School Trek - India's Singalila Ridge
The Indian Himalaya do not present themselves as one unbroken chain, but rather as a gigantic layer cake made up of several different ranges. The principal Himalayan mountain ranges divide the Indian Sub-continent from the Tibetan Plateau. From Nanga Parbat in the west, these mountains stretch for over 2000 kilometres to the borders of Sikkim and Bhutan in the east. In Kashmir, the mountain ranges give way to the subsidiary ranges that make up the heart of Kashmir's lakes and valleys, whilst to the north and east lie Zanskar and Ladakh, commonly referred to as the Trans-Himalaya zone, marking the geological transition between the Indian Sub-continent and the Tibetan Plateau. To the south-east stretch the lower ranges of the Pir Panjal and the Dhaula Dhar which eventually tie in to the high, snow-capped mountains of the Garhwal Himal and beyond to the most easterly extension of the Indian Himalaya, Nanda Devi, the Kumaon Himalaya and the Panch Chuli Group. Sikkim is one of the newest of India's states, and lies to the east of Nepal, a projection northwards from the Indian plains, and isolated from the surrounding countries (Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet) by high ridges.
The time in India is GMT +5:30 hours.
The national language of India is Hindi, although there are around 15 other languages spoken (and listed on some of the bank notes). Generally in India many people speak some English and India is therefore an easy place to make friends and get to know local people. We recommend that you take a pocket phrase book and learn some basics such as common greetings. Your efforts to speak a few words of the local language will pay dividends in terms of the warm reaction you receive from the people you meet along the way.
Many of India's mountain areas are affected to a certain degree by the monsoon, during the period from June to mid September. However, Ladakh and Zanskar lie in the rain shadow of the Himalaya and escape the worst of the monsoon's influence, which is why we are able to run our trips in these regions during this period. This area is referred to as a high altitude desert. The part of the Indian Himalaya which encompasses the Vale of Kashmir and Manali has a modified monsoon climate and normally experiences periods of rainfall until mid-July. The Dhaula Dhar Range, the Garhwal, and eastwards to the massifs of Nanda Devi and Panch Chuli, tends to get the main brunt of the monsoon weather, which is why we delay our treks to this region until the end of September when the area normally gets its most settled and pleasant weather in the higher valleys. Similarly, Sikkim is adversely affected by the monsoon, and we run our trips in to the south and east sides of Kangchenjunga on either side of the monsoon - in April and November.
The currency of India is the Indian Rupee. For up to date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com
It is not possible to obtain local currency prior to departure. Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are equally acceptable for exchange in India. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of cash. If you prefer not to carry all of your spending money in cash, it is possible to withdraw money from ATMs in Delhi using your debit or credit card.
A passport (with at least 6 months remaining validity) and a current Indian Visa are required for this holiday. More detailed information on visas can be found on the website on the trip page for your holiday.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general we recommend vaccinations against the following: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis ‘A'. Malarial prophylaxis is not required whilst in the mountains. An anti malarial regime may be recommended for other rural areas - please check with your doctor. A very good online resource is the NHS travel website at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
India. A Travel Survival Kit. Crowther. Lonely Planet
Trekking in Pakistan and India. Hugh Swift
Ladakh and Zanskar. Artou and Chabloz
Kashmir, Ladakh and Zanskar. Schettler. Lonely Planet
Trekking in the Indian Himalaya. Weare
Where Men and Mountains Meet. John Keay
Painted Mountains. Steven Venables
Slowly Down the Ganges. Eric Newby
The Everest Years. Bonington
Thin Air. Greg Child
Kulu - The End of the Habitable World. Penelope Chetwode
Ladakh - Crossroads of High Asia. Janet Rizvi
Ancient Futures - Learning from Ladakh. Helena Norberg-Hodge
No Place to Fall. Victor Saunders
Elusive Summits. Victor Saunders
Exploring the Hidden Himalaya. Kapadia and Mehta
RGS. The Mountains of Central Asia. 1:300,000 Gazetteer
Artou Trekking Map to Ladakh and Zanskar. 1:350,000
AMS "U-502" Series 1:250,000
NI-43-11-Trans Himalaya, Anantnag.
NH-44-5-Gangotri, Dehra Dun.
NG-45-3-Kangchenjunga - East Side of Sikkim.
NG-45-4-Phari Dzong - West Side of Sikkim
Sikkim Himalaya (Swiss Map) Schweiz. Stiftung Fur Alpine Forschungen 1:150,000 (excellent map - but hard to find).
Leomann Maps produce a range of trekking maps which cover Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.