India himalayas travel guide

Indian Himalayas travel guide


2 minute summary

Sometimes a geography lesson is the only way, especially with something as humungous as the Himalayas. The name Himalaya comes from the Sanksrit, Hima-laya meaning ‘Abode of snow’, and has, over time, developed into the plural, Himalayas, because of the many number of mountain ranges. There are the Outer Himalayas, also called the Siwalik Range, the Lesser or Lower Himalayas, the Tethys or Tibetan Himalayas, the Trans-Himalayas and the Great Himalayas, home to Mount Everest. The Indian Himalayan Region dips and dives in and out of the Lesser, Greater, Tethys and Siwalik Ranges with the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and West Bengal claiming pieces of pie. This India Himalayas travel guide aims to give you a taste of the pie, and show you that there are so many ways to enjoy the highest mountain ranges in the world, following in the footsteps not of great climbers, but of real Indian people who call this awesome abode home.
Indian Himalayas are...

the most accessible way to discover the greatest mountains of the world, while also having time to enjoy multicultural aspects of India.
Indian Himalayas are not…

all about peaks and pushing yourself. From one of the highest road passes in the world to the highest train journeys, everyone can get elevated here.
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Indian Himalayas map & highlights


MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME

Just like the Himalayas themselves, there are a lot of highs to experience here. From spiritual pilgrimages to the home of the Dalai Lama, to wildlife pilgrimages to the home of the snow leopard. From treks through remote Himalayan valleys such as Markah or Rumbak to cultural journeys through tiny mountain communities around Shimla. Take a heritage train ride or take a hot spring bath. Go hiking and wild camping in the foothills of the great mountains where you have time to feel like you are in the presence of greatness. And where, in the words of the Dalai Lama, you can almost put the world to right, because “Silence is sometimes the best answer”.
Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj Hemis NP Kaziranga NP Ladakh Range and Khardung La Mandi Simla

Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj

Dharamsala is the nearest town the Dalai Lama and exiled Tibetan government's home, actually at McLeod Ganj just 3km north of the town. The word Dharamsala means ‘spiritual dwelling’ and has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. But you do feel a sense of greatness here, not just from His Holiness’ temple in the Tsuglag Khang complex but also from the omnipresence of the Himalayas.

Hemis National Park

Reaching an altitude of 6,000m in eastern Ladakh, these valleys and peaks are in the Zanskar Range which is in turn part of the Tethys or Tibetan Himalayas. With wonderful trekking territory such as Markha and Rumbak Valleys it is famously home to the elusive snow leopard, and tracking for this Himalayan highlight is a spectacular way to see these peaks in winter, when they come down from higher ground in search of food.

Kaziranga National Park

Although a less well known Himalayan hot spot, this national park and hill regions of Assam state are on the edge of the Eastern Himalayan Biodiversity Hotspot. Kaziranga is located on the great Brahmaputra River, with its source in the Himalayas, and is home to two thirds of the world’s population of one horned rhino. There are also herds of the barasingha or swamp deer and wild buffalo.

Ladakh Range and Khardung La

Actually part of the Karakoram Range, considered an extension of the Himalayas by many, but geologists will put you right on that one, they lie north of Leh in Ladakh. Famous for the Khardung La Pass, once known as the world’s most elevated road at 5,359m, although Tibet now claims this one. Part of the ancient caravan route that takes you to Kashgar in China, you can now drive or cycle this famous route.

Mandi

Located in the NW Himalayas, Mandi is one of the most spectacular cultural and spiritual hubs of Himachal Pradesh, with over eighty shrines and temples here built by Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists. As well as this, the nearby exquisitely elevated Rewalsar is home to a monastery, the Sikh Gurdwara and Hindu temple. And so in the words of that mountain expert, Manilow - Oh Mandi. You came and you gave without taking.

Shimla and Himalayan villages

In Shimla, state capital of Himachal Pradesh, and its environs, there’s a whole lot of Himalayas going on. There are two great ways to be moved by mountains here. First, take the Kalka Shimla Railway, the world’s steepest train journey. And second, spend time in rural villages such as Thali, Baror, Suni and Mahunag where yoga followed by hot springs with views to die for are very much part of local life.
Photo credits: [Topbox: valcker] [Map topbox: Expedition Leaders] [Hemis National Park: Prithwiraj Dhang] [Ladakh Range and Khardung La: Samson Joseph] [Shimla and Himalayan villages: ptwo] [Mandi: Prasanthpj] [Kaziranga National Park: Dr. Raju Kasambe] [Helpdesk: John Hill]
Written by Catherine Mack
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