You know, sometimes I’m envious of people who live in Delhi and around. The Himalayas are just an overnight journey away from the cities. In fact, with a little planning, you could go on weekend treks in Himalayas almost every month, if not every weekend.
And the best part is, that you can do the treks by yourself. As long as you take all the necessary precautions.
If you want to go on some Indiahikes’ trek, we have some at the end of this article. But most of these treks are Do-It Yourself Treks
We’ve come up with 12 weekend treks in the Himalaya that are just an overnight (or a few hours’) journey away from Delhi.
At an altitude of 9423 ft, Shali Tibba is a hard to miss peak near Shimla. And despite its 360 degree views and being so close to Shimla, surprisingly it has very few visitors.
Bhima Kali Temple on Shali Tibba top
The top houses a temple dedicated to Bhimakali, a goddess highly revered by the locals. Possibly why the Raja for Faridkot built a trail to the temple in the 1936. The trail exists even today and is good shape.
Kuppar Bugyal Trek is one of the least explored regions in Shimla is the forest land. Endless expanses of moist deodar trees, mixed coniferous forests and rhododendron forests sit breathing quietly over a large part of this popular hill station. These forests reside in what is known as Pabbar Valley, where Kuppar Bughyal lies.
View on the Kuppar Bugyal Trek
The main wildlife species found here are brown ghoral, black bear, Himalayan brown bear and a wide variety of monal pheasant species. However, it is strange that with so much abundance of flora and fauna, there is no established national park in this area.
Pandava Cave is a religious cave atop Mount Karol and is considered one of the oldest and longest cave in Hiamlayas. The mountain is nestled in the mightly Shivalik ranges and is shrouded in mystery and mythology and is hidden in a dense forests
Karol Tibba in the background
The short 7 km trek to this cave provides a breath taking view of the town of Solan – the mushroom capital of India. The trek can be easily completed in a day without having to camp up there.
Altitude: 7175 ft
Duration: 2 Days
Basecamp: Solan- 46 kms from Shimla
The Bhubhu Pass (2,900 metres) is an ancient trail connecting the Chuhar Valley (Mandi) to the Lagh Valley (Kullu) in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The trek is a rejuvenating one, through a thick forest on one side and rocky terrain on the other. And if you happen to be one of those adventurous wanderers, you can always continue your walk across the Himri Pass from lagh Valley over to the Manali town.
The Dev Pashakot temple on the trail
One of the things you can do on trek to is to visit the temple of Dev Pashakot – the theocratic King of Chuhar valley Although these pass is not on the principal axis of the Dhauladhars, it gives all the feel and thrill of the Dhauladhars.
Altitude: 9514 ft
Duration: 2 Days
Basecamp: Tikken Bridge near the tourist town of Barot
Located 18 km from Dharmshala, Triund makes for an attractive trekking destination, with well-defined forest trails and breath-taking views of the entire Kangra valley. This is a small and an easy trek, which can be done either from McLeodganj or Dharamkot, which is 2 km ahead of McLeodganj.
View from Triund
Although the trek from McLeodganj to Triund is a steep ascent of over 1,100 metres, it is well-compensated by refreshing walks amongst rhododendron and oak trees. The view of the evening sky from Triund is a good enough reason to pitch a tent here for the night. The length of the trek makes it apt for a weekend.
Altitude: 9366 ft
Duration: 2 Days
Basecamp: Dharamkot/Mcleodganj near Dharamshala
Bijli Mahadev to Naggar
The legendary Bijli Mahadev temple is located on top of Mattan hills near the picturesque town of Kullu. the real charm of the trek lies in the interior of Kais Wildlife Sanctuary, if you take the trail from Bijli Mahadev to Naggar. This 15 km approach by foot from Kullu town to the top of this hill is an experience in itself.
Views on the trail to Bijli Mahadev
The sylvan surroundings of the quiet valley are mesmerizing, with a wide array of deodar and pine forests. This is complimented by the beautiful apple, pomegranate and pear orchards of Jana Village. The trek becomes more interesting with overnight camping inside a forested ridge at Matikochar. As you exit the valley and reach Naggar, you’ll learn that it’s a wonderfully satisfying weekend trek.
Altitude: 8028 ft
Duration: 2 Days
The Kareri Lake trek takes you through lush sub-tropical pine forests. The forests are filled with chir and chilgoza pines, interspersed with broad-leaf species. They are also host to a high density of bird life which is easily spotted (given the low canopies).
Meadows on the banks of Kareri Lake
Kareri Lake is a lovely weekend trek for people looking for options away from the more beaten Himachal trails like Kheerganga, Prashar lake, Triund, etc. Several campsites along the trail, along with convenient options for food, make this an ideal beginner-level DIY trail for trekkers
Altitude: 9685 ft
Duration: 2 Days
Basecamp: Kareri Village, Dharamshala
Benog Tibba trek is not merely a weekend trek but a trek which can give a complete sense of adventure and exploration. Traversing through steep mountains and forests, this trek will lead you in the lap of mountains, making it a perfect place for an overnight camping.
Benog Tibba is a great weekend trek from Mussoorie
With many camping spots en-route it’s a perfect trek for beginners. This trek can be done from Mussoorie, ending at Kempty fall via a colourful village known as “Bungalow Ki Kandi”. Over-all this is an off-beat route that one can embark and makes for a very satisfying weekend trek.
