Brahmatal transforms magically during winters. The blanket of snow on its trails as it snakes through deep forest sections, climbing to the ridge at Jhandi top, and finally settling on the frozen lakes is something that trekkers don’t see often on treks.
But only when you see it with your own eyes do you really appreciate the magic of Brahmatal in winter. This photo story will give you a glimpse:
The Narnia-like oak and rhododendron forest of Brahmatal
The forest on the Brahmatal trek lays itself out in a way that you can see a long distance in between the trees. This is what makes the forest feel cozy. It does not overpower you with its presence, yet it is all enveloping. When this forest gets covered in a layer of snow, you get to see what we see here:
Trekking under rhododendron trees enroute Gujreni. Photo by Ramnarayan Iyer
Here’s what Dhaval Jajal, senior trek leader at Indiahikes and now filmmaker says about one of his favourite sections: “While many people talk about Gujreni, my favourite forest section begins after we descend from Jhandi top and start trekking to Khorurai. As we are almost at the end of the trek, trekkers are more relaxed and open to taking in the delights of the forests. And that makes it an enticing walk through the rhododendron and oak forest,” says Dhaval.
Entering the forest section as you descend from Jhandi Top. Photo by Abhishek M
Camping in Snow
Camping on snow is another big highlight of the Brahmatal trek. You start by camping at Gujreni in the oak and rhododendron forest. “I have done lots of treks and have loved lots of camps, but if you ask me about Brahmatal, then I think it has some of the better campsites,” says Sandhya UC, co-founder of Indiahikes.
This photo is from the Khorurai campsite. But this is very similar to what Gujreni looks like — a small-ish clearing surrounded by brown oak trees — makes for one of the prettiest campsites on the trek. Photo by Avijit Jamloki.
After Gujreni it’s a short trek to the next campsite — Tilandi.
“Tilandi is right on top of a ridge. It is one of the windiest campsites I have come across,” says Dhaval Jajal, our filmmaker. “On windy days, when the wind picks up speed it just sweeps up snow from the ground. You have to hold on to your tents. It feels like you are on an expedition. It's a rare adventure to get this on a trek. But you get it here, and that makes Brahmatal special and thrilling,” he adds.
Tilandi campsite on snow. Notice the deep trails in snow around the campsite. The kitchen tent is almost buried! Photo by Dhaval Jajal.
From the Brahmatal summit at 12,250 ft, you descend to Brahmatal Lake before reaching the Brahmatal campsite. This is the last campsite of the trek.
This camp is around 500 m from the Brahamatal lake. You’re almost at the treeline here. Photo by Santhosh
The grand view of Mt Trishul, Mt Nanda Ghunti and the surrounding ranges
The Brahmatal trek has rare mountain views. Mt Trishul that dominates the landscape is no ordinary mountain. The west face of Mt Trishul that we see is a sheer flank that rises above 7,000 metres, Not many know but Mt Trishul was the first 7,000 metre mountain to be climbed by mankind. Mt Trishul along with its sister Mt Nanda Ghunti tower over the Brahmatal trek.
Such close up views of a 7,000 metre summit is a very big reason to do the trek.
As soon as you climb above the treeline on Day 2, the big mountains are right there in front of you. For the rest of the trek they stay with you drawing closer and closer.
Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti along with the Maiktoli ranges rise over the white landscape. Photo from Indiahikes Archive.
The mountain views that keep you going as you climb to Jhandi Top. Photo by Vishwas Krishnamurthy.
“Mt Trishul gets bigger as you move closer to Brahmatal. In real life it is 10x larger than in the photograph,” says Arjun. Photo by Divya Ramakrishnan.
Bonus: Mountain views in the golden hour
Winters are known for extended golden hours. “It’s breathtaking to see Mt. Trishul light up in the evening during that time,” says Dhaval Jajal, Senior Trek Leader and Filmmaker at Indiahikes.
You get to witness a brilliant alpenglow. “It’s because in winters the haze is minimal, almost non-existent. The clouds also settle low due to the cold. This is why mountain views are incredibly sharp, especially during the mornings and evenings,” Dhaval explains.
Rays of the setting sun directly fall on these big mountains during the golden hour. Photo by Ravi Ranjan Sr Trek Leader at Indiahikes
The Thrilling Ridge Walk
The ridge walk of Brahmatal is a big highlight of the trek. It is a 2-hour long ridge trek with the grandest views of Trishul, Nanda Gunti, Mrigthuni, Maiktoli and mountains of the Garhwal-Kumaon range.
Not many know this, but from the ridge, you can also trace most of the famed Roopkund trek route!
The size of the trekkers in the picture give you an idea of the scale of the ridge. They are trekking to Jhandi Top. From there you walk on the ridge for almost two hours to reach Brahmatal top. Picture shot by Deep Thakkar in February 2020
You climb from 10,495 ft to 12,250 ft on this day. Photo by Sachin Venkatesh
Climbing to the highest point on the Brahmatal trek on a white landscape in winters gives you an adrenaline rush. Photo by Jayashankar S
The Frozen Lakes of Brahmatal Trek
Frozen lakes are rare. On the Brahmatal trek, you have two frozen lakes within a span of two days. Seeing the lakes, walking around them and if possible on them is a treat that trekkers rarely get.
A cold, half-frozen Bekaltal surrounded by oak trees. Photo by Jitendra Patil.
The scene changes dramatically when you are in thick winters, after mid-January. Notice how everything has turned white, and frozen!
Time stands still at a completely frozen Bekaltal. Photo by Krutanjali Deore.
You come to the Brahmatal Lake after descending from the Brahmatal top. Although the two frozen lakes have only a difference of 500 ft in altitude, the experience of being around them are starkly different.
Unlike Bekaltal, Brahmatal is not surrounded by trees. Notice how there’s just one, lonely oak tree on its bank. Also notice the size of the lake. It’s huge! Photo by Gajendra Kumar.
In peak winter, when the temperatures are freezing the entire Brahmatal Lake freezes. It’s a rare experience to be by its side at that time. Photo by Devang Thapliyal.
Sunsets and Stargazing
Brahmatal is also a trek known for its beautiful sunsets and stargazing experiences. And the Tilandi campsite is the hotspot for them. It’s so because this campsite sits outside the treeline, at a high point on the ridge.
“The big mountains are at your eye level or higher towards the east. In the west you have the valley and smaller mountains rising in silhouettes. So when the sun sets towards the valley, the rays of the setting sun falls directly on the big mountains,” explains Venkat Ganesh, Senior Trainer at Indiahikes, who loves Brahamatal trek for this experience.
The setting sun illuminates the folds of Mt. Nanda Ghunti. Photo by Guhanesan Sivalingam
But it’s not just the big mountains that change colour. The entire campsite — covered in snow — also changes colours along with the sunset.
The entire snow-covered landscape reflects the colours of the setting sun. Photo by Megh Naik.
Given its location, Tilandi is also a great campsite for stargazing.
A stunning Milky Way above the Tilandi campsite. Photo by Pratik Mankawde.
Do you have your own special moments of the Brahmatal trek? Share your photo with the story with us. We will publish them! (no self portrait please). Email firstname.lastname@example.org