It bothers us that the world does not consider India a place to trek. Most heads turn towards Nepal when it comes to trekking in the Himalayas. Or they turn to Switzerland or Austria to experience alpine meadows.
Little do people know that India is a goldmine of such landscapes. From the northernmost tip at Gurez Valley to the forested plateaus in central India, India is blessed with rich trekking trails, which give you a taste of the most diverse landscapes.
For over 15 years, we at Indiahikes have been in search of such beautiful treks. We are sharing a few of them here, which you can explore in 2024. These treks are tucked away in remote corners of our country, and many of them are hardly trodden upon. Yet, they make you realise how grand the landscapes of our country are.The good news is that we have opened dates for all of them for 2024. We aim to explore the country as much as possible and encourage trekkers to trek in India. These treks will help you do just that.
1. Gurez Valley: A spectacular trek to the end point of India
En route to Khaari. On each day, you reach beautiful heights that offer panoramic views of the surroundings. You see a stack of lush green and barren mountains in the same setting. Picture by Nitesh Kumar.
View Gurez Valley Trek
2023 was a blockbuster year for trekking in J&K because we discovered not one or two, but five different treks in the region, Gurez Valley being one of them.
India ends at Gurez. The significance of this is enormous. If you look at our country as a whole, we travel upward from Kanyakumari. There comes a point where we cannot travel any further north. That part of our country is Gurez.
The significance is that the Gurez is the last latitude of India, which is why it is very unlike any other part of Kashmir. The topography changes totally, even though it is only 6 hours north of Srinagar. You will notice it in the trees especially. The trees are different, and so are the way they are laid out in the valley. The Razdan pass you cross to get to Gurez pushes you to a very different landscape. Just like how it is when you cross the Rohtang Pass in Manali. Our trek in Gurez reminds us more of our treks in Kyrgyzstan and Georgia than they do of our treks in Kashmir, so different is the landscape. The scenery is spectacularly unusual.
2. Ranthan Kharak: Discover the hidden clearings of Kumaon
Your campsite at Chofu is very unique. You camp on a slope with open views of the valley and the entire Garhwal mountain ranges in front of you. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
View Ranthan Kharak Trek
Trekking in Uttarakhand is synonymous with trekking in Gharwal. Yet, unknown to most, the neighbouring Kumaon has stunning mountains, magnificent forests, undulating meadows, and vast clearings. Kumaon is largely unexplored and has received little attention. Kumaon's Ranthan Kharak Trek is just one of many undiscovered trekking gems.
On this trek, you see India's highest peak, Nanda Devi, and its sister peak, Sunanda Devi (also known as Nanda Devi East). We can see the sun rise over these two formidable peaks from our Chophu camp. On our right, sticking out of the clouds is the impressive, jagged peak of Nanda Kot.
And then come the clearings. Kharak means “clearings” in the Kumaon and Garhwal languages. On this trek, there are some stunning clearings to trek through. In two such clearings, we set up our camps! It's a trek like no other on our roster.
3. Manali Kaisdhar Trek: Manali's Ancient Forest Trek
The trail is well-marked and mostly on the forest ledge. Every now and then, the trail opens up on your left treating you to stunning views of the valley. Picture from the Indiahikes Archives.
View Manali Kaisdhar Trek
Everyone knows Manali as a popular hill station. But only true trekkers foray beyond the borders of the town. This trek does exactly that, taking you through the ancient woods surrounding Manali. The trees on this trail are hundreds of years old, giving you a feeling like you're trekking among old wise saints.
In just four days, you get a chance to completely immerse yourself in nature. You walk in the deep woods dominated by dense coniferous trees like silver oak and blue pine. You come across a waterfall, walk to the ridge: the highest point of the trek, and get a glimpse of the culture of remote Himalayan villages. If that’s not enough, you are treated to stunning views of the Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar ranges. Stunning vermillion sunsets are an additional bonus here.
This is the easiest trek on our list, and it is beautifully suited for beginners and families. On the Manali Kaisdhar Trek, the trails are short and flat. There are hardly any tricky sections to navigate. It is an ideal trek for beginners and families looking to start their trekking journey in the Himalayas.
4. Chirbatiya: A 3-day birders’ trek in the heart of Rudraprayag
During spring, the trees in full bloom attract insects, which in turn attract birds. This makes the Chirbatiya Trek, a paradise for birders. Picture by Jothiranjan.