Bhadraj Hill Trek is a modest, well-balanced trek for beginners. One of the best weekend treks in Mussoorie, it can be completed in one or two days. The trail to Dudhli Village is called Milkman’s Trail, as it helps supply milk to Mussoorie town every day. You’re likely to be envious of the “milkman” considering he gets to start his day on such a lovely note. All along the ridge, Gangetic plains slope down on either side, while Himalayan ranges sit snug in the distance.
A view of the trail
Nothing can match that wonderful feeling of trekking in a hill-station. More so, at the foothills of the Himalayas.Trekking on the outskirts of Mussoorie through luscious oak forests, with mild sunshine and pleasant breeze is every bit as romantic as it sounds. Throughout the trail, mountain ranges lie calmly around you – prominent in the forefront and fading into a blue-grey haze towards the horizon.
Nag Tibba is a trekkers’ delight. Though it is a relatively unknown trail near Mussoorie it can easily be considered one of the best weekend treks for someone around Delhi. It is the highest peak (9,915 ft) in the Nag Tibba range of the Garhwal Himalayas. The trek takes you through dense forests rich in flora and fauna and presents stunning views of Bandarpoonch peak, the Gangotri group of peaks, Kedarnath peak in the north, Doon valley and the snow peaks of Changabang.
The trail through the woods to Nag Tibba summit
The advantage of this trek is that you can reach the base of the Nag Tibba range by jeep. This makes it possible to do it over a weekend. You go up on one side of the mountain and come down from another side, getting to experience a variety of landscapes.
Altitude: 9914 ft
Duration: 2 Days
Basecamp: Panthwari, 2-3 hours drive from Dehradun
The Deoban trek near Dehradun is one of the few treks in Uttarakhand that is accessible so quickly and offers grand views of 55 Himalayan summits!
Trekkers approaching their camp for the night, a lovely clearing amongst coniferous forests. Picture by Krunal Patel
The name Deoban comes from “Deo”, which refers to Deodar trees and “ban”, which means forests. True to it’s name, the trek has one of the few Uttarakhand trails that is dominated by Deodar trees.It is no wonder that trees were named “devdaru” – which comes from Sanskrit word that means “divine wood”/ “timber of Gods”.
Altitude: 6890 ft
Duration: 2 Days
Basecamp: Shangarh, 30 km from Aut on the highway to Manali
What to do next?
If you’re nowhere close to Himalayas, worry not. We have day trek from Mumbai and Bangalore on the website
If you’re looking for longer Himalayan treks, visit our upcoming treks section
We have finally opened the much-revered Bali Pass trek!
For years, trekkers have been requesting us to open up the Bali Pass trek! It is one of those treks that are on every adventurer’s bucket list. It is a high adventure trek like Rupin Pass, Buran Ghati or Kedartal.
Why hadn’t we opened the trek earlier? Frankly, we have been so tied down running our regular treks that we could not devote attention to this fantastic trek. Finally, early this year we took the plunge and committed to the trek.
Even then it took us time to set up the trek — with our technical, safety and backend team — which is why the announcement is coming bit late. We had to run recce teams earlier this month, and set up a rope bridge across a river.
I was smiling to myself when I saw these comments on our Facebook page last week. Little did they know what was going to be announced a week later!
I must let you know that the Bali pass is a very sought after trek. Some of our regular trekkers got to know we were opening the trek (when we talked about it on social media). They have grabbed the early positions in the only two batches that we are launching.
I’m not going to say much more about the trek; I’ll just let this picture do the talking.
This was shot on the approach to Bali Pass. Interestingly, we explored and documented the Bali Pass trek back in June 2014. That’s when this picture was taken.
Before you decide on the trek, a few points to note: The Bali Pass is a difficult trek. There is tricky terrain to deal with. It also goes to an altitude above 16,000 feet (16,207 feet precisely). After the pass crossing, there is a narrow precarious overhang that has to be negotiated carefully. It is not for those who are attempting a high altitude trek for the first time.
There will be a fitness and trek experience screening when you start registering for the trek.
We have only 2 dates this pre-monsoon. June 14 and June 23. We’re taking only 15 members in a team. We won’t be opening any more slots until September (we’ll put up those dates after the summer season ends).
So if you’re very keen on this trek, register as soon as you can. In my opinion I don’t think slots will be available within the next two days.
I did the Kedartal trek in May 2018. Though I had heard that it was a challenging and relatively unexplored trek, I did not know much about it. I had seen pictures of the notorious spider wall, and I knew the trek climbed up to 16,116 ft. That was it.
That year, no other group had trekked all the way to Kedartal yet; we were going to be the first. The trail had been hit by a series of avalanches, blocking a trekking group that had to be rescued. Alarmed, the forest department revoked trekking permissions for subsequent groups. In this chaos, no one really knew what to expect on the trail — especially if the trail was in a condition good enough to trek.
It was only when I got on the Kedartal trail that I realised how difficult the trek was. I was prepared for the all the glamorous spider walls that I had heard of. In fact, the spider wall was not really the big hazard — it got over quickly, and the danger really wasn’t much. There were other tricky spots on the way. Added to that the weather turned fickle in moments. I saw it going from sunny to snowy many times .
Perhaps I need to elaborate the difficulties of the trek. So in this article, let me explain what makes Kedartal a difficult trek.
