The mountains of Uttarakhand have always beckoned adventure lovers. With a growing interest in health and fitness across age groups, adventure tourism is the call of the moment and is enjoying universal appeal right now. And if you are looking for a place to satisfy your need for a thrilling experience, you don’t have to look any further than Uttarakhand.
There is no shortage of adventure sports to partake in here, as the hill state is endowed with snow-covered slopes perfect for high-altitude skiing, the Himalayan ranges are perfect for trekking, mountaineering, and rock climbing, the gushing rivers perfect for white water rafting, pristine lakes perfect for canoeing and kayaking, and the mountain paths best suited for challenging bike rides.
Uttarakhand, often referred to by its moniker, “Abode of the Gods”, is a year-round destination for thrill seekers of all stripes. The state is ripe for exploration because of its abundance of high mountains, alpine meadows, icy waterfalls, glaciers, and fascinating lakes. Uttarakhand has been working passionately to promote adventure tourism and develop itself into a hub for adventure tourism. The state has always been home to activities like mountaineering, trekking, river rafting, mountain biking and so on. Newer choices are also being developed, like Tehri Lake for watersports and Auli as a snow sports destination.
Savour the thrill of flying high in the sky like an eagle with the mountains and valleys below you
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Who can resist the charm and adrenaline rush of adventure sports? Whether it is skiing or river rafting, paragliding or camping, Uttarakhand boasts of the most picturesque setting for both domestic and foreign tourists. The state has emerged as the ‘Destination Next’ for those with an insatiable craving for snow, scenic beauty, starry skies–and some adventure.
Uttarakhand has always been one of the most well-known trekking and camping destinations in the country, and its breathtaking mountain destinations are the ideal spots to enjoy some adventure activities. Amid the state’s diverse flora and fauna, the Himalayan trails will take you to remote, untouched villages where you can appreciate local cuisine and culture while on a trek. All of Uttarakhand offers the best opportunities for both trekking and camping throughout the year with the bright sun shining during the day and the stars twinkling at night.
Uttarakhand trekking is an exciting adventure that will lead you to the spiritual landscapes of the Himalayas. The state is home to countless hiking trails that are packed with opportunities for exploration and breathtaking views. The most well-known treks in the region include the ones to the Valley of Flowers, Kedarnath, Roopkund Lake, Chopta, Chandrashila, and Nanda Devi.
Both the Garhwal and Kumaon divisions of Uttarakhand are ideal spots for trekkers to enjoy the natural beauty of the state. There are several popular trekking routes across the state. One of the most scenic is the one to the Valley of Flowers. The Valley of Flowers National Park, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, is home to hundreds of alpine flower varieties and is a sight to behold when the flowers are in bloom. Kedarkantha, located at an altitude of about 12,500 feet above sea level, is situated in the Sankri Range in Uttarkashi district. Several trekking routes lead up to Kedarkantha peak and the view of the snow-clad hills all around the peak attracts trekkers from far and wide. Kedarkantha peak also provides an amazing view of sunrise and sunset and a breathtaking view of other Himalayan peaks. Another trek through Chandrashila leads to the Tungnath Temple, one of Panch Kedar shrines and the highest Lord Shiva temple in the world. The trek starts from Chopta in the Rudraprayag district.
Uttarakhand, is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Numerous permanent and migratory bird species can be found in this Himalayan state. In Uttarakhand, there are numerous locations that are perfect for bird watching
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Uttarakhand is an all-weather trekking destination, with different routes suitable for trekking in different seasons. Other treks include the Kuari Pass Trek at an altitude of 12,500 ft, the Dayara Bugyal Trek at an altitude of 11,900 ft with lush green pastures, and the Brahmatal Trek at an altitude of 10,850 ft. Har Ki Dun is known for its untouched beauty and there are several treks here, including to Marinda Tal, a high-altitude lake. Trekkers come to Uttarakhand to enjoy camping in tranquil surroundings amid lush green meadows.
The picturesque hamlet of Chopta offers amazing views of the Himalayan Range, including peaks like Trishul, Nanda Devi and Chaukhamba. It’s a great place to take relaxing walks. Serious trekkers will want to explore the Pindari and Milam glaciers.
