India is blessed with two magnificent mountain ranges: the Himalayas bordering the north, and the Western Ghats, also known as the Sahyadris, running across the western coast of the country. Both the ranges house innumerable trekking routes that cut through forests, deserts, valleys, and taking you to hillforts, high peaks, lakes, glaciers, etc. This makes India a true paradise for trekkers. Some of these trekking routes are spectacular and famous all around the world, with trekkers flocking to the trails every year to explore the immeasurable beauty of India.
Himalayan Mountain Range
The Himalayas need no introduction, the mountain range has some of the best trekking routes in the world; they are also home to some of the tallest mountain peaks. It is a 4,000 km crescent that runs from Kyrgyzstan to Burma, and a part of it cuts through India, forming the border between India and China.
The Indian Himalayas are home to the immense beauty that comes in the form of sky-piercing peaks, deep gorges formed by ancient rivers, colourful lakes, crawling glaciers, ancient trade routes masquerading as high mountain passes, desolate deserts, and splendid valleys of dense alpine forests.
And within the many folds of the Himalayas lie some of the remotest and highest villages in the world. These villages are rich in culture and tradition, some of which are influenced by both Hinduism and Buddhism, with a slight tinge of Tibetan influence.
Trekking in the Himalayas offers a great opportunity to explore the natural and cultural wonders of the place. There are treks for all fitness levels, for all seasons, and for all length of days - offering experiences for everyone from young to old, beginner to experienced, solo trekkers to families!
Sahyadri Mountain Range
The Sahyadris, also known as the Western Ghats, is a mountain range that runs parallel to the western coast from Gujarat to Kerala. The range is one of the eight top biological hotspots in the world, home to India’s large part of flora and fauna, and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Sahyadris have stood tall through millenniums, and has been the site of many glorious battles.
The Sahyadris has many trekking trails that cut through the dense forests, taking you to high peaks, historic hillforts, deep valleys, waterfalls and lakes. There are also many small villages that you get to explore while trekking in the Sahyadris.
Most of the treks in the Western Ghats are easily accessible from Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore, and these treks usually have a single day itinerary - making them a perfect nature getaway from the city.
Some of the treks here are difficult, whereas some easy requiring you to walk for a couple of hours only. And a lot of these trails are accessible throughout the year and can be done at night too.
But the Western Ghats should be experienced in the monsoon season when the landscape turns into a lush green paradise with green hills rolling towards the horizons and high peaks disappearing into the grey clouds.
Here are the best treks in India that should be on everyone’s bucket list:
The wild Zanskar River cuts through the desolate landscape of Ladakh, and during the summer months, it is a popular rafting route, but come winter and the entire river gets covered in a thick sheet of ice. And during this time when the river is frozen, adventure lovers from all around the world flock to Ladakh to trek on the frozen river locally referred to as ‘the chadar.’
This trek has come to be hailed as one of the best treks not only in India but also the world, and there are many reasons for this title. First is the trail itself that goes over the frozen Zanskar River, giving it the alternative name of the Frozen River trek. On this trek, you have to cover long distances over the sheet of ice where you can see the wild river flowing under the sheet. It is truly a trippy and marvellous experience.
Along with this, the Chadar trek also lets you see the wonder of Ladakh from a unique perspective as most of the trail is flanked by tall walls, and when it is not, the snow-capped Himalayas can be seen. You get to see Ladakh like never before. Along with this, you get to see frozen waterfalls that look like they’re stuck in time and ancient caves whose walls are blackened by thousands of bonfires over time.
And during the winters, most of the roads of Ladakh are covered in snow, isolating many remote villages. Some of these villages use the frozen river as their route to connect to the rest of Ladakh. So there’s also the experience of meeting locals and visiting remote villages, and seeing how they cope with the harsh winters of Ladakh.
Talking about the Ladakhi winter, it is truly harsh. During the Chadar trek, the temperatures fluctuate between -20 to 0 degree Celsius and sometimes dropping as low as -40 degree Celsius. While trekking, you get to know how much the Human body is capable of withstanding when you’re walking at high altitudes with low oxygen in sub-zero temperatures.
These same reasons also make the Chadar trek one of the most difficult treks in India as well. Hence, it is not recommended for beginners and should only be attempted by those who have prior experience of trekking in the Himalayas.
Click here to know more about the Chadar trek. And click here to know more about trekking in Ladakh.
