Trekking in Garhwal (Uttarakhand) has been an ace activity in the Indian Himalayan region that has earned the attention of trekkers from all over the world. With innumerous Hindu myths adding a touch of mysticsm and several remote settlements, the region lies amid the vast ecosphere on the lap of Garhwal Himalaya… the offbeat tracks swirls you to a distinct and diversified landscape. Although the Garhwal Himalayan region is notable for putting forth several popular trekking destinations, yet there are several tracks that links to unexplored region that lays bare a virgin territory and eye-popping horizon. Home to India’s highest mountain, Nanda Devi at an altitude of 7,816 meters, the Garhwal Himalayan region with several other 7thousanders, 6thousanders and 5thousanders has established itself as the hub of adventure tourism in India. Let us dig into some of the less explored treks in the Garhwal Himalayan region from the article and discover some offbeat routes, untouched nature, indigenous culture and spectacular panorama.
A slice of the ancient pilgrim Gangotri to Kedarnath trail, the Budha Kedar Malla Trek is one of the unexplored treks in the Indian Himalayan region that offers the grandest view of the entire range of Yamunotri – Gangotri – Kedarnath – Badrinath mountain peaks. The trek commences from Malla, which is 22 kilometers by road from Uttarkashi, and thereafter leads to Belak. The trek from Mala to Belak at 2,420 meters is approximately 15 kilometers and takes 6 – 7 hours. The trail continues to Budha Kedar, which is one of the five Shiva temples, and is followed by Ghuttu via Bharavchatti. The trek to Panwali Kantha drops you at a very beautiful expanse of meadows along with breathtaking view of high snow capped peaks. Further, a downhill trek leads to Maghuchatti and thereafter to Gaurikund via Trijuginarayan. From Gaurikund the trek snakes through a rough landscape to Kedarnath at 3,581 meters, which is one of the prominent shrines of the Char Dham Yatra. From Kedarnath the downhill trail follows to Siyal Saur and finally concludes at Rishikesh.
You are going to step into a Hindu myth that says that Bhilangana, a divine spirit tried to tempt Lord Shiva. After being rejected… she distorted into a liquid form and thus, formed the river Bhilangana that originally flows out from the Khatling Glacier, which is at an elevation of 3,900 meters. The Khatling Sahastra Tal Trek is one of the least explored treks in the Garhwal Himalayan region but once you undertake the strenuous trek you will get introduced to the celestial horizon panoplied by the snow capped peaks of Jogin group at 6,466 meters, Barte Kauter at 6,579 meters, Sphetic Pristwar at 6,905 meters, Kirti Stambh at 6,902 meters and Meru at 6,660 meters. The trail moves through lush green fields and thick forests and later, ascends to two high altitude mountain passes. Further, the journey negotiates through a stretch of moraines and glaciated tracks bound with a thick patch of snow, which makes it the most difficult part of the trek. The Khatling Sahastra Tal trek starts from Malla, which is a few hours of drive from Uttarkashi. The gentle climb leads to Kushkalyani via Sillachhan and thereafter passes through a lush green meadow, several waterfalls and streams… the trek leads to Kyarki Khal that lies at an elevation of 4,077 meters. From Kyarki the trail passes through a picturesque meadow and leads to Sahastral via Parital. Sahastral is one of the beautiful alpine lakes tucked in between the rugged terrains of the Garhwal Himalaya. It is one of the best places where you can go for an overnight camp. The trail follows several uphill and downhill tracks and continues to head towards Khatling Glacier via Kalyani at 2,683 meters followed by Kharsoli at 2,896 meters. En route through a steep climb via Tambakund the trek finally reaches Khatling Glacier followed by a downhill track to Masar Tal at 3,675 meters and Vasuki Tal at 4,135 meters. Ultimately the trek starts to descend to Kedarnath before culminating at Rudraprayag.
