Lush green forest, tall pine and deodar trees, waterfalls, snowcapped peaks, and view so beautiful that it melted my heart. The tall dreadful mountains crushed my ego, making me realize how small I am in front of His creation and here I was, speechless and left only with love. Mountain does teach one to be humble!
Kheerganga is a mystical land, apart from being famous amongst hippies and stoners for quality hash. It is said that lord Shiva meditated here for more than thousand years. Over the years, this place has become more commercialized than ever. Breathtaking views, greenery all around with open meadows attracts many youngsters for trekking and spending a laid back time beating the summer heat of the plains.
We started our trek from Kalga village and descended through the Rudranag and Nakthan village. The trek was totally worth the pain as the journey to Kheerganga is as beautiful as the summit itself. One crosses many small and large waterfalls and the wooden bridges. The route through Kalga village takes you through the dense jungle of tall pine and deodar trees whereas as the route through Rudranag and Nakthan village is quite open giving a clear view of peaks on both the ends. It took us 4 hrs to reach the summit. All tiredness and fatigue were taken care by the hot water spring which is the best part of the whole trek.
Now, let me take you through both the routes and let the photographs do the talking.
Route 1: Kalga Village
Route 2: Nakthan and Rudranag village.
How to get there?
Barshaini is the base village for Kheerganga. It is approx.15 km trek from Barshaini. One may catch HRTC (local state transport) bus or Volvo bus from Kashmiri gate, Delhi to Bhuntar (HRTC bus costs Rs 350-400 while a comfortable Volvo bus costs Rs.1000-1200). Change the bus from Bhuntar to Barshaini. It takes approx. 12 hrs to reach Bhuntar and 3 hrs further up till Barshaini. One can opt either of the routes mentioned above. We personally chose to ascend via Kalga village and descended through Nakthan and Rudranag village.
What time to visit?
This route is open from May- November and is difficult to reach in rest of the year due to the snowfall. I would personally recommend visiting this place post monsoon i.e., September-November as it is less crowded as compared to the summers.
Where to stay?
Plenty of options are available at the top. The best and the cheapest place to stay is Dharamshala ashram which costs Rs.150/person for a night including meals. Please note that the non-veg food and drinks are not allowed in the ashram. Other stay options may cost Rs 400-600/night. Also, one may hire a tent or carry his own. Than Baba’s is one of the many cafes that provide facilities for food/ stay as per one’s wish.
Can this trek be completed in a single day?
Yes. That depends upon the physical fitness of a person. One can start for this trek in the early morning and return by the evening. It hardly takes 2-2.5 hrs while returning. But make sure to return before the dark as there are Himalayan bears in the jungle.
Can this trek be done alone?
Absolutely Yes! There is no need to hire a guide for this trek. The most common route is via Nakthan and Rudranag and the trails are very well marked up to the top. Trekking via Kalga is also very well achievable. The trails from Kalga are marked up to the waterfall cafe with sign boards and after that, both routes merge at the common point. If one doesn’t try to get off the trail and opt for short cuts, one can easily complete this trek through both the routes. You may also hire a guide from Barshaini near the hydropower dam which may charge Rs. 800-1000 for one way.
- There is no ATM in Barshaini. One must carry enough cash before hand. You can withdraw money from ATM in Bhuntar or further in Kasol (it is midway to Barshaini).
- Food is costly, although there are a variety of options available in the cafes. A veg thali may cost you Rs.120-150.
- Carry warm clothes as the weather remains cool throughout the year.
- Do not carry a heavy backpack. You can keep your bags in Barshaini. The rooms hardly cost Rs.300-400. For solo/budget travelers, you can visit Prem Cafe in Barshaini near the bus stand and request Meena Talwar (cafe owner) or her mother to keep your bag safely in their cafe for a day or two. They are very helpful and kind hearted. Do not forget to have some light snacks or meal in the cafe as an obeisance. (Shhh!)
- The way to Kheerganga further leads up to Pin Parvati which is the highest point of this trek and is a very difficult one. However, one may further trek up to Tunda Bhuj (10kms from Kheerganga), if interested.
- Respect nature. Do not litter. Dispose of the wastes properly.
- Total cost may vary from Rs. 4000- 5000/ person for 2-3 days.