The emerald-blue waters of Kedartal lake at 16,116 ft. Picture by: Ashwin Shrinivasa
The Kedartal trek begins at Gangotri, which in itself is at an altitude of 10,000 ft. Getting to Gangotri by car makes it very easy. There in lies the danger. This is unlike most other treks which begin at altitudes of 7,000 or 8,000 ft. Right from the start, your body is pressed into very high altitudes. It is constantly trying to cope with the high altitudes. Even with the acclimatisation day built into the trek — the altitude gains are very hard on the body.
For example, the first campsite, Bhoj Kharak is at 12,401 ft. The next one, Kedar Kharak, is at 14,000 ft. Kedartal is at 16,116 ft, which means that you climb over 6,000 ft in just three days.
The Kedar Kharak campsite surrounded by snow at 14,000 ft. Picture by: Sanjay Goel
At such high altitudes, AMS can hit you any time. You not only have to be fit to trek here but also pace your trek carefully. Trek too slowly and your body doesn’t get adequate rest at the campsite. Trek too fast and your body doesn’t get adequate time to acclimatise.
Steep ascents and descents
There’s no ‘gradual easing into’ this trek. The trail starts to climb relentlessly as soon as you are out of Gangotri. And stays that way till you reach Bhoj Kharak. The few stretches of level walk are so short that you barely have time to catch your breath.
The trail towards Kedartal is a steep ascent for the most part. Picture by: Satyen Dasgupta
The best way to manage such an ascent is to take micros steps — small controlled little steps — keeping a sharp focus on the next step and never allowing your breath to rise slightly more than normal. Take short breaks to sip water and take in the bhoj forest around you (silver birch). I must admit, the silver birch forest on this trail is really one of its kind.
Beyond Bhoj Kharak, the incline becomes gentler. But the steady altitude gain makes the trail to Kedar Kharak and beyond equally challenging. The trail becomes slippery and boulder prone. You realize that climbing boulders while trying to catch your breath is no easy task.
The entire trail from Gangotri to Kedartal runs along the Kedar Ganga River. The initial part of the trail from Gangotri is quite straightforward. It goes through forests and the moisture from the trees keeps the trail firm and hard. You realize how important this is when you face the loose mud and stones later on the trek.
There are intermittent sections with small boulders. These can get slippery in rain or snow. However, in dry weather, they are simple to get across.
Rain and snow make crossing the rocky terrain a challenging task. Picture by: Satyen Dasgupta
At almost three quarters of the way to Bhoj Kharak comes the first tricky section — a rock face that you have to walk on to get to the trail on the other side. Your flexibility gets tested as you crawl on all fours under a large overhanging rock to get to this rock face. This is a precursor to the notorious spider wall that comes fifteen minutes later.
Crawling underneath a large overhanging rock before reaching the Spider wall. Picture by: Satyen Dasgupta
The ‘Spider wall’
Honestly, I was a little disappointed to see it after all the hype that was built around it.This is a near vertical rock face which goes right down to the river. It has a very narrow ledge that you need to walk on to get across to the other side. The ledge is wide enough for you to comfortably keep one foot at a time. If you keep one foot in front of the other and hold the wall to get a grip, the spider wall should not be too difficult to navigate.
This stretch is barely 30 metres long. I did not find it very difficult to cross since the rock face was dry. However, this section can become dangerously slippery if it rains or snows.
Trekkers cross the narrow ledge of the ‘Spider wall’. Picture by: Sudheer Hegde
The trail from Bhoj Kharak to Kedar Kharak is quite an adventure. This is where you begin experiencing more and more loose mud and stones. Around half way to Kedar Kharak, there is a long section that is landslide prone. Rocks shoot down from above all the time. Most trekking groups make a dash through this. To avoid this, you can go down to the river, cross over to the other side and come back to join the trail around 500 metres ahead. Depending on the flow of the river, you will need ropes to cross to the other side. The river is rough so you really need to be careful over the rocks. A slip on one of the rockscan plunge waist-deep into the water.
River crossing on the way to Kedarkharak campsite. Picture by: Nakul Morasari
The trail from Kedar Kharak to Kedartal is largely rocky. There is no defined trail so you really need to be attentive. Blindly following the person ahead of you might not be the best way to trek here. Depending on your own comfort level, you will need to decide whether to hop over a rock or climb it or walk around it.
As in the case of most Himalayan treks, the weather on the Kedartal trek is unpredictable. What starts off as a sunny day can turn cold and snowy in a matter of hours. When I peeped out of my tent on what was a sunny afternoon at the Kedar Kharak campsite after a 20 minute nap, I found the ground covered with snow flakes with dark clouds above.
Sunny mornings can turn into snowstorms in a matter of minutes. Picture by: Sushma Honnappa
What makes the weather especially challenging on this trek is the landscape. The Kedar Kharak campsite is surrounded by mountains on all sides. However, on one side where there is a wide opening. The wind blows in through this gap. It is bitingly cold. There is no tree cover to protect you either.
Even while trekking to Kedartal from Kedar Kharak, you need to wear multiple layers because of the incessant wind.
To manage the quick change in weather and the simultaneous play of sun and cold wind, always keep an extra warm layer handy. This will be especially helpful when you take breaks while trekking.
What makes the Kedartal trek rewarding?
While I have mentioned the challenges, the trek is very rewarding otherwise.
