While checking photographs from my trip to Kheerganga (Khirganga), I was also reminded of the lack of proper information about the trek on the internet and travel blogs.
Here is an attempt at making a step-by-step guide on trekking to Kheerganga (Khirganga) on your own. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below : Thanks 🙂
Kheerganga is located deep in Parvati Valley (Kullu Valley) and is perched at an altitude of approximately 2950m.
Reaching Bhuntar on the Delhi-Manali Highway : To reach Bhuntar, one can take a private Volvo bus that leaves from Majnu Ka Tila or Rama Krishna Ashram Metro Station in Delhi. A recommended and timely option is taking the HRTC Himsuta Volvo that leaves from ISBT Kashmere Gate. All the Volvos from Delhi leave in the evening and reach Bhuntar at around 5 am to 7 am in the morning.
Bhuntar is the village from where the road diverges for Parvati Valley, it is also the confluence point of Beas River with Parvati River. Ask the bus to drop you near the Bhuntar bus stand from where you have to catch a bus to Barshaini. Barshaini comes after Kasol, Manikaran and is the last motorable road in the valley. Buses from Bhuntar to Barshaini are frequent and the distance is usually covered in approx. 2-3 hours. It is better to have breakfast in Bhuntar while waiting for the bus.
Barshaini : Barshaini is a small town with a few staying options, and has basic dhabas, a taxi stand and a wine shop. If you have to buy any supplies, it is recommended that you buy them from here. A small road from here diverges to go to Tosh village, which is around 3 kms from Barshaini.
The Parvati River thunders down the gorges and is visible from Barshaini and also flows adjacent to the village. The natural beauty of Parvati Valley has been adversely affected due to the hydro power projects on Parvati River near Barshaini & Pulga. Timing of the last bus from Barshaini to Bhuntar is either 2 pm or 3 pm, confirm the same with locals before deciding on the return journey.
Trekking routes to Kheerganga :
The trekking distance from Barshaini to Kheerganga by any of the routes is around 9-10 kms. There are three routes from Barshaini to go to Kheerganga.
- Walk to the bridge after Barshaini and take the left turn, ask anyone the way to Nakthan village and Kheerganga. This is the shortest and most preferred route and takes 3-4 hours for a person with average trekking speed. This route is on the left side of Parvati river. The path through Nakthan is the most popular route to trek to Kheerganga and the trail is well marked.
- From the bridge, take a right to hike up and reach Kalga village. From Kalga there is a different trek route to go to Kheerganga, although it joins the main route halfway on the trek. This route passes through dense forests and it is quite possible for people to lose their way on this trekking path to Kheerganga. It is used by very few trekkers because most people do not know about this route.
- There is a different trekking path for Kheerganga from Tosh village. It also joins Route No. 1 near the village of Nakthan. This route is mostly used by tourists who stay in Tosh for the night and want to trek the next morning. Tosh nallah or Tosh river flows by near Tosh village which joins Parvati river near Pulga.
I went by Route No. 2 while going to Kheerganga and used Route No. 1 on the way back.
Planning the trek to Kheerganga : Since it is likely that one will reach Barshaini by 11 am – 12 noon (if the bus connection to and from Bhuntar works fine), most people trek to Kheerganga on the same day. The time taken to trek to Kheerganga is usually 3 to 4 hours depending on an average person’s speed. It is a fairly easy trek – on the difficulty level and can be ideal for a first time trekker.
If you want to do a day hike to Kheerganga and come back the same day, it is possible to do it provided one leaves early. It is best to reach there anyhow by noon, enjoy the natural hot water spring bath, eat lunch and leave by 3. Remember that usually the time taken to go back is half of what you’d take while hiking up, so one can get back to Barshaini in 2 hours from Kheerganga.
Homestays : Barshaini has a couple of homestays in close vicinity. Tosh is a popular destination and has many options to stay, ranging from hotels to homestays. The recent tourist rush in Tosh has meant that the prices of rooms have gone up. There are also a number of colourful cafés in Tosh. On the other side Kalga village has cheap and basic homestays, with in-house cafés as well. Prices per person to be paid (depending on the season and crowd) are from Rs. 100 – Rs. 200 per day.
The Route : Whichever path you choose, the beginning of the trek is a short gentle climb. The way to Nakthan passes gorgeous apple orchards but can get tiring and hot on a sunny day, in the absence of a tree cover. Towering deodhar trees line the path from Kalga and the dominance of nature is evident on that route. Nakthan village is a traditional Himachali village with small wood and stone homes and also has a few cafés for travellers and trekkers. In recent years, a few homes have also started offering staying facilities for trekkers. Route no. 3 from Tosh joins Route No. 1 just after crossing Nakthan village.
After crossing the village, Rudranag Temple is only a short walk away. A serene waterfall is very close to the temple and one can fill water bottles from there. Also for pilgrims, there is a staying hut nearby (dharamshala) which was closed when I visited. There are also two small cafés near Rudranag temple. The sound of Parvati river rushing through the gorges is like music to the ears. There are fine views of pine forests towering near the mountain peaks. Remember to carry some candies with you, e.g. I carry alpenliebe which is a great choice on uphill climbs, it helps the throat to not get dry and also provides energy from sugar.
Around 30 minutes after Rudranag temple, the trail will reach a bridge to the right – just before the bridge is a lovely dhaba with basic staying facilities too; in case of an emergency or starting the trek late from Barshaini. Around this point, Route No. 2 from Kalga joins the main route (i.e Route No. 1) and an uphill climb begins. There are sometimes shepherds going with their flock of goat and sheep (that cause traffic jam!) to the green meadows of Thakur Khan which is after Kheerganga.
