Which is a better trek in winter? Deoriatal or Kedarkantha?

Comparing the Deoriatal Trek with the Kedarkantha trek is almost an impossible task. I’ll admit right away that I am terribly biased about Kedarkantha. It was the first winter trek explored by Indiahikes. The trek left a deep emotional impact on me. Back in 2011, things were not exactly going right with Indiahikes. We had empty coffers, low registrations and morally wondering whether to give up on our quest to discover more trails. That is when we decided to explore Kedarkantha in winter.Β  I was spellbound by the trek. Somehow over the years, I have not able to get out of my fondness for Kedarkantha.

But if I have to leave aside my personal biases and don the hat of an objective trekker — things become difficult. Deoriatal-Chandrashila, as a winter trek, took my breath away. It left me delirious with the experience.

If I compare them today then, grudgingly, I have to give it to Deoriatal. Deoriatal pips Kedarkantha as a better winter trek by a shade. Mind you, it is only a shade. I’ll give you a rundown of why I think Deoriatal pips Kedarkantha by a sliver.

Day 1

Kedarkantha

The moment you step on the Kedarkantha trek you are in the forests. Tall pine and oak trees are around you. This is mesmerizing. Walking on the brown carpet of leaves feels like another world. In a couple of hours, most trekkers are transported to a land of beautiful clearings. If you are lucky, you get snow on the forest floor.

The Pine Forests
The Pine Forests at Kedarkantha

Deoriatal

Deoriatal is different. You climb over the picturesque village of Sari – a setting stolen off of a postcard. The valley is deep and wide. In less than two hours trekkers get to Deoriatal. Mark my words, this campsite can leave even the sceptical gaping.

The snow-covered Deoriatal with the massive Mt Chaukhamba towering over the lake makes most trekkers stand rooted to the spot. It’s almost the same reaction as the “Wow point” reaction from Buran Ghati. The sight is unbelievable and so is the setting of the lake. Surrounded by grassy knolls, it makes a bewitching place to observe the sight of these big mountains. It takes a while for it to sink in that we actually camp here.

The Deoriatal campsite with Mt Chaukhamba in the background
The Deoriatal campsite with Mt Chaukhamba in the background

Day 2

Kedarkantha

Kedarkantha on Day 2, mostly on snow, climbs through oak forests, which incredibly get prettier as we get higher. It is almost like a fairy tale. The forest floor is covered by an unending carpet of untouched snow. In between, branches of trees climb to the sky. Through this, you snake your way up the mountain. The sun plays tricks on the snowy landscape with its many designs of light and shade. It is like a vibrant wintry canvas coming alive.

Kedarkantha - Indiahikes - Namrata Saxena - A trail through the blanket of snow
Trekkers near KK Basecamp. Picture by Namrata Saxena

Deoriatal

Deoriatal, on the other hand, takes you through jungles on Day 2. These jungles are different every hour of the trek. I have yet to come across forests that have so much variety in a single day’s trek. There are dark forests and forests that look like tunnels. At other times the forests pass through clearings and streams. You will try and tip-toe your way to enjoy the humming of the various birds at Deoriatal. When you add the snow-covered forest floor, frankly, it is too much of a good thing to take in a day.

Deoriatal chandrashila - Indiahikes - Burjgali Campsite
Burjgali campsite

At this stage, both treks are neck to neck. It is hard to separate Kedarkantha from Deoriatal. Both treks are very different from each other, yet, they are equally beautiful. The climb through the forests of each trek has been exhilarating.

What sets the two treks apart

Deoriatal

The difference between the treks comes in the summit climb. This is where Chandrashila edges out Kedarkantha. It is the view that you get from the summit. From the Chandrashila summit, you get to see all the big mountains of India. Not only do you see them, you see them very close. You see Mt Nanda Devi, Trishul, Chaukhamba, Kedarnath, Neelkant and almost every other well-known summit you can think of. Almost every trekker breaks down in tears at the Chandrashila Summit.

Deorital Chandrashila - Indiahikes - Mt Nanda Devi
Mt Nanda Devi from Chandrashila summit

Kedarkantha

On the Kedarkantha summit, the view is terrific too. It is a 360-degree view of mountain ranges. You feel as though you’ve climbed to the very top of the world because everything else is below you. You can see mountain ranges far and wide. What you miss out are the big names in mountain summits.

Kedarkantha - Indiahikes - Indrajit Hazra - Kedkarkantha Summit View
View from the Kedarkantha summit. Picture by Indrajit Hazra

The verdict

So there you have it. While I rate both treks equally, I’ll give Deoriatal Chandrashila a slightly higher grade for the grand summit views. And perhaps for the variety in the jungles.

As a winter trek, frankly don’t choose one over the other. Do one this year and the other next. You can’t miss out on either. If you find groups full in one of the treks, simply choose the other.

Get more details about the Deoriatal-Chandrashila trek here.

Get more details about the KedarkanthaΒ trek here.

Arjun Majumdar

Arjun Majumdar

An entrepreneur by profession and a trekker by passion, Arjun started Indiahikes in 2008. With a vision to explore and document new trails, solve problems in the mountains and implement sustainable ways of trekking. Arjun leads Indiahikes, a community that has changed the face of trekking in India. He has written extensively for Discover India magazine and is a TedX speaker. He frequently talks at institutions about his entrepreneurial journey, but his favourite topic is always the impact of trekking on the mind, body and spirit. Read Arjun's other articles. Watch Arjun's TedX talk. Watch Arjun speak about our trekking trails. Learn from Arjun about what it's like to work at Indiahikes.