Surprisingly I was never a trek person. Even the shortest walk in my dad’s coffee estate would bore me to death. I never enjoyed trekking and would find reasons to tell myself a ‘NO’ to it whenever I had an opportunity to go on one.
Knowing that Kheerganga Trek had more to offer unlike other treks that ends up with a good view on reaching the summit, I took an interest in trekking to Kheerganga during my trip to Kasol, Parvati Valley. For those who haven’t heard about Kasol, let me introduce you to the mini Israel near Manali in Himachal Pradesh. Earlier a tourist hub for Israelis, Kasol is now a backpacker’s delight and famous among hippies who come from all around the globe. It is a perfect hideout for those who want to smoke up and the substance is easily available. This hill station is an ideal place to relax, to blend with hippie culture, to laze around Parvati River or go trekking. One has to cross Kasol to start the trek to Kheerganga. It will be ideal to include Kheerganga trek as part of your trip to Parvathi valley. Let me take you through my first ever trek that was truly magical and is giving me serious trekking goals.
“Kheerganga is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva meditated for 3000 years”.
What’s Up There?
Cafes, basic accommodation, hot water springs, temple and not to forget the view.
What to Carry?
Light backpack, flip-flops, toiletries, torch and jacket. Towel and swimsuit if you are taking a dip in hot water springs.
Where to Start Kheerganga Trek From?
Barshaini Village: Getting to Barshaini village might be little taxing. Take overnight bus from Delhi going to Manali. Get down at Bhuntar which is at a distance of 50kms before Manali. If you are already in Manali then simply take a Bus/Shared Taxi/Private Taxi to Bhuntar. From Bhuntar the road diverges for the magical Parvati Valley. At Bhuntar you can take a connecting bus or taxi to Barshaini. It will take good 2-3 hours to reach Barshaini via Manikaran and Kasol.
Duration of the Trek
There are two routes to trek to Kheerganga from Barshaini. Both of which start near the Barshaini Bridge and is around 10-15kms one way. It takes 3-4 hours for an average person and is advisable to trek during day light. To trek back it takes around 2 hours and the difficulty level of the trek is moderate.
From what I researched the most popular route is via Rudra Nag and is easier to trek compared to the other route. Initial stretch of this route is beautiful with lush green meadows, walking along roaring Parvathi River and crossing small wooden bridges
Other route which I took is via this beautiful serene village called Kalga. It is a 10 minutes steep climb from Barshaini Bridge to Kalga. There are few basic wooden homestays starting from 150rs per night with shared bathrooms. The owner of the homestay is often the chef as well as the waiter. I chose to stay in Kalga for few days before trekking to Kheerganga. It’s a good idea to leave your bigger backpacks at any of the homestays in Kalga and carry a small backpack if you decide to take this route. From Kalga follow the path and the arrow marking carefully.
Kalga Village on the way to Kheerganga Trek
Carry some munchies to fuel up your body. However there are 2-3 cafes during the trek in both the routes serving maggi, tea, chocolates and chips. Halfway on the trek both the routes join. Last leg of the trek requires a steep climb.
Food & Bed
Few cafes and restaurants serve limited north Indian, continental and Israeli cuisine. Tents, common space area and temporary rooms with shared toilets are available at reasonable prices. However during peak season, start to trek early so as to find a suitable stay after reaching Kheerganga hilltop as you will be left with fewer choice. If you are unlucky you might not succeed in finding a stay as few tour companies organise a packaged trip to groups and book stay in advance. If you end up in such a situation by paying a minimal amount you can sleep in any of the cafes on the floor. You can carry your own tents and pitch it as well.
Natural Hot Water Spring and Temple
The name Kheerganga translates to milky sacred water and the site is also a spiritual place. A temple is located on top of the campsite and is a 5 minute walk up the steps. The hot water spring pool is believed to be sacred with medicinal healing powers. You can bath in the pool which is divided into two. The women’s pool section is covered while the men’s pool is open. It gives you a feeling of being immersed in a natural Jacuzzi against the mighty mountains enveloped with clouds.
The first thing I could ever do reaching Kheerganga was to rush to the Hot Water Spring pool for a dip. I was deprived of hot water in such a cold weather for 4 days and it came as a bliss. It was very refreshing and I came back again the next early morning to enjoy the hot water pool all by myself. Please note that the pool is for everyone to use and you would end up sharing it with strangers.
So that you know
- I personally recommend staying in Kheerganga for a night as to and fro trekking can be taxing. Also it’s not safe to trek after day light.
- There is a small supermarket and bakery where you can buy toiletries and snacks.
- Respect the place, don’t be noisy and keep it clean.
- You will come across herds of donkeys either ascending or descending carrying supplies. Stay away and make space for them to pass by.
- You don’t really require walking sticks even though I noticed few carrying wooden sticks that they had bought at the start of the trek paying 20 inr each.
- A few tour companies offer Kheerganga trek packages starting from Delhi. If you don’t have a companion or hesitate to trek all by yourself, you can choose to take a good package deal. Group treks are fun where strangers become friends by the time you reach the camp site.
- As mentioned earlier in the blog, you can opt to leave your bigger backpacks in Kasol / Kalga / Tosh and carry a smaller overnight backpack to reduce the burden. There are few guest houses and hotels who charge 20 inr a day to keep your backpacks. Don’t dare leave any valuables or money in it.