Kheerganga: because the story of endurance should be a beautiful one

Kheer Ganga (3050 meters) lies at the extreme end of Parvati valley and the last inhibited village while trekking to pin valley via Pin-Parvati pass. Kheerganga’s panoramic skies and vast greenery are a much-needed delight to the trekker’s eyes and especially the tired legs. It is a holy place with a hot water spring, a small temple of Lord Shiva and a bathing tank. It makes a rare combination for any trekker to bath in hot spring water when everything is covered by snow. A typical 2 days and 1 night expedition on foot tests your endurance in its long and winding path and leave a lasting impression unmatched anywhere in Himalayas.

How to reach

Take your preferred choice of bus from Delhi to Bhuntar, a place in Kullu. The only choice here is semi-sleeper buses because of hilly terrain. As a recommendation, a multi-axle buses Volvo buses from Reo Travels are more comfortable with extra leg space. Ask the bus to drop you near the Bhuntar bus stand from where you have to catch a bus to Barshaini. Barshaini comes after Kasol, Manikaran and is the last motorable road in the valley. Buses from Bhuntar to Barshaini are frequent and the distance is usually covered in approx. 2 to 3 hrs. The journey from Manikaran to Barshaini, overlooking kalga village is a treat in itself.

It is at this point in Barshaini that trek to Kheerganga begins on foot. The journey of upwards is of 13 km and is relatively tough for first time trekkers.

How to plan

If you are starting from Delhi then reach Kasol in the morning via Bhuntar using an overnight bus and stay one day in Kasol (and do things for which people usually come to ‘Amsterdam of India’).

The best time to do this trek is summers when weather is pleasant in Kasol and cafes are in full swing. Avoid this trek in heavy monsoon as the well-marked track become slippery. Winters season bring a different sets of challenges which many trekkers are not always well equipped to face.

Starting next morning, take a bus from Kasol to Barshaini at around 9 or 10. On reaching there, there are two routes to Kheerganga, which need to be traversed on foot.

  1. The first route goes through the lush-green Nakthan village, and happens to be most preferred route. The trails are marked well enough and dhabas are more frequent during the trek. But the overhead sun and lack of shade makes it tiring.
  2. The second route goes via Kalga village, although it joins the main route halfway on the trek. This route passes through dense forests and on a hot summer afternoon, this should be the preferred route, although this requires greater caution in climb. It is quite possible for people to lose their way on this trekking path. Dense deodar forest paints the canvas beautiful and give many picturesque moments to capture. This route definitely is more beautiful than the first.

There is a different trekking path for Kheerganga from Tosh village. It also joins Route No. 1 near the village of Nakthan. This route is mostly used by tourists who stay in Tosh for the night and want to trek the next morning. Tosh nallah or Tosh river flows by near Tosh village which joins Parvati river near Pulga.

I went by Route No. 2 while going to Kheerganga and used Route No. 1 on the way back. Rudra-Nag waterfall – the sacred and spiritual site lies in the first route.

A trip to Kheerganga typically becomes a two day, one night trek. You reach the top at around 4 in the evening which is ideal time to indulge in hot spring. Overnight camping tents are available on demand at Kheerganga base. These local camping companies provide food and shelter at reasonable rates.

We booked a triple sharing tent via ‘Kheerganga Trekking Camp’ which were quite spacious. Our coordinators – sanju and team organized the place and set up kitchen to cater our needs. They provide blankets and hustle around to meet our chai needs. This place is cold at night so I would recommend warm clothes. Waking up early morning in base camp with lush greenery and blue sky is great for birdwatching.

Some trek guidelines:
  • The trail has tricky turns and requires good quality shoes.
  • Most cafes work only on cash here but ATMs are always running low or out of cash. Through the early part of hike, the mini-dhabas do accept paytm till the time there is network. At the top, there is hardly any network except for BSNL
  • Carry sufficient water, sneakers, etc as they are sold at prices higher than MRP and you would be low on cash.
  • If you are going in a peak season then you probably don’t need a guide. The trails are well marked and there are scores of travelers walking with you.
  • One can fill water bottles directly water springs
  • The buses between Bhuntar to Barshaini may look rickety but they are very timely. Always consults local for last bus before planning.
  • The hot water spring has separate enclosures for men and women. It close before 8 in the evening.
  • Shortcuts in the hike may look like a lucrative option but they are always riskier route.

Some of the images of the trek:

Overall a great experience. Happy journey!

The author of this blog post is by my younger brother, Mayank.

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