KEDARKANTHA TREK

The finest summit climb for beginners

TREK DIFFICULTY

Easy Moderate

TREK DURATION

6 days

HIGHEST ALTITUDE

12,500 feet / 3,810 metres

The finest summit climb for beginners

Kedarkantha (not to be confused with the popular Temple Kedarnath) is a 6-day long trek in Govind Pashu Vihar National Park in Uttarakhand (6 when including the travel days from Dehradun to the base camp and back). Kedarkantha is easily one of the most popular treks in India — popular amongst seasoned trekkers and beginners alike.

There are many reasons why it is a very popular trek to do in the Indian Himalayas.  The most important of them is this — the summit climb.

The summit climb of Kedarkantha is a very rewarding one.  Right from the base camp of the trek, the summit looms large.  As you start your trek in the early hours of the morning and steadily climb up the steep slope of snow, the world opens up around you.

The climb is not easy.  The entire stretch is steadily steep.  As you get closer to the summit, it gets tricky as well.  But the big mountains of the upper Himalayas keep you company until you finally reach the summit.

As you stretch yourself and take in the views of the Himalayas from the summit, you feel a strong sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. This is an unparalleled feeling.

Did you know Indiahikes was the first to explore and document Kedarkantha? Read the untold story here.

Very few treks offer the same adventure, making it popular among beginners for its finest summit climb.

Outside the summit, the trek is also unique for its beautiful clearings.  Very rarely you will find stunning clearings on a trek that makes way for some rest spots and beautiful campsites.  This trek is filled with clearings on all the different routes.  What's more, the clearings are just at the right locations, giving you beautiful vantage points to appreciate the trek and its views.

The third biggest reason this trek is unique is its beautiful forests.  All three routes have beautiful diverse forests that will immerse you.  If you are not careful, you will get lost in them (in a good way).

Ever since Indiahikes explored and opened up Kedarkantha as a winter trek in 2011, many other organisers have followed suit. Having explored and trekked this route for over a decade, we know every nook and corner on the trail. 

Kedarkantha (not to be confused with the popular Temple Kedarnath) is a 6-day long trek in Govind Pashu Vihar National Park in Uttarakhand (6 when including the travel days from Dehradun to the base camp and back). Kedarkantha is easily one of the most popular treks in India — popular amongst seasoned trekkers and beginners alike.

There are many reasons why it is a very popular trek to do in the Indian Himalayas.  The most important of them is this — the summit climb.

Kedarkantha Videos

Kedarkantha - Complete Trek Information

We have always wanted trekkers to be well-informed before they go on a Himalayan trek. Knowledge is the difference between a safe trek and a dangerous one. It’s also the difference between a wholesome experience and a superficial experience.

Use this section to learn about the Kedarkantha trek. It has in-depth information about each day of the trek, what to expect, and how you need to prepare for it. Many years of expertise have gone into this content. Trekkers find that extremely useful.

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Introducing the

Kedarkantha Summer Camp

Adventure & Camping In The Himalayas For 10-14 Year Olds

Expert Speak

Lakshmi Selvakumaran, Head of Experience

Lakshmi Selvakumaran, Head of Experience

Lakshmi Selvakumaran heads the Experience team at Indiahikes. She handles the Learning and Development and Training functions of Indiahikes. She is keen to make Indiahikes the best learning place for everyone. With her team, she is constantly working toward making trekking a more sustainable sport in India. She is a strong advocate of zero waste and a vegan lifestyle.

Here’s Lakshmi talking about one of the top treks in our country.

What I Like and Don’t Like About the Kedarkantha Trek

What I Like About the Kedarkantha Trek

Lakshmi Selvakumaran, Head of Experience

Lakshmi Selvakumaran heads the Experience team at Indiahikes. She handles the Learning and Development and Training functions of Indiahikes. She is keen to make Indiahikes the best learning place for everyone. With her team, she is constantly working toward making trekking a more sustainable sport in India. She is a strong advocate of zero waste and a vegan lifestyle. Here’s Lakshmi talking about one of the top treks in our country.

1. The Drive to the Base Camp

It is one of the most beautiful drives you will ever have to any trek.  The 18 km stretch of the dense pine forest after Purola and the drive through the Mori valley alongside River Tons will stay with you for a long time.  Do not miss to watch out for them.

The drive from Purola to Kotgaon snakes through lovely pine forests. It’s worth the long journey! Picture by Sreenath

2. The culture of Kotgoan

If you are trekking with Indiahikes, you are in for a treat.  Very rarely will you get to experience how the local people live?  In this trek, you get to see it.  You will be spending both your first night and the last night at our campus in Kotgaon.

Although they are close to each other, their houses look different, they dress different and their lifestyle is a little different. You will get to experience this up close.

A temple located in the quaint village of Kotgaon - the base camp of your trek. Picture by Jothiranjan

3. The Forests

When you are in the forests of Kedarkantha, especially the stretch from Kotgaon to the summit, you will feel this sense of oneness with your surroundings more strongly.

