Hiking in India
Everyone Wants to Go to India
One of the most frequently asked questions in our in-tray is about hiking trails in India. I am not surprised. After all, everybody wants to go to India, right? I myself have wanted to go for many years, ((and I know that I can get flights to India on Emirates up to 20 times a day and I just need to determine a schedule as to when we could go.)
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Mrs. Easy Hiker. Actually, she is the exception that proves the “everybody-wants-to-go-to-India”-rule inasmuch as on her list of preferred destinations, the country ranks above only Afghanistan and Somalia. Just. So I am sorry to report that I have no experience of my own about hiking on the subcontinent.
From what I have heard, however, Indian trails are largely concentrated in two areas: for one, there are the mountain trails in the Himalayas and their southern foothills.
The Kanchenjunga National Park (named after one of the world’s highest mountains), the Darjeeling hills – where England’s love affair with tea began, with stolen leaves from China – and Uttarakhand state, the “Home of the Gods”, are all highly popular.
Many of the trails, however, are only recommended if you have experience with hiking in high altitudes, and even then only as part of a group with a locally experienced guide.
The area around the Seven Sisters in Himachal Pradesh is sometimes labelled as “perfect for beginners”. But at altitudes of 4000 metres and more, this must obviously be put into some perspective.
Better perhaps to restrict yourself to the old British hill station of Mussoorie. In a list of Top Ten hiking trails in India, I have seen a recommendation to walk up and down the local high street, the Mall, and continue for 2 km on Waverley Convent Road to the Municipal Gardens.
That sounds more like it, I must say – specifically since Mussoorie is described as a “well-developed resort town” and is “relatively” close to Delhi. (At a distance of 300 km, however, that’s another expression that needs to be put into perspective.)
The town is just under 2000 metres high, but the views across the Himalayas appear to be spectacular – for as good a (lazy) introduction to the “roof of the world” as any.
If you don’t fancy that sort of thing at all, Karnataka on the southern tip of the subcontinent provides a viable tropical alternative: here, you can hike through the Western Ghats mountains and around the temple city of Madurai.
One famous attraction of the area is the Green Route, the railway line between Sakaleshpura and Kukke Subramanya, while for a more pristine version of local nature, turn to Kundremukh National Park with its 14 hiking trails of which Kuringal Gudda is the most famous.
And once you have made it back in one piece, I would be delighted and much obliged if you could drop us a report with a few pictures. Maybe I can still persuade Mrs. Easy Hiker to take the plunge. I have not given up all hope yet.