More or less the Khatling Masar Tal Trek follows the same route as the previous trail but the best part of this trek is that you are going to explore the vicinity of Masar Tal more deeply. As I mentioned earlier on the Khatling Sahastra Tal trek, about its beauty and rugged landscape that treats your eyes with the breathtaking horizon conquered by the snow capped peaks of Jogin group at 6,466 meters, Barte Kauter at 6,579 meters, Sphetic Pristwar at 6,905 meters, Kirti Stambh at 6,902 meters and Meru at 6,660 meters… and whispering forests, gentle meadows, several streams and waterfalls, let me now brief you about the route once again. The original trek starts from Malla followed by Kush Kalyani via Sillachhan and thereafter turns to Parital via Kyarki. The trail from Kyarki becomes a bit strenuous as you head towards Sahastral at 5,000 meters followed by a downhill trek to Kalyani at 2,683 meters. Then from Kalyani the trek heads to Tambakund via Kharsoli and climbs to Khatling Glacier, which lies at an altitude of 3,900 meters, followed by Chauki at 3,717 meters, the gateway to Masar Tal. Tucked in between the mountains, Masar Tal at 3,675 meters is one of the alpine lakes in the Garhwal region on the left flank of Doodhganga Bamak. It is yet another heavenly place where you can camp overnight. The trail from Masar Tal leads downhill to Kedarnath via Vasuki Tal before finally ending at Gaurikund.
The Panwali Kantha Trek is yet another unexplored trek in the Garhwal Himalayan region that lays bare charming grassland ranging from 2,745 meters to 3,970 meters on the old pilgrim trail from Gangotri to Sri Kedarnath. Passing through a thick forest zone with patches of wild orchids… the trail is an absolute delight for nature lovers and photographers. The trek starts from Ghuttu, which is approximately 190 kilometers from Rishikesh, and heads to Gurmanda. The trail from Ghuttu to Gurmanda is approximately 10 kilometers and heads to Panwali Kantha. The downhill trek follows the same route to Ghuttu and concludes at Rishikesh.
The Gangi-Budha Kedar trek is one of the moderate treks in the Garhwal Himalayan region, which is yet to be marked in the diary of trekkers trying their luck in the Indian Himalayan region. The Gangi-Budha Kedar trek follows an offbeat and a somewhat strenuous route that passes through several small villages; Gangi is the last village on the route that is 20 kilometers from Reeh village. This trek in the Garhwal Himalayan region is one of the tedious journeys that you can experience but it offers a spectacular panorama of the Bhilangana Valley. The Gangi-Budha Kedar trek also traverses through several small alpine lakes and glaciers and through breathtaking cascades of the snow clad mountains and peaks including Jogin group, Meru, Thalay Sagar etc… sneaks several shots and capture from the lenses of photographers. The trek commences from Reeh and heads toward Gangi, thereafter leading to Kharsoli at 2,896 meters. From Kharsoli the route heads for Chouki followed by Khatling zero point at an approximate elevation of 3,900 meters. After crossing the Mayali Pass the trail follows a downhill track towards Kedarnath via Paniya tal and Vasuki Tal. From Kedarnath the trek heads to at Gaurikund.
The source of the River Bhilangna, Khatling Glacier at an altitude of 3,900 meters is one of the least explored places in the Garhwal Himalayan region. The glacier is tucked in between several peaks including the Jogin group at 6,466 meters, Sphetic Pristwar at 6,905 meters, Barte Kauter 6,579 meters, Kirti Stambh at 6,902 meters and Meru. The moraines on the side of the glacier look like standing walls of gravel mud. The trek to Khatling Glacier follows the usual route as mentioned in Khatling Sahastra Tal trek but below here is a brief on the route. The Khatling-Kedarnath trek begins from Malla and is followed by Sillachhan and Kush Kalyani. Thereafter, a gradual climb from Kalyani leads to Kyarki Khal followed by a picturesque meadow to Parital. This alpine trek in the Garhwal Himalayan region then leads to Sahastral, which is an alpine lake, followed by Tambakund via Kharsoli. Following a steep climb over the glaciated track… you finally conquer the Khatling Glacier and then a downhill trek leads you to Masar Tal via Tambakund. Slowly it follows a gentle descend to Vasuki Tal and thereafter to Kedarnath and finally reaches Rudraprayag.
