Rishikesh | India
Rishikesh | India
Rishikesh | India
Rishikesh | India
Rishikesh | India
Rishikesh | India
Steeped in local mythology and surrounded by lush forests, snowscapes, glaciers, lakes, and waterfalls, the Himalayas offer a versatile range of treks for travelers across the globe. However, very few Himalayan treks are as rewarding or visually appealing as the Brahmatal trek.
Brahmatal trek is among the rare high-altitude Himalayan treks that remain accessible during winter. Considered an all-inclusive package with wonderful snowscapes, oak and rhododendron forests, and numerous sights of breathtaking beauty, this trek is also one of the most reasonably priced ones.
It is one of the best entry points into the Indian Himalayan ranges. The trek is 24 km long and approximately 6 days in duration, making it an easier to moderate level trek. Thus, planning a Brahmatal trek solo is a great idea, even for beginners.
The Scenic Beauty:
The Brahmatal trek is named after the Brahmatal- a high-altitude, glacial lake; fabled to be the ancient Hindu God of all creation- Brahma’s spot for meditation. The trail covers oak, rhododendron, coniferous forests, quaint sleepy settlements, and lush meadows, with the constant promise of something sublime almost every turn.
The peak offers some of the best sunsets changing from yellow to a shade of orange with a touch of pink and then to tranquil blue hues.
Cultural significance of the Brahmatal Trek:
The Himalayas are home to numerous pilgrimage centers. Often the Himalayas come up as famous references in local and ancient Vedic mythology. Brahmatal is no exception—the ancient God Brahma, who birthed all creation, is said to have meditated by this beautiful lake.
Even today, the trek will give you a lot of solitude and expansive Himalayan views that will humble and rejuvenate you at the same time.
Forests along the Brahmatal trek:
The Brahmatal trek is known for its expansive, monochromatic rhododendron forests, almost changing color as you cover different parts of your trek. The beauty of the trail through a grove of vibrant, red flowers in the lower region to a track surrounded by rich pink flowers in the upper region is something to marvel at. Needless to say, this trail is a photographer’s delight. There are regal silver oak forests in the background for contrast.
Other Reasons to Go on the Brahmatal Trek:
The main attraction is the awe-inspiring panoramic view of the 25-kilometer radius around the Brahmatal peak, which is at the height of 3,400 meters. Among the important peaks visible are the famous Nanda Ghunti (6309 meters) and Mt. Trishul (the highest summit is 7120 meters in altitude). The nearby Roopkund trail is also visible from the summit, along with views of many other famous peaks like Chaukhamba, Hathi, Ghori, Neelkanth, and Maiktoli along the way.
For seasoned trekkers, the Jatropani peak can be reached while on the Brahmatal Trek. Situated at 4071 meters, the peak is just a day’s trek from the Brahmatal campsite on the western ridge. It is the opposite ridge to the Roopkund trail and offers vistas of its famous sites like Ronti Saddle—the ridge connecting Nanda Ghunti and Trishul.
Location and Topography:
Brahmatal- the hidden alpine lake is situated in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. It lies between the oak and rhododendron forests, at the height of 3400 meters.
The trails are easy to traverse as far as topography goes, although it is a bit more difficult than the treks to Kedar Kantha and Dayara Bugyal. Overall, a trekker will have to travel a distance of approximately 7 km, comprising both uphill and downhill walks each day.
Depending on the season, you will find the lake either wholly or partially frozen. Winter makes the trek a bit more complicated as trekkers often find the tracks covered in knee-deep snow.
Hub, Distance, and Trek cost:
When traveling to Brahmatal, Rishikesh will be the connecting point, or hub, from where you will travel a distance of about 260 km to Lohajung. And the trek will commence from Lohajung the following day.
The Brahmatal trek package varies between USD 130–135, which is approximately INR 9,500–10,000. However, traveling to or returning from Rishikesh may cost you additionally. It depends on the travel agency or the package you choose.
The last few ATMs on the way to Lohajung are at Deval and Tharali, although the former is not very reliable as it often runs out of cash. It is advisable to stock up on cash because the ATMs are unavailable, and the internet connectivity is unreliable as you progress on your journey. Card/online payments are not an option unless your tour company has provisions of its own.
Cell phone connectivity:
Cell phone and internet connectivity are always unreliable on high-altitude treks. You might, however, occasionally get 4G at the Tilandi basecamp. But only select operators (Jio and BSNL) may still function by the time you reach the peak.
