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Top 10 winter treks
Chadar trek, LadakhTop 10 winter treks

This is a trek, every adventure lover just dream of. Carrying the legends, history, culture and magical landscapes for over thousand years, the ancient trail that once was used by the Zanskaris as only way in or out for trade in months of winters, is now known as the one of the greatest, high adrenaline, most exotic and incomparable trek in the Ladakh region of Himalaya. Some trekkers compare this to snowman trek of Bhutan. From walking on a frozen river (a chadar or sheet of ice) and camping in caves, to utterly real possibilities of seeing a glut of wildlife- the bharal, ibex to the elusive carnivores, the wolf and the regal snow leopard, and chance of learning about the region and its people by staying with the locals. Done only in midst of most harsh winter days, the Chadar trek offers thrill seekers an experience of a lifetime. No doubt its features in every avid trekker's dream trek list and as one the top treks in world trekking map. The Chadar trek follows a 70 to 100 km distance on the river bed from Chilling to Naerab, Lingshed and many other villages, along the river Zanskar. It takes seven to ten days to complete the trek. Many trekkers have evolved this as per their needs, some do it solo and some do it partially. Reach Leh to go ahead on this trek.

Sunder Dunga Glacier Valley trekTop 10 winter treks

Sunder dunga means the valley of beautiful stones. The enchanting valley in Kumaon Himalayas of Uttarakhand is situated to the west of Pindari valley and has two glaciers, Maktoli and Sukhram. With its superabundant wild-life, rolling forests, lush green meadows, deep and narrow gorges, and the snow-capped mountains, the valley offers all its name stands for- beauty in all its true forms. The valley is reachable via Dhakuri pass, through a snow bounded climb, and then descending to the village Khati to the valley floor vila Chilta top. Reaching to an altitude of almost 14K ft the route makes it a great snow trek. One can also trek to either of the village Dwali or Jatoli, the famous village in Sundar Dunga Base camp route. In case you look forward to extend your trek, from Khati, an alternate route through dense forest trails and snow trek takes you to Bajling Dhar to Kaluwa taki pass and Pangu Top, offering a great view of Nanda top, the return from this route is via Supi and bageshwar. Trek on this route can be around four to seven days depending on how tough or moderate you want it to make. Kathgodam is the nearest railhead for this trek.

Kuari pass trekTop 10 winter treks

One of the most beautiful and scenic, Kuari pass trek, offers views of many famous snow-clad Himalayan peaks such as Neelkanth, Kamet, Kalanka, Trishul, Mukut Parvat, Nilgiri, Changabang, Dronagiri, and Chuakhamba. Kuari Top is like an amphitheatre where some of the stalwart peaks of Himalayas take stage. The 7000 meters club includes the Kamet (7756m), Trishul (7120m), Chaukhamba (7128m), and the great divine peak of Nanda Devi (7817m) and its twin Nanda Devi East (7434m). More peaks make an equally imposing appearance- Nanda Ghunti, Hathi Ghoda Parbat, Neelkanth, Dronagiri, Mukut Parbat, Mana, Rishi Pahad, and Changbang, to name a few. The Kuari Pass trek gives you a chance to view this impressive skyline of these mighty mountains from close quarters. The trek passes through three lesser Passes and fine major gushing rivers. The trail is guarded and guided by pristine rhododendron, Oak and deodar forest, and also some rare verities of Himalayan wildlife. Lord Curzon made this trek, and hence it is also known as the Curzon trail but after Independence it was renamed as Nehru Trail. There are two ways through which one can arrive at the Kauri trek- one is through the Curzon trail i.e. from Ghat via Ramni and the other path which is generally not adopted in the winter is from Auli Bugyal through Gorson Top. Kuari pass is also a pilgrimage route to Joshimath and Badrinath. Joshimath is about 256 Km from Haridwar by road. After reaching Joshimath, the trek can be undertaken from either Auli (8Km) or Chitrakhana (12Km) to Tali top. From Tali top, trek traverses via Khullar top through a steep, snow path to Kuari pass. Overall it is a moderate but lovely 5-6 days trek.

