Besides cycling in my neighbourhood and touring cities and countries on my bicycle, I also love going on day treks and at times on longer multi-day treks. I don’t go out on treks frequently, but once in a while, you will find me chasing the mountains in my cities or in the Himalayas. In the last couple of years, I have gone on a couple of long multi-day treks like going to Hampta Pass near Manali and a trek to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal but the day’s treks which I have done in Manali, Goa, Northern Thailand and Mount Batur in Bali has its own unique charm. They are like a dose of dopamine which can instantly change your other way mundane day or week.
In the last year, I have managed to go on several day treks in my own neighbourhood of Ranchi and every time I am out there on a trek, I have regretted why I haven’t done trekking in my own city all this while I have lived here. The untouched beauty and simplicity of the local villagers never cease to surprise me. Every trek in Jharkhand will either lead you to a wild forest or green-covered mountains and waterfalls. And getting to explore these hidden gems in one of the most sustainable ways is perhaps the best thing one can do. Here is a list of some of my favourite trekking trails in Jharkhand.
I have talked a lot about Patratu Valley earlier as it is one of our all-favourite cycling routes but only recently I went on a couple of short day treks in the valley and it was kinda beautiful awakening for me. I realised that once you go a little deeper inside the valley on foot, it is way more beautiful than we all have experienced from roads or viewpoints. If you enter the valley from the Ranchi side, you will find smaller trails on both sides of the road. I have been on treks on either side of the road and both were easy treks with great views.
Pithoria Mountain Trek:
The first trek I went on was on the left-hand side of the road and it starts just before the Duarsini Temple. I would park my car/ bicycle at the Petrol Station just before the valley starts and then walk on the road till the start point of the trek. Once you reach the GPS coordinate, the trek will start just after the side rail ends on the left side of the road. You will see a well-demarcated trail starting from here. The trek takes you through a couple of small hilltops and finally ends at the top of Pithoria Mountain. The total trek was approximately 5 Km long and is a perfect sunrise trek. I would generally start 30 mins before sunrise, reach the mountain top, carry a flask full of hot chai and parley G, savour the perfect sunset from the top of Pithoria Mountain and enjoy the silence of the valley for as long as I can before trekking back. We don’t come back the same route but the trails on the south side of the mountain will bring you back on the highway close to the Petrol station where you parked your vehicle.
Rehra Top Trek:
The second trek happens to be on the right side of the valley and also starts from the same place but from the trail on the opposite side of the road. We first trek north, towards the Rehra Waterfall and then turn south again to start trekking towards Rehra Top. The waterfall isn’t much fun, so can be avoided but the trail makes it worthwhile. The trail takes you through small hilltops, a couple of tiny villages in between and some really beautiful stretches of green cover. The trek is best enjoyed during monsoons and winters. The trek is in a loop and ends exactly at the starting point. It is approximately 7 Km long and the last stretch of 700 meters takes you through some nice climbs.
Besides these two treks which I have done myself, there are plenty of trails worth exploring in Patratu Valley. The valley is entirely safe and can be explored on your own. Just remember to wear long pants and carry enough water with you.
Pro Tip: Health freaks regularly organise group treks in this region. You can follow them on Instagram for regular updates on treks in the region.
I ended up at Johna very recently and all thanks to Ekastha Foundation, an NGO working towards the better livelihood of the villagers in the region and conserving the environment of the surrounding. Ekastha has been organising treks in the region which is entirely managed by the villagers themselves. These villagers will be your guide to ensure you never get lost, will enrich you with immense knowledge about the local flora and fauna, and feed you with a hot breakfast in the remotest of regions.
We went on this trek only last week and were instantly mesmerized by the beauty of the region. We trekked through the lush green forest, spotting various birds and randomly stopping at viewpoints overlooking the vast green valley. On one of the viewpoints at the top, we even saw the majestic Sita fall in the distance and a train crossing it. I only wished that it was the steam engine and we could capture it well with our camera. We even got to know that there are over 15 bears in the forest and our guide even showed us the scratches done by these bears on trees. If you come here during the nighttime, you can even camp on these almost flat viewpoints and even see millions of fireflies glowing in symphony all through the forest. I’ve not seen it in this forest but in Netaraht and believe me, it is nothing less than magic.
The last section of the trek was my favourite where you actually walk on the ridge of the mountain which ends up at the peak of the mountain with a beautiful view of the valley and a tiny temple where local villagers come to worship. It was so beautiful that I was instantly transported to my moment at Crank’s Ridge in Kasar Devi, Uttarakhand.
Ekastha Foundation organises multiple treks in the region including jungle and riverside treks and you can reach out to them for organising treks any time of the year. They just need a minimum of 4 people to make the trek more sustainable.
If you have read my earlier blogs, I have shared in detail about how beautiful Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary is and how it is easily accessible from Ranchi and Jamshedpur for a weekend getaway. I have been there multiple times in a car and love spending my time over there but never had I dreamt of trekking to the top of Dalma Hill from the bottom. On New Year’s Day of 2023, I and my friends ended up doing exactly this.