The Brahmatal trek is considered an easy to moderate level trek. However, many trekkers consider the trek to be moderate because of relatively longer climbs per day, with a few steep ones in between. However, there are no technical sections in the trek.
Treading in winter is more difficult as trekkers often have to traverse through knee-deep snow. Trekking through the snow requires extra attention and vigilance on the part of the trekker. Taking adequate measures can help prevent injuries caused by slipping on the snow.
Wherever you are on the trail, the nearest exit point would be Lohajung, which is approximately a day away. In case of medical emergencies, Tharali has the closest hospital.
The Brahmatal trek offers different sides of itself, depending on the season you choose to visit.
Spring (Mid March to Mid April):
This is the best time to visit if you are a nature enthusiast and an anthophile. The Brahmatal trek is famous for its beautiful forests of rhododendrons—in Spring, you will be welcomed with scarlet rhododendrons, which soon give way to bright pink ones at higher altitudes.
The best part is, around early Spring, the snow will remain in pockets throughout the trail, making the flowers literally pop out to any passing eye. But by mid-April, the snow melts completely.
Expect mean temperatures of 15–20 degrees celsius throughout the days on the journey and temperatures of 1–5 degrees at night. Rain can cause local fluctuations too.
Autumn (Mid September to Mid October):
Autumns bring hues of rich golden, brown, and red to the region. Although rhododendrons won’t be in bloom, vistas of rich canopy-covered forest floors will welcome you.
Autumn is the time when the Himalayas experience their dry season, with little to no rainfall. This also means that skies clear up and it is sunny, which will allow you to spot peaks like Chaukhamba (7138 meters), Nilkanth (6596 meters), Hathi (6727 meters), and Ghori (6708 meters).
This also contributes to the lovely Himalayan sunrises and sunsets. Every campsite on the way will give you beautiful riots of colors in the autumn sky at dusk and dawn.
Depending on when you go on the trek, temperatures can range from 13 to 18 degrees celsius on the trail during the day. During later autumnal months, temperatures at higher camps can potentially reach subzero temperatures, dipping to -2 to -3 degrees.
Winter (December to January):
Winter invariably brings precipitation as snow, and you can expect temperatures to plummet to zero or lower even at the relatively lower basecamps after sunset. At higher camps, it can reach -7 or -8 degrees.
Having said that, the trek is one of the few ones that remain open during what is considered the peak of Himalayan winter. The Bekaltal lake, along the way, will be frozen.
The only flipside to an otherwise monochromatic and equally breathtaking winter landscape is the fact that the main destination—Brahmatal lake—might be inaccessible due to the snow.
Wind chill can be expected in the Himalayas. Hence, adequate protection and gear are advisable.
Like every other trek, the Brahmatal Trek also requires careful planning and adequate preparation. And, having the right gear and packing the necessities will often decide if you have a successful trek or not. Here are some of the things that you will need for the Brahmatal trek.
The Brahmatal trek is a high-altitude trek, especially one which has wind chill as a factor. Hence packing clothing in layers is a must. This is key to beating the plummeting temperatures and can help one dress up or down as required.
Carrying versatile clothing will protect you from the cold at night and keep you comfortable in the heat (and during the physical activity of trekking). So, full-sleeve t-shirts and layering them with woolens like light sweaters and jackets are going to be helpful.
Thermal innerwear and thicker woolen jackets will help keep the cold temperatures and wind chills at bay during the evenings and at the higher-altitude campsites. The Himalayan climate is unpredictable and quite prone to sudden showers. So, adequate waterproof protective wear like raincoats, waterproof jackets, and bottom-wear will be necessary.
Carry adequate pairs of trekking pants and joggers, primarily made of polyester because they are comfortable and quick-dry. For wearing indoors and between treks, keep t-shirts and shorts handy, according to your liking.
Denim pants are a strict no-no.
It is imperative to wear high-quality trekking shoes with superior grip. Don’t skimp on the footwear and ensure that it is sturdy, waterproof, and protects your feet from the terrain, fatigue, dust, and temperature fluctuations.
For travelers who choose the winter Brahmatal trek package, it is advisable to be mindful while purchasing your footwear—snow is quite common and can be knee-deep at places. As a result, shoes with smaller spikes or just simply better grip will go the extra mile when hiking to higher campsites.