The trail is very remote. It goes through the Gangotri National Park. There are limited number of trekking permits that the Forest Department isssues out each day. So you see very few people during the trek. Also, there is no human habitation at this altitude. This solitude is very rewarding.
Solitude and proximity to big mountains make this difficult trek rewarding. Picture by: Iqbal Hussain
But the big reason to do the trek are the big mountains. You camp in the shadow of the mighty MtThalaysagar and Mt Bhrigupanth at Kedar Kharak. Very few treks bring you so close to such big mountains. And fewer still allow you to spend so much time in their proximity.
The trek reaches its highest point at Kedartal. The serenity that you experience at the first sight of the lake is difficult to put in words. Depending on the weather, the lake looks blue, emerald, grey or all the three at once. You can see the lake stretching all the way to meet the glacier at the foot of Mt Thalaysagar, reminding you how far beyond the mountains stretch.
The lovely bhoj forest on the trail, the sheer adventure and thrill of the climb makes the Kedartal trek very rewarding. There is always a very high feeling of accomplishment when you complete the trek.
I hope with this article I’ve been able to give you a better idea of the difficulties of the Kedartal trek.
Editor’s note: Have you ever been on the Kedartal trek? Let us know what you found to be the most challenging parts in the comments sections below.
As much as all of us at Indiahikes office in Bengaluru love trekking, we are unable to spend extended periods in the hills. So what do we do? We spend our weekends hunting for a one day trekking places near Bengaluru.
An easy, offbeat trek just over an hour outside Bangalore, Halu Chilume Ganga Temple trek offers a dose of adventure with its thorny trails and unexplored nooks.
‘Thorn trek’ as we call it at Indiahikes, because of the the thorny bushes along the trail is an adventurous trail that has rocky patches, boulder sections and forest trails, all packed into a short 5 km.
The view from the top with Gundamagere Lake in the distance. Picture by Suhas Saya
There’s also an interesting temple at the top, with bells on a rock. For the more adventurous trekker, there is an option to explore around on unmarked trails or the caves on the hill.
The trail is pretty easy. You get stony steps and a nice trek through the jungle. A stone ruin can be used as shelter in case of heavy rains.
Altitude: 2,700 ft to 3,310 ft
Time taken: 5 hours
Trek gradient: Continuous ascent till you reach the top. Descent on the way back
Trail type: Ascent and descent on stone steps, boulders and a forest trail
Channagiri, towards the north west of the Nandi Hills chain, is a less-frequented trail in Chikkaballapura. Locally, it is better known as Channakeshava Betta. It is the source of the North Pinakini River and has an Omkareshwara Temple at the top. But there is more to this hill than its famous landmarks. It’s a great day trek.
The view from the summit
The trail takes you through a surprising variety over two quick hours. What starts off through wild shrubbery and occasional eucalyptus and tamarind trees, enters dense deciduous forests, big boulder sections and reaches a pinnacle with a stunning 360 degree view of the plains and hills around.
Altitude: 4,478 ft.
Time taken: 2-3 hours
Trek gradient: Easy
Trail type: Trail majorly in the form of stone steps, hidden in dense undergrowth. Small sections of boulders. Gradual ascent all the way to the top.
The Makalidurga Trek is the perfect plan to quench your weekly thirst for adventure. It is one of the best places to visit near Bangalore, only 60 km away from the city. It is well connected by road and rail. The railway option is ideal when doing the Makalidurga night trek.
View from the top
The Makalidurga hill stands tall at 4,430ft and has an iconic hump that helps you spot it from a distance. The trail is not well defined. You can choose to take a path that matches the challenge you seek. All paths take you up to the fort, with occasional arrows painted on rocks to reassure you of your path.
Time taken: 2-3 hours
Trek gradient: Easy
Trail type: No defined trail. Small and large granite rocks, with a few thorny bushes
Nandi Hills comprises of 5 peaks; Nandi Giri, Brahmagiri, Skandagiri, Chandragiri & Govardanagiri. Brahmagiri Hill is popularly known as Nandi One. It is the twin peak of Nandi Hill View Point.
View of Skandagiri from the trail
Nandi One is a trail that will bring out the inner child in you. The lush green vegetation and patches that require boulder hopping are a treat to the senses. The viewpoints offer a bird’s eye view of roads cutting through farmlands below. The eucalyptus groves at the start of the trail will de-stress you right away. Also, the region is replete with amusing stories, both real and mythological. So the next time work gets on your nerves, pack a picnic and head with your family to Nandi One!
Altitude: 4,841 ft.
Trek gradient: Easy
Trail type: Trail covers thick vegetation and man-made steps
Bilikal Betta or Ranganathaswamy Betta as it also called, at 1,552 m, is located 60 km from Bangalore on Kanakapura road. The hill derives its name from the Ranganathaswamy temple atop the hill. “Bili” in Kannada means white, and “Kallu” means stone. As the name indicates, there are interesting white rocks atop the hill. The trekking route is well-paved as it is regularly used by pilgrims visiting the temple.
Views at sunset from Ranganatha Swamy Betta
Narrow winding trails, creaking bamboos, daring stretches, chance encounters with wild animals; a trek to Bilikal Betta is all this and more. The hill is filled with silence, which comes as a surprise as it’s a mere two hour’s drive away from Bangalore.
Altitude: 5091 ft
Trek gradient: Moderate
Trail type: The narrow path is lined with bushes and trees. After a level path of 500 m, the path becomes steeper and the forest, denser.
