Kheerganga ( Kheer Ganga) in Parvati valley of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh offers a mystical journey into woods and is one of gifted abode for Natural Sulphur Hot water springs. The valley offers beautiful view of Parvati River and the Glacier of Lahaul Spiti. The valley echoes of mystical power of nature and has lot to offer to the travelers.
Kheerganga or Kheer Ganga as the name suggest is Ganga River ( the Ganges River) as White as a Kheer (an Indian sweet dish made from milk and Rice) The name Kheerganga came due to the milky waters of the river flowing in all its vastness and its streams flowing into Parvati valley from all sides of the mountain. The valley is so abundant in water resource that there is Hydel Power Project coming up in the village of BARSHIANI. Kheerganga is a hidden gem, Very few people know about this place, its beauty lies in being untouched!
Kheerganga is a small village in slopes of mountains. The other side of the mountain opens towards Lahaul Spiti valley. There are lots of popular treks in the area but Kheerganga is THE place to trek amid nature and and relax along with Hot spring baths. Kheerganga trek starts from village Barsheni which is motorable from popular religious place of Sikhs – Manikaran. Its a 22 km stretch in the mountains from Manikaran with Untouched nature and simple village landscapes.
The trek has lots of interesting spots enroute like a Shiv Temple, Rudra Naag Waterfall and lots of interesting rock formations. It also offer variety of flora on the way to Kheerganga and one can even trek towards Pin Parvati pass from this area. The Pin valley is well known for snow leopards and other secured wild life. Kheerganga is infamous for Charas ( Marijuana) as there is lot of cultivation of it in this area.
Kheerganga (altitude 9700 ft) is located in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. The place is well connected by road.One can reach by road using public transport Taxi / Bus or car easily. One can reach Chandigarh ad from there on to Chandigarh Manali Highway. Once you reach Bhunter, which also has an Airport, Kheerganga is 45 km by road. The route towards Kheerganga passes through Jari , Kasol and Manikaran.
The nearest village accessible by road is Barshaini/Barsheni and one can plan a overnight stay at Kasol or Mainikaran with all facilities. Though Barshaini village do have guest houses but a basic one with little resources.
While driving from Chandigarh it takes 5-6 Hrs to reach Bhuntar and another 2-3 hrs to Barshaini./ Barsheni The road is excellent till Bhuntar and after Bhuntar it is single road with reasonable built quality. You will love the drive to barshaini as it traverse along with Parvati River and sound of Flowing water sums up a distinct tranquility to your mood and experience. On the way you’ll get lots of restaurant and hotels. My Personal spot to stay overnite is Kasol. In Kasol, you will find all kind of cuisines. Kasol offers good stay , varied meals and excellent River view. The walk along the Parvati River is mesmerizing. You would find lots of Israelis and hippies in the area of Kasol and Kheerganga.
Google Map of Kheerganga ( Also Known as Khirganga):
Drive route to Kheerganga Base (Barshaini/Manikaran) From Chandigarh:
I had wanted to go to Kheerganga, since my last trip to Malana ( Watch out for the Next Blog post on Malana!). We went to Kheerganga in the month of May. Since I was to start from Amritsar ( The Land of the Golden Temple in Indian State of Punjab) We started early in the morning. After a long drive from Amritsar we decided to stay overnight at Kasol. The stay at Kasol was quite exciting as we could see lots of activities going around the market place. We could also see lots of Israelis and other foreign nationals roaming around . We checked into a descent hotel and walked around the area. Surprisingly Kasol had lots of restaurant and cuisine to offer. We chose a continental cuisine keeping in mind the trek will have little to offer on the food side.
Next Morning we started early. Had a sumptuous breakfast of Aloo Parantha ( Indian Bread) and omelet and started our onward motorable journey to Barshaini. We passed through Manikaran and took road going right from Manikaran ascending further into the mountains. We reached our starting point at around 10 am. We parked our car at road side and took our back pack and camping equipment ( Yes,its safe to leave your car there, dont forget to lock it though 🙂 ). I forgot to introduce the trekkers. We were total four friends on trek and all from different walks of life. Though other friends were from different parts of India but I being from Amritsar, we took our starting point as Amritsar.
