April – May: Gaumukh Tapovan and the Pangarchulla summit
The Gaumkh Tapovan trek will give you mesmerizing views of Mt. Shivling and the Bhagirathi sisters peaks. The second week of May is the best time to do this route and you are sure to enjoy not only startling mountain views, but also unforgettable sunrises and sunsets. Start from Dharali to get to Gaumukh, the source of the Ganges River and one of the four important stops in the Hindu pilgrimage circuit. As you walk to Gaumukh to meet the mighty Ganges emerging from the ground, be prepared for a spiritual experience in the midst of pristine nature.
The mouth of the glacier offers a splendid and majestic show of gigantic ice blocks, the size of a car, that regularly fall down with and echoing sound.
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The Pangarchulla summit is for adrenaline lovers. This peak should be conquered only when the snows are high and there aren’t too many exposed boulders. April to mid-May is the best season as you can enjoy the contrast of the bright snow and the blooming rhododendrons on the lower path. The landscape changes through each uphill hike to reveal meadows, oak forests and grasslands. The trek also passes through the Nanada Devi Sanctuary. In the last 350 meters you will have to dig your own route in the ice with an ice axe and you will need a fixed rope. Once again, this trek should be timed well and requires perseverance, but it will pay off with stunning views and a sense of achievement.
May – June: Buran Ghati and Rupin Pass
Buran Ghati is best seen in June. It is a feast of excitement that features almost 400 meters of snow descent followed by five big snow slides. Stunning visuals will accompany you every day of the hike. Camping in Dayara you will find yourself in a postcard. Continue through birch forests to the meadows of Litham, till you reach Dhunda, the last camping site before you attack the high altitude pass Buran Ghati. From Dhunda you will keep climbing higher and it’s a steep climb over boulders and snow for about two hours, so make sure you’re stocked on water. What an adventure!
Rupin Pass will transport you to the Arctic world in June, when the rest of the country is panting at 40 C. This snow-covered high altitude pass is one of the classics in India. Camping beside the Rupin Waterfall and four continuous days of serious trekking through pine forests, meadows and overhangs are sure to leave you with stories to tell your friends. Breathtaking scenery will be your companion on the way up, sometimes changing so quickly you will need to look back. You will pass by the hanging village of Jhaka, the snow bridges and hundreds of waterfalls that appear to be falling straight from the sky, while you’re surrounded by the rare beauty of the ranges of Kinnaur.
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July – September: Kashmir Great Lakes and Tarsar and Marsar:
Kashmir’s Great Lakes and Tarsar Marsar trail is quite different from any other expedition in the Himalayas. Your hike is bejeweled with spectacular alpine lakes, around which you get to camp. And how often do we get to wake up beside such aquamarine beauty? Wildflowers abound on the meadows surrounded by snow-patched hills and a horizon that stretches for miles. The Kolahoi mountain overlooks Lake Tarsar and its twin Marsar, flowing in the opposite direction. In summer you will come across flocks of migrating lammergeyers, Himalayan golden eagles, and cinnamon sparrows. What an opportunity to get close to nature’s harmonious perfection!
See also: Indian customs and culture