Kumaon and Garhwal (Uttarakhand)
Now within the state of Uttarakhand, the regions of Kumaon and Garhwal have a colourful history, areas of outstanding beauty and many sacred sites. Over recent times Garhwal has become far more homogenised with mainstream India than Kumaon, which is still considered a backwater by the babus in Delhi. Certainly the level of infrastructure and community development in Kumaon is noticeably less than all of the other north-western regions.
In Kumaon’s far northeastern corner is the impressive Darma valley and Panchchuli range. Trekking here can be a simple return stroll to Tidang or over the challenging Ralam Dhura pass to the Johor valley. The popular trekking route from Munsyari to Nanda Devi East up the Johor valley is one of India’s premier trails and it can be combined with more challenging routes over Kagudi Khal, Birjeganj Dhura to Ralam and the Ralam Dhura to the Darma valley. For those seeking a low altitude trek there dozens of trails that wind around the southern flanks of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve from Munsyari to Josimath – two of the best treks here are the short traverse from Munsyari to Namik and the ever-popular Kuari Pass.
Descending from Badrinath is the Alaknanda river that forms the border between Kumaon and Garhwal. The route through the north of the Gangotri National Park involves crossing Kalindi Khal, a high altitude pass that both requires special permits and having to trek in monsoon. Another way to traverse Garhwal involves driving to Kedarnath and then crossing the double-pass route of Myali Pass and Auden’s Col, which is as challenging as Kalindi Khal but requires no special permits.
Beyond Gangotri lies the border with Himachal Pradesh along the main Lamkhaga massif ridge. Because the Lamkhaga pass lies on the border between the two states it means special permits are hard to come by – if you want to try then coming from Himachal to Uttarkhand is easier than the reverse. Alternatively, there is another double-pass route to the south of Lamkhaga over Dhumdhar Kanti Pass and then any one of four passes – Borasu (the highest), Kimalay (unused for many years), Shinku or Rupin La, which are both low altitude and often combined with a interlinking ridge walk.
The Uttarakhand state government has an extensive network of tourist transport, accommodation and guiding services. These services are often better value than commercial options, for more details in Kumaon see www.kmvn.gov.in (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) and in Garhwal see www.gmvnl.com (email: email@example.com).
Panchchuli Himal in Kumaon
Treks in Kumaon and Garhwal
- Darma (aka Darmaganga) Valley
- Darchula to Munsyari via Balsi Khal
- Munsyari to Namik and beyond
- Kuari Pass from Wan (Curzon’s Trail) with Rup Kund
- Myali Pass and Auden’s Col
- Dhumdhar Kanti Pass
Good Morning on the Kuari Pass
- To help make you research treks I have put extensive trail information on these pages but please remember that conditions and trails often change.
- If you would like to add content and/or recommendations please email me thru the site and please add any independent references.
- Place names in India can be confusing as some are used as regional or district identifiers and other places may have two or three different names. I have used local names as much as possible but please don’t be surprised if you hear alternatives.
- Always consider the safety of your crew equally to that of yourself, protect and look after them and they’ll do the same for you.
- Weather constantly changes conditions in the field. If the trail is badly affected by landslides, deep snow, washouts, etc you may have to turn back.
- It is illegal to possess a satellite phone in India. This makes communication extremely difficult and you may want to reduce the level of difficulty of a trek to reduce your overall risk exposure.
- Herder’s Huts or Dharamsalas are made of stone and have a roof. Herder’s Shelters do not have a roof and normally only one wall, which acts as a windbreak.
Good to Know
For most areas there are no permits required, however, anywhere near the Chinese or Pakistan borders require Inner Line Permits
Hindi, some people speak a little English or Tibetan (Ladakh and Zanskar)
India Rupee (1US$ = IRs70)
Nanda Devi (7,816m), Karnet (7,756m), Saltoro Kangri (7,742m), Saser Kangri I (7,672m)
GHT India Trekking Destinations
There are some excellent main trail treks as well as some amazing exploratory routes to discover!