India is the ultimate trekking experience for all types of hikers starting from easy day walks to rough and rugged 3 week treks. From the epic Himalayan ridge where you will stand on a 5000m snowy peak to the green and beautiful Western Ghats in the South this section is dedicated to trekking providing information, suggestions and recommendations.

The Chandrakhani trek

Explore The Indian Himalayas With The Super Easy Chandrakhani Trek

One of Bart Simpson’s best rules is: “If it’s too hard doing it, it simply ain’t worth it

I’m a big Bart Simpson fan; therefore, I tend to carefully check what I should or shouldn’t do, based on this very specific guideline.

And when it comes to outdoors activities, such as trekking, I become much more strict about enforcing this rule.

Now, picture yourself standing atop a soaring Himalayan mountain. You are surrounded on all sides by monstrous mountain chains. From where you stand, massive white glaciers can be seen capping them. As your eyes sweep down the mountains, you’ll hit the imaginary line at 3000 meters. This is the beginning of the mountains’ ‘green dresses’. A mountain’s ‘green dress’ consists of the vast area of vegetation (pine, deodar, and chestnut ) that covers its lower parts. You’ll even notice that the dress is decorated with white strips all the way down to the foot. Those are waterfalls.

It’s breathtaking! Flawless.

Crossing the chandrakhani pass

Here’e where the Kullu Gods hang out

But hold on…

You may say now, I’m not a trekker, right? I’m not the kind of guy who’d spend a whole day in a trekking store, searching for the latest technology in tents. And you probably never regarded yourself as a tree hugger like many trekkers seem to.

I’ve got a surprise for you… me neither.

What I’m about to tell you here is about a trek which crams in the very best of the Himalayan trekking experience. And, it’s doable. So easy that you can do it just wearing your heels. (Almost! But sport shows will be just fine).

In the worst case, when back home, you can always brag about your Himalayan trekking adventure.

And, who knows, maybe it will be the beginning of a new love…

Anyways, it’s called the Chandrakhani trek.

About the Chandrakhani trek  

Basically, if I had to describe the Chandrakhani trek in one sentence, it would be this one: What goes up must come down.

Chandkhani campsite views

Outstanding views from the Chandrakhani campsite

That’s it.  As simple as that.

Like Sisyphus, who was compelled to roll an immense boulder…Up and down the hill. Unlike Sisyphus, you’ll only do that once (probably in your life) and you will have the privilege of treating yourself with a cold beer when you’re back in town.

The trek begins from the village of Naggar, located about 21 km from the town of Manali. The Chandrakhani Pass trek involves a circular route from Naggar to Chandrakhani Pass, and back to Naggar via Malana.

Reaching the Chandrakhani Pass, and standing above the clouds with a panoramic view is a divine experience.

Some people in the region interpret the name ‘Chandrakani’ as ‘Moon shaped’ while others say that it means ‘Moon Growth’.  But, let’s leave this philosophical debate for them, maybe when you reach the Chandrakhni pass you’ll be able to contribute your own viewpoint to the discussion.

Endless legends and stories abound about this trek. One of the most famous is that a long time ago Jalmu, the main deity of Malana was wondering up in the Chandrakhani pass holding a basket full of Gods. The basket was opened and a strong wind blew the gods out in the open. Since then, the Valley is known as the valley of Gods.

The Chandrakhani pass is also known as the assembly ground of all the Kullu gods. They sure knew how to pick a hell of a place for meet-ups. With spectacular views of the Deo Tibba peak Pir Panjal and Parbati mountain ranges, whatever they talk about is surely inspirational.

Altitude sickness isn’t a concern, as the highest point in the trek is 3,450, and you’ll be descending in the same day.

Okay, so let’s get into the details…

How to prepare for the Chandrakhani trek with less than 30 min

1)      Organize a guide from Naggar. Ask your hotel /guesthouse owner to arrange that for you. He’ll find someone in no time. Remember: A guide is someone who shows you the way, and nothing more.

2)      On the day you’re leaving, buy 2-3 sandwiches and some snacks from the bakery.  Because there aren’t any shops on the trail, you’ll need a lunch pack. Dinner you can order at the campsite on day 1 and in Malana/ Naggar on day 2.

3)      Packing list: 2 T-shirts, something warm to wear at night, long sleeve trousers, 2 pairs of socks, toothpaste and tooth brush, sunscreen, raincoat ( if you are trekking in July-Aug), money in a water proof bag.

That’s it; you’re good to go.

Day 1: Stairways to Heaven

On Day 1  ( Naggar to Chandrakhani 6-7 hrs. walking.) Sadly, there’re no good news for the beginning of the trek. Why? Because, from your very first step up to your campsite there’s massive legwork required. The trail starts on the road below Rumso village, which is 4 km from Naggar. You can go there by car. The stairway will lead you to Rumso. Have a cup of chai (tea), and a look around – especially at the old wooden temples. From Rumso, the trail takes off through a thick pine, deodar, and chestnut forest, going up for several hours.

