Man has lived for thousands of years with – and thanks to – nature. And now, nature is calling us back. Being outdoors and moving freely in a natural environment lets us reconnect with our roots and focus on what’s truly important. Escaping the daily grind and enjoying everything that the mountains have to offer: majestic scenery, colourful and varied plant life, and wildlife that never fails to amaze. Outdoor sport is vital to many of us, an escape, a stress relief, a need and even a passion.
A Chinese philosopher once said “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” So why not take this step today?
This article will take you through some of the most fantastic trails in India, discovering people, cultures, natural treasures, breathtaking landscapes and solving the problem of “where to stay” unless you plan to camp. Travel to places of perpetual ice and snow, across vast deserts, forests, mountains and villages you didn’t suspect the existence. Bon voyage!
Manali, famously known as the resort town nestled in the lap of the great Himalayas is probably one of the most beautiful destinations to explore in India. If you’re in Manali and you’d like to walk around a bit and explore the landscapes, here are a few hikes you can consider.
- Jogni fall: This picturesque waterfall in a remote, tranquil setting has shrines below it is sacred to locals. Jogini Falls is situated on the Northern edge of Vashisht Village and mark the village boundary. The waterfall cascades down from a height of around 150 ft. through multiple levels. The short hike from Vashisht village to the massive waterfall is every bit worth the 2 hour hike.
- Patalsu Peak: (4220m) is situated at the head of the Kullu valley. The hike winds past the villages of Shanag, Burwa and Solang. Climb through a mix of apple orchards and pine forests. Along the trail you will get a first-hand taste of authentic Kullu hospitality combined with great views of snow-capped peaks.
- Lamadugh Snow Hike: Packed with snow and a myriad of bird life early on in the season, the Lamadugh Hike is an ideal hike to introduce oneself to the undeniable allure of hiking and trekking. The hike is the perfect activity for a day spent outdoors and for escaping the crowds that Manali attracts. Gaining a height of over 3200ft in 5 hours, the Lamadugh hike takes us through ever changing vistas.
WHERE TO STAY;
Zostel Manali: Zostel Manali is set amidst panoramic Himalayan views, apple orchards, and a gorgeous garden cafe - at the unbeatable location of Old Manali. It calls out to the adventure and mountain lovers alike. It is located right in the heart of Old Manali, the hub of backpackers. In search of peace and breathtaking views of the mountains, they’ve gone off-road and built the hostel in the village of Old Manali.
Bir is a village located in the state of Himachal Pradesh also known as the “Paragliding Capital” of the country. It is also famously known for spiritual studies and meditation. If you’re planning to retreat from your urban life for a while and would like to spend your days in quietness in Bir, here’s a hike you should definitely try.
Raj Gundha - Arguably the most rewarding beginners trek/Hike in the Himalayas. A complete package with 360 degree scenic trail passing through the banks of Uhl River and virgin views of snow-capped peaks culminating in take-off from one of the world’s best paragliding sites- Billing.
Beyond this there are also cycling trails in Bir which are perfect for mountain biking.
WHERE TO STAY;
Zostel Bir: Zostel Bir is a quaint, activity-led backpacker hostel in the middle of a scenic Himalayan village which doubles up as a hub for adventure activities too. Bir is a small, hidden village in the Kangra Valley - just a couple of hours away from the famous hill station of Dharamsala. Our paragliding hostel, Zostel Bir, is also best to explore a few mountain biking trails in and around Bir, which would cater perfectly to your need of being as close to nature as possible.
Pushkar is a small town in the state of Rajasthan, very close to Jaipur. It is a pilgrimage site for Hindus and Sikhs surrounded by ghats and temples from the 18th century. If you’re willing to go down the trail of history, the following hike is highly recommended.
The Savitri Temple in Pushkar overlooks the entire town of Pushkar and all the surrounding valleys. The temple can be spotted while at the Pushkar Lake and the beauty is, the temple is only a fifteen-minute walk from the lake. It really is the most accessible and a great way to enjoy the view over the whole of Pushkar. The walk up from the base takes about 30 minutes, although you may need a few breaks it is quite a steep incline of stairs.
WHERE TO STAY;
Zostel Pushkar: Zostel Pushkar is the town's coolest backpacker hostel where you can chill by the pool, watch sunset from the cafe and gang up with others to explore Pushkar. Pushkar offers a unique chance to every traveller to visit the world’s only temple of the Hindu Lord Brahma.
Rishikesh, also the yoga capital of the world is located at the foothills of the Himalayas. It's also a pilgrimage town, one of the holiest places to Hindus. Sages and saints have visited Rishikesh for many years to meditate. If you're contemplating a meditating trip up north, this could be your safe haven. You'd definitley also enjoy a walk while you're there.
Kunjapuri Sunrise Hike: Kunjapuri is positioned at a height of 1645 meters and lends a panoramic sight of the Himalayan peaks to the North and Rishikesh, Haridwar and the Doon valley to the South. Travelling towards Gangotri, about 6 kilometers from Narendra Nagar the road bifurcates at Hindola Khal, leading to the shrine, which is 5 kilometres further. The trek is one the best place to view the amazing sunrise in the valley.
