Trekking is a vast country like India can be magical. You can walk through icy deserts and tropical rain forests, climb Himalayan peaks or run down expansive rolling meadows, all without ever crossing a national border. There is quite nothing like finishing a trek to a peak and staring down into the vast openness. After the gut-wrenching struggle that involves short bursts of vertigo, innumerable scrapes and cuts, aches and pains, you are bound to feel how out-of-shape you really are and secondly, the dawning realisation that life is about much more than existing from one day to the next.
(1) CHADAR TREK, Ladakh : Try walking over a frozen river, namely ZANSKAR (also called CHADAR that literally means ‘sheet’) situated in the Zanskar Valley. It presents an intriguing yet challenging trek, extending across 105km at extremely low temperatures (-25 degrees at night). The swiftly flowing river freezes over only in the months of January and February, and can prove an arduous obstacle to cross : one has to climb over icy rocks, and sleep in caves at night. The view, combined with ice sheets that constantly change colour makes it an unparalleled experience.
(2) ARAKU VALLEY TREK, Andhra Pradesh : If you are a rookie trekker with a hankering for excellent coffee, ARAKU VALLEY, situated in scenic Vizag is a must-visit. It is something of a tourist spot —– BORRA CAVES, tribal museum and KATIKI waterfalls have made it popular.
(3) KUMARA PARVATHA TREK, Karnataka : The 2nd highest peak (at 1,712 metres) in Kodagu, KUMARA PARVATHA is a popular peak to climb. However, the 15km trek is no cakewalk, although it does offer some scenic views. The starting point is on Temple road, approximately a quarter of a kilometre from the KUKKE SUBRAMANYA TEMPLE. While water and food is available at BATTARA MANE, there are no washrooms. October to February is the best time to trek.
(4) DEORIATAL TREK, Uttarkhand : DEORIATAL is ideal for a weekend trek. Situated at a distance of 3km from Sari village, Deoriatal’s clear waters provide abeautiful reflection of the CHAUMKHAMBA and KEDAR peaks at sunset.
(5) DZONGRI TREK, West Sikkim : If you have a week or a fortnight to spare, a trek to DZONGRI will grant you some spectacular views of MOUNT KANCHENJUNGA (the 3rd highest peak in the world). A tough climb, the trek commences from YUKSOM ( a popular base for Mt. Everest trekkers), and is best undertaken between September to November or March and April. Dzongri sits at 4,000m.
(6) RAJMACHI TREK, Maharashtra : The RAJMACHI FORT, thanks to the efforts of the Maharashtra Tourism Board, is developing quickly as a tourist spot. The beauty of this trekking destination is not just its panoramic view of lush rolling hills, it also presents two trekking options, both of which can be completed within one day. There is a plain 15-km walk from Lonavala or a rugged 2,000ft-climb from Kondivade village where one can also view the KONDANA CAVES. The best time to visit is between June and September.
(7) INDRAHAR PASS TREK, Himachal Predesh : A mountain pass in the DHAULADHAR at approximately 4,300m, and attracts a large trekking crowd between April and October. The trek starts from BHAGSU or DHARAMKOT, near Mcleod Ganj, and take from 4-10 days to complete.
(8) KODACHADRI TREK, Karnataka : Between October and January, trekking enthusiasts can head to KODACHADRI that rests at an altitude of 1,343m, opting from three different routes. The HINDLUMANE FALLS make for a refreshing pit-stop during the 2-day trek that only involves a six-hour journey.
(9) MARKHA VALLEY TREK, Ladakh : The beauty of this trek is the sheer amount of Ladhaki/Tibetan culture one comes across on the way. The local tribes with their yaks make for picturesque settings against the multi-coloured Tibetan flags, clear blue skies and barren ground, as you trek along the MARKHA RIVER through Little Tibet. Set at an altitude of 5,200m, the 80km trek is best undertaken in August and September and can extend from 10 days to 2 weeks.
(10) CHEMBRA PEAK TREK, Kerala : Located 2,100m above sea level, CHEMBRA in Wayanad is the tallest peak in Kerala. It is an easy climb, though the initial gradient can prove a little steep. Best to visit during September-February, the trek extends across 9km, and easily be completed within a day. However, visitors can opt to extend their trip by a couple of days, the combination of exploring Wayanad’s grassy meadows and then residing by the heart-shaped lake (HRIDAYA SARAS) at the top is an experience to be savoured.
————- Aashmita Nayar.