The trek starts from the small village of Barshaini. When we reached there we could see a small village with wooden houses. There was a barrier at which we parked our car and loaded our self with back packs to start the trek. The route starts on the road and a small trail which goes down towards right leaving the road. The motorable road ahead leads to Hydel power project in making and is restricted for vehicles ahead of Barshaini. There is a small temple on the road from where the trail starts.
To reach Kheerganga there are two trails from Barshaini. One is via the village Kalga and the second is through Shiva Temple . The route via village Kalga is shorter but steep, slippery & dangerous. We took the other route as we wanted to enjoy the nature and explore the flora without putting our self to the danger of slipping and wet trail.
The trail was interesting, it started with semi pukka ( Half Constructed) trails as there is a construction going on for the Hydel reservoir for power project. We traversed along the project till we reached a mud trail towards a local village. The trail had full vegetation alongside. One can easily make out the route is well used by the local as the trail was broad and seasoned mud. The gradient was level and the ascent was not at all steep. We were just traversing the circumference of a mountain towards left. After walking for a while the trek opens into rich green fields. (refer photo below) Probably it was a Cash crop plantation by villagers.
The vast crop took me back to memory lane. I rush of scene from the movie Gladiator where Russel Crow after dying goes back to his village with his hands gently sliding on the top of the crop.
” I’ll see you again But not yet Not yet !”, I said to my friends and we all burst laughing.
After a while we could see few children crossing by and women holding the feed for cows on their head. A life so simple devoid of the complications of modern life woes!. Soon we were right into a small village. We could see children playing and Grand mother applying oil to grand children. Women could be seen in fields as well with cattle reminding me of Thomas Grey…
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor.
The life seemed pure and people true. We stopped by a small village shop to buy lemon drops and candies for the route. Children flocked around us in anticipation to get some sweets from us. It was a nice serene scene of a typical mountain village. The houses were built in a different manner as the bottom of the house was narrow and the upper part was broad. Do notice the photograph of the house below.
Kheerganga trek has variety of Flora. The green vegetation included Apple, Pears and Plum trees enroute, really a refreshing sight!
The trek gets even more interesting the moment one crosses the village. The gradient starts ascending gradually and the trail gets narrower. Next stop is the Shiva Temple. The sight is even more picturesque and serene. We stopped at the Shiva Temple for a break and found some local celebration was going on. There was langar ( Free meal served after Aarti ( final prayers)) offered by the temple as form of Prasad ( Food considered as left over from God’s food) and we all were invited by the local to join them for lunch.
Seeing the time we all decided to break for an Authentic village lunch. To our surprise we had an option for Non Vegetarian as well as Vegetarian meal. The goat is offered to lord as bali ( Sacrifice) and afterward it is cooked and served to villagers. We were served with rice , papad and Lamb meat. I should not forget to mention that the food was quite tasty and sumptuous. It was fun and frolic all around with villagers and children performing to their old Himachali Folk songs. Just along the temple is the Water fall and a small place to take dip. The water was ice-cold and none of had the courage to take the dip in the natural ice-cold water.
We continued our way up and from here the ascent got steep and difficult. Towards our right we could see a big steep water fall coming down from the mountain top as a glacier fed the fall with water. The water fall is popularly known as Rudra nag ( The Sacred Snake of Lord Rudra/Shiva). The Falling of Water is thunderous and can be heard from distance.
We passes through a deep gorge using a small bridge suspended mid-air, the view and feel was quite exciting. The two mountains were cut by a deep gorge and the only way to cross towards the other side was via a small bridge. (refer photo below). The gradient got steeper and the forest got denser from here. We had to stop to catch up our breath even after crossing small distances. The view got narrower as the mountain slope was getting steeper and the forest was not allowing much visibility. We crossed lots of small stream on foot. the trek offers lots of water crossing and ample source of water to drink and enjoy the natural minerals of the mountains. We were getting tired and exhausted. We ate all the snacks and food packets we were carrying to reduce weight of the back pack and to over come fatigue but the mountains were not coming to an end.
Another interesting aspect of Kheerganga trek is the water stream flow all through the trek. You would hear sound of water all through the trek sometime nearer and sometimes farther.