We woke up early in the morning and drove all the way to the base of the Dalma Hills from where we intended to start trekking. The trek was 10 Km long (both ways) and is frequented by local villagers and worshipers. There is a well-defined trekking route on Google Maps and therefore it won’t be difficult for you to find the trails but be prepared for some steep climbs on boulders and stones. The 5 Km long trail is only a climb and therefore I will grade it as a moderate-level trek.
One of the most beautiful things about the trek is its transition from getting mountain views to being in the middle of a dense forest and later getting to see the entire valley from the top of the hill. Once we started trekking, we instantly realised that it isn’t going to be easy. We were half an hour into the trail when we reached a Ganesha Temple with priests and locals performing the daily ritual. It was a sign of relief knowing that we are on the right track. After resting for a while we started again and continued climbing till the top. I remember being completely exhausted in the last stretch of our climb but once we reached the top of the hill, it was worth every hardship we went through. We went to the Shiva temple, feasted on foods being sold at the top, refilled our bottles, took hundreds of photos and patted my own back for making it through this trek and the entire 2022 fabulously.
After spending an hour or so at the top, we trekked back to the base. The trek downhill was equally difficult and we need to be very careful with every step. It is a do-it-yourself trek and the best time to do it is from October to February.
The name says it all — Nature’s Heart. This tiny hill station is among my favourite places and you will find it here every time I had to run away from the mundane city life. There are plenty of trails in the region which can comfortably be explored on foot but two of the treks that I have done are trekking to the Lower Ghagra Waterfall and trekking in the Pine Forest. The region is part of Palamu Tiger Reserve and its rich flora and fauna are immensely fascinating for any nature lovers. The Trek to Lower Ghagra takes you through the dense forest for approximately 5 Km and you can experience the music of wilderness as you follow the trail. The trek takes you to the top of the waterfall overlooking the vast valley with a tiny pool to swim in and relax. It is an easy trek but recommended only during the daytime.
On the other hand trekking in the Pine Forest is like romancing nature at its best. It is a vast forest and you can keep walking as far as you can. I loved collecting Pine cones on the trail and would randomly sit in places for some beautiful views, feeling the mountain breeze through my soul. It is also a great trail to come with friends on a picnic.
Netarahat is 150 kms from Ranchi and is well connected by road. The last 30 kms stretch is climbing up the valley through dense forest which will compel you to stop for many photographs and videos. The place now offers several guesthouses and hotels for a stay but my recommended stay opens are the Tourist Hostel – Prabhat at the sunset point, Circuit House and Forest Guesthouse. There is also a camping ground called Naturahat Resort with luxury Swiss tents to stay in.
Just like Patratu Valley, Horap forest is also in the close vicinity of Ranchi and you can easily do day treks for sunsets and sunrises on your own in the region. There are plenty of trails which can be explored on your own but some of my favourites is the trail behind the forest guesthouse which takes you to the river and you can just follow the course of the river for as long as you wish. It is a paradise for bird watching and just to relax listening to the music of the forest and river.
These are all do-it-yourself treks and therefore carry ample water and some food to keep yourself energized.
I haven’t really trekked to the top of Parasnath but it is definitely on my bucket list. I actually rode to the base of Parasnath on a bicycle once and the route itself is very scenic and worth exploring. Parasnath is a Jain Pilgrimage and is the highest mountain in Jharkhand having an elevation of 1350 mt from the sea level. The mountain has a well-defined trail The weather gets really cold in winter and it stays pleasant throughout summer. I would go there for the vibes, and beauty and trek to the temples on top of the hill.
The Parasnath trek starts from Madhuban which is at the base of the Parasnath hills. There are two defined trek routes namely Gandharva Nala and Shital Nala treks which take you to the summit. Gandharva trek is considered sacred and mostly preferred the trekkers. It is a long trek of approximately 27 Km and it is recommended to start before sunrise to reach the top well on time.
Protips: Since most of these treks are in the wilderness, I would always recommend you to wear long pants, trekking shoes with ankle support, carry a trekking stick, ample water and some energy food.
Needless to say that trekking in Jharkhand is as safe as trekking in any other part of the world. You just need to respect the locals and their culture and use the basic common sense.
Kanishka runs a design studio for men’s ethnic wear in his hometown at Ranchi, India. He loves bicycle touring, playing with words, sketching and cooking. Traveling has always been the balancing factor in the juggle between work and life.
He had played a vital role in connecting and building the cycling community in Ranchi and is actively working with the local government and authorities to make the city cyclist friendly.
Kanishka is also a published author wherein he has published a book titled You & me, a collection of poetry penned by him mostly during the CoVID pandemic. The poems are an expression of his personal experiences, cycling adventures, places and conversations, himself and his world.