Trekking in Manali and Ladakh

Trekking in Manali and Ladakh
Last Updated: July 2, 2018

“Feeling the nature when you are true to your heart, disclosing your real character to her is actually a different experience than the experience you heard from others.”

Welcome to Manali…

“I haven’t seen such a galore,
the rich orchidaceous vales and nature’s bounty,
the faraway hermit hamlets and their bizarre charisma.
their very culture yet so dissimilar…”

The door to the heights of Himachal, Manali, with its own beguiling beauty, is a mantrap destination that is tucked in the midst of the Pir Panjal range and Dhauladhar range. The celestial peace of the mighty town set at an altitude of 2050m slush by the Beas River valley is as snuggling to honeybunches as it is tempting to leisure travellers. Manali leads to the heights of Rohtang Pass en route Solang valley, Lahaul and Spiti en route the Pin Parvati Pass, Beas Kund en route River Beas and small rivulets, Hampta Pass and Baralacha Pass en route Chandertal Lake and several other rugged trailing heights, calling forth one of the trekking destinations in India. Bric-a-brac Manali is also a pilgrimage destination for both the Hindus and Buddhists.

“…again I feel the essence of mankind,
charming and genial by their heart and soul,
from where the heads bow to the beaten trails,
from the alluring hills to the realm ruled by snow…”

It is the warm and friendly nature of the people that will absorb the most other than their rich and colorful culture. The traditional attire, religious dances, folk music, the bamboo crafts and handloom arts are of special attractions.

“…now I feel the charm to hold your hand,
as I am now blessed by the ethnicity,
you can walk with me to the virtue of love,
with blissful eternity…”

When you are seeking for an ideal walk in the midst of cloud with your partner far from the city traffic, Manali, with her rugged yet exotic ambience will make you an ardent lover… a madcap adventurer. Manali gives myriad paths to unfold and explore the Himachal heights, executing ‘A TREKKER’S DELIGHT’.

“Ideally, a coincidence to bear in mind,
along the trendy ridge and the olive green vales,
I walk, I fagged, but my shadow fetched me not to stop,
like a peregrine to reach the distant pinnacles.”

Tiro Walkers onto the Bhrigu Lake Trek…

bhrigu-lake-trek One of the picturesque alpine lakes sparkling at an altitude of 4240 meters in Beas Valley, the Bhrigu Lake that is set in the midst of a sprawling colourful meadow is a Trekker’s haven and Flicker’s flash. En route Gulaba meadows from Manali the trek lead to Kothi Thel, which is perched at a height of 2900 meters, passing through the dense Pine, Fir, Oak and Cedar forests and small streams. One of the short and easy treks from Manali, Bhrigu Lake trek exhibits a panoramic view of many snowcapped high mountains, such as Indrasan (6220 mts) and Inderkilla (6000 mts). A hotspot ambiance that allow adventurers to camp at the shore of the lake and lets to unfold the beauty of the Beas Valley, which is layered with wild flowers and grazing meadows. Seeking for more to explore? Short walks further… get view of Deo Tibba Glacier on the other side of the Mountain and Sethan Village. Way back, the trail passes through a small meadow towards the traditional hamlet of Vashisht, which is popular for its hot sulphur springs and a temple dedicated to Lord Rama. Nonetheless Vashisht became popular through the retro hippie movement and in the 21st scenario the village is a mass tourism destination with visitors from all over India and the globe.

Holy Questers onto the Beas Kund Trek…

biaskund-trek Yet another short and easy trek from Manali, the Beas Kund Trek is often regarded as one of the spiritual treks in India. It is believed that Rishi Vyas used to take bath from this Beas Kund. Let us not focus on the epical track… rather our eyes are keen to explore the vast nature secluded in the midst of Dhauladhar Range. The trail commences from Solang Nala and heads up to Dhundi, which is approximately 6 kms walk. From Dhundi base camp one can get the first glimpse of Mt. Hanuman Tibba and Seven Sisters. The trail follows further toward Beas Kund, which is the source of River Beas, set at an altitude of 3540 meters and exposes an enchanting panoramic view of the wonderland. Trek up to Beas Kund and way back to Solang, is perfect for walking tours in and around Manali… people who seek for family adventures in India and to frame their vacation in a unique way. TREKKERS and SNOW-WALKERS rather heads further towards Tentu Pass from Beas Kund and thereafter from Tentu Pass the snow bed trail winds up to an altitude of 5892 meters… the summit. The trail up to the summit takes approximately sixteen to seventeen days.