This is the time when you realize that we humans are too small in front of these mighty and vast mountains!
As we were getting nearer to Kheerganga the forest went denser. There was a place where trees were so tall and thick that soil could hardly get a share of sun light and there were patches where wild flower bloomed showering all colors to the trail. the trail went difficult with each step. We crossed two women travellers, one from France and other from Israel. While catching up our breath we chatted with them. They told us “all your pains will be lost the moment you reach Kheerganga” making us all charged up again to continued our ascent.
The moment we entered Kheerganga the view was breath-taking. All of sudden the mountain was green with meadows and there was huge land mass with no trees but greenery every where. The mere sight of Kheerganga gave us energy and enthusiasm back. It was about to get dark and we all decided we will camp at Kheerganga despite having lots of lodges to stay.
The Camp and Hot water Springs:
On reaching Kheerganga we were tired and sun was setting down fast. In mountains,as the sun goes down the darkness takes over faster than we can expect. But the decision of staying in the tent and to set up a camp site was unanimous. We started walking towards the right of Kheerganga leaving the main area towards our left. After walking 5-10 mins we could see a beautiful level ground for pitching our tents. It seems that the spot was extensively used for tent pitching as the ground was well leveled and burnt logs with ash were already present. I shouted towards other members to assemble and start pitching the tent as the time was running against us. I unpacked my tent and task was divided in two groups. I and another friend took the tent pitching task and the other two were told to fetch some fire wood.
We took the layers of tent and starting digging the pickets and tieing the slings. In half an hour the tent was up and firmly pitched and by then the sun was down and as per calculation the area had become pitch dark. We somehow managed to take our torches and continued the work. The mats and the sleeping bags were to be unrolled and laid. By then the other task force had come back with wood. The camp site was ready with all basic amenities functional.
None of us had rested after reaching Kheerganga and were dead tired. The mountain around had slept and were getting disturbed with our giggles and laugh. We lighted our bon fire and took out our woolens as the temperature was dipping fast.
Yes I forgot to mention that I was surprised to see the Electric lights in far huts around. Yes Kheerganga had electricity. I ll tell about it in next para.
After resting a while along camp fire we decided to have our dinner. We decided to depend on local arrangement instead of preparing our own food. We identified the nearest inhabited hut as no one had energy left to walk far after the strenuous trek. We walked to the lodge and asked for available food and then was the second surprise. The menu in the lodge had almost all cuisine available. Even the Israeli food besides Chinese and Continental food was available with whole lot of desert options. We ordered our dinner and were delighted to eat a warm, well made dinner. Soon we retired into our tents and the second night of our journey was in tent beneath the black sky and twinkling stars.
The experience in sleeping in tent at that height and wind was enthralling. The experience for all other three members was totally new as this was their first night in tent. We hanged our torch at the middle of the tent and all four of us were in our sleeping bags with our tent at its full capacity of four person. The night was good and one member could slept due to loud whispering coming inside due to wind and fluttering of tent cloth.
Morning at Kheerganga, was calm,quite and picturesque. We got up early in the morning and saw the Mighty Himalayas in front of us with sun rays lighting up one part and the other part still dark. The sky was royal blue and small white clouds were adding a distinct lustre to the scenery. The meadows around our camping site were gleaming with green color. It seemed we were in heaven. The scene was so serene and beautiful that I fell in love with Kheerganga and the Himalayas. At our back shimmered the white snow at few yards distance adding another color to the scenery. You think of any color of nature and it was present in Kheerganga.
Welcome to Kheerganga…
After coming out of mesmerizing morning affect our nature’s call knocked us. It was morning and bowel was asking us for relief. We took our empty mineral water bottle and went in woods for the nature call while filling water from a nearby water stream. The morning had a fresh toast of nature and freshness. We decided to go for our bath at nearby hot water springs at main Kheerganga area.
We took our towels and change over and headed towards the main Kheerganga town. It was a small walk via the main settlement area and we reached the bathing area. There was a big pool of hot natural spring water with two divisions. The open area was for males and the second division was for ladies and was covered with wooden planks and plastic roof. We took off our clothes and had a fresh hot water dip. All our pains and joint fatigue vanished. We were really enjoying the dip and were wondering how come water is so hot despite the cold mountains around. That’s what Nature is . We were in lap of the Mother Nature and there could not be a better feeling then that!
