W.Everyone has prejudices when it comes to choosing a favorite state for trekking.
Lakshmi Selvakumaran, Head of Learning and Development at Indiahikes, shares an interesting thought with me. “I am prejudiced against the hikes of Himachal Pradesh“, She says, describing the lush valleys and high mountains of the state.” You won’t find the contrasting landscape – like the green Kinnaur and the Spiti desert – in any other state in India, “she adds.
For Sandhya UC, co-founder of Indiahikes, it’s Uttarakhand. “What you get in UttarakhandYou’re not going anywhere in the world, ”she says, pointing to the breathtaking view of Mount Trishul from Bedni Bugyal. “Such views are only visible from hiking in Uttarakhand,” she says.
After doing the scenic Tarsar Marsar Trek, my personal inclination towards it declined cashmere. With poplars, willows and chinars on the wide meadows, I had the feeling that Kashmir had the most enchanting tree line. No other state could look so perfect, so well cared for.
These prejudices bring out the differences in each state. But do we celebrate this? differences? Do we even know why these differences exist?
For a long time I thought I knew; but then I realized that I didn’t know much.
A conversation with Arjun Majumdar, the founder of Indiahikes, amazed me. “The differences are Not Completely because of the mountain ranges in each state, ”he said. What really?
Widths – they make the difference
Arjun explained, “The latitude of a region determines the angle at which it receives sunlight. This in turn affects the flora, fauna and snow of the region. “
This brief geography lesson brought back memories of school days. I hadn’t foreseen the powerful role of latitude as we moved from one state to another.
I immediately thought of scenes from the Tarsar Marsar trek. The The landscape in Kashmir is different from the rest of the country.
This was due to his leeway.
If you observe the latitudes on the world map, you will notice that the latitude that runs through Kashmir is not too far from that of southern Europe.
This reason, though very clear, was a revelation.
Pay attention to the changing flora caused by the change in latitude
In Kashmir, the temperate deciduous forests quickly give way to alpine meadows. This gives the landscape a European flair.
The willow and poplar trees in Aru, the starting point of the Tarsar Marsar Trek. Photo by Arjun Majumdar
Dark, silent forests or forests in bloom with rhododendrons are mainly found in Uttarakhand. This is the zone for tropical deciduous trees. Unlike the forests in Kashmir, these forests do not lose their leaves in winter.
Part of the dark oak forest on the Ali Bedni Bugyal Trek in Uttarakhand. These forests are rare in Himachal or Kashmir. Photo by Atish Waghwase
Likewise, Himachal Pradesh is known for dry deciduous trees, orchards with apple trees that hang under their own weight.
Snow on the hike affected by widths
In addition to flora, the presence of snow also separates one condition from another.
Uttarakhand, which is the closest of the three states to the equator, has the shortest snow season. It starts from mid-December and soon melts by mid-April.
However, it will take longer for the snow to melt as you move north. That is why you will also find large patches of snow on our Bhrigu Lake hike in June.
This picture of patches of snow around Lake Bhrigu was taken in late June. Photo by Anirban Ray
If you go on to Kashmir, the snow won’t begin to melt until July. Traces of snow remain in Kashmir throughout the year, at around 14,000 feet when snow has melted in all other states.
Even when flowers bloom in the valley in July, patches of snow remain on the migration of the Kashmiri Great Lakes. Photo by Krunal Patel
That is the role of leeway in defining your trekking experience. Latitude decides when you can hike in a particular state.
But mountain ranges also play a role.
How mountain ranges affect your hike
The Himalayas are made up of different areas.
Senior Trek Leader
About 50 million years ago, when the Eurasian tectonic plate collided with the Indian tectonic plate, the Uttarakhand region experienced severe crumpling of the landscape. This formed the Great Himalayas. That is why the valleys in Uttarakhand are narrow and the mountains are higher. The folds softened as we moved towards Kashmir, making way for further valleys and lower mountains.
In Uttarakhand you can see mountains in the Garhwal and Kumaon Himalayas.
In Himachal Pradesh you have that Kangra Valley at the foot of the Dhauladhar range. You have that too Pir Panjal and Zanskar range in Himachal.
The Pir Panjal Mountains separate the Kashmir Valley from Jammu. It continues towards Pakistan than Karakoram range with one end that touches the mountain. Harmukh on the Kashmir Great Lakes Hike.
Mountain ranges have a huge impact on how you “see” a hike.
Mountain ranges affect the monsoons
Most Uttarakhand hikes – except Valley of flowers – closed from July to September. During these months, Uttarakhand receives heavy rains from the southwest monsoons.
In Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir it is very different. The effect of the southwest monsoons decreases beyond the outer Himalayas. Instead, the western disturbances rising from the Mediterranean cause snowfall in these regions in winter.
