Written by MARGOT BIGG
With its towering Himalayan peaks and lush South Indian jungles, India offers a diversity of hiking opportunities like nowhere else on earth.
Whether you want a short day hike or want to undertake a longer expedition, here are some of India’s most epic hikes.
You'll pass through emerald tea plantations as you head up into the hills, eventually reaching a heart-shaped lake surrounded by wild grasslands, with beautiful vistas over the surrounding regions.
Just check ahead before you make the trek; the local government takes conservation very seriously, and sometimes officials close the area to hikers during the dry season.
The 3km hike up to the lake is fairly easy, starting in the cozy village of Sari, and if you have a lot of gear with you, you can hire a donkey porter to help haul your load.
Tents and sleeping bags are available for rent at the lake, and there are a couple of small stalls serving up basic Indian fare.
Join devout Hindu pilgrims on this 18km walk to Gaumukh, the source of the sacred Ganges River, which springs forth from the edge of the Gangotri Glacier.
The trek starts in the holy pilgrimage town of Gangotri and while the walk is fairly easy, with few inclines, it is long.
Most people spend the night at the Bhojwasa camp area along the way, where there are tents and a tourist rest house, along with basic facilities such as toilets and food stalls.
If you like coming face-to-face with massive Himalayan peaks, but aren't quite ready to head up to Nepal to summit Everest, Goecha La in the Northeastern state of Sikkim is the perfect compromise.
It's the highest mountain pass in the state, and if you have 10 to 11 days to commit to the journey, which requires a guide, you'll be rewarded with fantastic views of Mt. Kanchenjunga.
Come in the springtime, just before monsoon, for the clearest views and the prettiest flora along the way (including colorful rhododendrons).
The eeriest spot in this list, Roopkund is a remote Himalayan lake sitting at just over 5000 meters in altitude, set in the Uttarakhand region.
It's best known for skeletal remains that skirt the lake, which legend has it date to the 9th century, when a group perished in a violent snowstorm (though some of the skeletons may be more recent).
Getting here requires a healthy dose of ambition as well as plenty of time (usually about a week round trip), and it’s unwise to attempt it without a guide or as part of a group.
Among the highest peaks in South India's picturesque Kodagu (Coorg) Region, Tandiandamol makes for an ideal day hike for trekkers who want to take in scenic views and possibly spot local wildlife.
Because of its relatively short length (around 8km each way), this well-marked, moderate hike is easy to take on without a guide.
Most hikers park at Nalknad Palace in the town of Yevakapadi (about a three-hour drive from Mysuru or six hours from Bengaluru), and hike up from there.
This alpine meadow sits above the hill station of Dharamsala, best known as the seat of the Tibetan Government in Exile and the home of the Dalai Lama.
The trek starts at the Galu Devi Temple in the town of Dharamkot, a popular backpacker haunt. From here, it's about a 6km trek uphill that passes through deodar pine forests to the summit.
Although many travelers opt to do Triund as a day trip, tents and sleeping bags are available for rent at the summit if you want to spend the night.
of the Flowers
One of India's most celebrated hiking destinations, it gets its name from the flurry of wildflowers that bloom here during a short window every summer, at the tail end of the annual monsoon.
In order to protect the beauty of the valley, camping is prohibited, so most people trek to Ghangaria, a three-to-four hour walk away, spend the night there, and then do a day visit to the valley.
Organized treks typically also include a day visit to Hem Kund Sahib, a remote gurudwara (Sikh temple) about a 6km uphill walk from Ghangaria.
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