There are a number of shortcuts on the entire trek and it is well advised to not take any of them. These shortcuts are mostly used by the sure footed locals and trekkers have many a time had fatal experiences when they slipped and fell into the river after trying to take a risky shortcut.
Around the halfway point on the trek, one comes across a huge waterfall with a solitary dhaba café on the right side. It is recommended to fill your water bottles here, as the water is clean and pure. Most trekkers take a short break at this place named Shalom Waterfall Cafe and enjoy a maggi or some snacks, before making the final push to Kheerganga.
The trekking trail becomes a little difficult after the waterfall; a continuous climb begins which can be testing for first time trekkers. The path hereafter is well marked and there is little chance of anyone losing their way. Remember it is not a race and that everyone has their own pace, so walk slow and steady, enjoy the scenery of the forest and reach Kheerganga. The uphill climb is definitely tiring, the good bit is that there are nice spaces to sit in the shade of trees where the cool air helps much in relaxing. Remember to keep a lot of water with you and not empty it before you reach Kheerganga.
Around 45 mins before reaching Kheerganga, there is a beautiful view of a flowing waterfall on the path itself. There are two very scenic cafés with gorgeous views here. In case accommodation is not available at Kheerganga, one can sleep in the common space for a small charge.
When you’ve walked and walked, the path will wind one final time and the first of the yellow and blue tarpaulin covered huts can be seen. This is the start of Kheerganga, there is a cluster of huts and cafés near the temple and natural hot water spring which can be covered on a 10 minute walk. The temple and hot water spring pool is located on top of all the huts and campsites.
Where to stay in Kheerganga? : Kheerganga has become a very popular destination for young adventurers during the summer months. There are around 8-10 huts offering rudimentary staying facilities in Kheerganga. Depending on the season, weekend crowds and weather – it is easy to find accommodation in Kheerganga even if you haven’t booked in advance. There are options of private huts and rooms for couples at 400-500 Rupees per room. Common sleeping space is available (a comfortable bed and blanket) at around 100-200 Rs. per person. Remember that the bathrooms are mostly shared ones and it is almost impossible to find a room with an attached bathroom.
There are no hotels to stay at Kheerganga but simple places. All the staying places have either an open air café (during the day) and a closed eating space with heating arrangements for cold evenings. Some big cafés and restaurants have space for as many as 50-100 people to sit and eat at one point of time. Food is quite expensive at Kheerganga, so it is recommended to carry a packet or two of bread with nutella; and also carry chocolates to munch and provide energy while on the trek.
Some tented accommodation may also be available on the green meadows that is a short distance away from the other cafés. It is also possible to pitch your own tent by paying a small fee in Kheerganga. A few companies offer weekend trek packages to Kheerganga – with prices from Delhi, which may be a good idea for group travellers. Their common eating space is nice, and with an evening bonfire a packaged deal for Kheerganga may not be a bad idea.
Another option for trekkers can be staying in the common rooms at the place called Ashram, it is maintained by the monks, pandits and sadhus. Prices at the Ashram are 150 Rs per day per person including food. Meals include dall, rice and chapati.
If one is arriving at Kheerganga late in the evening, then it can become a dicey situation in case of bad weather when all staying options are found to be packed sometimes.
Local Legend of Kheerganga : Lord Shiva (some say it was his son Kartik) came to Kheerganga and is said to have meditated for thousands of years. The name Kheerganga literally translates to ‘milky white sacred water.’
The water of the natural hot springs is indeed white like milk and a bath in the same is considered sacred and meditative. The temple nearby is believed to be quite ancient too, and Kheerganga is the abode of Lord Shiva (according to the locals.) It is a spiritual site.
Important points : It can get quite cold in Kheerganga, carrying heavy woollens is advised even in the summer months. Mobile networks work in Barshaini, Kalga and Tosh. Kheerganga may have BSNL connectivity, but it is better to make important calls before you begin the trek. Water is available at dhabas at various points on the trek and location of waterfalls has been mentioned too in the trek route (to fill the water bottles.)
In Kheerganga, the restaurant owners obviously want you to buy their bottled water – but there is a small natural spring in a place called Ashram. Find it and discreetly fill your water bottles, nobody has a problem with it.
Kheerganga has become so popular that these days a small supermarket store has opened there; it has a reasonable collection of essential products and packaged eatables that may be required. A small bakery also sells chocolate pastries and other breads. It is advised to carry a power bank to recharge your electronic devices. ATM services in Parvati Valley can sometimes not work, so it is best to carry the required cash or withdraw from Bhuntar/Kasol. Try to carry as less weight with you in the backpack as possible, and leave the excess stuff either at Barshaini/Tosh/Kalga or the homestay you are staying at.
While it is possible to trek to Kheerganga almost throughout the year, in peak winters the path may be snowed out and the tents and other accommodation options may not be available. During off-season enquire beforehand from the villagers of Barshaini & Nakthan, with regards to the same. Guddu bhai from Barshaini has a big café and staying place in Kheerganga and can be contacted on 098054-44220.
There are separate enclosures for bathing for men and women in the hot water springs near the temple. People are expected to strictly observe the same. Please ensure that as responsible travellers you don’t litter the place, and try to maintain it as clean as possible.
Basic idea of the costs for trek to Kheerganga : Volvo tickets from Delhi to Bhuntar & back – 2000/-. Bhuntar to Barshaini (to & fro) – 200/-. Stay at Kheerganga (or other villages) – 200 per day. Food is expensive – Rs. 500 per day.
So for a 2-3 day trip, the expenses can worked to be roughly around 3500-4000 Rupees.
Other posts on Parvati Valley :
Heading to Manali after Parvati Valley? Check this : Finding the offbeat in Manali