Brahmatal, for the love of Roopkund

Let me be frank here. When it comes to popularity, Brahmatal has always been a distant cousin of Roopkund. It has never been a “must-do trek” on most people’s lists. Even amongst winter treks, it is only seen as an alternative when the popular Kedarkantha or Kuari Pass treks get booked.

For many years, even I fell prey to this thought. And I finally trekked Brahmatal 4 years after us launching it.

And only after doing the full trek did I realize how underrated this trek is.

Watch Sandhya’s message from the Brahmatal summit

I now say that Brahmatal is one of the finest treks I have done. Everyday of the trek is unique and you see sights that stay with you forever.

Let me give you a few highlights that blew me away on the trek.

Lovely Rhododendron and Oak forests

Just like the Roopkund trek, Brahmatal also has a mesmerising forest walk. The oak trees of Wan are amongst the oldest oaks of our country. Many centuries old. You can relive similar oak forests on the first day and second day of the Brahmatal trek.

However, on the Brahmatal trek, you have a bonus — Dedicated sections of Rhododendrons! Just out of Bekaltal, you get a clearly demarcated section of Rhododendron forests.

The Rhodo forests are a treat to the eyes. The trunks twist and turn in shapes and forms. The trunks are usually bare and smooth wooded. The trees are not too tall and form a nice canopy at the top. They are close enough to form a perfect green roof over your head. This is what you see throughout the year.  

If you come here during March and April, you get a pink flowery roof. If you come here during winters, you get a white snowy carpet!

The forests of Brahmatal have a section with abundant rhododendron trees, a rarity on our trekking trails. Picture by Vishwas Krishnamurthy

Up-close views of Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti

Some of our top treks are favorites because of the mountain views they offer.

Dronagiri and Nanda Devi from Kuari pass, Chaukhambha from Deoriatal Chandrashila, Bandarpoonch from Dayara Bugyal would be some top names that come when someone talks about great mountain views.

What if I tell you that Brahmatal can beat all of these?

On the second day of the trek, you climb out of a beautiful rhododendron and oak forest. Just when you are curious and impatient to see what lies outside the tree line, you see a wall of white mountains in front of you. You have climbed all the way up to the ridge (which runs parallel to Ali Bugyal of the Roopkund trek) and you see grand view of the Trishul range. And let me tell you, this is only the beginning. These views come closer as you traverse the ridge towards Jhandi Top.

A trekker takes in the view of Mt Nanda Ghunti (6309 m) from the Brahmatal trek. Picture by Vishwajeet Chavan

Kaluvinayak re-lived

At Jhandi top, you are almost at the centre of the mountain views. To your right rises the massive Mt Trishul, and to your left stands Mt Nanda Ghunti. This view is a magnified version of the view you get at Kalu Vinayak on the Roopkund trail.

The reason for the magnification is that here you have the right height and distance to see the whole panorama. Ronti Saddle, the ridge that connects Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti, (a challenging trek by itself) is clearly visible. Every fold of the mountains in front of you is seen. In fact you can see the flank of the mountain where the Roopkund crater lies.

Standing here, it is very easy to get transported to your Roopkund summit day if you have done the trek. I saw myself tracing the summit route from Bhagwabasa to Roopkund. The slippery trail at Chinarnaag, the steep C-section climb and the final bump over which Roopkund lies. It all came rushing back!

The C-section of the trail to Roopkund. Picture by Debasish Acharyya. (This was shot on the Roopkund trek.)

The vast expanse on the trek

One aspect where the Brahmatal trek feels delightfully different from Roopkund is the sense of expanse that you feel on the trek. When on Roopkund, you are largely isolated in the “Roopkund world.” You don’t see very long distances.

When on Ali Bugyal or Bedni Bugyal you see the ridges of Brahmatal on the left and the ridges of Ali, Bedni, Trishul range to your right. But when on the Brahmatal ridge, you see miles to your left and miles to your right. To your left are layers and layers of mountain ranges. To your right you see the full Roopkund trek spread out like real life Google Earth. You feel like you are on a stage with a stupendous view!

