Top ten treks in India

Whether you prefer a leisurely day-hike or a challenging multi-day expedition across the high passes, India has a lot to offer

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India provides a unique array of hiking experiences, ranging from majestic Himalayan peaks and vast grasslands to the lush hills of the Western Ghats. Whether you prefer a leisurely day-trek or a challenging multi-day expedition across the high passes of mighty mountains, there’s a perfect trail waiting for you.

While some shorter treks and significant pilgrimage routes can be undertaken without a guide, for high-altitude hikes, local guides are readily available in trail hubs.

(Some areas close to India’s borders, especially in the northeast, need special permits. Usually, local trekking agents or travel agencies can arrange these permits for you. Might be best to travel with at least one other person, preferably an Indian citizen).

Chadar Trek, Ladakh

The absolutely glamorous-yet-adventurous Chadar frozen river trek is a 6-day trek in some seriously inhospitable conditions. We’re talking about a frozen Zanskar river trek in Ladakh, where the daytime temperature is around minus 10, and at night, minus 20 to 25. The river ice constantly breaks and changes colour, making it quite a spectacle. Sometimes, you might even have to forge a new trail over snow-covered embankments to find a stable spot on the river.

But fear not! With proper layers and sensible trekking, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. What truly sets this trek apart is the unique experience it offers. Everything about it – the scenery, the atmosphere, the frozen river, sledges, unusual campsites, caves, and the ever-changing Chadar – is just so incredibly unique that you have to experience it yourself.

Grading: Difficult

Hiking in India
Valley of Flowers (Source: euttaranchal.com)

Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand

One the beloved destinations hiking in India, Valley of Flowers for derives its name from the mesmerizing display of wildflowers that bloom at monsoon’s end. Although rare, the area is also home to Asiatic black bears, brown bears, and snow leopards.

The trek in this protected national park covers an easy 14km to Ghangaria, where you can spend the night before proceeding into the valley.

To make the most of the trek, arrive at the valley’s entrance by 7 am when the route opens, as the last trekkers are admitted at noon. Alternatively, you can follow the 6km trail used by Sikh pilgrims to reach Hemkund Sahib, a remote gurdwara beside a breathtaking alpine lake.

Grading: Easy to moderate

Goecha La (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Goecha La Trek, Sikkim

For the challenging Goecha La hike, arranging with a trekking agency is essential. Starting from tranquil Yuksom village, the trail gets demanding as you reach 4940m at the Goecha Pass. The effort is rewarded with breathtaking views, including the world’s third-highest mountain, Khangchendzonga, at 8586m.

The route passes through Khangchendzonga National Park, revered by the Lepcha tribe. Keep an eye out for Buddhist chortens, rhododendrons, and wildlife such as red pandas and musk deer. Best times for the hike are spring and autumn.

Don’t miss the side-hike to Dzongri peak at 4000m, offering a spectacular sunrise. Proper acclimatization is essential to reduce the risk of acute mountain sickness. The Goecha La hike is an unforgettable adventure for nature enthusiasts, providing unmatched vistas and a glimpse into Sikkim’s cultural and natural heritage.

Grading: Moderate to difficult

Hiking in India
Kalavantin Durg (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Kalavantin Durg Trek, Maharashtra

The thrilling Kalavantin Durg Trek in Maharashtra’s Raigad district offers a one-day adventure with breathtaking scenery and rugged mountain terrain. The 500m peak looks treacherous, but people have been climbing safely since the 15th century, when it was used as a lookout point by armies.

The climb itself is the final stretch of this trek – to get there you walk through lush greenery, and view waterfalls and native flora and fauna.

At the pinnacle though, it is a near vertical climb, but fear not, as the rock-cut steps are not narrow, and you’ll have protective ropes. Hiking in India

The view from the summit – exhilarating! Many climbers stop just before the summit though, as the final stretch can be hard, and the view is the same.

Grading: Moderate

Nongkriat Trek (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Nongriat Trek, Meghalaya

This captivating plateau holds a wealth of folklore, hidden valleys, and abundant waterfalls. Among the main attractions are the living root bridges (particularly a double-decker one!), ingeniously crafted by generations of Khasi villagers near Nongriat. These natural suspension bridges are formed by weaving together tree roots and branches, showcasing ancient engineering brilliance.