WHERE TO STAY:
Zostel Rishikesh: Zostel Rishikesh is a top-ranked, activity-led hostel located in the yoga hub of Rishikesh. As a bohemian backpacker hostel, we help you explore the town like no other. Rishikesh has been a popular go-to destination for white water rafting and also, a famed spiritual seekers paradise. At 12-15 min walk from the bustle of the city centre & the river Ganges, fresh air is what surrounds our hostel in Tapovan - perfect to practice Yoga in the world's Yoga capital.
Khajuraho is a small town located in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh famous for temples, both Hindu and Jain. The beautiful and erotic carvings are listed as one of the finest temple-art in the world. This is a really interesting location to visit for a Hiking trip
Datla Pahad : This is one of the best way to make most of the Khajuraho experience. After reaching the small village of Datla not very far from the hostel we start trekking uphill to the fascinating Datla Pahad (teeth mountain) which you can clearly recognize from a distance. Enjoy the colorful play of sunlight at dusk/dawn over the amazing country landscape of central India.
WHERE TO STAY:
Zostel Khajuraho: Zostel Khajuraho is located right next to temple complex in UNESCO world heritage site of Khajuraho. Top-ranked by guests - our backpacker hostel is a neat, affordable & fun option to explore Khajuraho. Now a UNESCO world heritage site attracts a number of travellers from around the world.
Located a stone’s throw away from the Western Group of Temples, Zostel Khajuraho offers all possible comforts for travellers along with a backpacking vibe found nowhere else in the town.
Gokarna is a temple town in the western coast of India in the state of Karnataka. If you’re visiting Gokarna on a beach holiday and don’t mind a little walk, you can try the below hike.
Golden Trail: Gokarna has several beaches and the hiking trail is popularly known as “Golden Trail”. The hike begins from the Belekhan Village and ends at Kudle Beach. You would be walking along the beach side, climbing boulders and crossing several beaches like Paradise, Hell of a Beach and more.
WHERE TO STAY
Zostel Gokarna: Zostel Gokarna is a sea view backpacker hostel, perched on the cliff overlooking Gokarna Main Beach.
Situated in the Nilgiri Hills, Ooty is a beautiful hill station full of lush green forests full of conifers and pines and pristine lakes. It’s the perfect place to walk around and take a hike.
Nilgiri hills hike is a typical forest trail through Nilgiris crosses emerald blue lakes, milky waterfalls, massive reservoirs, huge dams, rich green grassy meadows, tea plantations and gigantic eucalyptus trees. This is one such trail. Rarely used by humans, it is often crossed by wild animals like Nilgiri langoors, the lion-tailed macaque, tigers, bison, etc.
WHERE TO STAY;
Zostel Ooty: Located away from the city hustle, this nature-loving Zostel Ooty offers unparalleled Nilgiri views. Besides dormitories and private rooms, you can choose to reside in a tent too, waking up to the sun shining from behind the mountains.
Located in the foothills of the Mullayanagiri Range, Chikmagalur is a small town with favourable climate and coffee estates. Here’s a hike that you can attempt if you’re visiting Chikmagalur
At 1,930 m, Mullayanagiri is the highest peak in Karnataka. Standing majestically above the rest of the Western Ghats, this hill offers unprecedented views of all its neighbouring ranges. With every step you take, the view gets more and more breath-taking. The starting point of the trek is called Sarpadari. The best part is that the hike is fairly simple. Save for a few steep ascents, the hike is a lovely one through serpentine forest trails, with cool breeze and the sound of birds chirping.
WHERE TO STAY;
Zostel Chikmagalur: Located in the middle of a sprawling coffee plantation, the zostel hostel is a backpacker's nature retreat amidst trees and coffee shrubs. In the middle of a coffee plantation, Zostel Chikmagalur is the retreat you have been craving for. The hostel is built on a vast estate with nothing but trees and coffee shrubs!
Kodagu/ Coorg, hill station located in the eastern slopes of Western Ghats is known for its coffee and its people. The people include the indigenous tribes of kodava and other ethnic groups. It’s an interesting culture to explore along with beautiful hiking trails.
- Tadiandamol Hike is one of the most beautiful, though less known, hikes in Karnataka. Tadiandamol is the highest peak in Coorg/Kodagu district with an elevation of 5740 ft. That makes it the third highest peak in Karnataka. The trail takes you through the vast expanse of the Shola forests, through endless lush green grasslands and streams. It is a day hike which makes it even more doable for city folks- whether avid hikers or beginners. Camping at Tadiandamol peak amid gusty winds is a completely enthralling experience.
- Mangal Patti Hike: Located at a distance of 25- 30 km from Madikeri town, Mandalpatti is a popular tourist spot. A lush green mesmerising place, Mandalpatti has recently become popular amongst tourists. The place is way from the hustle bustle and offers some seclusion and calmness. It is perfect place to go for a hike. However, one is required to take entrance tickets from the authorities at the base of Mandalpatti.
WHERE TO STAY;
Zostel Coorg: Situated in the lap of nature, Zostel Coorg is a backpacker hostel that allows you to mingle with fellow travelers over bonfires and hikes. Also named ‘Scotland of India’, Coorg attracts travelers from all over the world with its verdant landscapes. Zostel Coorg is tucked away in the greenest lands of the town.