We were joined by other men in the pool for bath and we realized there are number of foreigners residing in Kheerganga. There were Israeli, French and Austrian people around us in pool. We remained submerged in the Natural Hot water Pool for around 45 mins then we came out and took a soap bath outside the pool. The soap is not allowed in Hot water springs and can be used only outside the pool where the water is drained out from pool via taps. The effect of hot water springs was so intense that we all felt hungry and it felt as we were starving. We dressed up and ventured into the main Kheerganga village and had our breakfast. Ohh what a way to start the morning. No wonder why people love to be in lap of nature.
It felt as if there is no negativity , no fear, no stress, no modern era pressure and only that was present there in abundance was positive energies and Nature.
I was in love with Kheerganga.
We spent the day in leisure mode. There were couple of lodges with variety of occupants. One lodge was managed by a french women and was serving variety of cuisines. We could find a vegetable shop for local and purchased few potatoes for the evening barbecue.
There was a small trail going ahead of our camp site and we decided to follow the same. It lead us to another bigger camp site and we found few tents already pitched with some foreigners enjoying music and hoopla. We met few of them and spent time with them. Most of them were smoking charts ( Marijuana). The place /camp site had a frozen stream coming down from glacier above us. We explored the area and found the village has their improvised electricity production using a make shift water propelled dynamo. So that was the secret of Kheerganga having electricity.
We were enjoying our day at Kheerganga. Took a stroll had our lunch and slept under sun in green meadows.The place offered all comfort of nature with blend of all urban food delights. We ate, roamed, sang and slept. One of our fellow trekkers had his birthday coinciding with our second day of Kheerganga. We created a bon fire for him and made some barbecued potato with lemon and Black pepper. Then came the desert from the nearby lodge or guest house. What a way to celebrate a birthday!
Next Morning at Kheerganga we saw some foreigner performing yoga and acrobats. we were quite spell-bound with nature and the way the people were thoroughly enjoying their stay at Kheerganga without having any inhibition and pre conceived notions. The more we stayed at Kheerganga more we getting up close and personal with nature. The trip will always have a long-lasting memory in my mind.
The friend’s fun.
Kheerganga trek and camping stir lots of thoughts in my mind. On the way up we met innocent villagers. The guest house ( we depended on for food) was managed by a Smart Himachali guy from Manikaran. He was at Kheerganga along with his son and accompanied by a Nepali boy who assisted him in food and other chores of the guest house. We also met a french women staying at Kheerganga from past three years staying along with a villager and running a guest house with him. We met few foreign national who had left their homes and exploring world for years altogether and were in Kheerganga for past couple of months. The travelers come their,enjoy the nature, some sang and merry, some smoked…..trying to reach Nirvana. Some were finding peace in doing Yoga, some in doing a rejuvenation therapy and some in enjoying the Hot water springs.
That’s how life should be. In modern life we look around and get influenced. All we gain from the surrounding is stress, comparisons, jealous show offs and ruining one’s body by wrong lifestyle choices.
We get up in the morning and the race begins….. race to jobs! Forgetting to thanks god for the beautiful day he has given to us. Race goes on and on… we finish late from office, come back home with all stress and complications, on that excuse we take short cuts on our food and health. We resort to quick comfort food and in name of distressing watch TV further straining eyes or drink a glass of whiskey. But in the entire regime of modern urban rat race we drift away from the nature and earth…the cause of our being alive…. the reason why we are here on earth.
Being in Kheerganga for these three days I connected back and realized what idiots we have become and what false world of self-gratification are we living in. I realized how one can transform ones life into more peaceful being and how one can be closer to mother earth!. How hugging a tree could take away all the worries and stress we carry. How a careless sleep in green meadows could unwind you and your mind.
I felt like leaving the materialistic world and get settled here. Away from the judging eyes and society, away from the urban vices, away from the race of proving but nothing, away from the supremacy of money.
Just to be closer to nature and closer to God !
That’s what Kheerganga is !
