Snow-capped peaks, lush green meadows, crystal clear streams, tall pine trees, the sunlight dousing your trail in a golden glow- this is what the Kedarkantha trek feels like. Magic, that’s what it feels like.
While trekking commonly is thought of as a summer activity, the number of people who are exploring the world of winter trekking, or snow trekking as some prefer to call it, is steadily on the rise. When you think of winter treks, it is the Kedarkantha trek which has emerged as a clear favorite amongst adventure lovers. There are many reasons for this, and the opening sentence of this article only shows a glimmer of what those are. But first, some information about this lovely part of the Himalayas:
- It is located inside the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttarkashi district, in Western Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.
- Situated at a height of 3,810 meters (about 12,500 feet), this trekking trail covers a consolidated distance of 20 kilometers.
- Best time to visit is the winter months, i.e. from November to February, with the last snow present as late as April.
- The nearest major city is Dehradun, around 220km from Sankri, the starting point of the trek. Dehradun also has the nearest railway station, which is located in the center of the city, and the nearest Airport is Jolly Grant Airport, which is located about 22km southeast of Dehradun.
The Kedarkantha Trek
The Kedarkantha trek starts from Sankri, which is a quaint little place in the foothills at an altitude of 6,400 feet. The first major halt is when one reaches Jadu Ka Talab, which is located around 9,100 feet high and takes about 5 hours on foot from Sankri. This first stretch gives one a sample of the abundant beauty which awaits the trekkers ahead. It offers the gorgeous pine forests and maple trees for which Kedarkantha is famous, with stunning meadows and streams lining the trail. Jadu Ka Talab is the first campsite on this trek; here you can spend the night and get rested for the next stretch the following day.
Next up is the trek to Kedarkantha base, up at 11,250 feet and at a distance of 4.5km. Along this stretch is where you encounter for the first time the luxurious and ravishing 360 degrees views of snow-capped summits all around you. The campsite at Kedarkantha base is one of the most beautiful campsites that any trek in India has to offer, and is an ideal spot to lay your tent, make some Maggi and take your night’s sleep.
The next and final destination is the Kedarkantha peak, which is situated at an altitude of 12,500 feet. This stretch is the only slightly challenging part of the trek but even this can be done with ease if you are moderately fit. Plus the views you encounter on the way and finally at the peak are unparalleled in beauty and magnificence. The Himalayas present themselves in all their glory here, and trekkers find the experience most rewarding.
After reaching the top, it’s a journey back to the ground where the first stop would be Horegaon Camp. It offers yet another alluring campsite and can serve as your night-stop. Next day you can head back straight to Sankri back through those dense pine forests, which won your heart over when you started this trek.
Why is Kedarkantha Trek Special?
Where do I start?
- First and foremost, it is a moderately easy trek, which nonetheless is amongst the most scenic. It just simply offers a great return on investment (in terms of effort and skill required) for most trekkers, and especially for beginners)
- A total of 13 peaks, that’s what you encounter during this trek. That is a very impressive number, especially when they are all covered in snow and offer stupendous views of sunlight reflecting off of them. Swargarohini, Black Peak and Bandarpoonch are a few of the particularly beautiful Himalayan peaks which you will see on this trek.
- It is relatively easier to access, as it is not that far from Dehradun, which offers great connectivity through road, rail and air. Plus the drive to Sankri from Dehradun is an experience in itself, which is guaranteed to keep you glued to your window seat the entire way.
- The most special and unique feature of Kedarkantha trek is the number of wide and open clearings this trek offers, which is quite uncommon and is not found on most other treks. This is why the campsites on this trek are reputed to be amongst the most heavenly. Jadu Ka Talab, Kedarkantha base and other campsites all are located on these clearings, nestled amongst the peaks of snow and sunlight.
- There are charming little villages all through the trail where the inhabitants are friendly. You can get amazing insights into the local Garhwal folk culture, and about the way of life of people who inhabit the Himalayas.
Tips for the Kedarkantha Trek
There are some things to be kept in mind if one decides to go for this amazing trek (cough cough, you totally should). The total number of days to and from Dehradun required for this trek should be around 6 days, but you can always customize the itinerary according to your preferences.
While the trek is not particularly challenging or hard, a decent level of physical fitness is always a plus point. The altitude does get a little high when you reach the peak, so prepare accordingly. Carrying a decent amount of water is always a safe bet, and a good trekking habit.
You cannot expect mobile network reception after Sankri, but with the mesmerizing views and natural beauty all around you, all you will need in your phone to function is that amazing camera to click scores of pictures for your Instagram feed and Snapchat stories!
This post is authored by Ishan Dewan. Hailing from Karnal, you will have a hard time finding Ishan Dewan without a book in his hand. He jumps at the opportunity to travel and learn something new and lets the world live alongside his adventures through writing and video-blogging.