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Sports climbing finally makes its debut at the Summer Olympics to be conducted in Tokyo in 2020 much to the cheer of many of India’s young climbing enthusiasts.

A fledgling sport, rock climbing and specifically bouldering, involves climbing small rock formations or boulders without a harness or a rope.

Sport climbing involves 3 separate forms with bouldering, lead climbing, and speed climbing.

Lead climbing involves measuring the distance covered between two climbers on a vertical wall while being secured to a rope and speed climbing involves timing the climbers.

Bouldering, by design, involves no ropes and climbers are allowed to more freestyle moves and relying purely on upper body strength, technique, and a whole lot grit.

1. Golden Boulders of Hampi

One of the most popular destinations for bouldering and most probably everyone’s first experience with climbing, Hampi’s landscape has been blessed with boulders like there is no tomorrow. Famous for its 800-year-old temples from the Vijayanagara Empire and Hippie Island, Hampi is considered the mecca of bouldering in India.

The boulders at Hampi offer a variety of styles ranging from slightly overhanging walls with positive and sometimes small crimps, great arêtes, to frustrating slopers, and impressive crack routes. In fact, some of the boulders are definitely considered high-ball.

Renting and purchase of gear is very limited in Hampi with Tom & Jerry Climbing being the most popular.

Best time to visit Hampi is post monsoon from September to February with summers being unbearably hot.

bouldering in Hampi- top 8 places for bouldering in india zen mountain gear shop
The Boulders Overlook the Rice Fields of Hamp- Image Courtesy

2. Turahalli Forest

Another bouldering destination close to Bangalore, Turahalli Forest offers over 5000 or so concentration of problems spread over what was once an 800-acre forest. The size of the forest has been reducing over the years with Bangalore’s infamous land mafia but that’s a problem to be solved.

A wide range of problems are available for every skill level – up to about 7C+ (V10).

The best days to boulder are Saturday and Sunday as you will see many local climbers flock to the area during those days. And they are usually happy to show new people around.

Climbing alone and later in the evenings (unless accompanied by local climbers) is not advisable as opportunistic muggings have been known to take place.

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3. Mahabs

Mahabalipuram, also known as Mahabs is a bouldering site south of Chennai. The area is dotted by many monolithic temples carved out of granite boulders and has been maintained in very good condition, more than 13 centuries later. Due to the nature of this location, drilling is not permitted. 

Bouldering at Mahabalipuram is the primary destination for climbers from Chennai. Numerous problems have been established in just the last couple of years here. The rock at Mahabalipuram can be sharp, and climbing usually involves technical moves on crimpers and slopers. Since its also a religious site, it’s better to keep a low profile while climbing.

Bouldering at Mahabs – Image Courtesy- Events High

4. Raogudlu

Raogudlu is a small nondescript hillock in Kanakpura. The rock here is granite. However, unlike the usual bald Turahalli granite, the rock here has wonderful features. There are several 30 ft cracks, laybacks, dihedrals, buckets, and scoops. The boulders range from the very small routes to about 50 ft high climbs, many of which can be top-roped.

5. Chatru

Chatru is one of the most beautiful destinations for climbing with high peaks and green grasslands. This tiny hamlet located at the entrance of Spiti Valley is part of the cold Himalayan desert landscape.

The crag around the place is home to some of the best quality Himalayan granite. The lines are smooth and distinct. A good mix of powerful problems and high balls.

People around the globe flock to the place during summers. There are a plenty of options for non-climbers as well. Chatru is accessible making it a good alternative to Hampi when  Hampi’s burning summers can prevent you from spending more time outdoors. Besides bouldering, the mountains surrounding the valley offer opportunities for serious mountaineers or bigwallers. Cahtru is also a great location for camping due to it’s off the grid nature.

Bouldering in Chatru - Top 8 places for bouldering in India zen mountain gear shop
Image Courtesy – Himalayan Brothers Adventures

6. Sethan

While Manali has been famous with trekkers and people heading to Kasol, it is one of the newest destinations for bouldering. Located in the beautiful alpine valley that leads to Hampta Pass are thousands of boulders. The abundance of rock has prompted local climbers to rent rooms in the small village and go to work doing first ascents wherever there are climbable lines. The recently conducted Manali Bouldering festival has really helped popularise this location among the bouldering community. With so many problems and easy accessibility, Sethan is sure to become one of the most popular bouldering sites in India.

Bouldering in Sethan - Top 8 places for bouldering in India zen mountain Gear shop
Image Courtesy – Inside Himalayas

7. Suru Valley

Picturesque Suru valley crowned with Mt Nun(7135m) and Kun (7,035m) is another new destination for bouldering. Made Popular by Jamyang who also organizes Suru Fest, an annual bouldering festival, Suru Valley, home to some of India’s hardest problems, is in Ladakh extending from Kargil to Panzella. The area is rich in wildlife with people sighting mountain goats, red bears, and even snow leopards. 

Suru Valley has untapped potential for all forms of adventure and extreme sports and bouldering is just the start.

sureu fest 2018 ladakh
Suru Fest, An annual Bouldering Festival -Image Courtesy- Suru Fest

8. Yaganti

Yaganti, near Hyderabad, is a red-granite/sandstone belt of rocks that runs across the Deccan Plateau. Enticing rock that’s not razor sharp and offers a physical, full-body style of climbing. Greater Hyderabad Adventure Club has largely been instrumental in opening up many routes here.

Share this with a friend who needs to go bouldering. 

Also read:10 Surf Schools in India to Help you Catch your First Wave

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