On all counts, Handi Gundi is the perfect trek for beginners. The trail is easy yet exciting; providing the right dose of challenge and adventure while dishing out stunning views from the top. If you are looking to introduce children to trekking, Handi Gunti is an obvious choice
Trekkers in action at Handi Gundi. Picture by Swathi Chatrapathy
The trail climbs through the grass and each time the grass changes colour. Sometimes it glows golden in the setting light, at other times it turns a shade of purple. Black streaks through the grass in some places and when you least expect it turns a magical brown.
Altitude: 3100 ft
Time taken: 2 hours
Trek gradient: Easy
Trail type: Trail winds through scrubs, ridges and slopes
The hill gets its name from its shape; it resembles an ox’s shoulder/hump. “Yettu,” means ox and “bhuja,” means shoulder in Kannada. The trails run through forests, grasslands, waterfalls and streams. The final ascent is challenging and makes this trek a popular one. The trails can be confusing as thick vegetation covers these unfrequented trails. It is easy to get lost in these trails.
A glimpse of Yettina Bhuja
It’s an easy short trek in Karnataka apt for weekends. In fact, this trek is easier than the strenuous trek to its counterpart, Amedikkal, which is sought-after by seasoned trekkers. The peak stands at a modest height of 1,300 metres, making it a lovely trek for beginners.
Altitude: 3546 ft
Time taken: 3-4 hours
Trek gradient: Easy-Moderate
Trail type: Trail to forests, grasslands, waterfalls and streams
Now you know how we keep our trek cravings at bay when we’re away from the Himalayas. Do keep in mind that we don’t organize these treks. We want you to give you all the information so that you can organize them on your own
Last week, we had a fascinating conversation in office about campsites — specifically on how we choose campsites. I found it extremely interesting because so much goes into actually choosing a campsite, and we rarely give it a thought.
Indiahikes has been exploring and changing trekking routes for over a decade now. One big part of setting up trekking routes is finding the right campsites. The Sundarsar campsite on the Tarsar Marsar trek, the Dayara campsite on the Buran Ghati trek, the Pushtara campsite on the Phulara Ridge trek — these are some campsites we have identified and established over the past few years.
You’ll be quite surprised at how many elements have to actually fall in place to set up a single campsite.
So today, I’m going to give you peek behind the scenes!
Let’s dive right in!
There are basically 5 aspects that have to come together for us to set up a campsite.
1. A good water source
This comes first and foremost. And this water has to be potable. At high altitude campsites, it’s nearly impossible to boil water at every campsite to make it potable for a group of 20 people. So the water has to be clean and fit for use.
This water source could be in the form of a stream, a river, sometimes even a pipe that has been put in place by the forest department.
Bad water source campsites: The Talkhetra campsite on our new Kedarkantha trail has extremely beautiful settings, but there is very less water. On many treks, water sources freeze in winter, making it difficult to camp there! Bhagwabhasa on the Roopkund trek is one such campsite where water sources often freeze.
The Rupin Pass trek has resplendent water sources throughout the trek, making it easy to set up camp. Picture by Swathi Chatrapathy
2. Level and open space
This is the next basic requirement. Everyone wants a good nights’ sleep after a long day’s trek, and sleeping on an uneven surface is a nightmare. And we usually need enough space for 6-7 tents.
Also, we make sure we camp only in open grounds and not under trees. We want don’t strong winds to bring branches crashing down on our tents. So even in forests, we look out for clearings to camp in.
Good campsites for space and level ground: There are several treks with ideal settings in terms of this — the Khorurai campsite on the Brahmatal trek, the Dayara campsite on the Buran Ghati trek, the Lohali campsite on the Beas Kund trek are splendid campsites!
Bad campsites for space and level ground: But there are some campsite that have unavoidable space issues — Bakhim and Sachen, both on the Goechala trek are completely cramped for space. The Bhojkarak campsite on the Kedartal trek has hardly any level ground. It is expected in such alpine settings, but unavoidable nevertheless.
The Bhoj Kharak campsite on the Kedartal trek is a campsite that has very uneven ground for camping. Picture by Franchelle DSouza.
3. The right altitude break
Our challenge here lies in finding a campsite that is at right altitude intervals — not too less that you haven’t covered much ground at all. Not so much that you’re susceptible to AMS. We cannot afford an elevation gain of more than 2,000 – 2,500 ft. Even around 3000 ft is extreme. The number of altitude sickness cases increase immediately.
Good altitude gain treks: Compared to most treks in the Indian Himalayas, the Rupin Pass trek is actually laid out beautifully in terms of altitude gain. You gain just the right amount of altitude everyday — around 2,000 ft. Consequently we see very few AMS cases on this trek. Brahmatal is another trek where you have just the right amount of altitude gain.
Bad altitude gain treks: The Goechala trek is quite notorious for its altitude gains. So is our recently opened Mukta Top trek. In fact, the “altitude gain” factor is one of the reasons we had to stop the Kuari Pass trek after the ban to camp in bugyals — Gorson Bugyal was at a crucial altitude to help trekkers acclimatise.
The Brahmatal trek has campsites with just the right amount of altitude gain. Picture of the Khorurai campsite shot by Anurag Singh
4. The right distance
With altitude, we also have to keep in mind distances. The ideal distance to cover everyday is within 8 km. Now, we have to make sure of the right altitude gain, a good water source and level, open ground falling within this 8 km range. Any more than that, the trek could get too difficult.
