Get Ready For Some Monsoon Trekking

Monsoon brings out the best of the hills — they are at their greenest best, vibrant with dense forests and lush meadows. You never get to see the hills like you see them in monsoon. But you’ve got to know where to go. Here are some helpful suggestions:

Start local 

Let’s first talk about day hikes. I recently drove to a hill called Handi Gundi in Ramanagara, hardly 50 km from Bengaluru. What surprises me is that not many do this beauty of a trek. In just an hour’s climb, I walked under a lovely green cover, over boulders, through small grassy patches with tiny white flowers.

There are tonnes of trails like these. The Makalidurga trail is a stunning one and so are Channagiri and Brahmagiri (less-frequented twins of Nandi Hills). All of them have well-marked trails. Look them up on Google Earth — they are marked — before heading out.

The Brahmagiri peak trail in the Nandi Hill region is a wonderful offbeat option to trek.

Expand your circle to about 150 km off of Bengaluru and more trails open up. Tumakuru is well known for its trails. Mandya is another hotbed for trekking trails. Just spread out a map and you’ll find small hills around any district in Karnataka. They are all great treks in monsoon.

The Western Ghats are, however, the Mecca of monsoon treks. From the beginning of June, all the way till September, trekkers throng to these hills and with good reason. Most trails are laden with streams and waterfalls and forests full of life!

Amongst these, I’d highly recommend the Kudremukh and Ballalarayana Durga treks. Kudremukh is the trail that got me hooked to trekking, I’m sure it is the same for many others too. I remember immediately falling in love with the endless folds of hills on this trail.

The Ballalarayana Durga Fort trek in Chikamagalur has mesmerising meadow views.

Ballalarayana Durga is in the same region, but with a lesser crowd. Top it off by extending your trek to Bandaje Arabi Falls. You can stand at the snout of the waterfall and look down, it’s pure thrill!

In the north 

Moving further north, most of the Himalayas east of Uttarakhand face heavy rains in monsoon, making most trails inaccessible. However, there’s the Valley of Flowers trek in Uttarakhand that bursts to life only during monsoon.

Frankly speaking though, Valley of Flowers is rather overrated. It’s full of flowers, yes. But after visiting the mountains of Kashmir, it’s hard for me to find anything that comes close. Kashmir is the place to trek during monsoon.Look up Kashmir Great Lakes or the Tarsar Marsar treks. Most people visit the Alps to see blue glacial lakes with snow-capped mountains. Kashmir can give the Alps a run for its money.

The dreamy Tarsar Lake. It was a surreal experience taking in the view of the lake in its entirety. Picture by Sudheer Hegde

Spiti is another region that rates high on the list of monsoon treks. Make the village of Kaza your base, and from there, there are lots of day hikes and also week-long treks to explore. The Pin Bhaba Pass is one such week-long trek. If you’re physically very fit, then it’s something I’d highly recommend this monsoon. The desert landscape of Spiti is a treat to the eyes. Since it lies in the rain shadow region of India, it’s a great getaway to escape the rain. Much like Ladakh. But I’d recommend Spiti over Ladakh — it’s less explored and much more pristine.

What you should do now

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Swathi Chatrapathy

Swathi Chatrapathy

Swathi heads the digital content team at Indiahikes. She is also the face behind India's popular trekking video channel, Trek With Swathi. Unknown to many Swathi also writes a weekly column at Indiahikes which has more than 100,000 followers. Swathi is known for her expertise in digital content, which has made her a much sought after resource in many events. Before joining Indiahikes, she worked as a reporter and sub-editor at a daily newspaper. She holds a Masters in Digital Journalism and continues to contribute to publications. Trekking, to her, is a sport that liberates the mind more than anything else. Through trekking, Swathi hopes to impact a person's mind, body and spirit. Read Swathi's other articles. Watch Swathi's video series here.

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