With the summer heat beating down on the plains, with the schools breaking for a long vacation, how about a trip to the cooler climes, to the hills of Uttarakhand? Lying on the southern slope of the Himalayas, the state enjoys a wide range of elevation. So, if you are looking for an adventurous break, Uttarakhand offers a lot of options, suitable for individuals to families, ranging from easy to challenging.
Jwala Devi Temple
The temple dedicated to Goddess Durga is perched on Benog Hill at the edge of Mussoorie town. It lies at the end of a two km trek from Cloud’s End, about eight km from the town. The temple premises, lying within an oak and deodar forest, offer a nice view of the surrounding countryside. There is a slightly long trek from here that ends at Mussoorie’s popular attraction, Kempty Falls. You may attempt it but it is advisable to take a guide along with you.
Head to Kanatal (Thangdhar) in the Tehri Garhwal region, about 30km away by road fro Mussoorie. Overlooked by the snow peaks and surrounded by alpine forests, the place not only offers a tranquil holiday but also opportunities to go trekking in the vicinity. You may also go on a vehicle safari through the Kodia forest, about a kilometre away. Some of the popular attractions in and around Kanatal are Surkhanda Devi Temple, Dhanaulti Eco Park, Tehri Dam, etc.
The Jaunsar Bawar region in the Tons River Valley is known for its natural beauty. Various organisations run camps here between May and July (depending on the weather) for outdoor activities and trekking in the hills.
Har ki Dun
A popular trekking route, this cradle –shaped valley in the Garhwal Himalaya is a mix of moderate to difficult trails, and can be usually undertaken in five days, starting from Taluka village. Sankri (about 200km from Dehra Dun), ahead of Taluka, is considered as the base camp for this trek. Part of the way lies through the Govind National Park (you have to watch out for bears). You will go along alpine meadows and forests, hamlets, moraine ridges, etc. There are trekker’s huts at select stops. Besides, you may carry your own camping gear. There are many organisations who can help with the logistics or hold group treks into the area.
If you have not been on a challenging trek route yet but have the physical stamina to do so, you may try the Sunderdhunga (valley of beautiful stones) route. Located in the Kumaon Himalayas, the trek ranges between 554 meters and 4320 meters. Drive till Loharkhet (via the ancient pilgrim town of Bageshwar), from where the trek starts. You will reach the Sunderdhunga View Point via Dhakuri, Khati, Jaitoli and Kathalia. From Jaitoli to Kahtalia, you will pass through the picturesque Sunderdhunga valley. From here, you follow the steep and challenging path to the Maiktoli Top or for the Sukhram Cave from where you can catch a glimpse of the Sunderdhunga View Point. You may also combine a trek to the Pindari Glacier (from Khati) with this trek.