Dawn Crackers and Highland Trailers onto the Chandra Tal trek…


There is a fascination among adventurers to trek in the barren mountainscape of Himachal beyond the honey-bond hill station of Manali. The Chandratal Trek in Spiti from Manali that backpacks trekkers with less time and more adventure and less effort and more idyllic is yet another short and easy trek from Manali, throwing oneself in a feast of surprises.  Just four days… and one will surely retrieve the charming trek lifetime.

Get up before the daybreak. The dawn crackers after sipping a cup of hot coffee steer and wind their way to Rohtang Pass where they acquaint the fresh golden rays glittering over the snow bed. The road further turns and bends en route a barren valley leading towards Dadarpul, which is set on a lush green landscape crosscut by a meandering stream. Further steering deep into the Chandra Valley towards Chatru at 3560 meters, the scary road winds steeply up to Kunzum Pass at 4550 meters, which is the gateway to Chandratal trek. Just when you feel the pinch on your lungs due to lack of oxygen make sure you revive now as a Highland Trailer. The bird’s eye view of the majestic snow clad Himalayan peaks from Kunzum pass and the entire Spiti valley on one side, and the Chandra valley on the other, leaves you in a state of nirvana just when you are about to start your 8 kms trail to Chandra Tal. A steep climb to the summit of a ridge offers you the first site of the emerald green Chandratal Lake secluded within the barren hills and a contrasting lush green meadow. A sheer descend leads to the campsite overlooking the breathtaking ambiance of the lake. A loner will spend couple of days under star-studded night sky, whereas the highland trailers will explore the part of its ambiance and acquaint the wildlife. One can have magnificent view of peaks like Minar (6172 mt) and others. Thereafter the trails back to Manali passes through a steep descend en route a fertile plateau towards Batal village along the course of Chandra River. Thereafter from Batal steer your wheel towards Manali and grab back home a shimmering short trail filled with elusive snaps.

Hippie Walkers on to the Malana Trek via Chandrakhani Pass


It depicts the ancient lost village of Malana, which lies under the shadow of the Chanderkhani pass of the Kullu valley. Today the solitary hamlet of Malana at 2652 meters nestles with a small cluster of around two hundred stone roof houses and the indigenous culture and the temple of Jamlu makes it one of the remote tourist destinations in and around Manali. Often dubbed as ‘little Greece’, Malana stands out with a unique architectural style houses. Further being cloistered within the highland, Malana has been an ecological haven to eco-travellers as the serene ambiance beds a vast biodiversity. Malana is connected to rest of Himachal Himalaya by three mountain passes and one of them is the Chandrakhani Pass at 3660 meters, which is accessible from Chiklani at 2370 meters after crossing Rumsu via Naggar from Manali. You can explore Naggar that has some historical and religious significance. Naggar holds the charm of a quaint castle build by Raja Sidh Singh. It also beholds a myth as a celestial seat of deities.  Jagatipatt Temple, Tripura Sundri Temple, Gauri Shankar temple and Nicholas Roerich Art Gallery holds special attractions in and around Naggar. River Beas alongside offers an excellent opportunity for white water rafting.

Now let’s drive to Leh from Manali en route Rohtang Pass at 3980 meters and steer steep down to Keylong at 3080 meters via Sissu at 3130 meters to Baralacha La at 5030 meters via Jispa and Darcha, thereafter to Tanglang La at 5328 meters, Upshi and Karu TO chalk down the major treks in Ladakh region.

“Beyond the world lies a journey,
a horizon that acquaints a magical destiny,
a solitude with soulful eternity,
a milieu abiding betrothal vicinity,
where deity is within the eyes,
and the  faith adobe vivid smile.”

Just imagine when the nature herself reflects back your past, the nature that takes you deep inside your mien, and you pour forth few drops of tears or bring around a smile. A view that itself mirrors the person in you and an ambiance that itself haunts you down the memory lane. Nonetheless I am talking about the crystal blue Pangong Lake, moored in between the cold mountain desert of Ladakh, at an altitude of 14000 ft. And when you fall upon such existence you hardly conceive your gloomy days back in your bustling city.

People whom I meet, friends and colleagues, they have shared almost same experience those who visited Ladakh. Few said they took the charm by the lake by sipping hot coffee or tea and few said that they tried to cast around. I bag along my own mood. Now who is going to boil water for a cup of tea or coffee? I like to explore alone and that also I carry very light but useful weight including either a bottle of rum, whiskey or scotch. It’s easy to enchant the nature making neat pegs than concentrating on boiling water. This makes me poetic when I blend with these two addictions, the cool scenic beauty and the warm gilded neat pegs.

