There could perhaps be nothing more exhilarating and meditative at the same time than walking along a narrow ridge, crossing glaciers, climbing rocks are even hiking through lush green meadows. Trekking is one sport that is as versatile as it gets. Offering different landscapes along various terrains everyone has something to choose from depending on skillset and interest. Be it exploring the majestic Himalayan passes or getting lost in the dense forests of the Western Ghats, or perhaps just wandering in silence amongst the vast meadows and pine forests of Northern India, trekking is a sport tailor-made for all such experiences, and more.
Trekking could mean a day-long uphill climb to the top of a hill to watch the sunset or a 15-day arduous journey to snow-capped passes at high altitudes. India has an abundance of beautiful trekking trails for all kinds of trekkers with varying fitness and expertise, from different altitudes to contrasting landscapes and varying climates. With the immense popularity that trekking has gained over the years, new trails are being discovered every day throughout the country. Trekking your favourite trail successfully might be a physical challenge but it’ll give you a sense of achievement that is unmatchable in any other sport.
Exploration has been a basic human trait since the dawn of civilization. However, with the advent of the modern lifestyle, the trait of exploration is lost on us. Trekking as an adventure activity has picked up pace among the indigenous population over the last few decades. Remote and pristine trails all over the country have become more accessible with the emergence of trek operators and planners in the private as well as the public sector. Trekking is no longer a mere exploratory necessity but is being taken up as a regular or periodic fitness regime if not sport, by most people.
Trekking Destinations in India
India’s rich geography and vast landscapes have an endless list of trails ranging from majestic, challenging, breathtaking, arduous, to pleasant, high altitude trails in dense forests, inhabitable alpines, deserts. You name it, India’s got it! You can go solo or with a group, do it independently or through an agency, go for a teahouse trek or camp along the way, it all depends on what you’re comfortable with and capable of. Below is a list of some popular trekking destinations throughout the country. One can find trails of varying difficulty levels and durations throughout these locations. So put on your trekking shoes and go explore!
LEH, LADAKH & ZANSKAR
The most famous trail here has to be the Chadar trek. There’s perhaps nothing more enthralling than covering a distance of some 100 kilometres in the peak of winters, walking over the frozen Zanskar River with nothing but snow-covered hills surrounding you on both sides! However, this a mentally and physically strenuous trek and is not advised for beginners.
Himachal Pradesh is one of India’s favourite trekking destinations, and more so for beginners. With a variety of beginner trails like Kheerganga, Triund, Kareri Lake etc, one can test their fitness levels and then go on to do moderate treks like Hampta Pass, Beas Kund or even difficult ones like Kanamo Peak and Buran Ghati treks.
UTTARAKHAND (GARHWAL, KUMAON)
Home to the highest peaks in India, Uttarakhand is a trekking haven for Indians and outsiders alike. With easy treks aplenty like the Valley of Flowers, Nag Tibba or the Chandrashila and Deoriatal treks, Uttarakhand offers splendid views of the Garhwal Himalayas even on its easiest trails. For a skilled trekker, there are even more options like the Gomukh Tapovan trek, Har ki Dun and Auden Col treks.
WEST BENGAL AND SIKKIM
West Bengal and Sikkim are perhaps not the first destinations that come to mind when you think of trekking destinations in India but indeed it is a trekking paradise, as good as any other. With the Goecha La and Sandakphu Phalut treks offering stunning views of the Sleeping Buddha cluster that includes the mighty Kanchenjunga, what more do you need!
If there’s heaven on earth, it is right here in Kashmir. Who can debate that! And if there’s heaven on earth, there are plenty of heavenly treks too that take you through some of the most enchanting places ever seen in the world. With treks like the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, Tarsar Marsar Lakes trek and Warwan Valley trek, Kashmir is truly one of the best trekking destinations in India.
It would be unfair to talk about trekking in India and not include the Western Ghats in the list. So what if the altitude does not rocket through the skies and if snowladden peaks aren’t a possible sight, there is a different charm to trekking in Western Ghats and especially in the monsoons! With smaller but equally challenging treks like Kalsubai Peak trek, Rajmachi Fort trek, Bhimashankar trek etc, Western Ghats is no lesser than our Northern Himalayas and is one of the best trekking destinations of India.
Apex Body and Certifications
Although specific training courses for trekking are very few in number in India, the mountaineering courses conducted by the institutes affiliated to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) would provide you with all the basic skills for the most challenging of treks. Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports in Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir is one of the top institutes that does provide trekking courses in India.
Career in Trekking
There is no dearth of career options in today’s trekking scene in the country. There are multiple travel companies in the private sectors who hire professional and experienced trek leaders. The
Indian army has an adventure and mountaineering corp that serves the exploratory purposes of the military or you can become a freelance trek advisor/organizer and live your best life introducing people to your experiences while spending quality time nestled in the lap of Mother Nature!