Char Dham Yatra has a special significance in Hinduism. Char Dham refers to four sacred abodes that are said to be holy owing to their religious significance and mentions in the Hindu scriptures. The Himalayan Char Dham pilgrimage circuit or the Chota Char Dham consists of four holy spots in the state of Uttarakhand namely, Gangotri, Yamnotri, Kedarnath & Badrinath. While Yamnotri and Gangotri are both Shakta sites, Badrinath is Vaishnava and Kedarnath is a Shaiva site. All these are particularly considered holy by the four sects of Hinduism.
India, the land of spirituality has always been famous for its strong religious essence. There are hundreds of temples, mosques, churches and gurudwaras that are testimony to the fact that India is a religious country exuding auras of various beliefs and faiths. Besides thousands of these religious idols and places of worship, there are some religious expeditions that will give your mind the peace and calm it so desires. One such expedition is the Char Dham Yatra which is the most popular of all and involves visiting four such sacred places to offer prayers and to soothe your soul.
Trekking in India started when the land was inhabited in prehistoric times. There are perhaps as many trekking routes in India as there are Indians. It was in the 1970Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s and 1980Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s that trekking started gaining in popularity as a recreational/adventure sport. A number of religious sites and shrines across the country, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, and in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand Ã¢â‚¬â€œ such as Badrinath, Amarnath, Gangotri, Hemkund, Joshimath, Kedarnath, Vaishno Devi and Yamunotri Ã¢â‚¬â€œ entail trekking for a couple of days in the mountains. Trekking in India has grown in leaps and bounds and the current trekking scenario is very promising, with thousands of Indians and foreigners hitting trekking trails each year.
What India can boast of is some of the most stunning trekking routes in the world Ã¢â‚¬â€œ many of the mountain passes in the Ladakh and Zanskar Himalayas are above 5000m. But there are plenty of gentler and smaller trails, at different altitudes, both in the mountains and in the forests. If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re looking for less arduous hikes, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll find plenty in in the Western Ghats and the Nilgiri Hills of south India (Munnar and Wayanad in Kerala, Coorg in Karnataka, and around Ooty in Tamil Nadu).
It is possible to rent/buy trekking equipment all over India from clubs and adventure- gear manufacturers. Do thoroughly check all gear before venturing out into the mountains.
1. Small rucksack / knapsack
2. Sleeping bag
3. Lockable duffel bag
4. Karrimat / Therm-a-Rest
6. Personal toiletries
7. Water bottle (at least 2 litres)
8. First-aid kit
9. Camera with spare batteries and film (carry more film than you think you will need!)
10. Headlamp/torch with spare cells
12. Diary/pen/reading material
13. Sewing kit
14. Swiss Army knife
16. Sunscreen Ã¢â‚¬â€œ with high SPF (at least 30, to better protect you from harmful UV rays)
17. Lip salve/ChapStick
18. Sunglasses with retainers/spare prescription glasses
20. Emergency rations/goodies
21. Parachute cord
23. Rope (for high-altitude treks)
24. Plastic bags and Ziplocs for packing gear
Best season in India
May/June and September/October for Garhwal, Kumaon (Uttarakhand), Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh
June/July and August/September for Ladakh and Zanskar (Jammu and Kashmir)
One can trek in the foothills of the Himalayas from October through till March
Trekking destinations in India
1. Jammu and Kashmir (Ladakh, Zanskar)
2. Himachal Pradesh
3. Uttarakhand (Garhwal, Kumaon)
4. Sikkim and Darjeeling
5. Northeast states (Arunachal Pradesh)
6. Western Ghats
7. South India (Nilgiris, Coorg)
2. Clothing / staying warm (Ã¢â‚¬ËœCover your head if your feet are cold gentlemenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is an old English saying)
3. Packing a rucksack
4. Pacing yourself on a trek
5. Timing Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Ã¢â‚¬ËœStart early and arrive earlyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is the cardinal rule of trekking
6. Porters and guides Ã¢â‚¬â€œ A guide, or guide-cum-cook, is important on routes that are remote, tougher and relatively less trodden. Porters, with the option of ponies, will come in extremely handy on longer trips, especially if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re carrying lots of provisions.
7. Mules and horses on the trail