Forests have always had a certain mystery to them that has fueled our fantasies. From childhood stories of lions, foxes and hares to the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana, the most fantastical tales we have heard have happened in the forest, where nothing is what it seems. And that is part of the magic that you feel when you walk through a forest. The sounds of the leaves rustling and the birds and animals calling are bewitching. Walking through a forest is, in a way, a form of meditation. In fact, the Japanese even have a practice called Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing for meditation and health therapy. But you don’t have to go to Japan; our country has some incredible woodlands that are just as therapeutic, especially in the monsoon season. Here is a look at some beautiful forest trails to trek through this monsoon. ALSO READ: Here are 5 Things You MUST Do Before Going On A Trek
Kodachadri, Photograph Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Kodachadri, located in the hilly Shimoga district of Karnataka, is the tenth-highest peak in the state at a height of 1,343 meters. It is also a natural heritage site as declared by the state, which should give you an idea of the beautiful forest trails on offer here. In a district with plenty of hills to scale and scenic waterfalls, Kodachadri stands out with its dense forests, jungle trails, beautiful landscape and waterfalls along the way. A great little nature getaway, the trek to Kodachadri and back takes around two days to complete, with moderate to challenging routes along the way. You can spot animals like the Malabar Pied Hornbill and Langoor along the way.
Rajmachi, Photograph Courtesy: Vinay Nair/Creative Commons
A famous trekking destination in a state that is already full of beautiful trekking trails, Rajmachi in Maharashtra lies in close proximity to both Mumbai and Pune. Located close to the famous Lonavala and Khandala hill stations, the Rajmachi trek covers around 15 km of relatively gradual terrain. At the top, you can camp in the caves for the night before heading down. You also have rooms available for staying the night. With the fort ruins, temples, monuments and caves to explore, Rajmachi is a place where you can see the marvels of ancient Indian architecture and how nature ultimately recaptures everything. ALSO READ: 5 simple tips you should follow when trekking in the monsoon!
Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand
Valley of Flowers
A World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO, the Valley of Flowers is a meeting point of the Eastern Himalayans and the Zanskar range in Uttarakhand. Discovered by mountaineer Frank Smith in 1931, the Valley of Flowers is exactly what you think it is and so much more; a scenic valley with untamed wild flowers blooming under the snow-capped Himalayan peaks. The place is famous for the beauty of these flowers in bloom and for its medicinal herbs. Walk through the streams and meadows of the valley and take in the beauty around you, with wild flowers like poppy, daisies, petunias and more blooming around you. June to September is when the valley is open to treks; it is covered in snow for the rest of the year.
Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh
Araku Valley, Photograph courtesy: vijay_cc/ creative commons
Located around 120 km from the port city of Vishakapatnam, Araku Valley is famous for its forests and coffee plantations. The monsoon and winter seasons are when the valley is at its best. Rising up to a height of around 900 meters, the valley stretches for just around 40 km, with plenty of jungle trails to explore. Despite its plentiful coffee plantations, the forests of Araku are relatively untouched by large-scale tourism. You can explore the Ananthagiri hills around the valley, with many opting for a nice six-day excursion into the jungle, starting from the base camp at Shivlingapuram. Depending on how much time you have, you can spend your days walking through the forest trails, breathing in the cool and fresh air.
Chembra is the tallest peak in the Wayanad hills of Kerala, sitting at a height of 2,100 meters above sea level. For a one-day trek through the forests, this is the perfect route. You drive down through the tea estates of Wayanad to the starting point of the trek, which takes around four hours to complete and takes you through dense jungles. From the peak, you can see the entire district around you, with its forests, coffee and tea estates spreading out to the horizon. Clouds roll through the hills, sometimes passing through the summit and covering the spectacular view completely. You also have the Soochipara or Sentinel Rock waterfall that lies nearby, surrounded by the jungle. ALSO READ: 6 exhilarating trekking trails in Kerala that you absolutely cannot miss
Kumara Parvatha, Karnataka
Starting from the base camp in Hegdemane, the trail to Kumara Parvatha peak in Karnataka is tough but very rewarding. Kumara Parvatha, also called Pushpagiri, is actually the third highest peak in Karnataka, standing at 1,712 meters above sea level. Lying on the border of the Kodagu and Dakshina Kannada border, this is considered one of the most beautiful peaks in the Western Ghats, but also one of the toughest in the Sahyadris. You have several other routes to the top, with the tougher one starting from Subramanya, South Kanara. Explore the forests that lead up to the summit and immerse yourself in nature while pushing yourself to the limit.