There is a thirst in all of us to triumph over the elements of nature. We want to discover newer trails or tread the old ones with a renewed determination. We want to get away from home only to feel at home in places we have never been. It’s undeniable, this thirst.
Gypsy Shack walks you through top ten of such trekking trails in North India that attempt to quench this thirst. This list of some of the most beautiful treks in North India is a must add in each of your trekking travel bucket lists! If you've covered them all, we won't be surprised to learn that you've already quit your corporate job, and if you've done none yet then you can always thank us later.
Image Source: www.luxoinida.com
It’s a part of the world where kids risk their lives to reach school every year after holidays. It is also a place where ice changes colours and you can see your own reflection in it. The Chadar River Trek both fascinates and scares. Located in Ladakh, Chadar trek is a lesson in survival and triumph of mankind. You get to walk on the frozen Zanskar river surrounded by pastel canyons and dusky ravines. It is a world of its own kind. Make your home at night inside the caves nestled between the mountains on the way and make chai. Wake up early to catch the first rays of light falling on Chadar. Every little detail of this trek is truly a Dear Diary moment.
Fact File - Chadar Trek
Altitude: 3850 mts/12628 ft
Temperature: Minus 10 degree C- winters
Best/Preferred Season: Winter October to February
Number of days: 6 days
Image Source: trekthehimalayas.com
The Great Lakes trek is a visual poetry that sprinkles your heart with colours of Kashmir. A grey is written all over the valleys, while some days the Sun smiles saffron through the pine trees. You tread barefoot on the soft green grass spread on the meadows, as the eyes get a kiss of white Himalayas. As the blue and purple Iris flowers greet, the brown Maple trees dance folk. You go fishing trout in one of the lakes, or pitch your tents near the shepherd huts. The twin lakes of Vishnusar-Kishansar gleam sensuously at night cuddled between the mountains. The hot Kadha in a dhaba about 1100 feet above sea level, tastes like nectar. The trek begins at Sonmarg, that can be easily reached from Srinagar.
Fact File - The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
Altitude: 12000-13,750 feet
Temperature: 2 to -6 degree C
Best/Preferred Season: Monsoon- End of June to September
Number of days: 3-6 days
Image Source: Wikipedia.org
Taking this trek is like waking up to a whole new culture in the enchanting town of Ladakh. Add to that the sightings of the elusive snow leopard, the blue sheep and the yak, you get a taste of the life of National Geographic reporters. You arise before the day-break to bump into the monks returning from prayers. The yak butter-tea and homemade biscuits served by your hosts in Rumbak village set you for the day ahead. And then it’s a quest where your distractions are the snowcapped peaks, the frozen rivers and streams and the vegetarian broth cooked on the fire by locals. The only downside of this trek is, you get used to this life.
Fact File - Snow Leopard Trek
Altitude: 3,000 meters
Temperature: -3 to 30 degrees C
Best/Preferred Season: Monsoon- June to September
Number of days: 5-14 days
Image Source: Wikimedia.org
The water beneath a snow tablet sizzles like an eel as you make your way through the slippery white blanket of this trek. As you start the trek, there are oak trees and rhododendron flowers typical to North Indian mountains. Mountain rats make guest appearances once in a while. You walk on knee-deep snow or choose to tread on the tin rooftops of abandoned houses till you reach Tunganath. And from here begins your ultimate test of perseverance as you climb up a steep slope of 5 km till Chandrashila peak. Chopta is nearest to Ukhimath and Rudraprayag.
Fact File - Chopta Chandrshila Trek
Altitude: 13,000 feet
Temperature: 10 to 30 degree C
Best/Preferred Season: Summer- March to May
Number of days: 6 days
Image Source: www.orangerucksack.com
Gypsy Shack recommends this trek for winters since Dodital feels like Narnia. This is a trek where you learn camping at snow. Lying under a starry night, as you force yourself to sleep, the sounds of streams flowing below or the cracking of snow is like music. For sometime Assi Ganga river paves the way. Little stone bridges evoke the child in you and before you know it, you find yourself throwing snowballs at each other. When Dodital materializes, the tiny stream leading to the village makes you want to live here. And you do, at least for a few days. This trekking trail can be easily reached through Haridwar.