Chopta-Chandrasilla trekTop 10 winter treks

Famous for the highest temple dedicated to lord Shiva, Mount Tungnath, at an altitude of 3810mts, is difficult to scale in winters. A mini-peak beyond Tungnath, however is not only easy to reach, but offers a great vantage point, a 270 degree most amazing view of the entire range of Garhwal peaks like Chaukhamba, Kedarnath, Nanda devi and Trishul among the most prominent ones. The trek passes through forests and vast meadows, views of snow clad Himalayas, starts with a steep but short climb from Okhimath, to Deoria tal, crosses Chopta and Tungnath to reach the summit of moon rock, .i.e. Chandrashila at 3409 mts. Chopta is said to be one of the most beautiful and picturesque spots in the whole Garhwal. The breathtaking view of the Himalayas is treating for the eyes as well as soul. Chopta is situated on the Gopeshwar-Ukhimath road 40kms from Gopeshwar at an altitude of 2900 mts high. The trail from Chopta to Tungnath peak is short and easy yet difficult to spot in winters and hence challenging. Chandrashilla is another 1km of rigorous climb from Tungnath Temple. It’s an easy to moderate trek of 3-4 days. Haridwar is the nearest railhead and Jolly Grant at Dehradun the nearest airport. One has to hit the road further ahead.

Kedarkantha-Har Ki Doon trekTop 10 winter treks

Another preferred winter trek in Himalayas is towards Har-Ki-Doon valley. There are separate treks for Kedarkantha peak and Har Ki Doon valley. But many trekkers combine both of them. Base camp for both is at Sankri. Those who intend to do just the Har-Ki-Doon valley go via Taluka and Osla villages. To make it challenging, one can go to Kedarkanth via Juda Talab and then come down to Osla to trek further to Har-Ki-Doon. Har ki Doon is an ascending climb for 14 km from Osla. The trek to Har-Ki-Doon is relatively easy even in months of winter, and can be further extended to Ruinsara tal, Jaudhar Glaciar and Maninda Tal. From Ruinsara one can see a splendid view of Swargarohini range peaks. The trail offers enchanting views of Himalayan vistas, rich and verdant pines, chestnut, and maple forests and chances of catching few glimpses of Himalayan wildlife. This route is a virtual paradise for the botanists, bird watchers, trekkers and anyone interested in exploring and photographing it. The land has been also known for the temples and shrines with sacred mythological attachments. Doing either of these treks will take around 3 days, but may take 6 days if clubbed together. One has to reach Mussorrie and then by road to Sankri to start the trek.

Dodital-Dayara Bugyal trekTop 10 winter treks

These are too actually two separate treks, which can be either done separately or merged together to make it more challenging or just to increase the duration of the trek. Dodital trek can be quite challenging in winter, due to heavy snowfall. The Dodital trail is a forest trek, which can be used to travel between Gangotri and Yamunotri regions. The trek starts from Bhaghirathi Valley, goes up to Dodital and then via Darwa top one can reach Yamnotri. Dodital is a sacred lake at around 10800 feet and it is believed to be the birth place of Lord Ganesha. The trail is very well marked goes through the Oak, rhododendron and some deodar forest. From Uttarkashi, drive to Sangamchatti and begin trekking via Agoda to Dodital and Darwa pass, you can descent via the same route on the summit day. Another route starts from Hanumanchatti on the Yamunotri road to Kondola. This route takes you about 1,300 feet higher than Darwa Pass from over Darwa Top and then down to the bugyal descending to Dodital Lake. The longest and most difficult route however is via Dayara Bugyal following a jungle path used by the Gujjar nomads from the region. Dayara Bugyal along with its twin Gidara Bugyal is perhaps one of the most beautiful alpine meadows in India.

Sand dunes trek, JaisalmerTop 10 winter treks

Fortunately, in India we have snow treks, beach treks as well as desert treks. Diversity rarely found elsewhere. Trekking in desert is altogether different experience. A mix of trekking on dunes as well as ride on camel back is thrilling. Most of this area is almost unbearable in summer heat, but winters make it pleasant in the day and often chilling in night. Life settles into a timeless routine of local tea and fresh bread, walking, a lunch stop for fresh salad and a siesta. Then a few more miles before the evening meal, a roaring fire, music, singing and a night under the stars as you have never before seen them. Although most of the treks originate from Jaisalmer and almost invariably all of them take you close to Sam dunes, but many operators have treks from Jodhpur or Bikaner as well. Napasar(Vijay Dhora), Surdhana, Balakiya Dhora and Kothri are the places to trek around Bikaner. While around Jaisalmer you trek at Kharara, Sam dunes, Beeda Fanta, Sudasri, etc. The desert and its dunes stretch for miles and miles in that part of Rajasthan. Youth Hostels Association of India has a trekking expedition and camping every year in winters. You can explore many more.

