I first came to know about the Kheerganga trek from a fellow traveler, whom I met on a trip to Rishikesh. He said if you love nature and hiking, then this is a must do if you are around Kasol. In October 2016, I went for a backpacking trip around Himachal Pradesh. I made a couple of friends at Zostel Manali and together we went for the Kheerganga Trek.
To reach this bountiful expanse of green, you have to trek around 14 kms from Barshaini, a village near Kasol. You can reach Barshaini by bus or cab from Kasol. We took the cab as it was almost 11.00 am when we left the hostel. We were dropped right at the beginning of the trail.
Note: You can also trek from Barshaini village, but the walk is just on muddy roads. So if you are in a group, its best to take a cab till the starting point of the trail. And it’s best to start early so that you get to spend more time at Kheerganga.
Once you cross the bridge over the Parvati River at the start, there are two routes you can take.
Route 1: Take a left from the bridge and ask anyone the way to Kheerganga. This is supposed to be easiest route and the trail is also easy to follow. You don’t even need a guide. We took this route.
Route 2: Take a right and hike to Kalga village and from there you cut through the forest to reach the top. It’s possible that you might lose your way here, so its best avoided unless you have a guide with you.
The trail starts with a gradual climb and leads to a narrow cliff side path with views of mountains on all sides. The slopes on the other side of the valley are dotted with trees bursting in their bright yellows and fiery reds.
The Parvati River remains your constant companion on one side and the roar of its tempestuous waters can be heard even while camping at the top. The massive rock faces that tower over the forest under a clear blue sky look straight out of a wallpaper.
There are a few small villages that keep cropping up along the way where you can stop for Maggi and tea. After a continuous walk for about 5 kms on gradual ascents and descents, we took a break at one such village. After gulping down a bottle of lemon water, we started off on the trail again.
The cliff side path ended at Rudranag waterfall, one of the many waterfalls we encountered on the trail. We stopped for rest just before the forest trail started.
Sitting on the edge of a gorge, we watched the emerald green waters of the river below. I have always believed that it’s important to find moment’s like these, where you just pause and absorb nature’s beauty.
A bridge connects you to the forest trail from where the steep portion of the trek starts. This bridge is a point where the beauty of the trek reaches a crescendo.
There are gushing waterfalls over massive rocks, a green lagoon is formed underneath the bridge, the foaming river is swelled up the most and the forest with its myriad colors just leaves you spellbound. Neither could my camera capture the beauty of this place nor can my words do justice to it. It needs to be experienced.
The forest trail takes around 2 hours. The trail from here is steep, but not as difficult as what most locals will tell you. Once this portion starts, it’s an uphill climb initially, but it quickly reduces to a trail of alternating mild ascents and descents.
We got a furry friend as a guide at a pit stop we took on the uphill section. Of course, there are no free lunches in this world. A packet of biscuits was offered as a token of appreciation.
The forested section gives you respite from the sun and the ambience is calm and peaceful with the rumbling noise of Parvati River blending in seamlessly with the tranquility of the place. There are massive trees bordering the trail and occasional waterfalls enroute, making it a visual feast.
Following the forest trail till the very top, we reached Kheerganga. It took us a total of 4 and half hours, including breaks.
There was only one place on the forested section where there was a slight confusion about the route, and where we relied on the better judgment of our four legged friend. Otherwise the trail was fairly intuitive.
The first thing we did after reaching the top was rush to the natural hot water springs. Bathing in those warm waters just washed away the fatigue from the trek. And you could not have asked for a better location.
The spring faces the rocky mountains and as you get refreshed watching the last rays of the sun leave their surface, your heart just swells up in jubilation.
Where to stay: There are tents and basic wooden houses. They start from INR 200 per day. And yes, they don’t come with attached toilets.
Best time to visit: The best time to trek to Kheerganga is from March to October. In the peak of winters (December onwards) the trail may get blocked by snow and accommodation options won’t be available