Fact File - Dodital Trek
Altitude: 1,350 to 4,150 meters
Temperature: 0 to 15 degree C
Best/Preferred Season: Summer March to May;Winter- November to February
Number of days: 3-6 days
Image Credit: Aleksandr Zykov
The songbirds direct most concerts played in the raisin-scented pine forests of this trekking trail. The rocks and stones on the various ridges here design their own kinds of landscapes. Stop by for a tea break at a stall overlooking the Kangra valley or chat with a Tibetan villager who may teach you a local word or two. The ridges are steep yet inviting. The trek that begins from Dharamkot is calendar-perfect with fog playing hide and seek. But what is really breathtaking is the dawn breaking behind the snow-capped mountains. The trek can be reached from Dharamkot or McLeodgang, which are near Dharamshala.
Fact File - Triund Trek
Altitude: 1100 meters
Temperature: 0 to 10 degree C
Best/Preferred Season: Summer and Winter
Number of days: 2-3 days
Image Source: www.peakadventure.com
Most travelers gather some wood at night only to light up the fire at dawn at the Kedar Kantha meadows. This trek is located in that part of the world where the most spectacular sunrise and sunset are witnessed. Beset by the Garhwal Himalayas, Kedar Kantha is a spectacular beauty that takes you by hand as you follow the snake-like trekking trails. Situated in the lap of Uttarakhand, this trek would get you closer to the life lived happily here. Join the locals in an around-the-fire folk dance as you camp at night or invite an 80-year old senior over to your tent and experience the most fascinating tales of the mountains. Take the Mussoorie route until Sankhri to begin the trek.
Fact File - Kedar Kantha Trek
Altitude: 3,850 meters
Temperature: -3 to 5 degree C
Best/Preferred Season: Summer and Monsoon- March to October
Number of days: 5 days
Image Source: bp.blogspot.com
What can a simple 5-hour trek offer in mid summer in Shimla? For starters, there’s peace. Silence is euphonic even as the mist follows your trekking trail. However, none of these simplifies the thrills of the scissor bends and the fun of taking steep short-cuts while climbing the ridge straight up. The Khatnol village, where the trek begins, is replete with cute huts made in the architecture typical to the area. And as you reach atop, the 360-degree panoramic view of the Himalayan range and the mountains of Uttaranchal say hello. Khatnol is 48 km away from Shimla.
Fact File- Shali Tibba Trek
Altitude: 9423 feet
Temperature: 20-25 degree C in summer
Best/Preferred Season: Summer
Number of days: Half a day
Image Source: Flickr
The pastel canyons surrounding the Indus Valley emit a golden shine as you take this trek. Along the way, you understand the art of the silversmiths in Village Chilling, paying homage to not only the Buddhist monastery but also the lifestyle here. Also known as Little Tibet, this region offers generous cultural glimpses. The trekking journey is such bliss as a Leh localite carrying a cane basket on his shoulder smiles at you and gathers crimson on his cheeks. And there’s plenty of adventure. You cross Zanskar river on a box and cable bridge; you must use crampons and ice-axes on snow slopes to climb up. Gold is the colour you take back home as you soak in the pastel hills, the shining crops of barley and buckwheat.
Fact File - Markha Valley Trek
Altitude: 18,000 to 21000 feet
Temperature: 10 to 30 degree C
Best/Preferred Season: Monsoon- Mid June to Mid October
Number of days: 7 days
Image Source: www.januarythefourteenth.com
The sight of a glacier is treat enough, the challenges of living here opens up insights into life. You will come across kids wearing torn uniforms offering no less than an elaborate smile. You stay overnight in Jatoli village that has still not seen electricity. Mountains over mountains reflecting various shades of green, grey and white can get addictive as you make your way through villages, man-made bridges, slopes, plains, valleys, grasslands and finally a magnificent glacier. Sunderdhanga Valley trek can be reached through Kathgodam.
Fact File - Sunderdhunga Valley Trek
Altitude: 6,663 meters
Temperature: 2 to 25 degree C
Best/Preferred Season: Summer/Winter
Number of days: 6 to 9 days