India is rife with some of the most challenging but highly rewarding treks that take you through landscapes that no vehicle can. Yes, it is daunting. Yes, you need to train and be prepared for it. Yes, it is also going to be very difficult. But if you hear a trekker’s testimony of just how fulfilling treks are, perhaps you’ll be convinced to give it a shot. Following are five of the most difficult and challenging treks that our country has to offer, and these are also some of the most breathtaking ones. Literally! By Shubhanjana Das
1. Chadar Trek, Ladakh
If you know anything about treks, you’d have heard of the Chadar Trek, and also know why it is the highest goal of a trekker. Icy paths, difficult elevations, slippery trail, a frozen river, and sub-zero temperatures all gang up to hurl physical challenges at you. This long-trek perched on an elevation of 3,900m is usually covered in a span of six days, with its base point in Leh. What you get to witness is the mighty Zanskar gorge, a frozen Chadar river that changes colour every few hours, and the lives of the people in Zanskar, some of whom have done this trek multiple times in their lives to just get to Leh for school or provisions!
2. Auden’s Col Trek, Uttarakhand
If you are really bent on testing your physical as well as mental faculties and just how far you can push, this Garhwali trek at a height of 5,490m will have you huffing and puffing right from the first day. The trek takes you to Khalting Glacier, said to be extremely treacherous. While the rocky trail, steep cliffs, and huge glaciers make the trek worth being on this list, the rolling lush green meadows, think forests of birch and pine, and the rhythmic stream makes it worth giving a shot. Make sure you harden yourself up at the gym before setting forth on this 13-14 day trek that requires you to give it your all.
3. Pin Parvati Trek
Let us give you a few numbers regarding this trek: 100 km-long, 5,340m elevation (highest), 11 days to finish (if you are a seasoned trekker). The trek is the gateway from Kullu to Spiti Valley and your reward, other than walking amidst nature at its purest, most unadulterated (as well as harsh) form is the Pin Parvati Pass and the Pin Parvati Valley. If you curse yourself on the fifth or sixth day of the trek for putting yourself through this, one glance on the pass, and you won’t. Or, so we hope!
4. Stok Kangri, Ladakh
Boasting of the highest trekking summit in the country with an elevation of a whopping 6,153 metres, Stok Kangri in Ladakh also starts from Leh and needs your will, determination, and muscle power more than mountaineering and other technical knowledge. The trek can be completed in eight days, but that may differ depending on your speed and how everyday turns out to be. However, don’t shy away from spending sufficient time acclimatising. The landscape of the trek will make you question if you’re even on Earth anymore or have ascended to Heaven.
5. Goeche La, Sikkim
Not all treks are located up North. Sikkim has its star jewel — the Goeche La trek, which makes even avid trekkers take some time to prepare for it. This 10-day trek reaches a maximum height of 5,643m and takes you through meadows, rhododendron forests, and the crystal-blue Samiti Lake. The trek starts at Yuksom and by the time you’re in Dzongri, you’ll be face-to-face with the mighty Kanchenjunga.