Forest Therapy—yes, that's a thing. The Japanese call it Shinrin-yoku, adventurers call it forest walk, and push it back two decades back and I used to call it a normal afternoon on a beautiful sunny day. What is forest bathing? You see a forest, do a short hike, feel one with nature and come back feeling fresh—that's the whole deal with these forest bathing. Now a luxury, forests are making a comeback in our lives and for all good reasons. Nowadays when we talk about forest, all we can think of is safari because why else would one visit a forest if not for lions, tigers and bears? Well, there are just about a ton of things that one can gain from a walk in the forest. Peace of mind, away from the humdrum of a city life, quiet time are just some of the things (out of many) that come to mind—and they all sound good. Here are four forest trails you should consider doing not because in the world of jeep and elephant safaris these are some of the jungles where one can safely walk around minus the fear of becoming a big cat's chow, but also for the natural beauty.
Satpura National Park, Madhya Pradesh
It is one of the very few protected forests in India where visitors are allowed to walk, given the fact that in most national parks visitors are not allowed on foot. That and the fact that Satpura National Park is still (thankfully) a park without the usual rush of tourists makes it a choice destination for those who are looking for a walk to remember. The beautiful forest, ravines running through, vast grasslands, they all make Satpura a perfect place for a good walk in the wild.
Located in Tamenglong district, Zeilad is one of seven high-altitude lakes in the district. Tucked away inside a deep tropical forest, a visit to these lakes means a hike through the lush forest. The forest is quiet and rich in flora and avifauna. If you are a fan of birdwatching, then you need to visit this forest in Manipur. A walk through the forest will take you to villages situated in pretty meadows which do seem quite out of place. The interchange of scenery, from deep forest to meadows to lakes and a surprise waterfall here and there, all are a part of beautiful forest trek. Contacting Rainforest Club Tamenglong, a local NGO in Tamenglong district is the best way to get a guided forest tour.
The wilds of Agumbe is rich. Not only in terms of flora and fauna but also in scenic beauty. Agumbe is a southern tropical wet evergreen forest in Shimoga district in Karnataka and you guessed it right—there are waterfalls and brooks aplenty. Calling out especially to the herping enthusiasts, Agumbe is a paradise for all things slimy, crawling and nocturnal. A perfect destination for those who don't mind an evening or three with the slimy forest denizens. Check here for more information
Sacred Groves, Meghalaya
There are more than hundred sacred groves or forests in the entire state of Meghalaya. What makes these forest interesting is the fact that these forests are taken care of and protected by the local communities. Some do it for conservation and then there are some who believe that these forests are home to deities. Whatever it is, these forests are beautiful and one can't help but respect. One of the sacred forests that I visited in Cherapunjee came with a rule—what belongs to the forest, stays in the forest. What a beautiful rule! Many of these sacred groves are also home to several monoliths and stone structures that have been there for centuries and they are not to be disturbed. A quiet and beautiful walk through the forest will take you to quaint meadows, small waterfalls and pools of crystal clear water.