Although the Milam valley was opened to trekkers over a decade ago, few have yet to discover this spectacular corner of the Indian Himalaya, located close to the border of Tibet and western Nepal. It takes two long days to drive from India's capital to Munsyari, but then you have the peaks to yourself. There are many 7,000m peaks, including Nanda Devi (7,816m) – India's highest mountain.
This festival is held during the first two weeks of September each year. Archery contests, masked dances and polo matches all celebrate the region's rich Buddhist culture. At first it seemed like another tourist promotion. However, when I visited one of the archery contests beside the Indus River, I realised that I was practically the only foreigner.
Although travel advisories are still in place, I am forever hopeful that Kashmir will soon be firmly back on the travellers' circuit. Over the past three years it has been pleasing to note that in May and June the houseboats are packed with Indian tourists who also head to Gulmarg or follow the ancient pilgrimage trails to the Amarnath cave. When the time comes, stay at one of the five-star-plus India Palace houseboats, on the east shore of Nagin Lake.
Gary Weare has been associated with adventure travel company World Expeditions for nearly 30 years. He's the author of Lonely Planet's Trekking in the Indian Himalaya and is a founding director of the Australian Himalayan Foundation.
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