Feeling the nature when you are true to your heart, disclosing your real character to her, is actually a different experience than the experience you heard from others. Likewise my experience visiting Ladakh may differ with you even if you carry the same mood.

That was the third time for me in Manali and hence I didn’t afford much time there. A whole day journey from New Delhi to Manali was a kind of reviving with memories but after the awaiting night the following morning journey was salubriously building new memories. An enthralling journey through the mystical hills crossing high and beautiful passes, feeling the wind in my hair and breathing the fresh mountain air was an adrenaline pumping experience. I was in Leh.

My major attraction was Pangong Lake, which followed the next morning and the whole day went camping. That day I didn’t even bother to pay visit to the monasteries and Khardung la Pass. Anyways the following morning I headed to Nubra Valley via Samtangling Gompa, which is a branch of the Rizong Gompa and newly built and one of the beautiful monastery around Leh, en route Khardung la Pass, 5602m, world’s highest motorable road. The lofty drive also excited me with some heeling hot water springs. The night was followed by camping at Khardung la Pass and I was accompanied by three foreigners, my driver, a bonfire and our bottle of scotch.

“Beyond the civilization lies a viability,
a nascence that exhale a verse amorously,
a spirit with blissful sovereignty,
an admirer beaconing Elysian itinerary,
where deity is seen solely,
to a hermit heart wallowing ethereally.”

From My Diary on the Frozen River Trek a.k.a. the Chadar Trek

chadar-trek Just after acquainting Lin Bartle and her group from Denmark… the decision was made to hit the icy tracks on December 2011.

Popularly a winter trek in Ladakh region that makes your days slippery and shivery the Chadar Trek is every trekkers dream. The stretch of 90-100 kilometers on the blanket of a large icecap on the River Zanskar connects you from Ladakh region to the remote villages of Zanskar valley. The trail commences from Chilling and heads up to Gylapo via Tilad Do passing through the rugged and frigid terrain and combating the temperature that dips down to below minus 10 degrees. Further 14 kilometers en route the deep ravines, mountain caves and frozen waterfalls the trail climbs up to Tibb Cave and thereafter to Naerek reeving snow fed walls and gorges. Few steps ahead on the frozen floor was the mother-of-all frozen waterfalls – a huge instance of suspended animation several feet tall and equally wide. The trail back to Leh heads the same route… and the entire stretch of the trail for 7-8 days makes it one of the breath-taking and challenging treks in the Indian Himalayan region.

When I mentioned one winter trek… let me introduce and brief another winter trek in Ladakh, the Snow Leopard Trek


The major attraction on this trek in Ladakh region is the Hemis National Park that houses several endangered species from snow leopards, great Tibetan sheep, Blue Sheep, Shapu, Asiatic Ibex, Tibetan Wolf, Eurasian Brown Bear, Red Fox, Himalayan Marmot, Mountain Weasel and the Himalayan Mouse Hare. It is also an abode of several birds of prey species like the Golden Eagle, the Lammergeier vulture, and the Himalayan Griffon vulture. Nonetheless the park also houses birds like Brown Accentor, Robin Accentor, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Streaked Rosefinch, Tibetan Snowfinch, Chukar, Fork-tailed Swift, Red-billed Chough, Himalayan Snowcock, and the Fire-fronted Serin.

The Trek to Hemis National Park

passes along the River Indus towards Zingchen George, which is approximately 5-6 hours of trek. Thereafter you are in the snow fed wild exploring the Hemis National Park and acquainting the endangered species. Blue sheep are common in the park whereas species like Shapu can only be spotted in Hemis National Park. Spotting a snow leopard is a glimpse of luck. Down the Rumbek Valley, you can experience the traditional colours, folklore and hospitality of solitary hamlet. It is one of the short treks in Ladakh and enlightens trekkers and wildlife lovers’ heart.

Cloister to Cloister… The Ladakh Monastery Trek

ladakh-monastery-trek Needless to mention that Ladakh is one of the eminent Buddhist circuit in India and thus the Ladakh Monastery Trek is one of the popular treks in the Ladakh region that fetches Buddhist pilgrims from parts of South Asian countries. Nonetheless it is a dream trek to any adventure freak and allows one to acquaint the unique lifestyle, rituals and cuisine, of the Indo-Tibetans. Further the trek also seeks trekkers to explore the rugged terrain and acquaint the wildlife. Moored in between the lofty deserted mountains, Ladakh, is one such destinations in India where challenging trails find the supernal definition of nature at its best.

