During winters, the Himalayas wear a blanket of snow, limiting the number of treks that are safe for outdoor enthusiasts. While the summer months bloom with endless options of well-known and virgin treks, you can literally count the options for winter treks on your fingers. With trekking garnering more popularity as a sport in India, these easy level winter treks are experiencing overcrowding. Brahmatal is no exception. Given the panoramic views of 7000m peaks, the lakes and snow covered meadows, trekkers throng the route in winters to get a taste of a snow filled winter adventure. This article breaks down why Brahmatal has become famous and what treks you should be looking at this winter if you want to avoid the crowds.
Brahmatal’s Claim to Fame
1) Beautiful Oak and Rhododendron Forests
The entire trail takes you in and out of beautiful thick forests which, when it snows, glow with mysticism and serenity. If you like taking a walk in the woods and watching the delicate way the trees hug and sprinkle snow, then this is your place. You will feel right at home here.
2) A Campsite that Will Take Your Breath Away
Now there are two campsites on the trek, the one at Bekaltal is quite average but the camping spot next to Brahmatal lake will steal your heart. The only other trek, with an equally beautiful campsite is Kedarkantha but except that, Brahmatal campsite trumps all the other campsites on all winter treks. And the best part is that it's just 2 minutes away from the Brahmatal lake, giving you the perfect opportunity to catch the sunrise and sunset by a beautiful winter lake.
3) Two Epic Lakes
There are two absolutely stunning lakes on the trail: Bekaltal and Brahmatal.
Bekaltal is a lonely wild lake, bang in the middle of a forest, which is bound to leave an impression on you given its magnificent size. There is a small temple right next to the lake as well dedicated to Lord Brahma. There is peace and stillness in the air, and you’ll feel it while walking around the lake.
Brahmatal on the other hand is surrounded by snow slopes and its crystal clear water beautifully reflects the colours of the sky. The energy around the lake is vibrant and uplifting. Most snow fights during the trek break out around this lake. Legends have it that Brahmatal lake was named after Lord Brahma, the creator, who used to meditate here.
Both lakes in their own unique way will demand your attention and amaze you.
4) An Adventure When it Snows
Sometimes the Himalayas make grand gestures to welcome you into their world. And when that happens, the world stops spinning for a few seconds, everything looks surreal, and nothing crosses your mind, except the sight in front of you. You might experience one or two days of sporadic snowfall during the trek and it is bound to melt your heart.
Within a few hours, the landscapes around us wear a blanket of snow and it is pure magic. It might even be possible to glissade on the fresh snow slopes to add to the madness.
Now now now, don’t get carried away by these enticing reasons! While these were true two or three years ago, the situation has completely changed now. The pandemic has made people want to explore the outdoors more than ever and Brahmatal has been seeing crowds like never before. This actually defeats the whole point of trekking and the ideals it stands for as a mountain sport. Degradation of the surrounding ecosystems and pollution on the route have significantly increased particularly with trekking companies not following stringent waste management techniques. But, don’t give up just yet on your winter adventure! There are new trails and routes which retain their quiet and peace, offering views as good as Brahmatal (maybe even better!). However, if there is anything to learn from the tragedy of Brahmatal, it is that these trails need to be accessed and trekked with care and in the most sustainable way possible in order to preserve their fragile ecosystem.
Treks to Consider for your Winter Adventure in 2023
1) Panwali Kantha Trek
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced trekker looking to do a short trek, Panwali Kantha offers striking views of the Himalayan ranges and has its fair share of adventure with gentle ascents through snow. Snow covered bugyals and starry skies are a constant throughout this trek and leave us wanting for more.
2) Markha Valley Winter Trek
Higher up on the difficulty scale, Markha Valley is worth every challenge it throws your way. It is one of the most unconventional winter treks in the country, taking you through the Hemis National Park which is loaded with flora and fauna endemic to the region. A frozen river, cosy homestays, larger than life views of Kang Yatse I and II, Ladakhi culture are just a small part of the long list of things that this trek has to offer.
3) Snow Leopard Treks
An offbeat adventure in Spiti and Ladakh, this trek avoids the crowds and gives you a chance to glimpse at this mystical beauty that apparently evades everyone’s eyes. A master of disguise and a predator of the high mountains, spotting a snow leopard is a once in a lifetime experience.
4) Ali Bedni Bugyal
Nestled in the Garhwal Himalayas, Ali Bedni Bugyal is a meadow-lover’s paradise. The endless meadows of Ali and Bedni are covered in a thick layer of shining snow, transforming the surroundings into a captivating landscape. Being a beginner friendly trek, this serves as perfect alternative to Brahmatal with equally stunning views of the Himalayas.
5) Dodital Darwa Pass
If you are looking to challenge yourself but also do a short trek, Dodital Darwa Pass meets all your requirements. Spanning over 5 days, this offbeat winter trek takes you deep into the snow covered forests of Assi Ganga Valley. The Dodital Lake which is semi frozen in the winter months is a pleasant sight along with Darwa Pass which offers panoramic views of major peaks such as Mt.Bandarpoonch, Mt.Draupadi Ka Danda, Black Peak and Mt.Srikanth.
To find out more about off-beat winter treks, read: Five Uncrowded Winter Treks
This article was originally written by Pooja Dhiman on 17/03/2018. It was edited and updated by Geethanjali on 3/10/2023.