Snaking along the northern edge of the country, the Indian Himalayas are ripe with trekking routes that beg to be explored. With its snow-clad peaks nearly kissing the sky overhead, the beauty of the mountains is best explored through Himalayan treks and hikes. There are several trekking routes scattered around the ranges, across several difficulty grades, thus opening up the activity for beginners and seasoned trekkers alike.
Although trekking in the Himalayas can be done throughout the year, it is best known for its winter trekking opportunities. There are several fantastic winter trails offered here, with the Kedarkantha Trek, the Har Ki Dun Trek, and the Sandakphu Phalut Trek being only some of them.
The trails are not just known for the beauty of their routes, but for the views, it commands of the surrounding ranges as well. Whether it is the sunset from Har ki Dun or the Sleeping Buddha mountains from Sandakphu, the views from these treks are bound to leave you bedazzled.
Dominating the skyline of Uttarkashi, Kedarkantha is among the tallest of scalable Himalayan peaks. The mountain, rising to a height of over 12,000 feet above sea level, is one of the most popular winter trekking destinations in Uttarakhand. The fairly easy trek starts from Sankri Village and travels to the summit via Juda ka Talab before returning by the same route.
The camps at the trek are pitched in select locations that are known for their enchanting views. Trekkers will get to hike through the dense pine thickets, spend a night under the open stars by Juda ka Talab, and enjoy some of the best sunset views ever.
Although the trek can be done throughout the year, Kedarkantha is most popularly known as a winter trek destination. The ice-clad peaks appear twice as resplendent during the close of the year, adding to the allure of the trek.
Har ki Dun Trek:
Snaking its way through ancient villages, the Har Ki Dun Trek is among the most popular trekking routes in the Himalayas. The route is known not just for its beauty but for its religious significance as well, for the Pandavas were supposed to have traveled along the Har ki Dun trail. The trail starts and ends at Sankri Village.
It travels along with the verdant pine forests of the Govind Pashu Vihar sanctuary, offering resplendent views of the indigenous wildlife here. It makes its way through 2000-year-old mountain villages, allowing trekkers to witness and interact with the local culture here. The trail is famed to command exhilarating views of the surrounding Swargarohini Peaks as well.
The climb here is fairly easy, allowing trekkers to take in the beauty of the place at leisure. The trek spans 7 days and 6 nights, including camp, stops at choice locations throughout the duration.
Mukta Top Trek:
A fairly new trekking route, the Mukta Trop is known for its beauty and its serenity alike. Although the trek has the same charm and allure as the more popular routes at Kedarkantha and Chandrashila, the Mukta Top route is a largely unexplored one, imbibing it with a rare primitive beauty.
The trail here is richly forested, with trekkers making their way through thickets of pine, oak, rhododendron, and maples. A wonderful assortment of wildlife can be witnessed here as well, making it a special treat for birdwatchers. Thick meadows make an occasional appearance along the road, opening the trail to beautiful views.
The trail also commands a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding ranges. Being an easy trek, the Mukta Top trek can be attempted by beginners and first-time trekkers as well. The best time to take the trek is between the months of January and June when the weather here remains trek friendly and the ambiance stunning.
Nestled on the border of Bengal and Nepal, the Sandakphu trail is a stunning trekking route in the state of West Bengal. The Sandakphu trail is one of the only treks in the world that commands a view of five of the tallest peaks in the world- Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Kanchenjunga, and Chomo Lonzo.
Riddled with pine thickets, the Sandakphu trail crosses the two charming villages of Samanden and Gorkhey as it moves onward. A special attraction here is the Kalapokhri lake, a little Nepalese lake known for its dark waters. The Sandakphu Phalut trek is said to be a moderate one, and trekkers are advised to be cautious before embarking on it.
The trek takes 6 days and 5 nights to complete, with outdoor camps set up at premium locations. Although the trek can partake during spring as well as winter, the flowering forests at springtime is an added allure here.
Phulara Ridge Trek:
Situated at a height of over 12,000 feet above sea level, the Phulara Ridge is one of the most popular high-altitude treks in Uttarakhand. By definition, a ridge is the level of land where two mountains meet. The Phulara Ridge too is one such ridge in the Himalayas and offers the exciting opportunity of walking on the knife-edge of a mountaintop.
The ridge itself opens up into the glorious Pushtara meadow, carpeted with rolling green grass, wildflowers, and numerous little birds as far as the eye can see. In fact, this fantastic trek does not leave trekkers wanting in any aspect- the meadows soon give way to thick forests, lush and blooming throughout the year.
The jungles of Phulara are home to a wide variety of colorful birds, making it a perfect trek for photographers and bird watchers alike. The Phulara Ridge trek is a moderate-grade trek, which means it is ideal for a fit beginner. The trek takes 6 days and 5 nights to complete.