Many factors bring this about: 

 The forests in this stretch are the least travelled. Apart from the villagers, only our trekkers take this route.  So in a lot of ways, this route has stayed pristine.  If you are not careful, you can get easily lost.

Unlike the other forests, where the forest looks almost manicured and arranged, this stretch of the forest has its wilderness intact.  You will feel it strongly the moment you enter it. 

 The forest is extremely dense and immersive.   The sun plays hide and seek and this makes this stretch all the more magical.  

 It is also diverse.  Along with Deodar, Pine and Oak, you will see more variety of trees and shrubs that you do not see on the other side.

The forest from Kotgaon to the summit is one of my favourite forests that I have ever trekked in.  The diversity, contrasting colours, and the density – all give a very surreal feel to this section.

I would be most happy to do this trek again and again just for these forests.  However, the other sides of Kedarkantha equally offer some of the most beautiful forests climbs in the Himalayas.

You’ll not see golden Oak forests like the Kedarkantha trek on any other trail. Picture by Jothiranjan

4. The Clearings

Kedarkantha has many such clearings on all sides.  No other trek offers such clearings.  I have done almost 11 treks so far and I am yet to find a trek that has such beautiful clearings.

It is one trek in the entire Himalayas, where you have no dearth of campsites.  One of the reasons we have been able to open multiple routes in this trek is because of these clearings.

Other factors make these clearings even more special.  They are:  

 Each of the clearings on this trek is so uniquely different from the other. 

 The views you get from each of the clearings are stunning.  The sunsets from these clearings are absolutely out of the world. 

 The clearings are very well spaced along the route.  So, with the forest and the clearings together, each day’s trek feels complete. You will find a clearing every 2 hours of the trek.  Such is the number and ideal placement of these clearings.

One of the clearings on your way to the Kedarkantha summit. Picture by Jothiranjan

5. Multiple Routes

Being a standalone mountain, this trek is blessed with multiple routes to reach the summit and all of them are unique and beautiful in their way.

This allows everyone to explore this trek in the way we want to – going with the popular route or choosing the quieter trail, adapting the route depending on the weather, etc.  There are plenty of ways to reach the summit.

The summit climb to the Kedarkantha is one of the most challenging sections on the trek. Picture from Indiahikes Archives

6. The Sunsets

This trek offers some of the most dramatic sunsets and it is precisely so because of the placement of the campsites.  The campsite Bhoja Dhadi faces the western side of the sky and is wide open to the sky.  This makes the sunsets along this trail absolutely must watch on the trek.

The sunsets I have witnessed have stayed with me until now. All I need to do is close my eyes and remember to be transported back there.

The sunsets on the Kedarkantha trek is an absolute treat to watch. Picture by Vasudev Sharma

7. The Summit

The trek is famous for its summit and is rightly so.  The first is that this is a proper summit marked by a cairn.  Of all the 12,500 ft treks in the Himalayas, Kedarkantha is one of the two summit treks.  The rest are all mostly passes or high points on a range.

This itself is special.  The second is the route to the summit.  As soon as you clear the tree line, the summit is right in front of you.  So, right from the beginning of the trek, you know where you are trekking to and it creates an instant aspiration.  This builds the challenge of the trek right from the beginning of the summit day.

The third is the slope.  The summit is a steady climb at almost an inclination of 45 to 60 degrees.  In many places, especially in snow, it gets challenging even for experienced trekkers.  This again makes the summit climb a rewarding one.

Fourth, is the views that accompany along.  Although the views are not the most prominent or the highlights of the trek, the upper Himalayas do accompany the entire way up.  This does add a charm to the entire climb giving respite when you take a break.

The view from the Kedarkantha summit is extremely rewarding with the Garhwal Himalayas spreading to the horizon. Picture by Jothiranjan

What I Don't Like About the Kedarkantha Trek

1. The Crowd

I will be very frank here that during the peak winter season, the Sankri route is extremely crowded.  As a person looking for peace, I would not want to do the trek during this time.  But luckily, we do have the alternative routes that we, at Indiahikes, run precisely to give you the exclusiveness you will want while trekking.

We talk about this route in more detail below but just giving you an idea of what you can expect if you want to take the Sankri route normally.

2. The Hydro Project

As I mentioned before, the trip to the base camp is one of the most beautiful ones – especially driving by River Tons from Mori till Naitwar.  However, this charming route has changed dramatically ever since the Hydroelectric project started along this route.  Frankly, I am not a fan of it.  Because of the deforestation that this stretch has seen ever since the project started.

So, there you go. Aside from these, there is hardly anything that I will fault with this trek.  Precisely why, I believe it is one of the most famous treks in the Indian Himalayas today.