Bad distance campsites: Kashmir Great Lakes is one trek where we have to trek long distances every day for the other aspects of water, space and altitude to fall in place. Rupin Pass is another such trek. On both these treks, you trek almost 10 km everyday.
The Tarsar Marsar trek has campsites that are laid out at ideal distances. Picture by Raghavendra SN
5. Scenic beauty
If all those requirements weren’t enough, at Indiahikes, we are very particular about every campsite being aesthetically pretty! As trekkers ourselves, we know what it’s like to camp and wake up in a gorgeous campsite! So we look for good views, a calm ambience, safe places to explore around.
Few of our prettiest campsites: Right off the bat, the Tarsar campsite comes to mind. We love it when trekkers flip out a book and sit beside the lake on a rock to read. The Dayara campsite on the Buran Ghati trek is worth giving an arm for too.
Not so pretty campsites: Well, this is a hard one. We don’t camp at not-so-pretty campsites. But Kheerganga is one such example, it was extremely crowded.
Spot the campsite in the meadows of Dayara on the Buran Ghati trek. We believe this is one of our most ideal campsites. Picture by Sandhya UC
It’s incredible how the entire combination of good water sources, open space right distances, correct altitude gains and scenic beauty have to fall in place, not just once, but at least 4 times, for a whole trekking trail to take form.
And we love the challenge of setting these up!
So that’s about how we choose our campsites.
If you have any questions about this, just drop in a comment, we’ll give you answers!
An often overlooked aspect of packing for a trek is cutlery. If you are trekking with Indiahikes, carrying your own cutlery on a trek is a given. It is all the more crucial when you are trekking solo.
I learnt the importance of packing cutlery efficiently the hard way.
On my Sandakphu Phalut trek, I fretted about forgetting to bring a plate. On cold, windy nights, I struggled to get the grease off my plastic tiffin box. I tried in vain to warm my hands on an insulated melamine coffee mug on chilly mornings.
I have seen far too many trekkers make the same mistake. In this post, I will show you how you can be more efficient with your cutlery.
How much cutlery do you need on a trek?
Every item that you carry adds to the weight and volume of your backpack. It’s as simple as that.
You don’t need plates, forks or a glass on a trek. Carry a single tiffin box, one spoon, one coffee mug and two water bottles. If you’d like to know why we ask trekkers to carry their own cutlery, read this post.
Your tiffin box can serve as a plate at campsites. If you are eating multiple items together, say rotis, curry and dal, you can use the lid as a plate and the box as a bowl. If there are multiple food items being served as packed lunch, the smartest thing to do is pool your resources with other trekkers – one of you can take the curry and the other, the rotis.
If, like me, you aren’t a great fan of rotis, you can make do with a coffee mug and a spoon for all your meals at campsites. Just mix the dal, rice and vegetables in it and gobble it up. You end up taking smaller servings each time and food stays hot for a longer time. This doesn’t mean you skip taking a tiffin box altogether – you will still need it for your packed lunches.
Similarly, your water bottle or coffee mug can double up as a glass. Use your coffee mug to drink tea, water and soup.
If you are trekking solo, add a knife and a small container for cooking to your list.
Go with steel rather than plastic
It pays to be selective about the material of the cutlery you take on a trek.
Steel is much easier to clean than plastic. When grease sticks on to plastic, no amount of scrubbing can get it off completely.
At high altitudes, where even boiling water cools down in a matter of minutes, you do not have the luxury of using copious amounts of hot water to wash your cutlery. When you use steel, you cut down on touching the freezing water, you save on water, soap and most importantly, time spent in the cold on washing your cutlery.
If you are trekking solo, steel is ideal for cooking your meals and heating water. Steel also has the added benefit of warming up your hands when you have hot food or tea poured into it.
Some of the other advantages of using steel over plastic are:
Steel does not retain any odour of the food once you wash it.
It is safer to pack hot food in steel containers than in plastic since chemicals do not leech on to it.
Steel is far more durable than plastic.
This video on why steel cutlery is better than plastic on treks is helpful for you.
Why steel is better than plastic cutlery on a trek - YouTube
Get the size and shape right
It is easy to go overboard on the size of the tiffin box you take. Especially when you imagine having to carry food to last more than 5-6 hours while trekking. However, you don’t need anything bigger than a 400-500 ml box.
The amount of rice or vegetables that can fit into a box this size is more than enough for one person. Alternately, you can fold and keep at least 4-5 parathas or rotis in such a box. These are the items you usually need to carry as packed lunch.
If you carry a box that is bigger than this, you run the risk of overeating or wasting food. At the same time, a very small box will leave you underfed on the trek.
The shape of the box also matters. Stick to square or round boxes. For ease of packing and eating from, make sure they’re not deeper than 2-3 inches. Also, look for a box that is leak proof. That way, you do not have to worry about food or oil leaking into your backpack.
What is the best water bottle for a trek?
In addition to cutlery, make sure you carry your own water bottles on a high altitude trek. Take two of them, with a capacity of around one litre each.
This is important for two reasons –
You avoid generating additional waste by not buying bottled mineral water.
You are never stranded for water when you refill your own bottles at water sources on the trail.