Swathi Chatrapathy, Editor-in-Chief at Indiahikes explains why on her blog – Treks to do (and not to do) in the monsoons.
During the monsoons in the southwest of our country, moisture-laden winds blow from south to north. But the Himalayas are a great barrier to these winds. They don’t let the wind go by. When these clouds hit this barrier, they burst and fall as rain on the south side of the mountain. The other side of the barrier does not receive rain, so it remains barren and desert-like, creating the rain-shadow regions of our country.
Dramatic changes in the landscape
The change in precipitation caused by mountain ranges also affects the landscape of a state.
The lush side of Pin Bhaba Pass Trekking. The next day you find yourself in a 100 percent contrasting landscape that is hard to believe. Image by Abhishek TS
A good example of this is the Zanskar range in Himachal Pradesh. It separates the Kinnaur Valley from Spiti and makes for a dramatic change in the landscape as you cross the Pin Bhaba Pass. During the hike, you leave the lush greenery of Kinnaur to enter the barren deserts of Spiti.
The desert side of the Pin Bhaba Pass Trek. The village of Mudh off the trail. Photo by Jitendra Tanna
The monsoons, influenced by the mountain ranges, determine when you hike. But there is more.
The proximity to the mountains changes your trekking experience
When our co-founder Sandhya talked about breathtaking views, she described something very typical of Uttarakhand treks – the commanding views of the Garhwal Himalayas from lookout points. No other state has vantage points from which you can see some of India’s tallest peaks.
Mt. Trishul from the Garhwal Himalaya towers over the Bedni Bugyal. Such commanding views are characteristic of Uttarakhand migrations. Photo by Sudipto
But the experience of seeing a peak is different in Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir. Although the mountains are not as high as in the Garhwal Himalayas, they can appear larger from Himachal and Kashmiri.
Head of Experience
The valleys are much wider and the mountains in Himachal look much larger. That’s probably because they’re closer than they are on the Uttarakhand hikes. Even the drive to the base camps, be it Jobra from Hampta Pass, Solang Valley from Beas Kund or Gulaba from Bhrigu Lake, is scenic because you drive through roads that meander between these high mountains and wide valleys.
The base for the summit view of Pir Panjal extends from Lohali, a campsite on the Beas Kund Trek. Photo by Akhil Menon.
On the Beas Kund Trek you camp right at the foot of the Pir Panjal Mountains. Jagged Friendship Peak and Hanuman Tibba rise from the base to the top right in front of you. Nowhere in Uttarakhand can you see this experience.
A view of the Thajiwas glacier from Shitkadi, the base camp of the migration of the Great Lakes in Kashmir. Photo by Nimesh Mittal
In Kashmir, the Thajiwas glacier is right in front of you when you reach Shitkadi, the base camp of the hike to the Kashmiri Great Lakes. They even camp near the mountain. Harmukh, a mountain that towers over Lake Gangabal on the fifth day of your hike.
| Interesting side note: Mt. Harmukh touches the border of the discouraging Karakoram Mountains, which begin in Kashmir and lead to Pakistan and then to Afghanistan as the Hindu Kush Mountains. That is the role that mountain ranges play.
When is the best time to go hiking?
Here I would like to point out a point that many trekkers overlook – the choice of a trek does not depend on the altitude or the level of difficulty.
Zoom out a bit when choosing a hike. Note the location of the state. Observe the topography. Watch out for the wildlife – flora and fauna. Find out what makes this hike different from others.
Then focus on the best time of year for the hike. Know ‘Why’ from the hike before you get to the “how”.
I have created a table for you here that will help you make a quick decision.
|Uttarakhand||Dayara Bugyal, Deoriatal, Brahmatal, Kedarkantha, Kuari Pass||All year round except monsoons|
|Phulara Ridge, Rupin Pass, Gaumukh Tapovan, Kedar Valley, Gidara Bugyal||Summer and autumn|
|Valley of flowers||monsoon|
|Himachal Pradesh||Hampta Pass, Beas Kund, Bhrigu Lake, Pin Bhaba Pass||monsoon|
|Buran Ghati||Summer and autumn|
|cashmere||Great Lakes of Kashmir, Tarsar Marsar||monsoon|
That brings me to the end of my study of the differences between trekking in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. There is much more to discuss as we delve into this subject, which I will save for another day.
But as you can see, the mountain ranges and latitudes play a huge role in the impact of the landscapes and terrain on your hike. They also determine each state’s trekking seasons.
For this reason, we recommend that our hikers choose hikes according to region and season, not according to altitude or difficulty. This changes the way you approach a hike. It’s not about reaching the highest altitude, it’s about exploring a space that you won’t find anywhere else.
If you have any other differences that you have observed trekking in these regions, please leave a comment below. Hikers would love to read about it.
Have fun trekking!