View Chirbatiya Weekend Trek
If the name is new to you, Chirbatiya is a range of hills north of Rudraprayag. It is tucked away in a corner where very few venture. Tourists have not seen this place. It is in the heart of this region that we are going to be trekking and camping.
The starting point of this trek is Chirbatiya. ‘Chir’ refers to pines and ‘batiya’ means a path. Translated, it means a path through the pine trees. And sure enough, you walk through some of the loveliest forest trails on this trek. There’s not only pine, but a good mix of oak and rhododendrons too. Hundreds of birds and the scent of the woods hang in the air.
With such rich forests, the trail is replete with birds. In just two days of trekking, our teams spotted over 40 species of birds, a wonderful highlight being the gorgeous monal. If you're a birder, this 3-day trek, which is easy on the legs is your haven.
5. Chhattisgarh Jungle Trek: The Jungle Book Trek of Central India
The Pandupara campsite is where you camp on the sandy bank of the Gopat River. Picture from the Indiahikes Archives.
View Chhattisgarh Jungle Trek
Most of the country treks in the Himalayas or the Western Ghats. But trekkers hardly know about trekking in Central India. So far, after exploring multiple trails in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, we have arrived at the best trekking trail in Central India: The Chhattisgarh Jungle Trek.
These are among the most well-preserved deciduous forests in our country. This is where the last of the Indian cheetahs would sprint through with explosive bursts of speed. Trekkers have yet to witness such forests. Hidden within these jungles are ancient, pre-historic caves. Cave paintings here are easily ten to fifteen thousand years old.in
If that’s not enough, you experience the most unique experience of them all: walking in a river throughout the day! These are once-in-a-lifetime moments.
6. Ali Bedni Bugyal: The “Swiss alps” of India
Didina is a unique campsite that allows you to camp amidst the setting of a Himalayan village. Not many treks have this. Photo by Jothiranjan.
View Ali Bedni Bugyal Trek
Most of the world heads to Switzerland and Austria to witness the Alps: the snow-capped peaks and soft meadows that spread out beneath them. Yet, hardly anyone knows about the alpine meadows hidden in plain sight in our country: the twin meadows of Ali and Bedni Bugyal.
Trekkers often call these the “wallpaper meadows” of our country. Horses and their foals tear themselves across the turf in an uninhibited abandon while the cattle graze lazily on this bounty.
But that’s not all. Out of the other meadow treks in our country, Ali Bedni Bugyal has the grandest of mountain views. That’s because of one thing — the sight of Mt. Trishul and Mt. Nanda Ghunti jutting right out of the meadows. Jutting out doesn’t mean you see the tops of these mountains, you see the entire face — almost 6000-7000 feet of it — rising right in front of you.
7. Pin Bhaba Pass: India’s Most Dramatic Crossover trek from Kinnaur to Spiti
The trail from Mulling campsite to Karah campsite has many patches of wild, vibrant flowers. This makes Karah one of the most beautiful campsites in Himachal Pradesh. Picture from the Indiahikes Archives.
View Pin Bhaba Pass Trek
Our country is full of mountain passes. Among all the pass-crossing treks in our country, including the famous Rupin Pass and Buran Ghati, if you want to witness the landscapes of India, Pin Bhaba is the trek to do. So dramatic is the crossover on this trek, that if your jaws don't drop at the pass, we'll be surprised.
You start in the lush Kinnaur valley, a lovely river venturing by your side. You trek through endless grasslands, river deltas and forests. But the moment you cross the pass, everything changes. You suddenly enter the stark Spiti valley, painted in shades of pink and purple. So sharp is the difference that you'll wonder if you were in another country until now.
The unique thing about this trek it is like doing a new trek every day. From the luscious forests on Day 1, to the grasslands of Mulling, the Kashmir-like meadows of Karah, and the river delta of Phutsirang, each day is different from the previous day. It's like doing 5 treks at once.
That brings us to the end of this list. We’ve just shared 7 out of the 40+ treks that Indiahikes organises. If you ask us, each of these 40 treks are unique and gives you a new perspective on our country’s landscape. But if we have to shortlist the most unique of them, these would be it.
P.S. We have opened up dates for all these treks on their respective pages. Don’t miss out on them. You'll find the rest of our treks here.
We hope this article was helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below.