With the mighty Himalayas and several other locations throughout the country offering trekking choices, India makes for an ideal destination for adventure lovers.
Whether the northern Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, southern Indian locations across the Nilgiris ranges, eastern Indian states such as Sikkim or the Western Ghats, India has an abundance of trekking destinations. Starting from short day trips to longer duration intensive routes, people of various fitness levels can find suitable options. Star gazing, pilgrimage and expeditions to see flowers in bloom are among many of the reasons trekkers are undertaking their journeys, besides the immersive experience of being in nature. With the growth in online trekking communities and clubs, Indian as well as foreign travellers are increasingly taking to exploring Indian hills on foot.
A plethora of options are available for trekkers in India, with the northern part of the country being quite well-known and explored. Some of the places to head to in North India are lined along the hills of Uttarakhand with Valley of Flowers, Binsar Trek, and in Himachal Pradesh with Spiti Valley and Chandratal Lake Trekking is also a great option and so is the Leh-Ladakh region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. However, with some breathtaking views offered by West Bengal’s Sandakphu trek and Sikkim’s Yuksom and Goecha La, the eastern part of India is a strong contender. South India is not too far behind either, with destinations like Ooty and Wayanad and for those looking to explore western India, Rajmachi Valley in Maharashtra is a great option.
As popular travel websites and tour operators organise treks, there are special websites such as Youth Hostels Association India and Trek The Himalayas offering services to guide a trekker through the journey. Adventure clubs such as Indiahikes have also emerged, who cater to the community of enthusiasts through their content dedicated solely to trekking in India. With suggestions, advice and tips for both beginners and advanced trekkers widely available on the internet, travellers are more open to exploring. Akanksha Raju, Content Manager for Indiahikes, states, “Trekking in the Indian Himalayas has become more accessible to the layman. Today, you and I can go on a trek without second thoughts. People are more aware of the problems of high altitude trekking too.”
With the trend of tailor-made, personalised and specialised packages becoming the preferred option for travellers across spectrum, trekkers in India look forward to the same. One such company catering specifically to the needs of travellers, but also empowering local communities, is Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company, a travel agency owned and operated by Ladakhi women. Founded by Thinlas Chorol, the agency organises homestays and treks, with the provision of female guides and porters. In their website, they state, “In addition to helping women by means of homestays, our agency employs only women for organising and running our treks, a policy which serves as a unique example to all women in Ladakh and we are as yet the only agency using only female guides.”
Trekking in India does not come without its own set of challenges. From the need to plan well to lack in basic infrastructure, travellers must come prepared. Raju explains, “The challenges come mostly from the scarcity of information,” adding, “No proper waste disposal units, toilets, landmarks, transport to the basecamp and lack of other such infrastructure can be a problem.”
However, the trekking experience becomes enriched with cultural flavours of India, which offer travellers not only an adventure in the hills but also the thrill of learning about India, which draws foreign travellers. Raju states, “The more seasoned foreign trekkers looking for difficult treks go to Nepal. However, when trekkers come to India, they also make sure to spend a few extra days at the base camp. So, even if their trip is solely for the trek, they do want to experience Indian culture. Here, at Indiahikes, we have foreigners coming in to work with us just for a month or two. They just want to enjoy the culture and the hills. And, they all love to trek.”