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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.

 

 

 

Varansi_oded

The Story of the Ganga River

The Story of the Ganga

A Story of How The Ganga Descended to Earth is live on Banras

The Story of the Ganga is an integral part of Indian Culture
Photo by Jonathan Benzvi

The story of Ganga

The story of Ganga  and Shiva is one of the most famous rivers in India and the beautiful story that we post here about the Ganga is an integral part of Indian Culture and tradition. Next time you visit the Ganga you will look at it differently.

The source of the Ganga river

The source of Ganga is at Gaumukh in Utarkhand, just a few hours drive from Uttarkashi. This is where the river emerges from the depths of the Gangotri glacier (4300m). The river is known as Bhagirathi after King Bhagirath. It rises in the icy glacier of Gangotri and the gushing, tossing and gurgling Bhagirathi river embarks its long journey downwards where it reunites with ‘Alaknanda’ river and at that point (sangham)it becomes what we all know as the Ganga. The Ganga brings a sturdy supply of water to the dry Indu-Gangatic plains, it brings life to the most populated area in India.

The stories of the Ganga

But not only water brings life, stories bring life too. The Ganga River or the Ganga goddess if you will is full with both them. There are many stories and tales linked to the Ganga, some of which are mentioned in ancient Indian Mythology (Purans). Here is one of them.

A story of how the Ganga descended to earth

King Sagar,according to myths, had 60,000 sons. He defeated all the Asuras (daemons) on earth and wanted to perform a famous Vedic ritual called”Ashwamedha Yagya” (“horse sacrifice) to declare his supremacy and acquisition over the land. Therefore,based on ritual protocol, he had to send a horse to ride all over the territory that he claimed over, and that is exactly what he did. The horse rode across the earth along side with King Segar’s sons.

The King of Heaven, Lord Indra started to get panicked from the power of King Sagar and felt that he had to stop him. Indra couldn’t afford to let King Sagar have an absolute sovereignty over earth.

Indra for those of you who are not familiar with him, was the dominant god in ancient India, the leader of the Devas camp. He was the only god who could overcome Vritra the celestial snack, in an epic battle, for saving the universe. This is just to emphasise how serious he considered the threat of King Sagar who just claimed the earth for himself.

So Indra stole the horse and tied it to the Ashram of Sage Kapil. When the 60,000 sons saw the horse in Kapil’s ashram they got furious and started to attack the Monastery. Sage Kapil at that time was in deep meditation, gaining Tapas (inner strength) and hearing the disturbance he opened his eyes in anger, loaded with the Tapas power he had gained, King Sagar burned the 60,000 sons to ashes immediately, except one- prince Asamanjas.

Anshuman, the grandson of King Sagar,managed to bring the horse back from the Sage’s Ashram and asked for his forgiveness. Sage Kapil promised that the sons be brought back to life only if Ganga is brought from heaven to earth.

Shiva holds the Ganga streams to save the world

Shiva’s sculpture in Rishikesh based on the Story of how A Story of How The Ganga Descended to Earth

Neither Anshuman nor his son Dilip were successful in this task. No one could persuade Ganga to descend to earth from heaven. But Dilip’s son, Bhagirath was determined to get this task done. He started meditating intensely for several years and finally Ganga was convinced and descended to the earth. However, there was one big problem; it wasn’t easy to get the Ganga’s wild water down to earth without destroying it. The waters were too powerful for earth to hold. This is where Lord Shiva came into action although it took a lot of effort for Bhagiratha to convince him with endless prayers:

“Please hold it up in your Jeta (matted locks); otherwise my whole effort is a waste”. He tied his Jeta and kept it. But Shiva wouldn’t release it. He simply kept quiet. Then again Bhagiratha prayed to Lord Shiva, “Please release it.”

Eventually Shiva with his endless compassion was content and released the Ganga from his matted locks into seven different rivers to soften the waters impact.

That is the reason why you can see the Ganga on Shiva’s iconography descending straight into and off his forehead. That is also the reason why Shiva is also known as Ganga Pati (Ganga’s husband)

The water of Ganga touched the ashes of Sagar sons who rose to their eternal rest in heaven.

The Seven Streams of Ganga River

The seven streams of Ganga are Bhagirathi, Janhvi, Bhilangana, Mandakini, Rishiganga, Saraswati and Alaknanda which merge into Ganga at a place called Devprayag.

The Healing Power of the Ganga

The rock, on which King Bhagirath is believed to have meditated, is called Bhagirath Shila and is located near the temple of Ganga. Until now it is common to believe that even one drop of the Ganga’s water can heal anyone from any disease like it revived the 60,000 sons of King Sagar.

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!