11 Best Himalayan Treks in India witness the himalayan local culture
The first impression is the last impression they say. Well, this is not true for Himalayan treks. Yet, some of the base villages on the trek are so enticing that you know if this is the beginning, the whole trek will be truly worth it. After all, the essence of trekking does not lie at the summit only. It is built steadily with every step and the surrounding specialities.
And trekking is about enjoying the journey, not about the destination. This journey encompasses various stupendous elements of nature. One such mind blowing man made miracle is habitats established on trek routes. Every time a village strikes, we are in awe of their survival skills. We wonder how they manage to live in the mountains. At the same time, we feel envious of them. These villages will definitely give you a complex about your home place. After all, they are the lucky ones to live in such a serene ambience.
1:- Jhaka village (Hanging village) – Rupin Pass Trek
The most famous village that gives a happy sigh of relief on the difficult trail to Rupin Pass. Hanging, situated magically on a cliff. When sighted from a distance, there are thousands of questions arising in mind, looking at the incredible coexistence of man and nature. Dhara village which is at a height from Jhaka shows the precise hanging view of this village. It is said Jhaka was once part of Dhara. A landslide shifted it down and it has been hanging since then!
The locals and their culture are as ravishing as the beauty of the village. One can realise that in the very first moment of their greetings. The children are used to trekkers visiting them and are playful. The scarcely populated village has a stunning Kinnaur temple, representing its rich heritage. On the fourth day of the trek from Bawta to Jhaka, this stunning village is the perfect campsite.
2:- Natin – Dayara Bugyal Trek
As pretty as its predecessor Raithal, this village is unique for its clear views of Himalayan peaks. It has stunning views of the Gangotri massif and Srikantha peak. Walking ahead of the village following the road are some waterfalls. Just as one keeps hiking a little more, then comes a viewpoint that shows amazing spectacles of Bandarpunch peak. Wow, it seems like the views of the summit are right here at the base! The colourful houses, arranged in perfect geometrical fashion are the first attraction. Not only the houses but the flourishing green rice fields are also located in the same manner one above the other. This gives the typical yet unusual picture.
This village is only 2 km away from Raithal, another beautiful habitat. What else makes Raithal unprecedented is the nurtured cultural heritage. The well-maintained 200 years old, 4-storeyed wooden house. This house itself is a museum, it harbours traditional architectural styles, a staircase made of one wooden log, handmade home articles, insulation from cold in winter and whatnot. It is a complete man-made miracle! The next thing to watch out for is the colourful temple, that is close to this house. The temple is placed exactly where one can get a complete view of the Raithal village and its surrounding serene mountains.
3:- Markha Village – Markha Valley Trek
The Markha Valley Trek that goes through the biggest Markha village alongside the Markha river is an amalgamation of namesakes. Only on Markha Trek can you find the habitats that are so remote. Markha village is 25 km away from the road head, so reaching this hidden village is itself a never miss opportunity.
The village lies at a wider section of the valley, enabling fields, and houses to flourish. At places, the Mani stones, white stupas, and prayer flags can be observed. After crossing a steep slope, the 3 stupas mark the entrance into Markha village. Standing on this hill one can get the clear sight of wonderfully laid fields of barley lined with the typical Buddhist houses, flowing river and the infinite valley in the background. Isn’t this like a fantasy?
4:- Tugasi – Pangarchulla Trek
Right on the opening day of the actual trek the prime village coming en route is Tugasi. The first heart-capturing sight is the Dronagiri and Hanuman peaks far behind in the background. Right in front of the peak are lush green fields on the slopes cut into steps. Decorated around these farms are the houses of farmers stacked on the same slopes. There is a cultivation of wheat and potatoes in abundance.
On the right of the route towards Gulling, Gursu top while on the left Auli range can be spotted from the village. Roaming through the village one can take small kit kat breaks to chit-chat with the children or locals, they are cordial. Just a 1km hike from the village Nanda Devi can be sighted.
5:- Osla – Har Ki Doon
Osla village is another popular destination in the Har Ki Doon valley. It is symbolised by an unusual style of wooden houses. It is hard to believe that in this age the habitats are still using the ancient construction method which is fading in Himalayan villages. Another wooden marvel is the Someshwar Mahadev Mandir. The people here are so rooted that they still wear traditional clothing made of sheep wool. They call it Unni Chola, the conventional Himachali wear.