Beach to hills trek, GoaTop 10 winter treks

Quite unassuming of trekking in hills in Goa, but it is excellent to trek in hills on Goa-Karnataka border, especially in winters. To make it more interesting a winter trekking expedition in Goa can have hills mixed with beaches, forests and waterfalls. An experience, not even Himalayas can give you. Enjoy a splendid panorama of hills, sandy beaches, refreshing waterfalls, beautiful landscapes, breathtaking groves of palm trees, sun kissed waterways, Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Dudhsagar falls. The hilly trek of Western Ghats provides trekking trails as steep and difficult as the Himalayan climbs. The trekking route will therefore, offer the same thrills and excitement as in any mountain with some additional attractions like bus ride, and rail journey in the Western Ghats. For example plan an itinerary from Mobor Beach to Benaulim Beach (12 kms) and then Benaulim to Velsao Beach (10 kms). Go to Collem by train then Trek from Collem to Dudhsagar (10 kms); next day trek from Dudhsagar to Caranzol via Dudhsagar waterfalls (12 kms) which can be amazing. Lastly trek from Caranzol to Nandran (14 kms) and then Nandran to Tambdi Surla (15 kms). You can end the trek wherever you wish to. It can be very entertaining trek.

Everest view trek, SandakphuTop 10 winter treks

One of the best and most popular treks in Darjeeling, North East Himalayan region is Sandakphu -Phalut trek. It is also known as Sandakfu-Falut. This trek in Singalila range offers not only a magnificent panoramic view of Mount Kanchenjunga, but the spectacular sight of burned sliver-fir and emerald green forests. The name Sandakphu means "Height of the poison plants". Sandakfu or Sandakphu (3636 m; 11929 ft) is the highest peak in the state of West Bengal, India. It is situated at the edge of the Singalila National Park in Darjeeling district on the West Bengal-Sikkim border. Sandakphu has a small village on the peak with a number of hotels. This treks climbs steeply from the road head at Maneybhanjyang, at 2134 m, for three days to reach the Sandakphu – Phalut ridge at an altitude of 3600 m. Enroute there are the lovely forests of the Singalila National Park, and the view point of Tonglu. From Sandakphu there are breathtaking views of the Kanchendzonga Range towering over a basin of silver firs and Rhododendrons, in the foreground, which is known as the sleeping Buddha or the sleeping Shiva. In the West, the peaks of the Mount Everest group are visible, whilst on the East lie the Chola Range with views of passes leading into Tibet. The trek from Sandakphu to Phalut is along the undulating 3500 m high ridge passing through meadows, forests full of wild flowers and himalayan flora, with the mighty peaks towering in the background. The descent to the road head at Rimbik through the Rammam River Valley, with its gurgling streams and diverse flowering flora is a visual delight. The region abounds in rhododendrons, magnolias, primulas, orchids and ferns of numerous varieties and about 600 bird species making it a bird lover’s paradise. From Phalut a portion of Mt Everest is also visible although it is slightly hidden by another peak in a shape of an enormous armchair. It is an easy trek and equally so in the winter due to its lower altitude and easy accessibility. Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri are the nearest railway stations and Bagdogra is the nearest airport.

Satpuras trek, PachmarhiTop 10 winter treks

Pachmarhi is a never-ending outdoor adventure play-ground. The hill resort of Pachmarhi lies in the Satpura ranges, at an altitude of 1,067 meters. The place is surrounded by low lying rugged hills, ravines, beautiful forests, 12 breathtaking waterfalls, serene pools and quiet glades. Those who are not the spiritual kind could even enjoy a wondrous trek in Pachmarhi, especially in winters. Starting off from the famed Pandav Caves right up to Dhoopgarh; trekking in Pachmarhi would acquaint you of the serene scapes of the Satpura Range. The Pandav Caves are said to have nestled the five Pandav brothers (heroes of the of world's longest epic, the Mahabharat) during their exile. In fact Pachmarhi has been named after these five caves. Enjoy the panoramas of wooded hills, span deep gorges and the impressive sight of the Big Falls. Trek up to the falls to watch the stream fall across a deep gorge while you soak in some sun. You could even venture out to explore the Fairy Pool (aka ApsaraVihar) which apparently was a favourite picnic spot with the British. Your spirutality and faith would not be questioned in case you take the road leading to Jata Shankar. The sacred caves have intriguing shapes of crocodiles and Shivlings caused due to geological forces and dripping water. But the highest point in Pachmarhi is Dhoopgarh. At 1, 350 m above sea level you can witness the spectacle of sunset over the hills of Pachmarhi. For most people this is an unforgettable finale to their visit to this hill station. Many operators have different trekking itineraries here. Even Youth Hostels Association of India organizes a winter trekking expedition every year.

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