Starting from the village of Tyrna, close to the once-Guinness-recorded wettest place on earth Cherrapunji, the trail to Nongriat requires descending over 3500 stone steps through lush rainforests teeming with butterflies and jungle insects. A local guide is recommended.

Grading: Moderate, though stairs can be difficult Top ten treks in India

Hiking in India
Dzukou Valley (Source: TwoBirdsBreakingFree)

Dzukou Valley Trek, Nagaland

Named after its cold stream, Dzukou Valley boasts unparalleled natural beauty. Surprisingly, despite being densely forested, the valley lacks many trees. However the trail, straddling the Manipur-Nagaland border, is incredibly green and vibrant with wildflowers adorning the carpet of rolling hills.

Dzukou Valley is home to rare and endangered fauna, including the Dzukou lily, the Blyth tragopan (Nagaland’s state bird), Asian golden cat, Hollock Gibbon, clouded leopard, and horned toad. Hiking in India

This mystical valley, adorned with various species of rhododendrons, has been declared a plastic-free zone to safeguard its rich biodiversity. The trek leads to small villages, providing opportunities to interact with the locals. With a maximum altitude of 2,452m, this trek is perfect for hiking in India and exploring Nagaland’s remote regions.

Grading: Moderate but can be difficult

Chembra Peak (Source: Flickr / Zoey Francis)

Chembra Peak, Kerala

Kerala’s highest summit at 2100m is located 90km northeast of Kozhikode. The relatively easy day-hike takes trekkers through dense forests, charming tea gardens, and fragrant coffee and spice estates with scents of pepper and cardamom. A heart-shaped lake awaits halfway up, but the true reward lies at the top, offering breathtaking views of the lush Western Ghats hills.

The Chembra trek requires an early start as overnight stays are not allowed, and only 200 hiking permits are issued daily. Registering with the local forest office is necessary. It’s best to avoid the monsoon season, as the paths become muddy and challenging to traverse.

Grading: Easy to moderate Top ten treks in India

Hiking in India
The Sleeping Buddha from Sandakphu (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Sandakphu Phalut Trek, West Bengal

Picture this – breathtaking views of not one, not two, but four of the world’s tallest peaks! From Phalut, you can witness the magnificent Everest cluster, with Lhotse and Makalu adding to the jaw-dropping panorama. And wait for it – there’s the “Sleeping Buddha” massif too, with Kanchenjunga shining bright as the most prominent peak!

The 65km trek provides unforgettable moments with stunning sunrises and sunsets, particularly from Aahl, where a sea of clouds creates a magical setting for the descending sun. Singalila National Park, a favourite among trekkers, boasts dense bamboo and rhododendron forests, making it a top destination for rhododendron blooms in spring.

Though rare, there’s a chance to spot the red panda, Himalayan black bear, and clouded leopard along with experiencing the unique Indo-Nepali culture as the path crosses between India and Nepal.

Grading: Moderate

Tadiandamol Trek (Source: naturewalkers.in)

Tadiandamol Trek, Karnataka

A great favourite among trekkers in southern India, Tadiandamol Trek is great for both beginners and experienced trekkers.

You’ll be heading to the highest peak in Kodagu district and the third highest peak in Karnataka through lush shola forests, with streams to cross and the most stunning grasslands. And when you reach the top of

Tadiandamol, you’ll feel like you’re hiking in India amidst the clouds – a seriously amazing experience. Combine the trek with a visit to the famous hill town of Madikeri or Coorg.

Grading: Moderate

Hiking in India
Chanderkhani Pass (Source: Tripnomadic)

Chandrakhani Pass Trek, Himachal Pradesh

One of the most popular treks in India! The route is a cultural treasure, offering a glimpse into the rich history and customs of the Kullu Valley.

As you hike along the ancient shepherd’s trail, you’ll see hundreds of sheep being herded by friendly shepherds. The journey through lush forests is a delight – the cool shade of deodar, maple, and oak trees creates a refreshing experience, and you’ll be mesmerized by the fragrant woodlands.

Once you step out of the forest, you’ll be greeted by the breathtaking grasslands of the upper Kullu valley, where the views of Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar ranges are simply jaw-dropping. And at the summit, a rare ridge walk awaits you! The thrill is unbeatable, and the views from the top, out of this world.

Grading: Moderate Top ten treks in India

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Torsha Sen
Torsha Sen
A seasoned journalist who observes passage of time and uses tenses that contain simple past, continuous present, and a future perfect to weave stories.

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