The trail then breaks out to the alpine meadows at higher altitudes. It’s your first true reward for the effort you made: the view from these meadows of the Kullu valley, Manali, Pir Panjal, and Bara Bhangal ranges is spell-binding.

Walking along the trail now to the Chandrakhani base camp, where you’ll be sleeping in a shepherd’s hut, is a delight. The trail passes through some magnificent U-shaped valleys . It is so beautiful that it almost makes you not want to reach the nearby campsite.

nomads below the Chandrakhani Pass

Nomads near the Chandrkhani basecamp are trying to sell us chees and butter

What is a shepherd’s hut? It’s a small bricks hut. The floor is made of stiff mud, while the top of it is covered with mattresses. At the center there’s a Tandoor (an iron fireplace) to keep the place hot. It’s very basic, and super effective.

The shepherds are nomadic people moving with their herds (cows, buffalo, sheep ) to high areas in the summer, searching for lush meadows. When the season is changing, and the whole area turned to white, they move down to the lower parts of the valleys until the next summer.

It’s been a long day for you.  But here comes the good part…

Climbing for 6-7 hours is not easy. But now the fantastic views towards  to the north and the Chandrakhani Pass in the east is well-rewarding. You must have a cup of chai before ordering your dinner and sitting down on the hut’s ‘porch’; just relax and enjoy this special place a few hours before the sun will set. The guys will be starting up the Tandoor to warm up the hut.

Day 2: Crossing the spectacular pass of Chandrakhani and going down to Malana village

Day 2 Chandrakhani to Malana (6 hours):

No more climbs today! Some smug folks may tell you how much they prefer going uphill to downhill. I never bought it, and you shouldn’t either. Today is an easy day, because mostly you’ll be walking down hill after crossing the scenic Chandrakhani pass.

On the way down to Malana

On the way down to Malana

After having breakfast at the campsite, you’ll be taking off for a 1hour walk up to the Chandrakhani pass. You’ll pass through beautiful alpine meadows, abundant with medical flora. The Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh is a well known medicinal plants hot spot in the western Himalayas, while Chandrakhani is one of the richest with medicinal herbs in the entire valley.

Reaching the Chandrakhani pass, you’ll immediately understand why the local Gods have chosen this place as their favorite. Satisfaction guaranteed!

The Deo Tibba and the Pir Panjal peak are towering to the north, the Parvati valley laying peacefully below, and the immense Parvati range looms upwards.

Old Malana Villiage

Old Malana Villiage

After walking on the ridge between the huge boulders for less than hour, you’ll steeply descend to the unique, and secluded town of Malana. 2-3 hours from the pass, you’ll hit Malana. This is the end, my friend!

 

Make sure you’re wearing long trousers today because the path is covered with thick vegetation and loads of nettles

 

Now it’s time for getting back to Naggar; here’s what you should do:

1)   Go down from Malana to the main road on the other side of the river.  It’s approximately 2 km.

2)   Grab a taxi to Jeri. From Jeri’s bus stand you can catch either buses or taxis depending on your budget to Bunthar.

3)   From Bunthar (again depending on your budget) taxis and buses are available. If you’re not on a short leash, then hire a taxi straight to Naggar. If you are, then you’ll have to take a bus to Patlikul via Kullu. From Patlikul any rickshaw driver will be more than happy to have you on board for the 6 km ride, and drop you of at Naggar.

Now when you’re back to Naggar, sitting on the Ragini’s rooftop restaurant ( best one in town), finally having a beer, there’s nothing better than to sum up the entire Himalayan experience with the remarkable insight of Bart Simpson ( again ) :

Bart simpson

 

 

“I don’t know! I don’t know why I did it, I don’t know why I enjoyed it, and I don’t know why I’ll do it again”

 

 

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My tribal tour in India

My Tribal Tour in India – Into the Wild

1) My Tribal tour in India 2) Getting into the jungle 3) Beam me up Scotte 4) Signs of hope 5) Nature and men 6) Navigation in a pathless path 7) Back to harsh reality

My tribal tour in India was like getting into a time machine which sent me back 10,000 years. Yes, ten thousand years ago, right in the heart of the agriculture revolution!

On the way down to the river.

On the way down to the river.

It all started in a university seminal far away from the jungles of southern India (sorry for being  ambiguous, but traveling to this place is not recommended and can get quite dangerous). The seminar was called “Hunter and Gatherers at the edge of agriculture revolution”. It was rather boring until a guy came to deliver a host lecture about his field work where he was living with a certain tribe ( sorry again – can’t reveal the nameL) which has just been transformed from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle into permanent settlements. That means – from a nomadic society to an agricultural society living in one place.   He was there with them for one year researching aspects of the education system within nomadic societies.

