A rugged wonderland of rock and ice, the formidable mountains of the Indian Himalaya are the perfect challenge for the bold hiker on the hunt for breathtaking scenery.
Ladakh – India’s ‘Little Tibet’
With a dazzling backdrop of the jagged, snow-dusted Himalayas, the region of Ladakh offsets its magical setting with towering monasteries and snowy-white stupas. As well at its mountainous grandeur, this region is home the hypnotically shimmering Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri mirror lakes, both accessible by hired Jeep. There’s certainly no shortage of things to do here aside from the epic treks; discover the fairytale Yuru Gompa temple of Kangil, or float lazily down the Dal Lake on a Srinagari houseboat. Nestled deep within the craggy Indus Valleys, explore the scenic capital Leh, filled with beige mud-brick buildings. For all its charm, Leh is rather commercialised and touristy, so the Shakti Ladakh offers you the exclusive chance to lodge in luxury away from the hordes, in the myriad untouched villages within the marooning valleys.
Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand
With a magnificent continuous chain of snowy peaks, Himachal Pradesh is a hiker’s paradise. Trek, raft, ski, climb or paraglide your way around dramatic gorges and crashing rivers, before venturing into the subtropical pine forests of the west. If you’re visiting in late August, head to the lush, emerald-green orchards of Manali in time for the apple picking season.
Stomping ground of the Bengal tiger, Uttarakhand is a wildlife lover’s bliss, with steamy jungles brimming with exotic flora and fauna. Sliced by the River Ganges, this region is a patchwork of holy grounds and sites – Uttrarakhand is nicknamed the ‘Land of Gods’ for a reason! Walk in the footsteps of so many pilgrims past, to the sacred land that is Garhwal (a state less visited by tourists: the more private landscape views are a bonus).
The Eastern Himalaya – Sikkim
Wedged into the eastern pocket of Himalayan India that borders Nepal and Bhutan, Sikkim is simply breathtaking. With orange groves, rhododendron-carpeted hills and forest floors brushed with fragrant cardamom, India’s least populated state is a botanical delight. The buildings in Gangtok, its capital, are a chaotic tumble of pastel pinks, greens and yellows, perched on the steep mountainside. Home of the native red panda, head to the far west for hikes through some striking Buddhist architectural sites.