Hampta Pass and Chandratal Lake trek
There are very few treks in India that showcase a landscape as varied as the one shown by Hampta Pass and Chandratal Lake trek, which is why it is one of the best treks in Himachal Pradesh as well as one of the best treks in India.
This gorgeous trek starts in the lush valleys of Kullu and Manali, home to a number of wildflowers, herbs, forests of pine and rhododendron. The trek then progresses to Hampta Pass, a high altitude pass located at 14,100 feet, often covered in snow. The pass is a gateway into the desolate landscape of Lahaul and Spiti. Beyond the pass, you trek to the enchanting Chandratal Lake, also known as the Moon Lake.
The trail cuts winding across the mighty Pir Panjal Mountain Range in the foothills of Himalayas. So you get to see many high mountains that are covered in snow along with various glaciers making their way through the valleys, and many sparkling streams too. En route, you also cross the rolling meadows of Balu Ka Gera and Chikha, where you’ll see herds of cattle grazing on fresh grass.
The Hampta Pass and Chandratal Lake trek has a moderately challenging route but it can be done by fit beginners too if they’re looking for a challenge.
Click here to know more about the Hampta Pass and Chandratal trek. And click here to know more about trekking in Himachal Pradesh.
Valley of Flowers trek
The Valley of Flowers is a paradise located in the interiors of the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand, within the Nanda Devi National Park. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous around the world for its pristine beauty. Every year, the valley attracts trekkers, tourists, nature lovers, botanists, photographers and bird watchers alike, making it one of the best treks in Uttarakhand.
Why? Because every year, from the months of June to September, the far-stretching meadows of the valley get covered in thousands of wildflowers of over 300 species. During full bloom from July to August, the valley showcases surreal beauty as all the colours of the rainbow are seen in the wildflowers. The valley looks like a colourful painting that keeps changing its pattern every day, as new flowers bloom with the rising sun. While trekking there, you’ll see some rare species of flowers like orchid poppies, cobra lilies, anemones, blue poppies and Brahma kamal.
Additionally, you will also see various waterfalls, rivers, quaint villages and glaciers, and also the mighty Himalayan peaks. Some operators also offer an extended Valley of Flowers trek that takes you to Hemkund Sahib, a popular pilgrimage for the followers of Sikh religion.
Click here to know more about the Valley of Flowers trek.
Chopta Chandrashila trek
The Chopta Chandrashila trek is one of the best treks in India, especially if you consider its easy trail that can be done by fit beginners. It's in the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary of Uttarakhand, at the foothills of the Himalayas.
The trek begins in Chopta, the quaint hill station that is popularly known as the ‘mini Switzerland of India.’ Here, you start your trek in the lush meadows and evergreen forests of oak, rhododendron and pine, from where you make your way to Tungnath - the highest Shiva temple in the world. And from Tungnath, you head to the Chandrashila peak which is located at an altitude of 13,123 feet.
Once at the summit of Chandrashila, you enjoy breathtaking views of the Himalayas including some of its most famous peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul, Chaukhamba, etc. This trek is the perfect opportunity for beginners who want to experience trekking in the Himalayas.
The trek is accessible throughout the year and can be done in summer as well as winter. It is not only one of the best summer treks in Uttarakhand, but also one of the best snow treks in Uttarakhand.
Click here to know more about the Chopta, Tungnath and Chandrashila trek.
Located ten kilometres from the colourful McLeodganj, the Triund top is a gorgeous ridge peak in Kangra Valley, at the foothills of the mighty Dhauladhar range. It is also considered as the crown jewel of McLeodganj and is a perfect short getaway for adventure lovers, bird watchers, stargazers and photographers.
The trek starts from McLeodganj, cutting through the gorgeous forests, past sacred mountains, ancient temples and quaint ‘Pahadi’ villages until you reach the lush meadow of Triund. The route for Triund trek is an easy but adventurous one which can be done from the months of March to May and from September to December. The Triund trek is perfect for beginners and experienced trekkers looking for a short getaway into the Himalayas near Dharamsala.
Click here to know more about the Triund trek.
Kedarkantha is a beautiful ridge peak located at an altitude of 12,500 feet in the Tons River Valley of the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttarakhand. It is one of the best trekking places in India, and one of the best short treks in Uttarakhand. The trail to the peak cuts through lush forests of pine, maple and rhododendron, and some patches of meadows along the way.
