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Markha Valley Trek in Ladakh

Travel Guide
Markha Valley Trek in Ladakh

Markha Valley Trek Travel Guide


The Indian Himalayan ranges are undoubtedly one of the most spectacular and impressive mountain ranges in the world. As soon as one starts on a trek in this grand mountain chain, one comes across numerous settlements, ancient temples, and isolated monasteries. The bucolic lifestyle of the simple folk carries away the visitor to another time and place. The thrill of finding oneself amidst snow-capped peaks, glaciers, pine-forested slopes, rivers, and lush meadows of wildflowers, is an unparalleled experience.


The major snow trekking points in India are Lahaul, Spiti, Kullu and Kangra valleys in Himachal Pradesh, north of Rishikesh, Darjeeling in West Bengal, Yuksam in Sikkim and Leh and Ladakh in the Kashmir valley.


The Markha Valley trek in Ladakh is one of the most celebrated treks. Located in the northwestern corner of India and surrounded by the Himalayas, Ladakh is a truly inspirational destination for trekkers. A scenic valley, Ladakh leads one through colorful people and cultures, green fields, villages, and monasteries.


This adventurous trek meanders through the picturesque valley and gradually gains height along a riverside trail. The highest camping site stretches to 4,700 meters on the Nimaling Plain, a realm of the snow leopard, mountain wolves, and impressive Iammergeier - the ancient Eurasian birds of prey.


Another celebrated snow trek is Roopkund in Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand has been fortunate to have the major chunk of the Indian Himalayas. With vast areas of pure wilderness, it is undoubtedly a trekker's paradise. The Garhwal and Kumaon regions of the state are strung across with many snow-covered peaks that are above 6,500 meters in height. One of the most popular treks in the Garhwal region is the Roopkund trek. Roopkund, at an altitude of 5,029 meters has a lake, which is shrouded in mystery for years. Known as the 'mystery lake,' the area, which is in the lap of the Trishul peak, abounds in strange stories.


At the edge of the lake, there are about 300 to 600 human skeletons and the remains of horses. It has been confirmed that they were of people who had died around the 9th century when they were hit on the head by huge hailstones, the size of cricket balls! The skeletons are clearly visible through the waters in spring when the ice melts and for the rest of the year, the lake remains frozen. Trekkers from across the world crowd the area to experience the supernatural feeling associated with this lake.


Besides the skeletons, the lake is surrounded by rock-strewn glaciers and snow-clad peaks. The starting point for the trek is Lohajung, which is accessible by a motorable road from Rishikesh and Almora. There is also another approach to Roopkund, which is connected by a motorable road with Nandprayag from the 'Ghat' on the main highway to Badrinath.


The route passes through lush green grasslands and conifer forests that cling to the slopes of the hills. The trek, thereafter, winds along the rocky face by the Pindar River. To round off this trek, one can approach Homekund by way of Shail Samudra glacier and then trek to Ghat or Nandprayag. The entire 40 km trek is an enthralling journey through the breathtaking panorama of the Himalayas.


The 10-12 day Manikaran Spiti Valley trek in Himachal Pradesh is truly India's most popular snow trek. Few passages across the main Himalayan ranges provide such high-altitude trekking contentment. This trek, with enchanting pastures, takes a steady climb towards Bhojtunda. After a tough climb, one reaches a vast snowfield and upon crossing it, the notable Pin Parbati Pass, marked by prayer flags. To reach the Pin Valley, the trekker has to undertake a rather steep descent.



Markha Valley Trek in Ladakh

Enroute, at several camping sites, one can see splendid streams, grazing pastures, and sharp cliffs. There are several interesting stories relating to this trek. Legend has it that the Pin Parbati Trek was the route taken by the Pandavas when they were leaving for their agyaatvaas (voluntary exile). They had left India for Tibet, through Spiti. The trek takes one further to the Mantalai Lake, where one can camp overnight on the banks of the Parbati River. From here, the trek trails to Pin Parbati valley, to reach the other side of the pass. One gets to cross famous camping spots like Chinapatta Maidan, Mud, Sangam, Dankar and the incredible Kaza region.


After exploring the life and culture at Kaza, the age-old monasteries and Gomp, the drive is down to Keylong at 4551 m. Keylong is the district headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti. The trek reaches the culmination point here and from Keylong, the trekker may embark on a seven km drive to Manali.


The Curzon Trail-Kuari Pass trek in Uttarakhand in the Garhwal Himalayas is another breathtaking trek option. The Kauri Pass is truly a once-in-lifetime experience. The area here is primarily wild as the higher reaches of the river valley have not yet been fully explored. As the British Viceroy Lord Curzon had made the trek to Kuari Pass in 1905, it has come to be known as Curzon's trail The main attraction of Curzon's trail is the majestic view of the twin peaks of Nanda Devi, Kamet, Dronagiri, and Hathi-Ghodi Parvat. It is a popular trek with westerners. Lord Curzon had reached Kuari Pass from Ghat via Ramni. Today, many trekkers prefer to undertake the trek in the reverse direction. They climb the ridge above Tapovan and reach Gailgarh to meet the trail coming from Gorson. One can also reach Kuari Pass from Auli Bugyal through Borson top. Along this snowy trek are forests of rhododendrons, oak, and deodar. Himalayan flora and fauna abound here. At Tapovan, there is a massive sulfur spring, the waters of which are believed to contain excellent medicinal properties.


En route, one can get a splendid view of various uncharted lakes, especially the Gauna Lake. The route is through various remote villages in the wilderness where the modernized world has not yet made its foray. The Khal pass is approached through a narrow goat track at an elevation of 3,71 1 meter in the heart of the Chamoli district. The glorious view of the imposing eastern peaks of Garhwal Himalayas is enchanting. The peaks appear so close with their glistening snowcaps that one feels they are just an arm's length. The most exciting part of this 12-day trek is the breathtaking view of Mt. Nanda Devi, a sentinel of myriad hues.


Explore More: Top Trekking Destinations of India and Best Adventure Travel Destinations of India



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