Ever since Kasol was part of my Himachal Plan, going for the Kheerganga trek was a no brainer. While a lot of travel companies charge a bomb for this trek, it’s actually pretty easy to do it yourself. In this guide, you will know everything there is to know to complete the Kheerganga trek all by yourself.
Winding & edgy roads, cascading waterfalls in the distance, turquoise blue rivulets, the quintessential “pahadi” villages, that occasional glimpse of a snow-capped mountain, bright sunshine and a perfect company of friends. If you let me describe the Kheerganga trek in one word it would be, “Surreal”.
How to reach Barshaini from Kasol?
It was a delayed start from Kasol. It was probably the cold or the tiredness from the journey and the hike the day before, all of us woke up pretty late. Quickly freshened up, had breakfast and waited for the bus.
The Kheerganga trek starts from a village named Barshaini. Barshaini is accessible both by Public Transport & Private transport. Public Transport is available every 40 mins from Kasol and costs about INR 30.
Reaching Barshaini from Kasol
Mode Transport: Bus or Private Cab or Shared Cab
Bus from Kasol to Barshaini:
Frequency: Every 40 Mins or so.
Price: INR 50
Private Cabs to Barshaini from Kasol: INR 1500-1800 for a cab fitting 8-10 people.
Shared Cabs to Barshaini from Kasol: INR 200-250 per person
We waited for the bus and after about 20 mins a seemingly calm box started rolling on the road spilling dust on the face of people standing by the road. It was the bus to Barshaini that too an electric bus.
I was so excited to see this change in such a remote part of the country. That too considering the fact that charging stations are not a feasible option at a frequent interval, this was remarkable progress. Once we boarded the conductor told us that the bus will only go to Manikaran and not beyond. When asked how to reach Barshaini from there, he said there will be shared cabs and buses available. This clearly meant more delays xD
Journey to Manikaran from Kasol
I boarded the bus and it was amazing. No harsh noises, just calmly rolling on the road leaving us immersed in the beauty around.
The road continued to tread towards the snow-capped mountains. Each turn revealed a distant hamlet, the roar of river Parvathi and alpine meadows.
It all seemed to be a dream but we were right there. In the middle of such raw beauty that didn’t seem to have any end at all.
Soon we reached Manikaran Sahib which is famous for the gurudwara & hot water springs. Since we were running late, we didn’t stop here. But, as he informed us earlier this was the last stop for the bus. Though he also suggested there would be buses to Barshaini we didn’t want to wait. As we didn’t know the frequency of the bus to Barshaini.
We asked around for a taxi and luckily there were a lot of taxis around. They charge around INR 1000-1100 from Manikaran to Barshaini. We were only 6 people but there were others who had to go towards Barshaini. We asked if they wanted to join us to split the fare and they agreed.
And the journey continued.
Journey to Barshaini from Manikaran
The journey from Manikaran to Barshaini was nothing short of a journey of a lifetime. The roads were narrow and time and again I wondered about the impeccable skills of the drivers. There were cascading waterfalls at almost every corner. The milky white water of the falls against the backdrop of lush greenery was nothing short of a dreamy landscape. The deep valleys gave us a glimpse of the wilderness we’ve to trek through and of course, the River Parvathi sticking by our side always.
The best thing is that the sun was shining bright and the sky was moderately cloudy. So, I would spot something white-colored in the air beside a huge mountain and assume it to be a cloud, only to be laughed at by the snow-capped mountain.
Kheerganga Trek base Camp: Barshaini
We reached Barshaini at around 12:50 PM. There were people in front of us who were just starting their trek. The people in front of us were taking two different routes. Clueless about why they were doing it, we asked the guards about the starting point. They said, there are two routes, one that goes through the hamlets & one that’s entirely through the forest.
River Parvathi divided these two routes. We thought we’ll take the forest route while ascending and the come through the hamlets on the way back.
We quickly entered our details in the register with the guards. And the trek starting point is the Parbati Hydel Electric Power Project that is under construction. We crossed over the dam and a stairway made of granite stones welcomed us.
and the welcome views
We took a small break after the climb was over. There are shops selling refreshments throughout the trail. While the availability of food may not be an issue, the cost could be. The cost of the goods sold, of course, climbs up along with you. So, stock up if you want to.