When he was sharing with us his experiences and showing slides on the classroom walls, I knew I had to be there. Three years later, it happened. I was able to find, though not the exact tribe he was living with, others who had undergo the same process.

A meeting  with the clerks – Tribal tours in India

After begging Ragu (not his real name), a really nice guy we met in a tiny town in south India, for three days to introduce me to some guys from the nearby village who matched the profile I described to him, he had agreed.  I had to stay in my tent for three more days at the backyard of local family until they finally arrived.

One evening two guys came to my camp site –looking at them evinced a feeling of disappointment. I started to believe, as they approached me with Ragu, that this was a scam in Indian style.  At the a first glance they look like they have just finished a shift in a local bank, only they have forgotten to wash their cloths for quite a long time. But after almost three years in India I thought I have seen it all!

Ragu translated everything I said to their local language. “Why don’t we all go for a nice trek in the jungle?” simple massage to deliver, yes? For some reason it took them almost 15 minutes to come up with the following answer: “sure, no problem!”

Getting into the jungle

Two days after, we met on side of the high way early in the morning. On one side was the village and on the other side a dense jungle. I have started to get nervous as I looked in it. So many poisonous species of reptiles are living happily inside those bushes. I knew that it’s the kingdom of wildlife in India and I was about to meet them all in person. I was terrified. Going into the jungle, accompanied only by two former Indian bank clerks and Ragu who had last been on a tour in primary school, was not something to be proud of.

We kept on hearing noises from the bushes and the whole idea of having a tribal tour in India began to seem silly. We prayed that they wouldn’t come, but again good old Murphy was right: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong” and they guys just appeared in front of us.

“Beam me up Scotty”-Into the Wild

Five minutes of walking in the jungle was enough for us to look back towards where we thought should be the road and feel helpless. We had lost all our navigation skills (something both of us are known for) – we were completely disoriented. Everything seems to be the same: high grass (heaven for snakes), deciduous low trees typical of India’s dry broad forests located in tropical and subtropical areas (perfect for elephants to hide and attack). Apparently, elephants aren’t exactly the sweet pets you visit in the zoo. As matter of fact, a lot of the deaths reported by these tribes are caused by elephant attacks.  When I asked them what animal they were most afraid of, they replied very clearly – elephants! So there we were in the middle of the jungle, on a supposed tribal tour in India for  which we had to rely only on those two guys dressed up with smart and terribly dirty suits wearing flip-flops and a nice frightened translator. This did not bode well!

However since we could do nothing about it, no trails to show us the way out, and a rapid pace of waking into the dense forest dictated by the “clerks” which we had to keep up with, we were forced accept our fate. These were our expedition members for good and for bad. What bothered us was the fact that they only came with one big knife (Machete) and some pieces of bed sheets wrapped around their chests.

Signs of Hope

A few hours later, all our suspicions were gone. It happened when we started to descend down towards the river (again sorry for not being able to disclose any details about the place – it’s for their sake) when we were abruptly ordered to keep our mouths shut. We didn’t understand any of this (as the sponsors of this expedition we thought we deserved a better attitude). However, we immediately complied. We stopped walking like they did but there was nothing to justify it.

 

Suddenly, after one minute, we felt the ground moving under our feet. Tree leafs started to shake and slowly a strong sound of galloping engulfed us. We stayed put, as they did. The nose got stronger, until we noticed that a huge herd of Indian Guar was crossing our way! For few minutes we were standing there 20 meters from the running herd as if we were standing on a traffic red light. After the herd passed us we kept walking. How the hell did they know about it?

Several minutes later, another sign of hope showing that we were in good hands. It was when they stopped running again and asked Ragu to get us over (they were walking a head). Look at that… one of them pointed to the nearby ridge something like 50 meters away. We couldn’t see anything. Keep on looking, he pointed to the trees and smiled. At the beginning I saw some movement over there and then a herd of antelopes gradually traipsed out between the trees. It was amazing!

In the bushes antelopes  revealed

In the bushes antelopes revealed

That’s it. We were so relieved; now everything had become so beautiful; the skies, sunset, and the colors of the trees, even the grass now was not that terrifying especially that I was now walking right behind the old clerk – literally inside his footsteps. If a python jumps out, it’d have him bit first.

As we descended to the river we started to hear the stream. We were in heaven the guys kept eating some fruits from the trees. When I picked a small fruit for myself, the old guy stopped me and said “No, poisonous.” Man, I was so close to being a hunter-gatherer, just wasn’t lucky with the tree…

Nature and Men

As we kept going deeper into the forest, we realized that that we got the chance to witness something really big, a rare glance into some of the ancient patterns mankind was living by until 10,000 years ago.  In other words, for most of the time, we have lived on this planet following the patterns that I saw in this ‘trek’.