Mountain biking is a very popular sport in Uttarakhand, and there are trails for beginners and professionals alike. The state’s diverse terrain offers several challenging routes for mountain biking. In fact, some important mountain biking championships are also held here and attract participants from across the world. The entire state is a cyclist’s wonderland but some popular trails are in Almora, Chakrata, Dhanaulti, Sattal, Mukteshwar, Mussoorie, New Tehri, Ranikhet, Rishikesh, Kaudiyala, and so on.
Chaukori in the Pithoragarh district is also Seekersideal for mountain biking. Shaped like a bowl, it is nestled among the massive snow-capped peaks of the mighty Himalayas and gives a panoramic view of Nanda Devi, Panchachuli, Nanda Kot, Trishul, and Chaukhamba. For decades, tourists have been thronging this colourful town for its thick woodlands and the heavenly sunrise and sunset.
Mountain biking is a very popular sport in Uttarakhand, and there are trails for beginners and professionals alike. The state’s diverse terrain offers several challenging routes for mountain biking.
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SKIING AND SNOW SPORTS
If it is skiing that enthrals you, Auli, Garhwal, is your one-stop answer. Famous as the ‘star attraction’ for tourists, the valley is also slated to host the national winter games. For this, infrastructure is being revamped. Construction work is also underway for training slopes for children. Plans are afoot to develop Gairsain on the lines of Auli to make for an alternate skiing destination in India.
Other places you can hit for skiing are Betuidhar, Dayara Bugyal, Mundali, and Khaliya Top. The latter is located in the Kumaon district and is 12,000 ft high and gives a spectacular view of Panchachuli, Rajrambha, Hardeol, and Nanda Kot in the Kumaoni district of Pithoragarh.
Spending a night or two in a charming ski lodge on the snowy slopes of Auli is a popular wintertime activity in Uttarakhand, especially between the months of December and January. In the mornings, you’ll find the countryside covered in snow, and you may spend the day taking cable car rides, visiting apple orchards, and touring the nearby communities. The slopes are also a great place to practise your skiing abilities. Evenings are best spent cuddled up with a good book, a game of cards, or a good group of friends around a fire telling stories.
RIVER RAFTING AND OTHER WATER SPORTS
December to March is the best time for river rafting in Uttarakhand when the glacier-fed rivers have a more moderate flow. As rafters glide on the tempestuous waters, they can enjoy the beautiful river valleys and gorges they are passing through. The sport is synonymous with Rishikesh, the world-famous rafting hotspot in Uttarakhand where the crystal-clear Ganga River beckons an influx of globe trotters. The Sharda River, a tributary of the Saryu flowing through Tanakpur in Champawat district, is another place that boasts of river rafting recently. A rafting trip along this river takes tourists through four rapids between Charan Mandir in Tanakpur and Boom Tapasvi Baba Ashram, which is 13 kilometres away.
A whitewater rafting session on the Ganga in Uttarakhand remains one of the most popular adrenaline-pumping pursuits in the state. The Ganga, swollen by runoff from the surrounding mountains, rushes through Rishikesh, where it turns corners and meets other rivers to make numerous confluences. There are several options, ranging from a tame 16 kilometres to a challenging 35 kilometres run on the river. You’ll face rapids with names like “Return to Sender,” “Roller Coaster,” “Double Trouble,” “Tee Off,” and “Golf Course” as you make your way across the river.
A whitewater rafting session on the Ganga in Uttarakhand remains one of the most popular adrenaline-pumping pursuits in the state.
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Paragliding is another activity that you can enjoy in Uttarakhand. Mukteshwar, Rishikesh, Pithoragarh, Khurptal, Bhimtal, Maldevta and Ranikhet are some of the most famous paragliding destinations in the state where you can savour the thrill of flying high in the sky like an eagle with the mountains and valleys below you. Tandem paragliding flights with experts are available, so you don’t have to be a paragliding expert yourself to participate in the sport.