Visiting this village is going back in time and living the same old lifestyle under the blue skies between the tranquil mountain ranges. The excellence of the Himalayas around the village makes Osla more than just a tourist place. It is a discrete life that must be lived!
6:- Kedarkantha Peak – Sankri
The winter wonderland of India cannot be complete without its winter jewel Sankri. In the peak winter, it is completely under a white blanket of thick snow coming out of a portrait of peaceful imagination. The skeleton of trees lined with ice, roads, vehicles buried under deep snow, and slanting roofs of houses trying to hold the white slabs of snow. All this gleaming under yellow morning light and having hot tea in the warm sun rays is living a dream.
On the contrary, in summers and monsoons, the true colours of Sankri are revealed. Apple trees and Rhododendron (Buransh) trees bloomed with bright red rhododendrons, verdant fields, and picturesque houses, it is an unimaginable side of the same winter land. The Supin river passed silently through this village. There is one oldest temple, completely wooden, a piece of the antique structure never seen before.
7:- Kashmir Great Lakes Trek – Sonmarg
The popularity of it as a tourist place says it all. Amongst other heavenly locations of the majestic Kashmir valley, this is the prominent spot. The magic begins right after crossing the big steel bridge, a gateway into this bliss. With the Thajiwas glacier in the background and fresh streams flowing out of it making their way through the huge grasslands, horses meandering on these meadows around little stone houses, and immensely pretty faces living in these tiny houses, Sonmarg is a paradise. Period.
This base village is by far the most loved. No words are required to describe its beauty. It is a paradise. Period. It is also the training camp for the High Altitude Warfare School(HAWS) and Jawaharlal Institute of Mountaineering (JIM).
8:- Kanamo – Kibber
If you are in Spiti valley and you miss Kibber, the highest village in this valley, what a shame! With Kanamo Trek not only do you get to enter into Spiti valley but walk through its elegance in slow motion. Lying at a height of around 4000 metres, it is placed magically in an arid land, protected by big mountains. The village is covered with snow in winter. It forms an incredible spectacle, with just one click and thousands of likes!
Famous for its monastery and wildlife sanctuary, this village attracts a bunch of travellers, photographers, biologists, sky gazers, animal lovers, in short, everyone. Passionate photographers, abide in Kibber for 3 months to get that one shot of Snow Leopards. During our acclimatisation walks, we go to the Chicham bridge. Standing on the bridge feels like being featured in a thriller movie shot in a desert over a deep valley. Another walk goes to the popular Key Monastery, which is only 6 km away from this village. One less known fact, a holy place is marked in the village, where the teacher of the Dalai Lama is said to have died in the 1980s.
9:- Yunam – Keylong
Not so famous Yunam peak which lies in the Lahaul Spiti region of Himachal showcases some of the most popular biking destinations. Keylong habitat falls en route from Manali to Leh roads, is a well-known halt amongst mountain bikers. Always paired with Jispa which is just 20 km from Keylong. It is also the last point where network connection and ATM can sustain.
Keylong is a pristine tourist place. Khardang and Shashur Monasteries represent the Buddhist culture on Himachali grounds. It also gives an excuse to get a mindblowing click. The ride from Manali to Keylong through Rohtang pass is breathtaking with the high just getting higher and higher. Keylong and Jispa both are prominent and a mix of Lahaul and Buddhist cultures.
10:- Pindari – Khati
A less-known village of a lesser-known trek. Pindari glacier trek, though popular at one time, passes through a picturesque Khati village. This village lies in the Kumaun region of Uttarakhand and has preserved the Kumaoni culture to date. The village has developed a homestay that gives us a chance to live their lifestyle. They offer local delicacies too.
Its presence in the Nanda Devi National Park is best for our purpose given the fact that it offers precise views of Nanda Devi and Nanda Khot peaks. The village is placed between dense forests that serve vibrant rhododendrons during the summers.
11:- Chopta – Sari
The significance of this village is that being the base village it gives the clearest picture of the summit, Chandrashila top. Pray to be present here on a full moon day to witness the moon rise behind Chandrashila’s top. Watching this phenomenon is like the biggest milestone achieved if you are a trekker!
It is also recognized for the rhododendrons juice, as the entire trail from here is bloomed with these alpine flowers. Standing on the verandah of your guest house you can capture the charm of the whole village in one glance. Again the rice fields and colourful houses will win your heart!
PS: We are not ranking these villages. They are all so unique, they cannot be compared. You should go see all of them!