The world’s highest mountains, the Himalaya forms an impregnable boundary between India and its neighbours to the north
The world’s highest mountains, the Himalaya forms an impregnable boundary between India and its neighbours to the north. The region is one of incredible scenery and fascinating cultural diversity. Accommodation choices are more limited than in many other parts of India and is often simple, but wherever you stay you will never be far away from stunning views.
The mountains lend themselves to a variety of adventure sports, but for anyone who simply enjoys the great outdoors there are also numerous options for more gentle walks and river rafting. Be warned that the topography means that travel in the region can be challenging - road conditions are sometimes poor and flights to the few small airports delayed by sudden changes in the wather.
The western Himalaya is characterised by small villages, dense green deodar forests, orchards and cultivated terraces that give way to the jungles of Corbett National Park, and the Hindu holy cities of Rishikesh and Haridwar on the Ganges. Heading further northwest are increasing concentrations of Buddhists. Dharamasala is the capital in exile of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan people while Ladakh in the far north is often aptly called ‘Little Tibet’. The vast tracts of high altitude desert only opened to foreign visitors in the 1970s. Ancient palaces and crumbling monasteries perched in improbable locations that seem frozen in time come alive during festivals when villagers and nomads gather for religious celebrations.
India’s eastern Himalaya, sandwiched between Bhutan and Nepal has world famous tea plantations beneath the gaze of Kanchenjunga (8598m), the country’s greatest mountain and the world’s third highest. The rhododendron and azalea covered valleys of Sikkim are glorious walking country.
The hill stations of Shimla and Darjeeling that grew up as colonial retreats form the summer heat of the plains are also worthy of visits. Although they have been changed dramatically by their popularity as Indian honeymoon centres there are still reminders of their Raj pasts in the churches, bungalows and pedestrian Malls designed for stately promenades with mountain views. A fitting way to arrive in either place is on their old mountain railways before using the towns as jumping off points for excursions or journeys into the hills and mountains beyond.
An hour’s drive downhill from Darjeeling Glenburn is a
Shakti’s village houses are like no other home in Ladakh,
This Himalayan mountain lodge is perched high on a ridge and
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