This summer, I and two of my friends decided to beat the Delhi heat by visiting a hill station in Himachal. And no, this was not Manali we planned for, it was Kasol (a more popular destination among the youth for certain reasons). For us, it was also about the trek to Kheerganga than just spending time in Kasol.
Delhi to Kasol-
From Delhi, you reach Bhuntar city (14 hrs bus journey), in the Kullu district, from where you either go to Manali or you take a different route towards the famous Manikaran Temple. On this route, just four kms before the temple, you arrive at Kasol, which is known for its Israeli cafes, river camping and its green grass. There is a village called Chalaal which is half an hour walk from the main market of Kasol and is known for even greener grass.
We reached Kasol in evening but we decided not to stay there. As it was the weekend, the place was bustling with a lot of tourists. Although the riverside camps were too enticing, we decided not to stay and left the place in pursuit of a much calmer stay at Tosh, 1 hrs drive from Kasol. Tosh is a small uphill village and earned popularity for its scenic beauty and the silence it offers. We booked a room in one of the many guesthouses there.
With 14⁰c in June (unheard in the NCR regions) we were at peace with nature and had a wonderful dinner in the open. Our next morning was planned for the best part of the trip, our trek to Kheerganga.
The trek to Kheerganga-
All geared up and energized, we had a filling breakfast and left for the starting point of the trek. This place is 4 kms down the hill from Tosh village. We couldn’t find a local taxi from tosh and thus decided to trek down by foot. It is an under construction Dam and down the dam is the river bed.
The guzzling ice cold water coming from two directions merges at this point. You can sit beside the river to enjoy the beauty and also offers a wonderful photo opp.
There are two different paths for trekking the mountains and reaching Kheerganga. First one is through the green hills on the right side of the river stream and the other one is through a relatively dry hill on the left of the stream. It is highly recommended that you take the greener path as you would find wonderful water brooks, waterfalls, huge trees all along the trek. This is a 13 km trek which takes 5 hours on average to complete. So it is suggested, that you start early in the morning.
This trek can be considered moderately difficult due to the sheer distance you need to cover. But the path to the destination was itself so beautiful, it filled us with excitement and we completed the trek 3.5 hrs. On our way, one of us stepped on a loose stone and his balance dwindled but was able to control himself. My friend made a symbolic remark
Carefully chose your stone which you want to step on
And we all were amazed by his philosophical wisdom.
Later, at one of the cafes on the way, we met a French solo traveler who is a big fan of Indian spirituality, religion and music. He has learnt flute from Hari Prasad Chaurasiya, he loves Hindustani classical vocals and now had plans to stay in Kolkata for learning dance. Interestingly, he is a Yoga teacher in France.
It’s a beautiful and serene hill top, surrounded by mountain ranges, trees and cloud cover. There are colorful tents spread across the meadow and a few cafes to serve food to the tourist. We reached around 4:30 PM and it was a pleasant weather. All our tiredness was gone when we reached there.
For stay, you can book one of the tents or there are wooden guesthouse rooms also available. We chose to go the wild way and booked tents for ourselves.
Now it was time to enjoy some food at a height of 3000m above the sea level. We recommend having Ginger Honey Lemon tea at the Lonely Planet café to wipe of all your tiredness.
The legend has it that Shiva and Parvati used to visit this place. There is a Shiva temple at one corner of the area. Besides which flows a hot water stream and collects in a man-made pond.
The story behind the name Kheerganga is that Shiva blessed the stream and there used to be Kheer (Hot Indian sweet delicacy made of milk and rice) which flowed instead of water.
Or probably white water like hot milk used to flow in that stream. We tasted the water which smelled like it had high quantity of Sulphur, which probably was the reason for its white color. Locals told that the whiteness is not the same as it used to be years back.
We had a relaxing bath in the evening in the hot water pond and it left us so refreshing. We took the blessings of the lord and came back to our tents.
This is when we had a chance to hear our French friend playing flute on our request. It was total bliss to enjoy the melodies on the hill with such a serene surrounding.
The wonderful aspect of the stay is you are away from technology, people, traffic and you can take a break in the lap of nature. There were very few light bulbs, we had weak mobile signals and no interference from man-made gadgets. We enjoyed our personal bonfire and then slept in our tents hoping there would be no bears or wild animals attacking from the jungle behind us.
Next morning was beautiful but we had to come down to get back to Bhuntur.
One of our friends (the one who who gave the philosophical wisdom earlier) was adamant on staying for one more day. But due to our professional commitments we had to come back and this time it was the other friend’s turn to payback with some of his wisdom.
Attachment is what holds you back
he said and we all laughed knowing that he has had his turn this time.
We came back to the river bed trekking down by 1 PM. Now we had to reach Bhuntur for an evening bus back to Delhi. Knowing the chances of long jam we decided to take a direct cab to Bhuntur from that place. As luck would have it, we met a 2 hours Jam due to an accident on the road, very near to the Manikaran temple. We got our chance to visit the temple, have the wonderful food at the ‘langar’ and come back to the cab finding it hadn’t moved an inch.
Soon, it cleared and we reached Bhutur missing our bus. We booked a private semi sleeper on the spot, took our seats and crashed, only to get up early next morning.