Me on a tree playing Mogli on the river bank

Me on a tree playing Mogli on the river bank

One striking examples was their attitude towards nature: trees, the forest as a whole, animals, rocks, caves etc. They were talking to all of them. Not exactly in the typical conversational manner as we know it, but somewhat different. Before getting into the cave on the river bank the young “clerk” had gone to the river and was sort of “taking/singing/chanting” the same ‘conversation’ held with the rock we stayed under. Ragu had said that they considered the forest as ‘a nourishing parent.’ The entirety of what we call “nature”, is being dismantled into millions living parts that can be reached out to in their eyes.

Our first lesson about how to fish only with what you can find around you

Our first lesson of how to fish only with what you can find around you

Coming into jungle only with two strips of cloths hanging now seemed reasonable. They ate so much fruit on the way and now at evening time: dinner. One bamboo stick, one thorn easily molded into a hook, one soft root from the tree which acted as a fishing line and worms from the river as baits was all they needed to get us fish for dinner.

Be aware of the crocodiles and Good night!

Navigation in a pathless path

The next morning we checked that all our organs were connected and no parts missing we sat down to have a coffee. Bringing coffee was under our responsibility. I was waiting to see how they would light the fire without matches, but unfortunately one of them took a lighter from his pocket and with no trouble at all lit a fire.

tribal tours in India

Navigation in Action

As we started to walk I was free of my previous day’s misgivings, and could notice the incredible methods they have developed to find their way in the wilderness. It is so simple but I would recommend you to try it. Hunter-gatherers usually travel in what are sometimes called ‘star shaped movements,’ that is one place as a center from where they are traveling to one direction and return back after a while. Next time would go in a  different direction and return etc. until they cover 360 degrees of a certain area.

Travel by this pattern ensures that they won’t be the first to go on a trail even if the former members have been travelling there before quite a long time. But each of them leaves signs for the next group- they break branches in a way that will make them grow to the other direction.  The future groups moving on the same route will be able to recognize the branches growth direction like traffic signs. Too simple ha? I do not advise trying this at home.

Coming back to a harsh reality

After 3 nights and 4 days learning so much (it is impossible to get it all in a single post) we managed to navigate ourselves back to the same village we took off from.  In the meanwhile, we fell in love with those guys, even with Ragu who turned out to be the worst translator in India. But language in the jungle took on a totally different meaning for us as we found so many ways of communication. We have seen the ‘clerks’ in action: hunting. picking fruits from the trees. finding roots to cook at evening. fishing at the river, collecting honey from a 10 meter high beehive – climbing the tree like it was easier than going up to the mall’s second floor in an escalator. Even one time when I was sitting with the young clerk he pointed to a super cool place on the ridge which I assumed was an incredible view point and he told me: “you see this place up there? This is where I and wife are coming from time to time when we want to be alone…without the kids.”

We have seen it all;  but never did they light a fire without the lighter regardless of the countless times I asked them to show me. Maybe they were two former bank clerks afterall…

Anyways as we got back we wanted to sit down together for one more cup of chai ( tea before our “tribal tour in India” was ended. They refused, but we insisted. In the restaurant, a dude told us politely: please step outside. In 2012, those guys are ultimately a tribal people. With that title, it’s very hard to live in India these days.

Feel free to leave a comment and we will be happy to get ideas and suggestions for future articles

 

Kullu Valley

How to Explore the Valleys of North India

Snow covered peaks, quaint villages resting on slopes, forests and lakes – and no, it’s not Switzerland… but a trip to the spectacular landscape of the Himalayas will be one of the first picks for everyone that is travelling to India.

The beautiful green hills of the Parvatii Valley

The beautiful green hills of the Parvati Valley

Our Journey to North India begins on a flight from Delhi to the Himalayas. It is an unforgettable (and a bit scary…) adventure that lasts an hour and a half. The plane lands safely along the narrow airstrip alongside the River (Beas) in (Bhuntar). Once you enter the Himalayan region, a stunningly beautiful landscape is revealed.  Snow-capped peaks, villages, green lush terraces and deep gushing rivers.

Location: Himachal Pradesh

Altitude: 1220m

Best time: mid May – mid October

Parvati Valley

Bhuntar is the main town of Parvati Valley. Parvati Valley is a beautifully green landscape with steep slopes and scattered villages. Farmers can grow anything here, despite the difficult conditions. This is one of the favourite areas for backpackers and there are lots of guest houses and restaurants that serve Italian, Chinese and Middle Eastern food. There is also a strong party and drugs scene due to the famous cannabis plantations that are grown in the area.

Manikaran

The river running through Manikaran.

