Top 7 Himalayan treks:
Since time immemorial the perpetual snow covered lofty mountains has challenged human lives. Sage, saint, hermit and vagabonds has found solace in its mighty arms that has spread across throughout the subcontinent. The wonder of wonders that has never ceased to amaze man, with its abundant beauty that nature has chosen to bestow on it, diverse flora and fauna and many life forms that it has supported through eons, Himalayas are most sought after and at the same time most elusive trekking destination in the world. If you have not trek in Himalayas, you have not seen the most beautiful creation of God.
Below are few of my most loved treks in the Himalayas, some I have scaled amidst great difficulties, and some are in my bucket list. Whenever life permits me, I will go again…
1) Gangotri – Tapovan : It was my first ever trek in the Himalayas, but not my first trekking experience. But whatever trekking experience you have before, Himalayas are completely new terrain, totally unexpected, and each of the experiences are different from others. Every time I trek through Himalaya, it poses new challenges for me, it teaches me new thing every time. Prior to Gangotri-Tapovan trek, I had done Sandakphu trek while still in college. Very gorgeous place to see panoramic views of Mt.Kanchenjunga, Makalu and Lhotse peaks. That was probably for the first time I had seen the Himalayas from close range. Gangotri- Tapovan circuit is beautiful beyond words, river Alkananda keeps accompany you throughout your journey, keeping the hope alive that life exist at such barren and inhabitable land.
Other short trek in and around Uttarkashi that are worth doing is Chopta- Tungnath – Chandrashila and Dayara Bugyal.
2) Kinner Kailash – I was planning meticulously for Lahaul – Spiti. It is every geologist’s dream to visit Spiti at least once. In our geological parlance, they said Spiti is an open geology book where at every turns and twist, you will find evidences how the ancient sea Tethys closes gradually to form world’s youngest mountain chain Himalayas. When we were planning Spiti, how can we forget Kinner-Kailash. But life took a different turn and we found ourselves trekking along Gangotri glacier. Kinner-Kailash is extremely beautiful trek, very scenic and quiet challenging at times. Lots of boulder hopping, rock climbing are there but believe me you will enjoy every bit of it. The actual trek starts from the tiny village of Lamber. Before that two most important towns are there, Kufri and Kalpa. Kalpa is known for its apple and chilgoza orchards. From Chitkul you can see serene and beautiful views of hanging glaciers, towering mountains and many virgin peaks. You can also visit thousand year old Tabo monastery.
3) Roopkund Trek – I have first heard of Roopkund trek and the ghostly stories associated with it from a fellow trekker while trekking in Valley of flowers. They say Roopkund is complete package, you got everything a trekker ever need to test the adventurous spirit. Deep virgin forests, breath-taking campsite like Bedni bugyal and Gehrauli Patal, miles of undulating meadows and tasting the spirit of adventure at Chinarnag. The trek starts and ends at Lohajung village.
4) Goecha La -In late 90’s while on a geological trip we visited Sikkim, since then I fell in love with that tiny state. Sikkim is beyond the touristy Gangtok, the real gems hidden inits northern and western territory. Goecha La is one of the most popular and preferred trekking destination for trekkers.It has its indomitable charm with flourishing verdant valleys, beautiful orchards, myriad and massive collection of flora and fauna, rich forests and charismatic ambiance that never fails to allure the visitors with its magnetic beauty. The trekking trail initiates from the historical Yuksom town, the first capital of the state. The highlighted feature of the trek is the sight of fascinating and mesmerizing snow covered peaks of Kanchenjunga with amazing green landscapes and lush meadows at the foothills. The magnificent beauty of the third highest peak of the world is so arresting that one can spend hours eyeing its aura.
But when we talk about Himalayas, we immediately think about Mt.Everest and it is every trekkers aspiring dream to scale the highest mountain peak on Earth and if not at least trek to Everest base camp. Nepal is sublime, basking in the backdrop of silent serenity of gorgeous Himalayas, its pristine mountain views and the sense of perspective that a Himalayan journey offers, Nepal is exquisitely beautiful beyond words. Beyond the touristy Kathmandu, the real beauty of Nepal lies in its countryside, the slow paced life at shepherd villages, breathtaking valleys, and gorgeous mountain peaks that keeps you mesmerized and the spiritual strolls in the Buddhist monasteries.
After the devastating earthquake that has flattened much of Nepal, tourism and trekking is slowly coming back to life. Some trekking trails are lost forever, and some like Everest and Kanchenjunga remain intact and untouched. Tribhuvan international airport at Kathmandu valley is back to business as usual, bringing tourist and trekkers from around the world, the foreign cash flow will definitely help to rebuild the economy of Nepal. Recently Etihad too joins Kathmandu’s ever growing international fleet of flights, operating between Abu Dhabi and Kathmandu, completing the distance within three and half hours.
Here are few of my wish list from Nepal-
5) Upper Mustang – Upper Mustang trek offers a spectacular trekking into the remote Trans-Himalayan mountain area with Tibetan influence culture. Upper Mustang is also the “the last forbidden kingdom” and houses the world oldest Tibetan monastery Lo Gekar.
6) Everest And Annapurna Base camp– I must be kidding when I said that these two are in my wish list. Well, it is true and I keep myself daydreaming about these two by reading about as much as I can. When one of my relative finishes Annapurna Base camp at the ripe age of 65 and having returned with frostbitten toe, I remain amazed at his sheer courage, grit and will power for long. In his word “surrender yourself to mountain and it will take care of you”. However I had come across a new trekking route which is getting popular among the trekkers and it is the spectacular Annapurna- Dhaulagiri panorama trek that follows through densely forested valley and then up a ridge called Khopra Dande to a single stone tea house perched above the clouds, face-to-face with Dhaulagiri and Annapurna South. This can be combined with well-trodden Ghorepani- Poonhill trek along terraced farmlands, beautiful rhododendron forest and hospitable Gurung Villages. The trek is exceptionally beautiful during the spring when the rhododendron forest is in bloom with the panorama of the high mountains on the vista. The spectacular sunrise view over the panorama of Annapurna range is the highlight of the trek.
Annapurna circuit too is in my wish list that entails 100 miles of circumnavigation of Annapurna range.
7) Langtak valley – another one on my wish list. This one is easily accessible from Kathmandu, the Langtang Valley trek is a relatively shorter, lower-altitude trek that curls its way up a valley to a basin at the foot of Langtang Ri (7205m), close to the border of Tibet. Despite the proximity to Kathmandu, the region is as wild as any other Tibetan highlands with tranquil rural landscape and offers a great vantage point of Langtang Ri and views of the Annapurna’s and Makalu.
Beauty lies in the eyes of its beholder, so it is the perspective of every trekker that matters while making such list. If you have any favourite ones do let us know in the comment section.