Panwali-Trijugi Narayan trek, which is worth mentioning in this article as it follows a completely different route in the Garhwal Himalayan region. The trek starts from Ghansali, which is 130 kilometers from Rishikesh and leads to Ghuttu. The trek slowly rises up to Do Phund, which is roughly 15 kilometers away. From Do Phund the trek follows several alpine meadows and the first one that you are going to embark on is Matya Bugyal. From Matya Bugyal the trek leads to another beautiful meadow, Panwali Kantha, which is approximately 3 kilometers away. The trail further climbs to Taali Top and leads to Khinkhola Pass, which is another 4 kilometers from Taali Top. From Khinkhola Pass the trek follows a downhill trail to Triyugi Narayan, where you can visit an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. From Triyugi Narayan the trek snakes through a gentle route to Rambara via Gaurikund and thereafter to Kedarnath. The downhill trek from Kedarnath heads to Gaurikund again and the trek finally concludes in Srinagar.
A perfect get away for the weekend backpackers during the winter season who seek to break loose from the daily dose of a bustling week, the Mussoorie-Pantwari-Nagtibba trek passes through a spectacular potpourri of nature. The trek off the original route from Devalsari village commences from Pantwari that is at an altitude of 1,100 meters and approximately a couple of hours drive from Mussoorie. Pantwari is a small village and the starting point of this off-beat trek in the Garhwal Himalayan region. The trail from Pantwari follows a steep climb of 4-5 hours through a dense wood of alpine trees, gentle meadows and small streams and ascent towards Nagtibba Base at 2,600 meters. The trek further snakes 2 kilometers to Nagtibba Top at 3,050 meters wherefrom you can capture the striking snow clad horizon occupied with Swargarohini, Bandarpunch, Neelkanth, Black peak and many more. Although it’s one of the winter treks in the Garhwal Himalayan region that leads through a thick patch of snow… yet the trail during the summer storms with greenery making it ideal for nature lovers. The downhill trek follows through Tevagaon at 1,400 meters from the Jungle Campsite and leads off at Dehradun.
Another less explored route to Nagtibba Top at 3,050 meters is the trek from Thatyur, which is 30 kilometers from Mussoorie by road. It is one of the less explored treks in the Garhwal region that sneaks through a thick forest of Rhododendrons and Oak via Devalsari village, which is 7 kilometers from Nag Tibba. The trek to Nagtibba via Oothad and Chhanni winds through the forest grasslands and serpentine tracks that give you the most stunning views of Swargarohini, Bandarpunch, Neelkanth, Black peak and many more. The Thatyur-Devalsari-Nagtibba trek route is an alternate pick for anyone who wants to seek more adventure. It is a summer trek for leisurescapers but can also be easily accessed during the winter season.
If you are an adventure buff and seeking something crazy that will gratify your cravings for the vast ecosphere in the Indian Himalayan region, I must say that the Khatling trek supersedes all other alpine treks in the Garhwal region. The trail brings all the sights that you are looking for… alpine meadows, thick forest and remote villages. Further, the journey swirls through the rupturing beauty of the Bhilangana valley where you can get hold of hanging glaciers and beyond it the panorama of Sahasratal on West and Masartal on the East side. The trek to Khatling glacier, which is at an altitude of 3,900 meters, covers approximately 90 kilometers (Up and downhill). The trek commences from Ghuttu, which is a 170 kilometers drive from Rishikesh. From Ghuttu the trail leads to Gangi at 2,606 meters via Reeh at 1,524 meters and thereafter follows a steep climb to Kharsoli at 3,110 meters en route through a thick forest and an open meadow known locally as Birodh. Thereafter the trail follows another strenuous climb to Bhedikharag at 3,700 meters and one need to overcome a glaciated stretch. Finally, the uphill trek heads to Khatling glacier wherefrom you can seize the spectacular crown of snowclad peaks of the Jogin group at 6,466 meters, Sphatik Pristwar at 6,905 meters, Barte Kauter at 6,579 meters, Kirti Stambh at 6,902 meters and Meru at 6,660 meters. The downhill trek follows the same route to Ghuttu and finally the Khatling Glacier trekking tour ends at Rishikesh.