While you may have done some well-known treks in India time and time again, I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that India has only those and the Himalayas to offer. Plus, the heavy tourist influx took the airs of surreal away from many of the beloved tours. So I sat down to do some research and gathered some bits of my experience to make this list. While you may have heard of some of these, there are also some little-known mentions. Take your pick from these. If nothing, days spent with wild flowers, bamboo and pines are assured. Happy draw.
You hit this one at Manebhanjan, about 51 km from Darjeeling. The highest mountain in Bengal, Sandakfu allows you to look out over Lhotse, Mt.Everest, Kanchendzonga and Makalu. To reach Sandakfu, you have to trek through the Singalila National Park. It will lead you to Tonglu via Meghma (4 hours), which seems inviting enough for a tea break. Although the trails from Tonglu can take you to Nepal , you better leave before Sandakfu in this race against rains that come infrequently and uninvited.
Read also: Trekking in Tawang
Harishchandragad Fort Trek, Ahmednagar
Triund Trek, Himachal Pradesh
One of the most inviting treks for novice trekkers, this one starts at McLeodganj or what is affectionately referred to as Mini Tibet. It is a 4-5 hours trek from Bhagsu Nath, the ancient Shiva temple near the German Bakery. Largely unexplored by Indian trekkers, you are bound to bump into quite a few foreigners. This one is perfect for those who want to hit the hills before going overboard with the adventure, as there are small eateries and camping equipment available. Start walking early in the morning as you will be safe in the shade of the pines before the sun sets unobstructed.
The mysteriously fascinating and ever-dressed snow region of Dhauladhars closes when you reach Triund. Place a camp in the camp there, with the stars hanging over you, just an arm’s throw away from you. And yes, in the morning you can walk to the snow line. With luck, snow globes will be thrown around by the people around. You need a calm 2 days for a 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 trekking name itself translates to “the hidden land shaped like a lotus”. For this one you have to start at Tuting, the last motorcycle town, near the border with Tibet. Depart via the suspension bridge towards Kuging Village. You will see some of the most beautiful landscapes over terraced farms and the Yangsang Chu River here. While a night’s sleep is much needed here, you can head to the village of Mabi the next day. The change in flora is evident here, as sub-alpine vegetation marks the landscape here. Another three hours or so from Mabi you have at Yungchak, where you can call it quits for a day and set up your tent in the middle of the forest of rhododendrons. Start early the next day, because you need about 5 hours to get to the next stop Kanebenga. Try to stand on tiptoe and you can see Chinese villages from here. While spending a night here with the lightbulbs in those villages gleaming at a distance, trek to Pao Limik the next day. While there is nothing in terms of vegetation now, you will stumble upon little-known beautiful lakes on the stretch. Your next stop after it is Danakosha sacred lake.
After a steep mountain hike, you will come face to face with the still distant peak of Mount Titapori. As you cross the five sacred lakes and leave for Wangchen Phukpa, you might find a free-hanging ibex or red panda! A quick start the next morning can see you covering both Dungchen Droma and Tashi Droma the next day, taking you across a forest full of orchids to Tashigang Village. Your next stop is Payengdam village, where you will encounter an unknown monastery. Stay here for the night as this is the last stop on the trek before starting the descent. It takes about 20 or more days to complete this trek.
Nanda Devi Trek, Uttarakhand
Hugh Ruttledge, the famous English mountaineer, could not win this. After his second attempt, he casually turned around and said that even getting to Nanda Devi National Park is a trickier task than reaching the North Pole! If you play this game with the Himalayas, this is for you. The trek starts in the Lata village near Joshimath from where you have to take the ridge to the campsite in Lata Kharak. From here you can see the peaks of Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, Dronagiri and Hathi Ghodi.
When you leave for Semi Kharak the next day, don’t forget to capture the Rishi Ganga river gorge through your camera. Pitch a tent here for a quiet, breezy evening. Leave early the next day for Jhandi Dhar, one of the steepest sections. A really difficult 500m track starts in Tolma village only to give you a beautiful unforgettable view of Nanda Devi. You need about 3 days for this trek.
Ravangla Trek, Sikkim
As you hike these wondrous terrains, let us know if there’s more in the list. And as always, happy travelling.