If you are worried about the safety of the water that you fill, consider buying a portable water filter. With this, you can have clean drinking water and at the same time avoid littering with mineral water bottles.
Look for a bottle with a sipper. This ensures you sip water slowly rather than gulping it down. This is a safer way to drink water, especially when you are breathless and tired.
As in the case of cutlery, metal is always better than plastic for water bottles. It is safer to fill and store hot water in.
Carrying a thermos in place of a water bottle is a good idea on winter treks. If you don’t want to buy a flask specifically for a trek, you can always rent a thermos.
So the next time you are packing for a trek, remember to be efficient with your cutery. Do not over pack. Replace your plastic cutlery items with steel ones. Make sure your tiffin box is neither too big nor too small and is easy to pack.
If you have any more tips on the ideal cutlery to take on high altitude treks, share them in a comment below.
Too often, after a trek, we hear trekkers saying that they can’t trek so often because the Himalayas are so far off to travel too. And they don’t have enough time off at work. That they love the jungles, the mountains, the valleys and the nature and wish they could trek more often. But they absolutely can. As long as they don’t restrict trekking to just the Himalayas.
Because outside of Himalayas, India is blessed with the Western Ghats — a 1600 km long mountains range that stretches from Gujarat to Tamil Nadu parallel to the western coast.
UNESCO has declared them World Heritage site and are older than Himalayas.
They’re one of the hottest hotspots of bio-diversity in the world and home to some flora and fauna which are only found here.
And they make for a great day trek from Mumbai and Pune.
In fact a lot of frequent trekkers trekked for years in the Sahyadris before graduating to Himalayas.
And that is why , I’m putting up a list of places that make for great day treks in the Western Ghats. Starting with one day treks from Mumbai.
With the monsoons approaching in a few weeks, they’ll make for a great weekend getaway in the nature.
One of the most accessible treks from Mumbai, the base to Karnala fort starts at Karnala Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary lies on the Mumbai-Goa highway which is a mere 10km from Panvel Railway station.
There are multiple routes to get to the top, but the trails are well defined inspite of the thick vegetation around. The trek, though a bit challenging is thoroughly enjoyable and a provides a great introduction to trekking for beginners. The forest department also has a few shelters along the way to rest and catch your breath.
The pinnacle at the top right is Karnala Fort
Once at the summit, you see the 600+ year old fort that has changed hands beginning with Devagiri Yadavs and ending in British East India Company with the Tughlaq rulers, Portuguese, Shivaji’s command and the Mughals in between.
The highlight of the trek is the 360 degree view of the Raigad district. On clear days towards the end of the monsoons, you see the entire surroundings painted green and that is a sight to behold.
Trail Type: Well defined through thich vegetaion with a bit of steep ascent at the top
Basecamp: Karnala Bird Sanctuary, 10 km from Panvel Railway Station
The Mahuli trek is popular with experienced rock climbers. But that does not mean beginners cannot go for it as long. In fact, with it proximity to the city, it is quite a popular weekend trek in Mumbai. The trek is much loved due to the lush green forest and meadows around. It is a spectrum of green and surprises you with its landscapes.
The fort pinnacles and cols
What makes is specials is that it is a complex group of pinnacles and cols. As you get closer to the fort, you really have to crane your neck to view the top. A lot of climbers turn up at the base on the weekend trying to scale this pinnacle or that. Watching them prepare and stick to rocks and climbing up in itself would be an experience to cherish.
Trail Type: Well defined through lush green forests and meadows, especially during monsoon.
Basecamp: A few kilometers form Asangaon railway station. Autos are buses are available to the base
At 5400 feet, Kalsubai might seem like a daunting task. And it is. But not something that cannot be managed within a day. Lying in the Kasara range of Western Ghats, it is the highest peak in Maharashtra. And that in itself, is a huge rush.
Final ascent to Kalsubai top
The final climb up the almost vertical ladder is an adrenaline shot. But once at the summit, you’re calmed by the incredible views you see. To the south is the Bhandardara lake and beyond it lie Ratangad and mighty Harishchandragad. Turn west and you might see the trio of Alang, Madan, Kulang forts on a clear day.
Trail Type: Well defined through meadows, forests, with rock steps in some places and iron ladders in others
Basecamp: Bari village. Private vehicle will have to pick you and drop you back from Kasara Railway station to Bari
With its easy terrain and panoramic views throughout the trek, Harihar fort attracts trekkers with a range of experience – from beginners to experienced ones like Doug Scott, a legendary Himalayan mountaineer who climbed the vertical drops of Scottish kada (Nirgudpada) in November 1986.
Trail through paddy fields in the monsoon
Harihar brings to you a different type of stone staircase which has been cut for providing trekkers with a pocket like grip to climb easily.While some people might avoid this trek in peak monsoons because of slippery rocks, we say the wind and the rains add to the adventure.
The fort is situated amidst the huge Vaitarna dam and the Trimbakeshwar mountain ranges offer stunning views of the area around. The fort is well supplied with water and can be attempted in any season.
Trail Type: Well defined through fields, forests, streams and steep rock-cut staircases.
Basecamp: Nirugpada. Hire a local jeep to pick you and drop you back from Kasara Railway station
The Bhimashankar trek is a nature lover’s delight. It takes you into the heart of the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary. While monsoon is the best time to do this trek, it can also be done in other seasons. The route is scenic and thrilling. Those accustomed to trekking can hike the Bhimashankar via Shidi Ghat route. While for beginners, we recommend the Ganesh Ghat route, which offers splendid views and is easier.