And once you’re at the top, the views are breathtaking as you get a 360-degree view of the Himalayas along with some of the highest mountains like Bandarpoonch, Swargarohini and Black Peak, along with the gorgeous Rupin and Buran mountain ranges and Har Ki Dun valley.
En route, you also get to camp at one of India’s prettiest campsites - Juda Ka Talab, set alongside a small pond amide a thick cover of oak and pine forests.
The trek to Kedarkantha is accessible throughout the year, but the best time is during the month of December. The trek is also one of the best winter treks in Uttarakhand.
Click here to know more about the Kedarkantha trek.
Dzongri Goechala trek
The Himalayas of Sikkim is one of the most untouched regions of India, making trekking in Sikkim a truly unique and gorgeous experience. Set in the folds of the Himalayas there is the high altitude pass of Goechala which is the doorway to the astounding Kanchenjunga National Park. The trek to Dzongri Goechala is not only one of the best treks in Sikkim but also one of the best treks in India.
The pass is located at an altitude of 16,000 feet and from the top it offers stunning views of the surrounding Himalayas, including the mighty Kanchenjunga which is the third highest mountain in the world.
The trek starts at Yuksom and you head to the gorgeous village of Dzongri, from where you head to the Goechala pass. The trek cuts through dense forests of oak and rhododendron, and lush meadows - letting you explore the vibrant flora and fauna of Sikkim. The trek to Goechala is a difficult one that is suitable only for experienced trekkers. The Dzongri Goechala trek can be done in both summer and winter seasons.
Click here to know more about the Dzongri Goechala trek.
Kalsubai, one of the best trekking places in India, is a peak in the Western Ghats and is the highest point in Maharashtra at 5,400 feet. The peak is regarded as the Everest of Maharashtra and is one of the best treks in Maharashtra, and also one of the best treks in India.
On the Kalsubai trek, you trek through the gorgeous landscape of the Western Ghats that includes thick forests, beautiful streams and pools, and the sprawling vistas of rolling hills. And from the top, you enjoy gorgeous views of some of the most historic hillforts of Maharashtra like Alang-Madan-Kulang, Ratangad and Harishchandragad. Click here to explore more fort treks in Maharashtra.
The trek to Kalsubai is moderately difficult, best suited for experienced trekkers due to its rocky and often slippery trail but even a fit beginner can attempt the trek. The trek can also be done at night, which is quite an enjoyable experience. However, the best time to trek to Kalsubai is during the monsoon months when the Sahyadris turn into a lush green landscape.
Click here to know more about the Kalsubai trek.
Kunti Betta trek
If you live in Bangalore and are looking for the best trekking places near your city, then look no further than the Kunti Betta trek which is one of the best treks in Karnataka. The twin-peaked Kunti Betta lies amidst the plains of Karnataka and is a fun getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city life.
To reach the top, you trek through a fun trail strewn with boulders and rocky terrains until you reach the peak. From the peak, you enjoy gorgeous views of the surrounding plains along with the lakes of Thonnur and Pandavapura, and paddy fields all around.
The trek to Kunti Betta is a fun and easy trek of only 4 km in distance and can be done by beginners too. If you want to spice up your adventure, then you can do the Kunti Betta night trek and enjoy the sunrise from the top of the hill.
Click here to know more about the Kunti Betta trek.
Har Ki Dun trek
Har Ki Dun is a gorgeous valley whose name directly translates to the ‘valley of gods,’ lies in the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park. It is one of the best trekking places in India and is considered as one of the most scenic treks in Uttarakhand. The trek to Har Ki Dun offers some magnificent views of the peaks of Bandarpoonch and Swargarohini.
The trail of the Har Ki Dun lies at the foot of the Fateh Parvat and is one of the least explored places in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand. This makes trekking to Har Ki Dun a truly mesmerizing experience as you walk where only a few have walked before you.
The trail cuts through lush pine forests and alpine meadows of the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, giving you the chance of exploring the pristine flora and fauna that flourish in the shade of those trees. The trek to Har Ki Dun gives you the quintessential experience of trekking in the Himalayas as you get to explore the lush valleys and see the snow-capped mountains of Himalaya. And this trek is perfect as both a summer trek and a winter trek in Uttarakhand.
The trail of Har Ki Dun trek is not at all difficult, neither does it have a steep gradient, but it does have long hours of walking - making it a perfect trek of fit beginners who want to get their first steps into Himalayan trekking. All of this comes together to make the Har Ki Dun trek one of the best treks in India.
Click here to know more about the Har Ki Dun trek.