The legend of Kheerganga:
There is old Shiva temple in Kheerganga. It is said that Kartik, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati lived here in Kheerganga. Kartik was so mesmerised with the place and the mountains that he meditated here for thousand of years. You can find many stories of legends from the local villagers and they are quite excited to tell the stories. It is a ritual to pay homage to the temple every morning before you enter the pool to take bath.
Places around Kheerganga:
Kheerganga is a great getaway destination and can be reached overnight from Chandigarh and other major places in north. One can do lots of things in and around Kheerganga.
1. Snow line: One can go ahead of Kheerganga and can reach snow line in three hours. You can have a good experience of snow and glaciers.
2. Pin Parvati Trek. One can go ahead to Pin Parvati from Kheerganga. The Trek is hard and needs preparation.
3. Mantalai Lake.(13500 Ft) To experience high altitude lake this is good option.
4. Manikaran. A popular Sikh religious spot en route to Barsheini. Known for Hot water Sulphur springs.
5. Kasol. It is small quite town before you reach Barsheni and Manikaran. Famous for River side spots, foreigners and base camp to many important trek routes in the region.
There is another very intresting trek in Parvati valley The MALANA TREK. I have written post on the same with my experience and detail information. Do visit the trek at the following link.
Climate, Clothing & Preparation:
Kheerganga is open seven month in year for trek and is cold. The top is windy and needs proper clothing during night. Prefer carrying multiple layers of T-shirt along with a sweater and a Jacket. Good hiking shoes is must as terrain is rough and sometimes slippery. A Back pack with 50 to 60 litre capacity is good choice and depends how long you want to stay there. Personal toiletries should be carried and first aid box with soframycin, band-aid, crocin , Norflox ,Brufen, disproof Vomistop and bandage is a good practice to carry while on trek. Torch with spare batteries is must ( Do remember Batteries drain out faster in cold).
The trek is easy and light walks of 30 Mins daily are advised for two months prior.
Kheerganga itinerary can be customized as per personal requirements and interest. We followed the below itinerary for Kheerganga trek.
Day 1: Amritsar to Kasol. Stay overnight at Kasol with good options of Stay and River view. Good food and lots of active foreigners can be seen.
Day 2: Kasol-Manikaran-Barshaini- Kheerganga: We started early in the morning from Kasol and started the trek from Barshaini by 11 am. reached Kheerganga by evening and camped.
Day 3: Kheerganga Camping and site seeing : We stayed the entire day at Kheerganga taking bath at Hot water springs and exploring the area in leisure mode.
Day 4: Kheerganga – Kullu: We started from Kheerganga after taking Hot water Spring bath and reached Barshaini by late afternoon. Had our lunch and reached Kullu by evening and stayed at Kullu overnight.
Day 5 Kullu- Amritsar. The last leg of travel and we drove directly back to Amritsar.
Facts and Tips for Kheerganga Trek:
Kheerganga is one of the best nature trek in Himachal Pradesh. It is open seven months a year and maximum height you gain is 9700 ft. The place is well-connected by road till Barshaini and it take 5 to 7 hrs to trek. The distance covered is 14 Km on foot.
Best Time: April to November. Though you can reach in winters too but the trails is slippery and very dangerous.
Stay and lodging: Kheerganga offers basic accommodation in village. There are numerous option for guest house available to stay overnight and cost as less as Rs 150 per night per Bed. No attach toilets are available in any of them.
Camping: One can camp with own tents in Kheerganga. It offers few good sites to camp. Once you reach main Kheerganga area explore the meadows on to your right.
Food: You need not worry at all for food as there are lots of option starting from Indian food to Continental and Israeli food. Though the serving ambiance is basic one.
Himachal Pradesh tourism: http://himachaltourism.gov.in/
My final words about Kheerganga would be, it is a great trek and the best short getaway destination in Himachal. though a short trek but have lots of things to offer. For beginners this trek is the place to be.
Kheerganga will not disappoint you in any ways. I am sure it will open a new horizon in your life and will add new dimension in your attitude towards life and nature.
For any assistance or query do feel free to place a comment below and I will be glad to assist you in all possible manner.
Groups Can call me at +91 9915677660 if you require myself to accompany the group as I am always ready for the adventure and can cross the dotted lines to attain the same.