Up the road along the river brings us to the village of Kasol. This is the center of the backpacker scene in the valley. There are many signs in Hebrew due to the large Israeli backpacker scene here. It’s not really authentic, but there is good food, shops, internet places and other services for almost everything you need in North India. Just north of Kasol on a bumpy bus drive is Manikaran.  It is one of the important religious centres for Sikhism and there is a big temple on the banks of the river and hot springs. This is an interesting little town and very easy to walk around and soak up the atmosphere and

Manikaran

The holy Sikh temple in Manikaran.

the steams coming from the natural hot springs. There are also options to sleep, eat and shop.  The visit to Parvati cannot be complete without climbing to one of the remote villages of the valley, a matter of four to six hours walk. There you can really get a sense of feeling the pace of life in these idyllic mountains. One of my  favourite places is the tiny helmet of Kiriganga. It’s contains only a few very basic guest houses, but the pick of the visit is to sit inside the hot spring while surrounded with beautiful green mountains.

 

Kullu Valley

best of India- Food in India

Best of India

After leaving the slopes of ‘the valley of the backpackers’ we enter the Kullu Valley.  The area is more ‘upmarket’ and has good restaurants and luxurious hotels for those requiring a rest day. From here the main road crosses the Himalayas and you pass through villages and small colourful market towns. It is worth stopping to admire the hill people along the way and learn about their lifestyle and view the beautiful landscape of the Himalayas.

Kullu festival

Playing music for the deities at the Kullu Valley festival

Kullu is famous for its industry of unique scarves made from angora wool or pashmina. Pashmina scarf are made from the hair of the big and fluffy shepherd mountain goat. If it is not a must, try to avoid buying products made from this wool and help to prevent the cruel hunting of the animal. The kullu men wear unique traditional caps called topi, and the women, meanwhile, wear colourful headscarves and dress fastened with silver pins and chains.

tents at the Kullu festival

Speaking with local Kullu residents at the festival inside one of their tents. Their local deity is celebrated at the festival

Kullu is a great place to celebrate the Indian festivals of Holi and Dussara. The main attraction of Kullu is held every year around October where a 7 day festival is celebrated. All the local deities from the villages of the Himalayas are carried by devotees from the all-around the trans-Himalayan region to Kullu town. It’s a great folk festival full with colours, food and music.

Another great attraction just north of Kullu is rafting on the river. It depends on the season and the condition and the flow of the river. A Trip to Manali town in the top north end of the valley takes about an hour and a half, without unplanned stops (which is often). You can take a picturesque detour from the main road and up to the scenic route to the village of Naggar. There stands an ancient castle with beautiful scenery around it and views of the valley.

How to arrive there

By Road: the distance from Delhi via Mandi is 530km and from Shimla this is 240km. There are luxury comfortable buses to Kullu and Bhuntar.

By Air: The airport at Bhuntar is 10km from Kullu, where taxis and buses are available.

By Rail: The closest narrow gauge railhead is at Jogindernagar, 95km from Kullu.

 

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Himalayas

Hiking Checklist for the Indian Himalayas

This hiking checklist is made for those that have decided not to hire a porter to carry your bags. You will need to think carefully about your supply and equipment that you plan on bringing with you on your trek.  So this check list has been created to  make your life easier when you start to organize your trip into the Indian Himalayas.

Himalayas

See some of the most amazing views on a trek in the Indian Himalayas

Remember, we advice you warmly to “never walk alone” as Liverpool football club fans sing to their team. Always have a guide with you regardless of how many of you are planning to go hiking together.

Make sure that you include all these items from the hiking checklist in your backpacks. Just remember the golden rule do not go above 14kg. Believe me, you will be thanking yourself for this during your trek!

Clothing

  • Walking boots
  • Daypack for camera, water and other personal items (this relevant for those who have hired a porter)
  • Comfy and fitted trekking backpack (one size definitely does not fit all)
  • Warm jacket
  • Rain proof jacket
  • Woolen shirts and thick sweaters
  • A pair of lightweight/heavyweight trousers to wear on the the campsite
  • Long sleeve polyester undergarments
  • Icebreaker bodyfit top
  • Comfortable walking trousers
  • 2 pairs of loose fitting long shorts
  • A few cotton t-shirts
  • A woolen hat for cold mornings and evenings
  • Warm gloves – they can be woolen or gore-tex
  • Flip flops for the campsite
  • A few pairs of socks and thick woolen socks
  • High quality sleeping bag
  • Scarf
  • Good tent

