as indoor rock climbing) are generally made out of concrete and have footholds and handgrips bolted into them to manoeuvre your way to the top.

Although climbing has been a part of mountaineering for the longest time, evidence of rock climbing as a common sport can be traced back to what is now known as China, all the way to 200 BC, along with early European communities. Rock climbing techniques were used by mountaineers to perform difficult alpine climbs and summit expeditions. It was only in the late nineteenth century in Europe that rock climbing became a separate sport and was no longer limited to alpine climbing. The sport has gradually evolved since from an alpine activity to a full-fledged athletic sport with the advent of harness and pitons.

A brief history of Rock Climbing

Although climbing has been a part of mountaineering for the longest time, evidence of rock climbing as a common sport can be traced back to what is now known as China, all the way to 200 BC, along with early European communities. Rock climbing techniques were used by mountaineers to perform difficult alpine climbs and summit expeditions. It was only in the late nineteenth century in Europe that rock climbing became a separate sport and was no longer limited to alpine climbing. The sport has gradually evolved since from an alpine activity to a full-fledged athletic sport with the advent of harness and pitons.

Rock Climbing in India

Rock climbing in India gained substantial pace and momentum only from the 1980s onwards. The diverse topography of the country provides for numerous natural rock formations all over the country and the ever-growing popularity of the sport has encouraged quality indigenous climbers as well to take up the sport. In the early days of the sport, accessibility was limited only to a handful of people (mostly foreign nationals) owing to the lack of awareness and formal training centres. But this trend seems to be changing rapidly with rock climbers popping up in every nook and corner of the country, making for an extremely diverse and community-based sport.

Be it artificial walls or natural boulder formations, India has been blessed with rock climbing destinations since time immemorial. It is now, with the advent of adventure sports and tourism that these spots are finally being tapped for their resources.

Best Places to go Rock Climbing in India

Ramjas Rocks

Ramjas Rocks

Delhi
Located in West Patel Nagar - 20 feet to 60 feet.
Lado Sarai

Lado Sarai

Delhi
Situated in a park (under the control of the Delhi Development Authority) between the Qutab Minar and Saket colony. – 10 meters (approx.)
PBG Rocks

PBG Rocks

Delhi
Located on forest land on the Delhi Ridge - 10 feet to 30 feet Around Delhi (best season, October to March)
Dhauj

Dhauj

Haryana
Located about 55 kilometres from Delhi - over 250 routes of varying grades of difficulty - 10 meters to 40 meters.
Damdama

Damdama

Haryana
20 feet to 120 feet
Manikaran

Manikaran

Himachal Pradesh
Spires With rock towers going up to 15,000 feet.
Manali

Manali

Himachal Pradesh
Areas in and around Manali town, especially the village of Sethan offer many opportunities for climbing, while the Kullu Valley boasts exciting rock-climbing potential
The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering

The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering

Uttarakhand
The Institutes rock climbing area at Tekla is ideal for bouldering and climbing with a range of options for beginners as well.
Gangotri

Gangotri

Uttarakhand
The Gangotri gorge from Bhaironghati (9000 feet) to Chirbas (12,500 feet), a distance of around 20 kilometres, offers great potential for big-wall routes on granite walls. With a spectacular view of some of the greatest Himalayan peaks, this area is a popular spot for professional Indian and international climbers
Kanheri Caves, Sanjay Gandhi National Park

Kanheri Caves, Sanjay Gandhi National Park

Maharashtra
The boulders in the park offer some interesting climbs. There are a couple of sections where climbing is especially popular with beginners, while the other sections include a cliff and a 70 feet slab with good climbs.
Parsik Hills

Parsik Hills

Maharashtra
With challenging boulders ideal for beginners, these hills have some classic long routes.
Manori Rocks

Manori Rocks

Maharashtra
Located on the seafront, between the Manori and Gorai beaches, climbing on the cliffs here is only possible during low tide. The main stack is called the ‘Camel’, with rocks between 4 and 10 meters. The rocks are of good quality, and offer something for every level of climber.
Mount Abu

Mount Abu

Rajasthan
The area has some great volcanic rock formations. The state mountaineering institute here (started, ironically, by the Gujarat government in the late 1960s) offers courses for beginners.
Brahma Kumari Ashram

Brahma Kumari Ashram

Rajasthan
This is the training area for the state mountaineering institute adjacent to the famous tourist attraction, Nakki Lake.
Adhar Devi Slabs

Adhar Devi Slabs

Rajasthan
The slabs above the temple are perfect for beginners and have six routes approximately 150 meters high. Climbing on the slabs is fun, and you’re rewarded with great views of Nakki Lake and the old summer homes of the erstwhile maharajas of Rajasthan.
Hampi

Hampi

Karnataka
This destination remains an unsaid mecca for rock climbers in India. The magnificent natural granite-rock formations here offer numerous opportunities for rock climbing and some amazing possibilities for bouldering. Boulders, between 4 and 100 meters high, dotted amid ruins, are spread out over an area of 14 sq.km around Hampi.
Badami

Badami

Karnataka
From steep overhanging boulders to large sandstone cliffs, this area offers generous opportunities for climbing. There’s also potential aplenty for new routes.
Bangalore

Bangalore

Karnataka
An area around Bangalore, of a radius of 60 kilometres, boasts possibly the biggest concentration of granite in India. The rocks here range from 3 kilometre-long boulder fields to rock domes rising 300 meters. Some of the excellent climbing areas around the Garden City include Ramanagram, Savandurga (with a host of multi-pitch climbs), Thuralli and Raogodlu (great for bouldering).
Kambakkam

Kambakkam

Tamil Nadu
Lying approximately 100 kilometres north of Chennai, this area is ideal for camping, hiking and rock climbing. This area also boasts of immense scope for a range of new climbs.

Career in rock climbing

Taking up rock climbing professionally is a decision that might take some thinking, but one you will never regret. It is a well-acclaimed sport in India as well as internationally and there are opportunities for climbers in private and public sectors as part of expeditions or professional rescue groups. Apart from this, one can also take up photography or videography along the lines of ace climbers and photographers Jimmy Chin and Abhijeet Singh.

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