The trail flattened out a little after the initial climb and occasionally turned into a ridge walk. Soon it was time to cross the first bridge built over a water stream and then the meadows came. Meadows brought mules, the pine trees, shade and protection from the bright sun.
And soon the flat trail was over, we entered a raw trail. The only good thing about this trail was that there was ample shade.
Occasionally, we could see the hamlets on the other side of the valley. The views made me think about how tiny we actually were in front of those huge mountains. If they wanted, they could destroy us in a snap.
This is why one needs to travel, it makes you modest and makes you realize what a tiny place you occupy in this world.
We continued walking on the trail, it probably rained the night before, there were tree trunks on the trail. Trees fell down and blocked the trails. We carefully climbed up the trunks and crossed over. It was particularly a dangerous turn as the mud slid all the way to the bottom of the hill.
Kheerganga Trek: Midpoint Falls.
Climbing those numerous man-made bridges and rocky slopes we reached the midpoint at around 3:30 PM. A beautiful cascading waterfall marks the midpoint of the Kheerganga Trek. The last 400m or so before the midpoint Waterfalls was probably the toughest climb in the entire trail of the Kheerganga trek so far.
We didn’t waste much time there and took a few quick pictures and started trekking again. I had to reconsider my judgment about the climb before the midpoint as the toughest climb so far, as the climb after the waterfalls was definitely a notch above that.
View after the climb, you can see the elevation gain in such a short distance. In 20 mins another refreshing waterfall greeted us.
This was in the shadow region of the mountain so that water was very chill. We freshened up a little and took a small break by the stream. We had some biscuits and fruit. There is a forest check post to register your name for safety purposes.
We saw more landslides after the break. So, naturally, we slowed down a lot. But the pine trees were generous enough for us to take a glimpse of the meadows on the other side of the valley, the river and few distant snow-capped peaks.
A few pics of the landslides.
But like always,
There’s always a reward after taking a little risk. Isn’t it?
and presenting you with the prettiest waterfalls of the entire trek so far.
It was like a pearl white ornament embedded with the black diamonds that are the black stones. We continued the hike after clicking a few pictures at this fall.
Kheerganga Trek: Summit Climb
And after about 30 mins of intense climbing up the steep slopes with rocks scattered all over the trail, we reached the Kheerganga camping area.
It was a sigh of relief at the same time a moment of excitement. The camps were set up like a terrace farm you see in hilly areas. In the background was a brown snow-capped mountain.
Where to stay in Kheerganga Trek:
Stay Options at Kheerganga:
We quickly asked around for the price of a tent. Almost all the camping tents cost about INR 300-INR 500 with various amenities included. So, you can choose whichever you’re comfortable with.
Contact details of the tent where we stayed:
Contact Person: Tej Singh
Phone Number: 88944-84144 / 98051-35866
Name: Serenity Camp & Cafe
It started pouring heavily soon after we dumped the luggage in the tent.
The rain stopped at around 6:50 PM and the sky was still bright. The sunset hues just started taking over the bright blue sky. Now we had to get into the real business of why we came to Kheerganga.
Kheerganga is famous for the hot springs. The views from Kheerganga are rewarding for such a short and easy Himalayan trek. So, soon after the rain showered mercy upon us, we walked to the hot springs.
7:30 and there was still ample light around when we reached the hot springs.
Hot water Springs in Kheerganga Trek
We got into the water and boy it was so soothing. The muscles were all tired from the climb and this is exactly what was needed for them to not give up. The springs are actually further ahead but there’s a pipeline that carries the water from the springs and fills up a small pool built near the campsite.
There are separate pools for men and women. There are certain rules to get into the pool, mainly to maintain cleanliness. The landlady of the campsite we were staying in, said about the myth widely under circulation about the hot springs. It seems that the hot spring was originally a kheer ( a sweet dish made of rice) and in order for it to not get over, it was then converted to milk. Thus you can still find white flakes in the water.