Other Equipment

  • 2 water bottles – don’t waste money on ‘hi-tech’ water bottles
  • Water purification tablets – most of the time the water in the high Himalayan streams are naturally purified so you won’t need any tables but just in case you need to take with you
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • A few large plastic bags to separate clean and dirty clothes and some small plastic bags for rubbish
  • Large and small towel
  • Head torch with spare batteries
  • Candles or lighter to burn toilet paper
  • Walking stick – I prefer to find a wooden stick on the trail
  • Camera with spare batteries and memory card
  • Some reading materials and notebook to document your insights
  • Pen
  • Pocketknife
  • Binoculars – just for fun
  • First aid kit which is a mandatory item

Papers and Valuables

  • Passport and passport photocopy
  • Permits if needed (some treks in India require special permits that you need to issue before the trek – for any questions regarding this please contact us)
  • Wallet
  • Map
  • Music player
  • If you take prescribed medicine don’t forget to bring it with you
  • Waterproof plastic bag for all your papers
  • Cell phone will local sim ((most chances you won’t have reception but sometimes if anything goes wrong you can find the nearest reception location)

Cooking Kit

  • Stove with extra gas container
  • Aluminium plates
  • Cups
  • Knives, forks, spoons
  • Pots (also one for coffee)
  • A few match boxes or 2 – 3 lighters

 Food

  • Rice
  • Vegetables (for the whole trek or until the first village you will come across)
  • 1kg of flour to perpare chapatti (local bread)
  • Salt, pepper and other spices
  • Coffee, tea and sugar
  • Snacks for the road – dried fruits are the best
Himalayas

A fresh water stream in the Himalayas.

So all you need to do now is print our hiking checklist and you are ready to go! If you have any recommendations, suggestion and/or comments on the list please do not hesitate to let us know

 

 

 

 

The Landscape of the Himalayas in India

Know the Landscape of the Himalayas like a Professional Trekker

Some geographical features to be familiar with in the landscape of the HimalayasIt is impossible to trek in the Indian Himalayas without fully understanding the landscape of the Himalayas. Why? Knowing the landscape allows you to have better orientation and deeper knowledge of the surroundings you are in nand this really does matter!

Is clearer understanding of the landscape of the Himalayas going to help you while you are trekking? Not sure, though you might impress your trekking friends by pointing out some amazing geographical features.

On a deeper level you may also recognize some of the philosophical insights the Buddha spoke of like every single thing is under constant change even what may look like the most static objects such as mountains and glaciers. Furthermore, the Buddha suggested that every single object is bound to in an interwoven relationship with the other. You’ll find he was right! Each landscape feature changes the other constantly. All of them are interconnected and none of them has ‘life’ or justification of its own.

So here is a quick overview of some of the geographical features which determine how the landscape of the Himalayas has been shaped and still is being shaped. We’ll make it as simple as possible…

Main Geo-Features in the Himalayan

Landscape of The Himalayas, Illustration

Landscape of the Himalayas by features: 

1)      Cirque

A cirque is a large area which looks like semi-circle. It is created where large amounts of ice accumulate for long periods of time. In the past, it was from this place which the glacier was created and began its’ descent downhill.  Usually there is more than one cirque on each of the Himalayan Mountains. Today, when very few glaciers remain the melting snow fills up this area and we can find some beautiful lakes which are called ‘Tarns’.

2)      Arête

Arête is a steep ‘wall’ created when two glaciers slip downhill from both sides of the mountain. It means that both sides of the ridge there is a cirque.  Arête, the wall, can be recognized by its steep edges which crawl uphill and downhill like a snake.

3)      Horn

The horn is the sharpest peak which is created by 2 (or more) glaciers that slip downhill from a few sides of the mountain. The horn is surrounded by a few cirques where the glaciers once were.

4)      Col

Col is the ridge, the lowest point along the arête.

5)      U shaped valley  ( Or simply ‘U-valley’)

U Valley is carved when the glacier starts to slip downhill. When the glacier melted we can see its impact on the landscape. A huge flat area resembling a plateau surrounded by the arête walls is the U valley. At the top of the U valley we will always find the semi-circle cirques.

6)      Hanging Valley

A hanging valley is carved by a small tributary glacier that joins with a valley carved out by a much larger glacier (or the main glacier). It is a shallow valley and carved by a small glacier and thus the elevation of this valley floor is ‘hanging’ high above the elevation of the valley floor carved out by the main glacier below. The floor of the hanging valley is relatively flat and thus the contour lines on the topographic map are more widely spaced than those contours representing the sides of the valley. The close spacing of the contour lines at the edge of the hanging valley indicates a steep drop-off, which is where the waterfall is located.

7)      Moraine

Moraine is any glacially formed accumulation of glacial debris it could be clay, silt, sand, gravel, cobbles, boulders or any other forms of soil and rock. This debris may have been plucked off a valley floor as a glacier advanced downhill during the years. Moraines may be composed of debris ranging in size from silt-sized glacial flour to large boulders.

There are few types of moraine let’s review two of them:

  • Lateral moraines which occur on the side of the valley and can even be between two glaciers.
  • Terminal moraines occur at the end of the valley.

