Road Less Travelled: Why You Must Trek to the Fantastic Kheerganga

Why a trek to Kheerganga made me wish I could keep it could from the world.

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Lifestyle
5 min read
Kheerganga is a place I wished for the longest time I could keep a secret from the world. (Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)

Have you ever visited a place that you wished would remain a secret? Ever wanted to keep it from the world – and only for yourself?

Kheerganga is one such place for me.

A trek so beautiful that the physical workout felt like a picnic... a destination so picturesque that I felt like I was in the land of Heidi... a dreamlike natural pool surrounded by snow but warmed by hot springs.

(I’d often wonder on my trek if I was dreaming.)

The magic of Parvati Valley pulls me towards it at least once every year. (Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)
The magic of Parvati Valley pulls me towards it at least once every year. (Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)

With its ethereal viewpoints, cute villages, lovely locals and good vibes, the magic of Parvati Valley pulls me towards it at least once every year.

A few years back, one such journey resulted in a trek to Kheerganga. Back then, none of the people I knew had heard of it or had ever been to this place. The realisation that there was no mention of this place on Lonely Planet ended up fuelling my excitement to embark on this journey.

From Delhi to Tosh

On a late Thursday evening of warm April, I boarded a taxi from Paharganj to Kasol with some friends to start our trip. 550 km through the hills and 12 hours later, we were in Kasol. Once a quaint little river side town, Kasol has now become a jam-packed tourist destination. We stopped for a quick brunch in Kasol and headed off to a nearby village – Tosh. With no roads inside the village, Tosh has still managed to retain its otherworldly charm. It was not our first time here but we couldn’t help gasping when we caught the first view.

Beautiful people of Tosh. (Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)
Beautiful people of Tosh. (Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)

The Trek Begins

After an unplanned late night (which wasn’t a good idea), we woke up at 5 am to start our trek. Somehow, none of us were hungover – was it the magic of the Himalayas? We left our bigger backpacks back at our inn and carried a super light overnight backpack instead.

The main path to Kheerganga starts from Barshaini from where it’s an 11 km trek. Barshaini is 3 km away from Tosh.

On the trek to Kheerganga. (Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)
On the trek to Kheerganga. (Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)

The first few kilometres were hardly a climb. Our trail went through lush farms, small hills and villages along the Parvati River. We couldn’t help but stop on many points to let the beauty of our surroundings sink in. With not a single soul in sight, we thought we’d taken a wrong way until we reached the first village.

Rudra Nag Village and Beyond

The first village where we stopped – Rudra Nag – was near a waterfall. This is where we decided to take a little break and eat Maggi noodles. Beyond Rudra Nag, the woods became dense and the path became steeper.

The chai shop at Rudra Nag village. (Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)
The chai shop at Rudra Nag village. (Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)

The last part of the trek demanded a strenuous climb – before we were finally in Kheerganga!

Kheerganga is a spiritual site where Lord Shiva is believed to have meditated for 3,000 years. There is a little pool on the highest point here with warm spring water. The water from the hot springs is believed to be “holy” with healing properties.

The tiny pool of Kheerganga is what the village has been named after – which roughly translates to ‘milky water of holy nature’. This pool is divided into two sub pools with one section for men and the other for women.

Me, as I make the climb up to Kheerganga. (Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)
Me, as I make the climb up to Kheerganga. (Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)

The best part? The feeling of being immersed in warm water with mountains around that were covered with snow!

I do not recall how long we spent in the pool – but it was enough to suck the tiredness of the trip out of us. For INR 60 per person, we found an inn to spend the night next to the hot springs.

Next morning, we went back to the pool for another dip – before starting our trek back to Tosh. After a big breakfast, it was time to say goodbye to Kheerganga. While the climb up took between 4-5 hours, the way back was only 3. As always, there was a sense of achievement after finishing this trek.

Natural pool heated by hot springs – and a little patch of snow right next to it! (Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)
Natural pool heated by hot springs – and a little patch of snow right next to it! (Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)

If you are you planning on trekking to Kheerganga, please keep a few things in mind:

(1) You can reach Kheerganga by catching an overnight Himachal Tourism bus from Delhi to Manali, but get off at Bhuntar. This will cost you 1000-1200 and the buses are comfortable. From Bhuntar, head to Tosh or Manikaran, acclimatise for a day and start your trek from here early morning.

(2) Don’t carry heavy backpacks. Leave your luggage in Tosh or Manikaran and only carry light overnight backpacks with a torch, a pair of flip flops, a swimsuit, small money, toilet paper and a very thin towel. Kheerganga is cold even in summers so carry something warm in your backpack.

Kheerganga was my best trekking experience.<b> </b>(Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)
Kheerganga was my best trekking experience. (Photo Courtesy: Sonal Kwatra Paladini/Drifter Planet)

(3) Don’t try to trek up and back from Kheerganga in a day unless you’re okay with getting lost in the mountains in the dark and treating yourself to a Himalayan bear.

(4) Don’t leave your trash anywhere. Don’t be an annoying “noisy” tourist. Respect nature, the serenity of the mountains and the locals.

Kheerganga was my best trekking experience. What was yours?

(A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal Kwatra Paladini should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the famous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. She blogs about the madness of her journey on her website, DrifterPlanet.com, with her husband who she met at a music festival in Thailand.)

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