Adequate pairs of woolen and cotton socks should not be forgotten, as they can be layered to protect your feet even further throughout the mountainous terrain. For the time in between treks, carry casual footwear like flip-flops.
Protecting your face, neck, and head from the harsh weather and strong wind is going to be very important. Adequate protection in the form of turtlenecks, balaclavas, and other headwear is recommended.
Sunglasses are also must-haves for the journey because they offer protection from the sun’s direct rays, including UV protection. During the winter months, the snow cover in the higher altitudes can put you at the risk of snow blindness. So, having protective eyewear like sunglasses or photochromic prescription glasses is necessary.
Depending on your usage and belongings, carry large enough backpacks (50-60 liters) and daypacks (nearly 20 liters) with a rain cover to combat occasional showers or snowfall. Having portable and reusable water bottles is also a great way to reduce waste; that way, you can fill up at every campsite for the next.
Also, carry sufficient dry food like cereal bars, nuts, dry fruits, chocolates, etc. Make sure they are kept in airtight/waterproof containers or are nonperishable. Reusable cutlery is also necessary.
On any mountain trip, there are necessities to counter emergencies. These include newspapers, headlamps, electric torches, extra batteries, lighters, chargers/mobile power banks, and sim cards to help check for connectivity.
A pair of sturdy trekking poles will go a long way to help you gauge the terrain ahead and also to help you get a good grip—especially in winter months when the landscape becomes a bit more slippery and harder to tread.
Day-to-day usage products like paper towels, hand wash/sanitizers, toilet papers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lip balms, moisturizers, etc., should be carried. A large part of the trek will be away from permanent settlements, and hence being prepared for emergencies is necessary.
If applicable, women should carry sufficient amounts of sanitary products with disposable packaging preferably.
A well-stocked medical kit is always helpful for minimizing the adverse health effects associated with trekking. Aside from the common cold and flu, generic drugs for various common conditions like headaches, allergies, and diarrhea are also commonly recommended.
This mainly includes necessary precautions against AMS or acute motion sickness, which is common on such high-altitude treks. Water-purification tablets are also quite handy because you might have to drink fresh water on the way.
Protection against common wounds, corns, and shoe bites are always recommended, along with antiseptic liquids and ointments.
When going on any high-altitude trek, one should always try to carry a medical certificate. Also, depending on your Brahmatal trek package provider/group, you might be needed to fill out and submit NOCs and other disclaimer forms.
Please carry photo IDs and relevant documentation and keep them at hand. Acceptable ones include PAN, driver’s license, Aadhar Card, passport (for Indian nationals), and valid visa along with passports for foreigners. These will be required by the Forests Department and will determine whether you are allowed to trek or not.
Carrying passport-size photos and multiple photocopies of the above documents are recommended.
The start of the journey will be from Rishikesh, and the total journey will be approximately 260 kilometers. Our recommended Brahmatal trek itinerary is as follows.
Any adventure/expedition requires proper planning and often proper training. Trekking is no different, and when it comes to such Himalayan adventures like the Brahmatal trek, one needs physical and mental preparation to truly get fit for the journey ahead.
A successful trek is only possible by putting the body through a continuous walking regimen at least a month or two before the trek itself. You need to remain focused on the road and have a good grip and gait while walking for prolonged periods on uneven terrain.
Cardio, skipping, and other leg exercises at the gym can also help prepare your body for the upcoming adventure. Although the trek is only 24 kilometers long, the terrain is unforgiving, especially in winter. The ground is dangerously slippery and snow-covered. So, being healthy in the months leading up to the trek and building endurance is necessary.
While there are numerous beautiful sights to experience, treks are often very tiring. Being focused and calm is highly important for someone who is embarking on the Brahmatal trek solo.
Building determination and learning to combat fears of common adversities like AMS and fatigue is imperative. Meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, etc., can help build focus and center the mind, which will help prepare you to face the journey ahead.
The Brahmatal trek is punctuated with beautiful vignettes of the Himalayas, and there’s potential for a new surprise at every bend of the trail. The forests of rhododendron that put carpets of color all over the region make it a must for both nature and photography enthusiasts.
Being one of the few treks completely open in winter, the Brahmatal region offers a pristine white snow-clad view of famous peaks like Trishul and Nanda Ghunti. This makes the extra arduous trek in winter worth it for many.
Besides, the local culture of Garhwal is rich, and the people are hardworking and friendly. And, nothing can be better than exploring life in the Himalayan villages and towns of Uttarakhand during the intermissions between treks.