Trek Trivia

Things Nobody Tells You About Kedarkantha

Did you know that you'll be trekking inside a wildlife sanctuary on the Kedarkantha Trek?

The Kedarkantha trek begins in the majestic Govind Pashu Vihar Sanctuary and National Park. The area is rich and filled with biodiversity. Flora and fauna in the sanctuary are of a Western Himalayan type.

There are three categories of Western Himalayan flora: Broadleaved forests, Subalpine conifer, and Subalpine shrubs and bushes. One of the best things about Kedarkantha is that you get to witness all three kinds.

During the ascent, you'll notice the striking change in flora and fauna. From forests and shrubs to vast meadows, Kedarkantha has it all.

In Kedarkantha, you get breathtaking views of the river Tons and Thamsa. The blue turquoise colour of river Tons can wash away your worries.

Not only this, India's first Snow Leopard project began here. Huge efforts have been made to conserve the Snow Leopards by the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary.

Did you know the religious significance and culture of Kedarkantha?

Kedarkantha holds great religious significance among the locals. It is believed that the mighty Lord Shiva came here to hide from a demon and stayed there for a while.  The three villages, Sankri, Gaichawan Gaon, and Kotgaon, have a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.

While 'Kedar' means Lord Shiva, 'Kantha' is translated to be his neck. The locals consider this mountain to be holy and worship Lord Shiva religiously.

Although Kedarkantha is in Uttarakhand, the Kinnaur culture greatly influences the people. They dress up and talk similarly too. Since Kedarkantha is located close to Himachal Pradesh, the culture crosses over and merges with them.

Do you know about these treks around Kedarkantha?

The region of Govind Pashu Vihar National Park is famous for the start of many of the trekking trails of our country.

However, many are not aware of these treks which are surrounding our famous Kedarkantha. Here is a list of those treks:

5 Reasons Why Indiahikes

We are India’s safest trekking organisation

When we brought out new trails in Indian trekking, safety came with us. Back in 2012, we were the first to introduce microspikes, and two years later, pulse oximeters became standard thanks to us. Nobody does safe treks like Indiahikes. In the mountains, emergencies don't care who you're with – everyone knows that when trouble hits, you look for the yellow tents of Indiahikes.

We are pioneers of treks in India

We are pioneers in trekking. Since 2007, we have brought out treks that have become India's most famous treks: Roopkund, Rupin Pass, Buran Ghati, Kedarkantha, Kashmir Great Lakes, Tarsar Marsar, Brahmatal, Phulara Ridge—the list goes on. In 2023 alone, we brought out five new treks in Indian trekking. We know treks better than anyone. This comes directly from the reason why Indiahikes was born: to bring out trek information and enable trekkers to trek on their own.

We are India’s largest trekking organisation

More than 25,000 people trek with us every year. We are the largest trekking organisation in India. 24% of our trekkers come back to trek with us every year. Over 4,000 students from the top educational institutions trek with us every year. Aside from this, families with children choose to trek with Indiahikes knowing that our treks are the safest. We have taken over 8000 children trekking so far, and the number continues to grow.

Our treks are transformative

We focus on designing transformative experiences. Our trek leaders conduct thought-provoking exercises that help you reflect and contemplate. This impact stays with you for a long time. Trekkers return feeling energised, more confident, or developing abilities to deal with difficulties. Many have changed careers, rethought their core values, become more humble, shown gratitude to others, or started a new fitness journey.

We are India's most sustainable trekking organisation

Since 2012, we have pioneered sustainable practices that have become standard in trekking. Using eco-bags, our trekkers have cleared over 120 tonnes of litter from the mountains. We do not carry packaged foods; instead, we serve freshly made food. We do not light campfires; we carry coal to light angethis to keep you warm. Our bio-toilets not only keep our toilets odour-free but also enrich the soil. When you trek with us, you leave mountains better.

Indiahikes Features

You’re guarded with our trek again philosophy

If you are unable to complete a trek, or if you love a trek, you can repeat it with us anytime. You don’t have to pay us for it. See our thoughts behind this here.

Daily 3-time health checks keep you safe at any altitude

Our thrice-a-day oxi-metre checks keep altitude sickness at bay, never allowing you to reach a point where you need evacuation.

Join any group, they are all women-friendly groups 

With around 30% of our trekkers being women, all women, including those travelling solo are comfortable to join any of our groups.

Request Jain/Vegan-friendly food

Our kitchen teams understand your needs as a vegan (or a Jain). We will take special care of your food, even in the remote Himalayas. 

Be comfortable and sustainable with bio toilets

We have specially designed bio toilets to ensure you have no sight or smell in toilets, at the same time making sure the toilets cause no harm to the fragile ecosystem we trek in.

Fresh, nutritious food at every camp

We’ll admit it. Our love for food surpasses our love for minimalism. Expect freshly cooked, multi-cuisine food at all camps, designed to meet your nutritional requirements and keep your taste buds happy!