Trekking in the Himalaya takes you away from the madding crowd to the white and silent core of the Himalaya. It lures you to Ladakh; Himachal; Garhwal and Kumaon; Bhutan, Sikkim and Darjeeling; and Nepal-five regions that make up a trekker's paradise. There are nineteen mesmerising treks to choose from - jungle-riddled, summit-strewn, flower-rich, colour-mad passages of thrill and adventure.
Comprehensive and informative, the book traces each trek, starting with invaluable data on travel preparations and emergencies. A well-planned out day-to-day itinerary along with suggested short walks and restful campsites is complemented by a map outlining the trail, and earmarking rest houses and night halts. There is even a trekking guide that prepares you for the trek.
Written by expert trekkers, those who have been there and come back, every crag, peak, stream and inch familiar to them, with brilliant photographs by Hashmat Singh, the book is a stimulating and certain invitation to trekkers.
About the Author:
Hashmat Singh is a photographer and writer who works for an American adventure travel company. He organises and leads trips to almost the entire subcontinent including India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. Having travelled extensively in the Himalaya for over two decades, he has walked all the trails described in this book and many more.
'The source of much inspiration, the Himalaya have guided me and shaped my whole life,' he says, 'My work today is guiding other people to the wonders that exist there-both physical and spiritual.' He lives in Delhi with his family, within 'shooting' distance of the Abode of Snow.
Pallav Das has known the Indian Himalaya quite intimately since the mid-'70s. Starting with regular treks in the western Himalaya, he gradually took more interest in its ecology and wildlife. As a member of Kalpavriksh, an environmental action group based in Delhi, he studies the grassroots ecological movement called Chipko in the Uttaranchal Himalaya.
Later, he studies the ecology of the endangered snow leopard and the blacknecked crane in the trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh. His chief interest lies in the understanding of land-use patterns in the mountains and their impact on critical wildlife species. Pallav Das is currently based in Washington D.C. U.S.A., and works as a documentary filmmaker and freelance journalist focusing on South Asian issues.
The First Step
WHY does one wander about in the hills? Why does one trudge up steep slopes only to descend to a point where another formidable ascent stares mockingly? Why does one shiver endlessly in a thin sleeping bag, most inappropriate for the place or the time, only to wake up to further misery as the late night rain finally creeps through the tent floor and creates a dreadful little puddle near your head? And why does one so lovingly plan another trek after having cursed and howled through the previous one and questioned one's sanity sixteen times a day?
For the answers, armchair travelling just won't do. You have to go on any one of the treks detailed in the book to find out why trekking in the Himalaya is so insidiously addictive. As any self-respecting street peddler would tell you, you just have to try trekking to feel what it could do to your senses, your world-view, your life.
Trekking is not about the challenge and the triumph of scaling that brutally tough 26,248 ft /8,000 m-plus mountain through that complicated route that nobody has dared before. It's not about that glorious placard which attaches itself to your back, screaming 'conqueror' as you descend to base camp. Trekking, in fact, is about that bracing bonfire which spirals up to meet the stars. It's about pitching camp overlooking a stunning waterfall. It's about standing transfixed on that rock outcrop as you look at the golden eagle glide past the precipice, breaking, the symmetry of the trans-Himalayan vistas, and swooping down on the unsuspecting mountain hare. It's about lying down on a carpet of anemones next to a gurgling stream. It's about stopping the knees from shaking after you have just been rescued by an obliging porter from a narrow ledge where loose rock were giving way in a hurry. It's about feeling envious of those climbers who haughtily march past you like zombies, totally focused on that awe-inspiring peak another 10,000 ft / 3,045 m above you_you could get closer to that only by using your long telephoto lens. And after being overwhelmed by everything around you, it's about looking inwards and remembering and then trying to forget the pain of the journey.
The five regions that comprise the trekking heartland of the Himalaya are: Ladakh/Zanskar Himachal; Garhwal/Kumaon; Sikkim/Darjeeling; Nepal and Bhutan.
We will take up each region and discuss in detail the day-by-day itinerary of the treks. Once you are through with this book, we hope you will be fortified by your newly-gained wisdom to try at least a few of the treks. This book is a modest attempt at presenting the attractive possibilities of trekking in the Himalaya and at expressing the characteristics of various regions in terms of flora, fauna, geological features, cultural diversity and environmental pressures. It's an attempt at leting the sweet whiff of the pine cones reach you and help you to dig out those dusty hiking boots from the cupboard. Have fun!
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