The vast expanse on the Brahmatal trek. You see Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti looming ahead of you. Picture by Pavan Atri

The view from the top

The high point of Brahmatal trek, Brahmatal Top, is approached from the side that is exposed to Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti. The trail clings on and weaves in and out of the mountain side here. The trail heads further to Wan if you follow it.

When you leave the main trail and climb up to the high point, a new set of high mountains open themselves up to you. This is the side that you get to see from Bhagwabasa. They are closer from here. You see Mt Chaukhamba, Mt Neelkanth, Mt Hathi Ghoda amongst the prominent peaks. To your right, the mighty Trishul and Nanda Ghunti are always there.

Brahmatal - Karthik - Indiahikes
The view from Brahmatal Top is unmatched!

The Brahmatal trek is a grand one. With its lovely forests, two alpine lakes, long meadows and outstanding mountain views it can go in as one of the finest treks in our country. Though it looms largely in the shadows of Roopkund, I would say that it is a must do for everyone who has loved Roopkund.

Apart from everything else, it takes you back to every turn, every view of Roopkund. You see the trek fully. Starting at Wan, the big cypress trees of Latu Devta mandir, Ran Ka Dhar, Gheroli Patal, Bedni Bugyal, Ali Bugyal, Kalu Vinayak, Bhagwabasa, finally Roopkund and even beyond. I loved Brahmatal on its own. But for me it was a true homage to Roopkund. I went on the Brahmatal trek but on that journey I did the Roopkund trek with my eyes and heart at least a hundred times!

Sandhya UC

Sandhya UC

Sandhya is a founding partner at Indiahikes. Over the past ten years, she has explored and put on the map few of the greatest Himalayan treks in India, including Kashmir Great Lakes and Kedarkantha. She is a TedX Speaker and has been awarded the Women of Worth Award by Outlook Business in 2017. She believes in sustainable living just as she believes in sustainable trekking. Read a feature on Sandhya in Outlook Business Read Sandhya's other articles Read Sandhya's TedX Talk, How I Climbed The Mountain Of Entrepreneurship

32 thoughts on “Brahmatal, for the love of Roopkund

  1. The article is beautifully written and perfectly captures the beauty of the trek. I recently did the Brahmatal trek with Indiahikes and really enjoyed it. One request- could you please write an article on the mythological importance of Bekaltal and Brahmatal. We were told the stories during the trek but can only remember bits and parts of it. I am sure a lot of the readers would love to read the mythology behid it in details.

    Cheers!

  2. Beautifully written to give a sense of the trail or what to expect and remember. While on the trek you are too involved with the physical challenge and the toll that it is taking on you and the mind games that you are involved with yourself so that you can achieve what you have set out for amd you miss or forget the panorama and the scenic beauty.
    So these articles are great to relive to reaffirm that you have to do it again and again and the reasons therof.

  3. I did Roopkund many years ago when it still wasn’t too popular. Now I want to do Brahmatal before too many people read your article!

  4. Beautifully written! I did Roopkund in ….I think …2005/6 with my son and nephew. The article has brought back all the fond memories. God bless you

  5. Please tell the truth and show real photos here’s hardly any snow there for most of there year, the trail is a dusty mule path and the campsites are mudpits. Stop selling false ideas to unwitting people by putting three beautiful pictures.

    1. Hi Tony! Wow, that’s some bad experience you’ve had. Which route did you take and when did you go? None of these pictures in the articles are edited / modified. They are as the trek looks. The photographers (who are trekkers) will vouch for that. In fact, all the pictures we have are of beautiful trails.

      If you went last year, then perhaps you saw very less or no snow. There was hardly any snowfall last year, just two big snowfalls actually. In fact, the second last picture is from last year.