 

 

 

Shiva in the Himalyas:Lord Shiva on his natural surrounding- The Himalayan ridge

Lord Shiva Feels at Home on the Peak of the Himalayan Ridge

Shiva in the Himalayas: The Kingdom of Lord Shiva

The kingdom of Lord Shiva Photo by Tali Twito

Shiva In The Himalays:

home sweet home

Lord Shiva (or Shiv, Shiv ji  in Hindi ) is one of the most prominent gods in the crowded Indian pantheon. He is one of the most complex characters among Indian Gods and maybe that is what makes him so interesting.  This complexity is well known throughout the long Indian tradition where he started as a peripheral god bythe name of Rudra, living outside of society and gradually he grew into the center of Indian hearts.

What do I mean by saying peripheral? Firstly, when we look at Vedic hymns there were much more significant gods and goddesses and secondly, Shiva at that time was known as a god who have no interest in socializing and  mingling with other gods. All he wanted was to stay as far as he could from the city.  However, even though his status changed he never lost his controversial nature and attitude with regard to fundamental codes of Indian society.

Shiva is deeply associated with the Indian Himalayas, so when you will be travelling in this region you will be aware that you are wondering in Shiva’s domain, Shiva’s castle and home. As most of the Indian Mythologies (especially the Shiva Purans) refer to the Himalayas as “the abode of Shiva”

Lord Shiva feels at home on the Himalayan Ridge which is quiet and peaceful. Shiva can meditate in The Himalayas without being disturbed by human needs and desires. Here he is left alone to achieve Moksha ( we can refer here to the term as an enlightenment but not at all in the way we know it from the Buddhist terminology).

Shiva meditates in The Himalayas

Home sweet home. Out alone on the Himalayas-Shiva’s Iconography

Shiva in the Himalayas- Don’t disturb him in his peaceful state of mind:

This is the place where he comes to relax but not in the sense of “I had busy day and need to unwind”. The Himalayan mountains are the only place for Shiva where he can meditate so he can achieve the highest of all goals, Moksha. Even the gods are afraid to disturb him while he is meditating. There is a famous story from the Purans, The Indian Mythology that the gods had to arrange Shiva a bride, the daughter of Himalaya – Parvati. Unfortunately for them it was while Shiva was in a deep meditation in the Himalayas. No one dared to go there to persuade him to get married. After long discussion  over who the messenger would be, Kama, the lord of love was chosen.

The main reason Kama was chosen was due to a powerful weapon he possessed.  The magical bow and arrows that when used could make anyone fall in love immediately. So Kama went off to shoot the message of love at Shiva to make him leave the mountains to get married and to start living a ‘regular life’. To make a long story short, Shiva discovered the plan and he opened his third eye and fired a flame of fire at Kama which burned him to ashes.

(Just for the spoiler, eventually Shiva married Paravati and they even had a child together who became one of the most celebrated Indian Gods called Ganesha)

The conclusion from this story is that the Himalayan Ridge is the place where Lord Shiva meditates and it is the place where he rejects those humanly things and focus on higher goals. The Himalaya is the place where Shiva accumulates his Tapas (inner strength which arises out of  asceticism). It can also be considered as an abode of conflict between codes of society to the codes of the Indian renunciation.

Of  course there is much more about the connection of Shiv Ji to the Himalaya, but that is for another post…

So when you have a change to enter the highest ridge in the world with your backpack and getting  ready to hike remember that this is the home of Shiva and he doesn’t like to be disturbed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trekking in India

How to Prepare for Trekking in the Himalayas

Trekking in India is one of the most popular attractions for many tourists from all over the world. In this post let me share some important information about the recommended preparations that should be done before a trek on the beautiful mountains of the Himalayan Ridge.

One more thing I should add before getting to the nitty gritty is that all the information, tips, and suggestions do not apply for professional mountaineering. I am covering basic treks in India where non require any special skills or gear.

[box style=’info’] How to prepare for trekking in the Himalayas – basics  [/box]

Get ready and prepare trekking in the Indian Himalaya.

