With some of the world’s richest biodiversities, heritage sites and thriving cultures, India is famed for its great outdoors. These are best experienced with backpacking, which takes you up close and personal with all of India’s beauty.
- Parvati Valley
Backpacking through Parvati valley allows you to experience the natural beauty and heritage sites of villages like Kasol, Tosh, Malana and Pulga. For those who don’t have the stamina (or just want to take it slow), there’s easier hikes (Magic Rasol and Kheergang). Parvati Valley is a popular destination due to great weather throughout the year, budget deals in food and accommodation, and stunning views of the Himalaya mountains capped by snow.
- Spiti Valley
Spiti Valley is famed for its beautiful Buddhist monasteries, which are also among the oldest in the world. Lovers of the great outdoors will love villages at such altitudes and sparkling clear lakes. A great idea is to book a stay at Tabo’s 1000 year old monastery guest house. It goes great with a trip to Key, and stopping the night at Kaza, Kibber, Dhankar or Komic. Komic is famed as the highest village in the world where you can reach by car or bike. Another much loved experience in Spiti Valley is camping at Chandartal and Dhankar Lake, under one of the clearest skies you’ve ever seen.
- Zanskar Valley
Consider Zanskar Valley only after a few backpacking trips to other easier hiking destinations. Zanskar Valley will take you through a rough journey from Kargil, before taking on an incredibly difficult, but stunning terrain. On the route, you’ll see beautiful Buddhist monasteries and villages. Stop the night at Rangdum village, and Padum town, before making your way to Zangla Palace.
If you don’t have the stamina, or just want to take it easy, hike to Stongdey monastery.
Dharamshala combines a bit of everything – urban amenities (including free Wi-fi!), shopping, quaint guesthouses, great food, a thriving local culture and more. From delicious street fare to upscale fine dining, McLeodganj doesn’t feel like you’re in India anymore. The Tibetan vibe is very much alive here, and can be seen in everything – from souvenirs, to cuisine, to shopping. Notable sites include St. John’s Church in the Wilderness, the Bhagsunag waterfall and temple, and staying the night at Naddi. Novice hikers would love to take on a quick trip to Turudi.
Ladakh definitely has to be on any list of backpacking destinations in India. Backpackers find themselves smitten by the stunning monasteries, sharp craggy mountains in every direction, sparse vegation, and villages that have retained their cultural identity throughout the decades. Ladakh is also famed as a destination for taking long biking trips through.
Local experiences you must try are trying out yak cheese, rafting (on the Indus and Zanskar),
Hampi is a backpacking destination unlike any other. It is a goldmine for archeologists and explorers of an era gone by, and to this day new ruins are being found here. Exploring Hampi is best done on cycle, and you’ll also love to try out bouldering