Home to Mount Everest, world’s highest mountain peak, the great Himalayas is a mountain range that is mighty & mysterious. Crossing across several states in India, the Himalayas has become an integral part of India’s culture, heritage & landscapes. Together with other mountain ranges, the Himalayas has given India an enviable biodiversity – that’s too vast to be covered during the vacations & holidays of one corporate lifetime. 😉
Welcome to Theme 3, ‘From the land of Kanchenjunga & the Himalayas, mountain ranges of India’
Two months back, we started a new campaign, ‘Rediscover India, Incredible India’. This campaign will have 10 themes, each lasting for a month. Each of these themes will focus on one unique, incredible aspect of India and take you through a succinct journey of its incredibleness, each week, one blogpost at a time.
We are now on theme 3. If it makes you curious, access Theme 2: ‘Haunted places in India that turn touristy during the day’ here & Theme 1 ‘Affordable places in India that will make you forget International Dream Destinations’ here.
The Great Himalayas
Stretching from the peak of Nanga Parbat at 26,660 ft. in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir to Namcha Barwa Peak in the Tibet autonomous region of China, the Himalayas span across five countries: Bhutan, India, Nepal, China & Pakistan.
In India, the Himalayas cuts across several states & union territories: Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, West Bengal & Arunachal Pradesh. Whether it’s the Zanskar range in Ladakh or Kanchenjunga peak (third highest in the world) in Sikkim, the Himalayas continue to amaze & dazzle. From a distance, the mountains attract you & leave you awed. But if you attempt to scale a peak, you would be tested. Only those who can brave through altitudes, less Oxygen, avalanches & mental demons…reach the top & view the world from atop. Not for everyone!
The good news is – I am not going to ask to scale the mountains. I would invite you to explore the hill stations, the passes & the towns that are built on these mountains. From Ladakh & Gulmarg in Kashmir, to Shimla, Dalhousie & Khajjiar in Himachal Pradesh, to Ooty & Coorg in South of India, Pelling in Sikkim & Bomdilla in Arunachal Pradesh, and many more in between.
Are you ready? 🙂
Dauladhar of the Himalayan range & the Western Ghats of the Sahyadri Mountain range: Mountains forever ♥️
Dauladhar, Himachal Pradesh
A long time back, I was travelling to Himachal Pradesh for the first time. The temperature dropped quite a lot as we left from Delhi & reached Mcleod Ganj. I was busy covering myself with stoles and woollens and didn’t take notice of the fact that the landscapes have changed completely. In those days, my senses often worked after one or two cups of ginger tea. After adequately caffeinating myself, when I stepped in the balcony of my room & looked outside, I was amazed. Snow capped peaks shining bright on a clear & sunny day – I had never seen something like that. Those were Dauladhar mountains. I fondly remember that first sighting even today much like we remember our first crush.
Later, I travelled to Himachal many times in hope of catching a few glimpses of the Dauladhar mountain range. Each time, I came back more impressed & more amazed.
For a person who doesn’t adjust well to cold climate, I travel to mountains way too much. And my parents thought, I was the sane one 😀 😀
Older than the Himalayas, Western Ghats run almost parallel to the West coast of India, this mountain range is one of my all-time favourites. Home to national parks, tiger reserves & wildlife sanctuaries, Western Ghats are popular for not only the hill stations but also for the flora and fauna inside, many of which are endemic to this belt.
With Nashik, Mahabaleswar & Matheran in the West, Coorg, Ooty, Kodai Kanal & Munnar in the South & many more in between, Western Ghats is full of tourist spots, scenic routes & unique landscapes that leave you awed. Not kidding! 🙂
Over the last 6-7 years, I have explored much of Western Ghats, one road trip at a time & made so many memories that these overflow my cloud storage. 😉
By the way, Western Ghats are a world UNESCO heritage site. And yes, we will talk more about them in subsequent blogpost.
Mountains for every season, and hills for every reason
The beauty about the mountain ranges of India is that they remain accessible throughout the year. In Spring, they become green and gorgeous with a few snow-covered spots in between. Summers are the peak season which is when the mountains (and the hill stations on these ranges) remain the most crowded. And why not? That’s when the weather is the most pleasant. The snow starts to melt, the food stalls open up and you can spend your days freely out in the open. Winters remain tricky; the trekkers and adventure travellers choose mountains mostly in winters. The best part about winter travel is that the tourism is balanced and you can enjoy nature at peace.
Here is a list of places from the mountain ranges that I have visited across seasons:
1. Gulmarg, Kashmir: Chinar trees, rivers, Dal lake, mountains and sprawling grasslands are a few words that can only begin to describe Kashmir.
The whole place is so neat & clean that you develop respect for Kashmiris for how they keep the place. I remember every single moment I spent in Kashmir especially the Gondola ride in Gulmarg, the horseback ride through the wilderness & the landscapes. ♥️
2. Ladakh: The brown and beige mountains, sand all around, rivers, high altitude, measuring Oxygen at every hour, the little, hidden cafes & cute Mermots and Pashmina goats – everything forms a beautiful mosaic and I was glad to be a part of that.
Munnar: Anyone who knows me or have been a regular of my blog would know that Munnar is my absolute favourite. I don’t know if it’s the tea estates, the food, the people or the nature around; I feel the highest level of ‘belonging’ when I am in Munnar even though I don’t speak the local language. Somehow everyone understands what I want. After all, how many words do you need to signal that you need a plate of idli-vada & a cup of chai-tea.
Meghalaya: Do you know that the wettest place on Earth exists in India. Yes, the place that receives the maximum rainfall. It’s in Meghalaya. Meghalaya means abode of clouds, and rightly so.
If you visit during monsoons, that’s all you see – clouds, rainfall, waterfalls, a weather that can make you walk for kilometres, rainforests and indigenous bridges made from rubber trees. I can’t pick a place in Meghalaya to call my favourite. The whole state with its rivers, and regions of Khasi hills, Jaintia hills & Garo hills, make the entire state a favourite.
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh: Situated just 10 miles south of the Line of Actual Control with China, Tawang is situated at a height of approx. 9000 ft. from sea level. With a rich history & unique cultural influences.
To reach Tawang, you have to cross Sela Pass at a height of 13,700 ft. When I crossed Sela Pass, it was covered in snow everywhere and the Oxygen was so low that it felt it was being rationed. It made me a bit sick too, and yet I couldn’t help but notice how gorgeous it all was.
At a distance of some 50Kms. from Tawang, exists Bum La Pass, situated at a height of 15,000 ft., that’s covered with snow throughout the year. It is one of the most off-beat passes in the world, with such a treacherous track that a visit is allowed only on certain days only in an SUV. When I visited, the temperature was -10 degrees, and then came the blizzard. I felt as if I would not survive that day, and then came back feeling more alive.
Have you been to any of these/ all of these? If yes, do tell us your favourite spots.
From the next week onwards, we will begin tracing the mountain ranges from up North of India to Northeast & then end with Western Ghats in south of India. Are you ready?
Up Next: Spend your summer vacations in the picturesque hill stations of the Himalayan range
Till then, make use of your holidays, travel and live your life especially on weekends. 🙂