After the soothing dip, we went back to the campsite. They arranged for a bonfire as it started to get really cold. I am usually used to cold temperatures and have a reputation of sleeping under the fan with full speed even in winters. But, boy, this was a different ball game. I was freezing even after putting on multiple layers of clothing, INCLUDING putting up a pair of SOCKS.
Soon it became pretty dark and because it just rained, the sky was pretty clear. The stars came up.
Friends, bonfire, zero signal, starlit sky, and laughter. This couldn’t have gotten any better. I could’ve taken a long exposure shot of the stars but then I had to take out the tripod, which unfortunately is made of METAL. Duh. So tough luck there.
And after a while, we went back into the tents and tucked ourselves under the thick blankets and slept off.
Sunrise on Kheerganga Trek
I woke up pretty early in the morning- 6:30 AM. I wanted to witness the sunrise but because the campsite is surrounded by towering peaks, I couldn’t see the sunrise but watched the sky change its color like a pretty chameleon.
We freshened up and it was time for round 2 of hot springs dip. Walked up again and this time, we spent a good 40 mins in the pool. It was again a much-needed dip to rejuvenate the muscles that may have become tight because of the cold.
After that soothing and refreshing dip, we came back, changed, had breakfast and left the campsite at around 9 AM.
Sun was shining bright again and the initial stretch wasn’t as tiring as this time it was downhill.
Lucky By Chance
So, as decided yesterday, this time we had to take a diversion towards the trail that goes through the Hamlets. But no matter how hard I remembered, I didn’t see any diversion on the route we climbed up. But we just continued walking back on the same trail. We crossed two waterfalls and had no clue where to take the diversion. But I don’t know how it happened but we randomly mistook some turn and ended up at the place we were searching for.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” And just like that, the universe put us on the right path.
We continued walking under the shade of the oak trees. There was a very steep descent, soon after we took the right turn as indicated in the signage.
To the other side: Kheerganga Trek
Once we reached the plain ground, a metallic bridge appeared in front of us. That was the path to cross over to the other side of the valley. This bridge was built over the Parvathi river and standing on top of the bridge, one could feel the loud roar and aggressiveness of the river. Also, the view of the river flow from the bridge resembled Lord Shiva’s third eye. Check it out yourself.
We started walking along the ridge and soon we spotted a temple and a waterfall. There were a lot of locals as well. Taking a dip in the waterfalls and offering prayers in the temple. The temple’s name was Rudranag temple and it seemed like there were festival ceremonies going on.
Hard Goodbyes to the beauty
We prayed from a distance and continued walking. Soon the tree shade was behind us, so was this mountain. But look at those shades of green. I have never seen anything like it before. Have you?
We continued walking along the ridges and more and more beautiful views presented themselves before us.
Unlike the other trail, this one was pretty simple. Hardly any steep climbs/descents in the entire duration of the descent. After 2.5 hours of walking, we entered the first hamlet. There was a temple in the middle of the village. Someone warned us before entering the village that the temples shouldn’t be touched.
If someone touches the temple by mistake, they will have to pay a hefty fine to the villagers and the villagers will ensure that the perpetrator isn’t let go until they pay. This was actually a strange ritual.
We carefully navigated past the temple without touching it. Again the myth is that the villagers are said to be descendants of Lord Shiva and hence they are the purest form of Adi Shiva. And impure beings like us (Yes, I am considered Impure) aren’t supposed to touch their temples or houses and make them impure.
We continued walking along the ridge, watching the river streams on the other side meet the roaring Parvathi river. Huge snow-capped mountains shined against a bright blue sky.
Accompanied by such mesmerizing views and an occasional glimpse of the wilderness behind us, we reached Barshaini at around 1 PM.
Barshaini to Kasol
Not sure about the bus availability and being exhausted we took a cab directly to Kasol. We actually left the baggage back at Moustache Hostel. So, we headed straight to Moustache Hostel and picked up our luggage, we had lunch and then boarded a bus to Bhuntar. We thought we’ll have lunch after reaching Bhuntar but that’s a story for another day xD.
So, that’s all folks. If this guide helped you to plan the Kheerganga Trek better, give a thumbs up in the comments.
Stay Tuned for more stories from my backpacking trip in Himachal Pradesh!
Asta La Vista!
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