India has world-class trekking opportunities, particularly in the Himalaya, where staggering snow-clad peaks, traditional tribal villages, sacred Hindu sites, ancient Buddhist monasteries and blazing fields of wildflowers are just some of the features that create extraordinary mountain experiences. Hit the trails for easy half-day jaunts or strenuous multi-day expeditions.
The commercial trekking industry is not much developed in India, so some places still feel wild and relatively unspoilt. Wherever you go, make sure you have any permits you may need, and monitor your health – acute mountain sickness is a serious risk on trails over 3000m. Beware of herding dogs in the mountains; they’re famously aggressive.
This International Mountain Day, let us go through some of the best mountain treks in the country.
Jammu & Kashmir: Ladakh offers some incredible trails, including routes through the popular Markha Valley and the wildly beautiful Zanskar region, with homestays possible on many routes.
Himachal Pradesh: Accessible Alpine adventures, from day walks between Buddhist hamlets on the high-altitude Spiti Homestay Trail, to full-scale adventures like the Pin-Parvati Trek.
Uttarakhand: Enjoy the pristine splendour of the Kuari Pass, Milam Glacier and Har-ki-Dun Valley treks or join pilgrims treks to sacred Kedarnath temple or Hem Kund.
Sikkim: Gaze at Khangchendzonga (8598m), the world’s third-highest mountain, on the Goecha La Trek.
Karnataka: Explore the serene hills and forests of Kodagu.
Kerala: Go in search of tigers, elephants and deer at the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
MOST ADVENTUROUS TREKS
For serious mountain adventures, point your compass towards the following:
Har-ki-Dun Valley Trek (Uttarakhand): Seriously remote and a haunt of snow leopards.
Kuari Pass Trek (Uttarakhand): Rugged mountain views around 7816m Nanda Devi, India’s second-highest peak.
Ladakh to Zanskar Trek (Kashmir & Ladakh): A camping classic, linking Buddhist villages through arid, high-altitude terrain.
Pin-Parvati Trek (Himachal Pradesh): A breathless, exhilarating climb over the snow-bound Pin- Parvati Pass (5319m).
Pemako (Arunachal Pradesh): A sacred kora (ritual circuit) of the mystical lake Danakosha, set among snowy peaks at 3750m.
Acclimatisation: Throughout the Himalaya, plan for some extra days to acclimatise while en route to high-altitude destinations. These mountains deserve your respect – don’t try to trek beyond your physical or technical abilities.