This is an extremely popular outdoor activity in Uttarakhand. After all, the state is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Numerous permanent and migratory bird species can be found in this Himalayan state and nearly 700 kinds of birds have been spotted in the high-altitude environs of Uttarakhand. The Himalayan Monal (which also happens to be the state bird of Uttarakhand), Cheer Pheasant, Kalij Pheasant, Himalayan Quail, Red-billed Blue Magpie, several species of Laughing Thrush, Jungle Babbler, and Great Slaty Woodpecker are just a few of the many bird species that are frequently seen in Uttarakhand.
In Uttarakhand, there are numerous locations that are perfect for bird watching. Some of the destinations for birdwatching in Uttarakhand are Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary, Jim Corbett National Park, Chopta, Pangot, Ramgarh, Binsar, Jeolikot, and Jageshwar, which are well-known for being popular hangouts for die-hard birdwatchers and nature lovers.
Adventure seekers can also enjoy angling as another adventure activity. In Uttarakhand, angling is allowed in the reservoirs and rivers of reserve forest areas and outside the protected areas of the state with certain conditions. In accordance with environmental protection laws, the activity is limited to angling exclusively where hunting of fish is strictly prohibited. This means that the tourists have to immediately release the caught fish into the water after completing their hobby of angling. According to the rules, tourists also have to take care that the fish should not be harmed in any way. This activity is done during sunrise and sunset only. Some of the most popular angling spots include the Bhagirathi River, Alaknanda River, Tons, Song, Nayar, Aglar, Amlawa, Yamuna, Dodital, Sattal, Khurpatal, Bhimtal, Kali River in Pithoragarh, Mahakali River in Pancheshwar, etc.
Camping is widely regarded as the best way to enjoy time in the great outdoors. As an added bonus, it allows you to bond with your loved ones and get closer to them. Great opportunities for camping can be found throughout the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand’s varied landscape makes it ideal for many kinds of outdoor recreation, from wildlife camping to more conventional camping. You can find a camp everywhere in the state, from Tons Valley in Garhwal to Jharipani in Mussoorie to Dhanaulti and Dehradun.
From soft adventure activities to extreme sports, Uttarakhand has it all. Bungee jumping is one extreme sports activity you can indulge in here. The state boasts India’s highest fixed bungee jumping platform in Rishikesh, which stands at a height of 83 metres (about 272 ft). Leaping from it is the ultimate adventure for thrill-seekers, but there’s more to bungee jumping than that. It’s the kind of free fall that makes you feel absolutely nothing and gives you the strength to take on any challenge. What better place to take this leap of faith than Uttarakhand, whose bountiful countryside is the perfect spot to rediscover your true self.
In August 2021, Gartang Gali in Nelong Valley was opened up to tourists. Gartang Gali is a 500-metre-long, timber-lined stairway in Nelong, built by the Peshawari Pathans. It was used as a route between India and Tibet by Dorjis (Tibetan merchants) to reach Uttarkashi via Sumla, Mandi to trade items like salt, jaggery, spices, gold, pashmina wool, etc. However, after the Indo-China war of 1962, Nelong Valley was closed for general tourists and visitors, as the place came under the inner line area of Uttarkashi. In 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India granted permission for opening up the Nelong Valley and Jadung for tourists. However, the wooden bridge remained inaccessible to the public due to its bad condition.
After nearly six decades, the Government of Uttarakhand has opened the Gartang Gali trek for tourists after completing the required restoration and repair work. Tourists can now visit the place and have pleasant walk over the wooden bridge built in the traditional style by cutting through a single rock. This bridge gives an exciting view of the Nelong Valley, which is rich in flora and fauna and is home to rare animals such as snow leopards and blue sheep.
Along with all of the aforementioned sports, there’s also ziplining, canoeing, and kayaking one can enjoy at various places in Uttarakhand.Tehri Dam is emerging as the new water sports hub of Uttarakhand. Visitors can indulge in a variety of exciting water sports here, like jet skiing, kneeboarding, kayaking, banana boat rides, parasailing, etc.
So what are you waiting for? Plan your travel today to relish a lifetime experience at Uttarakhand, truly the adventure hub of India.
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