Prepare for Trekking in The Himalaya Photo Tali Twit

  1. Try your best not to carry on your back more than 12-13kg.  I know it’s very tempting before the trek to organise your bag and know what to bring along but after a number of hours of walking you will definitely appreciate and be very thankful for a lighter bag.
  2. See trekking gear check list.
  3. Check the weather. The weather in the Himalayas can be very tricky and you will have to be very flexible on when to begin your trek.
  4. There are options for renting a porter who will carry your gear for you and that will cost approximately 400-500 rupees a day. It is a  good option if you feel you’re not fit enough or if you think it will allow you the enjoy the road better. Porters can be found everywhere. In every village that you will begin your trek there will be many porters eager to join you. If you pre-plan the trek via us we will offer you a porter service and it will be up to you whether you decide that you require the service or not.
  5. Always have a first aid kit with you.
  6. You should always check if you need any permits for the trek and this is advice that we can help you with. In some regions permits are required due to security reasons or for your own safety. For which ever reason without the relevant permits prepared you will not be able to go. In case you want to find out whether you need a permit for a certain trek please contact us and we will be happy to advise you.
  7. It is definitely worth considering hiring a guide for the trek. There are many treks which can be completed without a guide however, for some treks it is wiser to have a guide with you and will make the trek much safer. Usually when you want to trek for longer than one or two days we highly recommend taking a guide. It is not for the information and knowledge that you want him although that is a bonus, but for leading you to the right place. Do not expect from guides to explain to you about history, geophysics, geology etc. Most of them do not know and you should be happy if they speak English at all, but than again remember that they are vital for the success of the trek. Nobody knows the terrain, the trails and the way better than them!

Laxmanjulla Bridge on Rshiikesh

A Short Day Walk in Rishikesh India

Laxmanjhulla to Garurchatti

By Ramesh Rawat

day walk from Rishikesh to Garurchatti

Garurchatti waterfalls near Rishikesh India
Photo by Ramesh Rawat

Rishikesh India is situated in the Himalayan foothills, surrounded by Rajaji national park to its west and south and lush green hills on its east and north sides. It is known for its many adventure activities, gateway to the Chardham Yatra and world capital for yoga and meditation.

Travelers, musicians and adventure enthusiastic alike have enjoyed and continue to enjoy visiting this beautiful town. The Holy Ganges flows tenderly through its banks, where there are many ashrams and temples.

There are two suspension bridges called Ram and Laxmanjhulla which connect the main town to its tourist centers and ashrams. These bridges are crowded by tourists taking photos and feeding fishes all while crazy monkey’s jump and swing around.

There are many silver sandy beaches around the banks of the Ganges where people practice meditation and yoga or simply enjoy a walk along the sand and water.

Walking along the Ganges and around this area is a delightful experience.

Before there were road connections in the mountains, pilgrims used to walk all the way to Badrinath and Kedarnath along the Ganges. It took several hard days to accomplish their pilgrimage.

Today you can still experience a short day walk from Laxmanjhulla to Garurchatti. This easy 5km walk on the left bank of the Ganges starts from bustling Laxmanjhulla.

You will pass through a few temples and many newly built guest houses and the beautiful sight of turquoise color Ganges to your left. This route is now a busy jeep road that connects several other villages and the famous Neelkanth temple.

See Rubber Boats, Mango Orchards and Sadhus all along the Ganga River

Dramatic view of the Ganga river in Rishikesh

The steamy Ganga during the Rishikesh day walk

As you head further down you can often see many colorful rubber boats floating down the Ganges with their joyful participant swimming, surfing and jumping off the cliffs in search of their own Nirvana. Rishikesh gets its major tourist inflow for rafting from Delhi and other metros. It is a fun experience for novice’s

Rishikesh gets its major tourist inflow for rafting from Delhi and other metros. It is a fun experience for novice’s as-well the more experienced where there are larger rapids higher up the Ganges.

As you walk closer to Garurchatti, you will be able to see a very old Mango orchard This is where pilgrims rested long ago during their treacherous pilgrimage to the higher Himalayas. There are few tea stalls where local people drink tea, and here you can pick up a warm ginger tea and pakora (fried snack of mixed vegetables and potatoes).

There is also a small and beautiful temple dedicated to Garu ji. Garur ji is vahan (medium of travel) for Lord Vishnu and this place is the entrance on the long trail to Badrinath Temple which is a sacred temple for Hindus. (You can arrive to Badrinath by either car or bus from Rishikesh which is a distance of over 280km which take around 5 hours.)

 The water has some lime content and people believe that bathing in this water can cure and make your skin shiny

A 500 meter trail leads behind the temple and located there are newly built tea shops. Here you will find a very pleasant walk through rocks and water channels. This water has some lime content and people believe that bathing in this water can cure and make your skin shiny. We recommend showering under the fresh water which is very reviving.

A little further up the trail is a cave, which may have used by travelers and sages during their long pilgrimage to Himalayan shrines.  If you sit there for a rest you will be able to hear the thundering sound of  water and lots of birds that nest there. During your descent back to

During your descent back to Rishikesh you may well see langoor  roaming around on walls and mango trees for their last opportunity for peanuts and fruits, which passing tourists offer them. These white monkeys with black faces are friendly and just so you know monkeys are regarded a holy creature by Hindus. Hanuman the monkey god is

Hanuman the monkey god is worshiped as a symbol of strength and fidelity.

For More Information about Rishikesh India walks please contact us