Off from Leh to Spituk village you step on the floor of Spituk Monastery and thereafter your trail starts toward Zingchen en route an easy to moderate walk passing across three streams. Thereafter from Zingchen the trail winds up to Ganda la Base at 4380 meters via Rumbak Village, where one can rest for couple of hours or so. It’s going to be freezing at Ganda la Base while camping for the night… anyways the next morning the trail has a steep descend to Skiu at 3400 meters via Shingo village, which is approximately 6-7 hours of trail. At Skiu the major attraction is the Skiu Monastery and thereafter the following day the trail follows an easy 7-8 hours of walk to Markha, a remote village, where you will be intimating the traditional culture. En route Markha the rugged ramp heads to Thochuntse after crossing Hankar Yokma village and visiting the Umlung Monastery tucked on a hill top. The following day heads up to a steep climb to Nimaling at 4700 meters passing through narrow valleys and following the up course of River Markha. This one of the lofty valleys of Ladakh wherefrom you can enchant the panoramic view of the Kangyatse Peak and other snow capped peaks. Thereafter follows a 6 hours of trail with some major ups and downs to Shang Sumdo en route Gongmaru La at 5150 meters. The last leg of the trail passes through a series of Chortens and the Martselang village to Hemis Monastery, which is one of the ancient monasteries, built before the 11th century and was reestablished in the 17th century.

A Real Combat… The Stok Kangri Trek

stok-kangri-trek A real challenge to succeed, the Stok Kangri Trek has been a nightmare to some adventurers and also has been a word of mouth to some. It is one of the strenuous treks in the Ladakh region as well as quite popular as one of the beautiful treks in India that winds up to a place of complete bliss and delight and peace.

After exploring the vicinity of Leh and camping at Pangong Lake the challenge wheels to Shang en route Thiksey Monastery. The Stok Kangri Trek commences from Shang and leads up to Sumdo at an altitude of 3800 meters, which is approximately 4-5 hours of easy to moderate walk passing through stony valley and chiseled path. The following early morning rays lead the trail from Sumdo to Shang Phu at an altitude of 4365 meters, which is also an 4-5 hours of trail approximately. Well… beware of wolves while camping at the site. The third day winds up to a challenge as it pass through the Shang La after a steep climb of 900 meters. This part of the trail crosses many spurs and minor passes, with glimpse peaks beyond the Indus Valley. Thereafter en route the River Tokpo the trail heads up to an altitude of 4550 meters and there from descends to Gangpoche at 4435 meters. The approximate time to cover the stretch from Shang Pu to Gangpochey is 7-8 hours. The fourth day confronts a steep climb to Matho La Pass at 4950 meters and thereafter steeply descends to Smankarmo at 4380 meters. At this point, from Matho La Pass, one can have a panoramic view of the Stok Kangri and also during a clear blue sky… one can capture a glance of the farfetched Gasherbrum peaks (one of the 8000 meters peaks) located in Pakistan. While descending to Smankarmo… you may encounter the remote folk culture – stone huts and cattle farms. The following day swirls to Stok Kangri base camp at an altitude of 4980 meters after a moderate 2-3 hours of trail. From the base camp one can feast his eyes catching the views of the Rimo peaks (adjacent to the Siachen Glacier in the East Karakoram). The following day wakes up as an acclimatization day and hence you need to prepare for the trail to summit. It’s the 7 day that you trail up to the summit closing to an altitude of 6500 meters. AND THAT IS GOING TO TAKE A LONG BREATH. The summit brings you to a promised land wherefrom you can have magnificent views in every direction. “LEH appears so small that it comes within the minute circle of two fingers..”… Snaps…cheers…DEEP BREATH… the trail leads back to the camp and follows the same route way down to Leh. Well..Stay back and you may do some Rafting in Zanskar river and hit the tracks to reach another trekking destination in Ladakh region.

Published: 02 Jan, 2014
Swairik Das


Brought up from the cultural capital of India, Kolkata, Swairik Das is a passionate traveller who seeks to travel and explore the length and breadth of the country. He is also a dedicated travel writer, blogger and photographer who by heart is also an adventure freak. His focus is mostly into exploring and writing on trekking, jungle safaris and several adventure activities; religion, festival, heritage, people and cuisine.

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