Travel

Arkish Jewels

On a treasure hunt

On a treasure hunt

Looking for spots that typical tourists don’t flock to? Follow some rare trails that adventure seekers from across the world swear by.

 

By Aatir Ansari

 

Vijayanagara Empire: Best of exploring an ancient kingdom, Hampi, Karnataka

Situated on the banks of River Tungbhadra, Hampi in its prime was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century. It also claims to be the biggest and the richest city of its era, next only to the Chinese Empire.

Though the city lies in ruins now, the grandeur and magnificence of the place can easily be imagined. With high temples, broken boulders and incredible landscape, it now attracts adrenaline junkies, especially rock climbers from the world who take on the challenge of climbing the ancient boulders.

There are one-day hiking trips to Sunset Hill and Anjaneya Hill that offer best spots for witnessing the sunsets and sunrises. Coracle rides and cycling through the ruins or along the riverbanks offer the perfect getaway adventure. It has always attracted American and Spanish tourists.

 

Subansiri River: Best of angling and river rafting, Arunachal Pradesh (Starting point: Dibrugarh, Assam)

Hidden in the verdant rainforests of Arunachal Pradesh, the Subansiri river, also known as the gold river, is a unique experience for angling and rafting. One of the biggest tributary of the Brahmaputra flows through the valley, which is sparsely habited due to the difficult terrain and vertical rock faces. It is this isolation that has helped this region to retain its untouched beauty, as the last true wilderness on earth.

Subansiri river, teeming with chocolate and golden masheer (some specimen weighing up to 200 lbs), attracts some of the best angles in the world. With its technical and wild rapids, the river is game to rafting expeditions too, but for the experienced. It is particularly attractive to adventurers from the UK and Singapore.

 

Goecha La Trek: Best of wildlife spotting, Yuksom, Sikkim

Kanchenjunga National Park in western Sikkim is an ecological paradise with wild flora and fauna of the Greater Himalayas, and is considered one of the greenest regions on the planet. With pine and rhododendron covered mountains that seem to be floating in the mist, the park is home to rare bird species such as blood pheasants, monal pheasants, coal tits and pine martens, as well as the red pandas.

The region not only attracts the adventure seekers, but researchers and scientists from across the world.

Starting from Yuksom, the ancient capital of Sikkim, the Goecha La trek, leads through changing landscape and high mountains to Goecha La viewpoint at 5,400 metre. If the weather god remains kind, you can witness the sunrise on the southern face of Kanchenjunga (8,586 metre), the third highest mountain in the world. 

 

Khasi, Garo and Jaintia Hills: Best of cave expedition, Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya

The pristine rainforests of Khasi, Garo and Jaintia hills provide for epic adventure. It might record the highest rainfall in the world, but that does not deter thrill seekers from flocking to it, especially keen backpackers and adventure-seekers.

Nicknamed Scotland of the East by the British imperial rulers, it does live up to its name with its rolling green hills covered with mists almost throughout the year. Apart from witnessing stunning waterfalls, the living root bridges (roots of rubber tree roots are trained to cross stream and rivers, a process that can take generations), caving and taking a dip into the crystal blue pools are what fascinates the travellers, especially from the US and France.

 

Zanskar Trail: Best of high altitude trekking, Padum, Zanskar, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir

Settled in the belly of the Zanskar range, this valley separates Ladakh from Himachal Pradesh. A sub-district of Kargil, it is known for its stunning moon landscape. The high altitude semi-desert also has some of the most dramatic views as you trek along Dharcha in Himachal Pradesh to Padum, the administrative capital of Zanskar. These trails are not too popular due to the remoteness of the region. It takes two days just to get to Padum from Leh!

The Phugtal Monastery is the only Buddhist monastery that can still be reached by foot. Built around a natural cave, this 15th century structure first got electricity in 2016.

Regular trekkers among you must 
have trekked through the famous frozen river Chadar trek in winter that starts from Chiling (confluence of River Zanskar and River Indus), a surreal experience. This region has for years attracted French and Swiss adventurers and explorers.

 

Suru–Boulderfest: Best of outdoor sports, Suru Valley, Kargil, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir

Surrounded by the Zanskar range, the sprawling Suru Valley located at 2,800 metre above sea level, an hour drive from Kargil in Ladakh provides the backdrop for a new beginning. This is where you learn the ropes of rock climbing: find boulders, climb the hills using nothing but your hands and feet. The best part? Suru–Boulderfest.

The valley is beset with boulders of all sizes, providing beginners and experienced climbers with a plethora of ‘problems’ to solve. “This is a platform for Indian climbers to not only learn, get first-hand experience of rock climbing, but also interact with reputed climbers from across the world,” says Suhail Kakpori and Tenzin Jamyang, founders of Surufest. The organisers are planning on adding mountain biking, kayaking, trail running and trekking from next year. You can register yourself on Surufest.com.

The event has also helped the local community by turning the inaccessible terrain—that could not be used for agricultural purposes—into a tourist spot, as well as training the local kids to become climbers, providing them an alternate career.

In its third edition this year, the two-week event has caught the eye of the climbing community from all over the world, witnessing participation from 25 countries, especially Israel and Germany.

 

Aatir Ansari is the founder of Ultimate Frontier Outlands, a boutique adventure travel company. Passionate about mountains and outdoors, nothing beats the rugged terrain and the clear air for him. A former sports industry professional, he has climbed Mt. Stok Kangri, twice, hiked 100km in the Wadis of Jordan, summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, explored the rainforests and peaks of Meghalaya and Nagaland.

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