  6. I was in the first batch that indiahikes took to the summit of Brahmataal . It was on 26th Jan 2016 and all of us sang the National Anthem up there . It was -8 °C due to the snow and wind . It’s the most beautiful I’ve ever been on .

  7. Hey

    I’m planning brahmtal 11-17 feb, will i be able to trel till summit i just don’t wanna miss that summit climb. As I’ve heard snowfall is at its peak right now saw your videos too om insta.

    1. Hi Gaurav, our aim would be to take trekkers to the summit. But it depends on the snow condition at that time. It is fairly unpredictable right now as we’re seeing snowfall everyday for at least 2 hours. We’ll keep you posted though.

      1. Is it safe of couple trekking in month of april?
        Is it neccessary to take along a guide on this trekk?
        We are planing trekk on our own, jus two of us..
        Are the routes(paths) for trekking to brahmatal visible in month of april?

        1. The answer to all your questions is yes. It’s safe to go in April. It’s better to take a guide because the forests are pretty dense and it’s easy to get lost. There is a LOT of snow right now, making many parts of the trek inaccessible. So I’d suggest going towards the end of April. It’s a good trek to do on your own otherwise. You’ll need camping gear and food.

          1. Thank u for the information..
            But if u can suggest me some local contact who can provide me proper details about the route and condtions of route currently..
            It would be a great help..

  8. Dear Swathi,
    Thanks for sharing the beautifully written piece. Amulgmation of mind and heart in the article by Sandhya.
    So sequence is made clear ..Roopkund followed by Brahmatal….Superb!!

  9. Thanks for the writing… Almost took me to the trek virtually. Salutations to the mighty and revered himalayas. Each range has its own charm and beauty and as the saying goes…..beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Every nook and corner of the Himalayas has its own charm and mesmerizing effect. Cheers and happy trekking. Intend to be there from 10th to 15th Feb batch. Regards. Palani

  10. Beautifully written. I have done Roopkund more than 10 times, but yes the view and the beauty Brahamatal offered is also amazing. You can say that Brahamatal is a short version of Roopkund. People talk about Kedarkantha to be the best winter trek, but Brahamatal is always been a tuff competition to Kedarkantha especially because of the Mt. Trishul and Mt. Nanda Ghunti you see and the beautiful Rhodo forests.

  11. It is a beautifully narrated piece of article by Ms Sandhya. I did Roopkund in Sept-Oct 2017 and loved the trail so much. Brahmatal Trek was not futured in my trek list so for. Probably it will be now be in my bucket list. Thanks for sharing the article.

  12. Brahmatal is on my list of treks to do..but with this article I guess, it’ll be the latest..Awesomely written. A brief history of Brahmatal would’ve been an added feature. Looking forward for more from Sandhya, and other seasoned trekkers from IH. Best regards.

  13. Excellent briefing with clear pics, which tends me to my next schedule of trek to brahmtal. Please send your April month schedule, if any. Regards, Asit Dey

  14. Dear mam,

    Can i choose to trek roopkund as my first trekking experience? Is it difficult for beginners? Tell me please…

  15. Yes, The first Para is absolutely correct.
    I heard about this trek when I was camping in Bedni. On that day I decided that I must n should do Brhmataal to get close toTrishul. However No trek ever complete Roopkund but some thirst may be by Brahmataal.

    Thank you putting all efforts in briefing this article so nicely. Let This trek be more popular than Roopkund.

  16. Good article – I have done Roopkund trek ( including Junaragali > Shila Samudra > Homkund circuit i.e. Nandadevi Raj jat Yatra route ). But I will try to do Brahmatal as well.
    But Brahmatal can not match Roopkund.
    Its ok if Roopkund is not possible due to restrictions.
    Apart from mountain views, attraction of Roopkund lies in the mystery of Skeleton Lake. This is the only trek in the world where we can seen skeletons at close quarters at such a high altitude with many myths & theories about them.

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