Rock patch on the way top
While in the jungle, you’ll have a variety of birds, langurs and spotted dear for company. If you’re lucky, you might even get to spot a ‘shekar’ or the Malabar Giant Squirrel.
The best part of the trek is the trail to Gupt Bhimashankar, located in the middle of a stream, underneath a rock.
There are other alternative routes to Bhimashankar. For instance Lonavala to Bhimashankar and Siddhagad to Bhimashankar
Difficulty: Easy or Moderate depending on the route
Trail Type: Well defined through fields, forests, rocks and ladders .
Basecamp: Khandas village.Private autos and jeeps are available at Karjat or Neral railway station to take you to Khandas
Devkund waterfall is a secluded little place situated deep inside the forests surrounding Bhira dam. There is a hydroelectric power generation unit by Tata power at Bhira. This place was little known to trekkers till recent times and has come into limelight due to the waterfall present deep inside the forest.It is believed that Kundalika river originates at Devkund.
The 80 ft drop at Devkund
Though there isn’t much history associated with the falls, locals here believe that once upon a time utensils used to emerge from the kund (pond) whenever there was any auspicious ceremony happening in the local village.
True or not, the place has its own charm with the water dropping from a height of over 80 ft straight into a pond of approx. 30 mt diameter.
Difficulty: Easy or Moderate depending on the route
Trail Type: Well defined through fields, forests, rocks and ladders .
Basecamp: Bhira Village. Take the bus to Pali from Panvel Railway staion and from Pali, hire an auto to Bhira village
Sudhagad trek is a short and sweet weekend gateway for trekkers from Mumbai and Pune. The fort is almost equidistant from both the cities. One can see the peaks of Sarasgad, Tail Baila and Ghangad from the top. There are 2 huge lakes at the top where one can take a dip and build a camp for night stay. Apart from that, you can also visit Bhorai devi temple and “Pant Sachivancha Vada”.
The trail to Sudhagad
Also known as Bhorapgad, the fort was named after the Goddess Bhoraidevi. The origin of the fort traces back to 2nd century BC. It was named Sudhagad after the Marathas conquered it from the Bhamani dynasty in 1657. Due to its strategic position and strength, it was actually proposed as the capital of Hindavi Swaraj. However, after a survey of Raigad, Shivaji Maharaja chose the latter because of its central location.
Difficulty: Easy or Moderate depending on the route
Trail Type: Well defined through fields, forests, rocks and ladders .
Basecamp: Thakurwadi. Take a bus to Pali from Panvel Railway station. From Pali private autos are available for hire to Thakurwadi
Ratangad fort is a part of the Kalsubai range, which consists of some of the highest peaks in the Sahyadris. The fort gives you the best views of surrounding peaks and Bhanadardara dam. Experience the colossal cliffs unfolding in front of your eyes, one behind the other as you walk on the edge of the fort.
View of Ratangad from Ratanwadi
The robustness of Sahyadris can be experienced only from a few forts and Ratangad is one of them. The view from the top is mesmerising. You can get a complete 360 degree panoramic view from this point. Alang, Madan, Kulang, Kalsubai, Bhandaradara dam (Arthur Lake), Harishchandragad, Sandhan Valley, Ratangad Khutta
Trail Type: Combination of trails through forest and up on iron ladders
Basecamp: Ratanwadi. Hire a local, shared jeep from Igatpuri Railway staion to Ratanwadi
Best time: September to February
So, those are some of the best one day treks from Mumbai. Not only is each of them special in their own way, they’re easily accessible as well.
At the same time, we have more treks in our Maharashtra section of Do-It-Yourself treks. But do note that Indiahikes does not organize these treks.
If you want to trek with Himalayas check out our upcoming treks section.
What to do next
1. If you have any other treks you’d like to suggest, or if you have questions, drop in a comment below.
2. If you’re looking for off beat summer treks for 2019, you’ll find a list here.
3. If you would like to help us with updating trek information,photos, maps or sketches of our Do-It-Yourself Treks, fill this form
Have you ever used any budget trekking shoes? When I say budget trekking shoes, I mean shoes that cost less than Rs 3,000.
I know that good trekking shoes by brands like Quechua, Wildcraft, Hi-Tec, Salomon, start from around Rs 5,000. At Indiahikes, because we trek very often, we use shoes that are not always budget-friendly.
But that’s not the case for most trekkers. They trek once or twice in their lives and such expensive shoes are always a cause for worry. It’s no wonder that most of them opt to rent shoes.
On the other hand, many trekkers send me links to trekking shoes that cost around Rs 1,500 – Rs 2,000, to ask if those shoes would be good enough. And more often than not, they seem like pretty good shoes!
So I’m trying to create a database of information on budget trekking shoes. And if you have used budget trekking shoes, your thoughts would really help!
If you have used trekking shoes that cost less than Rs 3,000, can you quickly fill this form out?
All you need to put in it is the brand and model of your shoe, the approximate cost, your experience with it, and whether you would recommend it to others.
Even if you have had a bad experience with it, please put it down so that we know what not to recommend to trekkers too!
Share your experience of using budget trekking shoes here
If you have any thoughts or recommendations on budget trekking shoes, drop in a comment below. It will surely help trekkers.