Best walks, hikes and treks in India [View list of walks]
One of the world’s most fascinating countries, as diverse as it is enormous, India is both marvellous and horrendous. An ancient and complicated culture which has spawned buildings and art of sublime beauty also has its dark side of grinding, bodies-in-the-street poverty and the still-there know-your-place caste system.
Visitors have so much to see and experience, from the extraordinary monuments and exhausting bustle of Delhi, Agra, Kolkhata, Mumbai and countless other cities and sites, to the gentle backwaters of Kerala, the great deserts and palaces of Rajastan, the wildlife sanctuaries, and tea plantations of the Western Ghats – and, of course, the soaring beaties of the Himalayas; which form a natural border with Tibet to the north. It is a funny accident of history that the best known Himalayan peaks and trails are in countries other than India, and long may that last, say India lovers.
High, arid Ladakh, long known as little Tibet, opens the door to the idiosyncratic world of Tibetan Buddhism. Sad to say, traditional Tibetan culture and religion are more intact here than in Tibet itself.
Many will struggle with the poverty and its juxtaposition with bling – at the same time as being moved and enchanted by India’s culture, people and deep spirituality. And likely moved and disenchanted by its germs: take care about eating and drinking.
So, India has things to fascinate everyone, children included. The variety of travel and tours you can make in India is as a result huge.
Walking, hiking and trekking in India
India has some of the world’s best walks, hikes and treks, ranging from famous mountain hiking and trekking trails such as The Singalila Ridge and other trails in Sikkim and the Western Himalayas to the gentler but still fascinating wildlife sanctuaries and tea plantations of the Western Ghats . There are great pilgrimage routes in various parts of India, the best known the Chota Char Dam and others in the foothills of the Himalayas, which draw whole families and are lively and colourful events.
So, walking, hiking and trekking tours and holidays in India are so varied that everyone’s taste and energy levels can be met. Walking in India isn’t just for hard-nuts, although there is plenty to get their juices flowing. The lazy and youngsters alike will be enthralled by what it offers: India walking, trekking and hiking holidays and tours really can be for everyone.
See the list below for a (currently incomplete – please give us your recommendations!) list of the best walks, treks and hikes in India. Various of these are in our world’s Top 100 list.
Famous walking regions include:
- Famously gorgeous Kashmir, in the NW Himalayas. Sadly Kashmir is unstable as a result of fighting, terrorism and turmoil over its future, and currently not safe to visit (as at 2018).
- Himachal Pradesh, in the NW Himalayas. Relatively accessible valleys such as Kangra, Kullu, Sangla and the more remote and arid Spiti and Lahaul. Altitudes vary widely, from the 600m high Shivalik hills to well over 6000m.
- Ladakh, including Zansker, high and arid in the rain shadow of the Great Himalaya in Himachal Pradesh, and known as “Little Tibet” for good reason. These are very high and difficult to reach and some altitude sickness is quite likely if you fly in. Summers are short but pleasant and dry; winters are long and very harsh. Harshly beautiful walking and the fascination of its Tibetan Buddhist culture to boot.
- Uttarakhand in the NW Himalayas is a recently-created state which borders on both Tibet and Nepal. The youthful Ganga (Ganges) is the most important of several pilgrimage magnets, with the religious centres of Haridwar and Rishikesh the main gateways to the famous Garhwal Himalayas, which have many superb and lovely high altitude trekking options, including the Nanda Devi Area and the Kuari Pass (Curzon Trail) in particular. You can also trek to the Source of the Ganges and on above or follow the famous Chota Char Dam pilgrimage route. The Kumaon to the east are less-visited and also offer magnificent walking, including the 6-day Pindari Glacier Trek.
- Sikkim and nearby; sandwiched between Nepal and Bhutan, dominated by Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak on the India/Nepal border. There is a wealth of fabulous trekking here, the best known being the Singalila Ridge, which rises steadily towards Kanchenjunga and boasts unbeatable views of the high Himalayas, with four of the world’s five highest mountains in view. Highlights also include the Goecha La trek, which gets you into the heart of the massif and other approaches to the Great Mountain. Interesting day walks around Darjeeling to help prepare.
- In the far north-east are the ranges of Arunachal Pradesh. Although little known, there are some high altitude treks here, as well as lower expeditions through forested valleys and with fine views of the high range. Next to it is the little known Nagaland, home of former (we hope) head hunters and scene of the tide-turning battle of Kohima in WW2. Tea–growing Assam has some lovely hill walks.
- Western Ghats: This long range nestles lovely wildlife reserves, tea plantations and hill stations.
- Eastern Ghats: We will be writing more about this area. Please let us have any suggestions and photos you may have. [note: several ranges]
- Meghalaya: We will be writing more about this area. Please let us have any suggestions and photos you may have.
- Nilgiri Hills: We will be writing more about this area. Please let us have any suggestions and photos you may have.
- Munnar Hills: We will be writing more about this area. Please let us have any suggestions and photos you may have.
We intend that our walk pages contain detail and photos on walking, hiking or trekking routes, including books, best times and weather, how to get there, possible problems, walking, trekking and hiking firms, organisers and guides in India, accommodation in India and useful links. But this takes a lot of research, so if they are not “there” yet, or if you have other walks to recommend, please give us any suggestions you may have.