Winter is coming, and November is a great time to step out and explore the outdoors. Here, mountaineers pick their favourite treks in the Himalayan and the northeast region of the country, and tell you why each one is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
For first-timers, this trek promises to be an enthralling experience. “It has it all — from captivating views of the Himalayan ranges to glimpses of green valleys and raging rivers. At a height of 4,265m above sea level, the pass itself is situated in Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, Uttarakhand. It is rather easy trail that takes trekkers across three lesser-known passes and five rivers, and on offer are the magnificent views of Trishul, Kedarnath, Kamet, Nilkantha and Badrinath, among other peaks,” says Vishnu Singh, a marketing executive and amateur mountaineer.
Great Kashmir Lakes
This trek comes highly recommended for anyone looking for a mix of beauty and serenity. “They say those who are looking to find meaning in their lives need to get lost first. And there couldn’t be a better place to get lost than the Great Kashmir Lakes. During that 10-day journey, I found many things — crazy stamina, amazing friends and above everything — myself. But the experience I cherish the most is the sight from one of the passes, with the Amarnath range behind and the beautiful valley in the front. That sight brought tears to my eyes, and I call that connecting with nature,” says Harshit Bavisi, co-founder of Happy2Refer, and a trekking enthusiast.
If there’s one trek that can offer you a grand view of peaks like Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu, it is this one in West Bengal. “At just 3,636m, the trek to the highest peak of the state is perfect for a first-timer looking to experience Himalayan trekking. Since the climb is along our border with Nepal, it traverses through the country at times. During the hike, trekkers are awed by Kalapokhri — a black pond — that never freezes, and is considered holy by the Buddhists,” says Rakesh Pant, partner and founder, Trek The Himalayas.
Japfu Peak and Dzukou Valley Trek
Nagaland is a lesser-explored area for trekking, and offers a lot of scope for enthusiasts in search of adventure. “This northeastern state is a narrow strip of mountain territory blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. It is a land of green valleys with meandering streams, rivers, high mountains, gorges, and astonishingly rich variety of flora and fauna. The Japfu Peak is the second highest peak in this region. Another highlight here is the rhododendron tree, which stands tall at 130ft,” says Prateek Deo, CEO, Life Away From Life.
This is one of the few pure winter trek sites, as one has to walk through snow on most days. “It offers a great experience to someone looking to explore the Himalayas in the winter months. A big plus is that there are fixed camp sites in this area of Uttarakhand. And the best part is that the trail is not that difficult,” says Anuja Karnik, a lawyer and trekking enthusiast.
At around 16,000ft, this trek gives you an opportunity to explore the unhindered nature of Sikkim. “The state hides its beauty in the deep and serene ranges of the Himalayas. During the 11 days of the trek, you’ll be overwhelmed by the dawn you’ll witness over the Kanchenjunga. As you move towards the Goechala Pass, touch the clouds from the Thansing or Lamuney meadows. However, the trek is considered difficult, and not recommended for a first-timer,” says Pant.
Living Root Bridges Trek
For many, the end of a long walk or a trek must be a sight that inspires awe. “I have not met a single person who has looked at the Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya, and not stared dumbstruck, or at least paused to wonder at the novel idea and stunning implementation. The wonderful, nature-loving people of the hills have found a novel way to build what are now known and exhibited as “living root bridges”. Basically an extension of the roots of the Indian rubber tree, the local Khasis have invented a way to use them to their advantage instead of building bridges that collapse or are washed away by rain or raging rivers. These bridges take anywhere between 10-15 years to build, and last well past five centuries,” says Akul Tripathi, a trekking enthusiast.
This trek takes you to one of most beautiful passes of the region. “You start at the heritage village of Naggar, and pass through rustic areas of the Kullu valley, beautiful meadows, thick forests of pine and oak, and grasslands, from where you get a view of the surrounding snow-clad mountain ranges. Then, a carpet of flowers takes us to the Chanderkhani Pass. At a height of 3,660m, it is heaven for a nature lover. You can also visit a unique habitation, the village of Malana, which has maintained its own system of government for centuries,” says Chandan Sharma of Trek India Outdoors.