You know it’s time to travel when you catch up with your long-lost school friends only to find out that they are equally mad to explore new places as you are. This happened in October 2017, I was going through a rough patch when suddenly this plan cropped up. Everyone was crazy about conquering the highest peaks and soaking in the lush green cover and deciding a mountain trek wasn’t a conflicting choice at all. Amidst the excitement, we picked the moderate trek of Khirganga, a 12-13 km trek that offers a scintillating view of the Parvati Valley.
Barshaini, Himachal Pradesh is the base camp for Khirganga Trek. It is a small village around 50Km from Bhuntar. One can easily reach Bhuntar by road or by air. From Bhuntar either hire a private taxi or take a local bus which takes you to Barshaini. A private taxi costs around 1500 bucks for a ride of 4 and takes around 1.5 hours where a bus ticket only costs 70 bucks and ply back and forth every 2-3 hours but takes almost 3.5 hours to reach the base camp. I personally suggest you hire a private taxi if you are not running low on budget. After taking a bus from Delhi in the evening, we reached Barshaini by 12:30 PM.
Gear up for trek early in the morning to reach the holy site of Khirganga during the daytime only. Khirganga trek offers two different paths to reach the top – through the village or through the forest. If it wasn’t for the forest route, I would have never advised you to take this trek.
The trek is very pleasant and offers some exhilarating views as you ascend forward. Leading through a hilly terrain, it starts with steep stairs and initial few kilometers are steeper than the usual path. One important thing to note is this trek doesn’t offer a well-defined trail. Though you meet a lot of other trekkers and local people en-route to Khirganga, there are few chances of you getting lost in the forest. The thick forest of Parvati Valley offers a lot of water streams and Rudra-Nag Waterfall so that the travelers are refreshed and hydrated. There are less cafes on the thoroughfare hence it is advisable to keep a lot of energy bars and food that quickly replenishes your energy. The mesmerizing forest, picturesque valley and a good company will not let you tire and motivate you to ascend forward.
Halfway you reach Rudra-Nag Waterfall where Cold Breeze covers the whole area . The exquisite view and the flow of the water will bound you to spend quality time in its lap. One can just sit around and experience bliss while the water continues to flow also giving you ample amount of scenery to capture in your eyes as well as cameras.
Beyond Rudra-Nag waterfall, the trail ascends further through thick pine forests to the spiritual site of Khirganga. You will have to cross a lot of wooden bridges and mild water streams. You can easily feel the presence of strong water bodies (yes, you will find multiple streams), flowing down the mountain throughout the trek, by gushing sounds and moist rocks. Though it sounds amazing, it makes the trek highly dangerous at few places. The last 3KMs of Khirganga trek are the steepest and common for both the village and the forest routes. Once you reach the site, you will find a lot of camps, cafes and restaurants lined up systematically. It is mandatory to check the latest High Court Notifications before planning to spend a night up there, we got a really nice tent for us but you ight have to descend the same day now! You can rent camps for double or quad sharing as well as large halls for a bigger group. Mercury dips low in the night. Having an early dinner and gearing up for some star gazing is what can be done after reaching the hilltop. Sometimes, it rains during the evening so spending the night in the camp chit chatting is another idea for a memorable trek.
The Khirganga site offers you a Parvati temple and hot water spring bath along with the beautiful view of the huge mountains. Even though there is a hot spring at the gurudwara down at Mankiaran, the experience of Khirganga is unique in so many ways. A hot spring bath after a 12KM trek feels better than a 5 star Jacuzzi. Hot spring bath, star gazing in the night and huge mountains peaks of Parvati Valley makes it all worth the pain.
Down trek is much easier than the ascending one. As mentioned in the beginning, there are two ways to Khirganga from Barshaini. People usually follow the village route to come down as there are much chances of getting lost in the forest route. Initial few kilometers are same while trekking down. Last night drizzling made the rocks wet and even more dangerous for us. Once the route diverges, you will find a steep descend. There are lot of chances of slipping and falling down the way making it dangerous. Just after a short distance, you will find a bridge over the valley connecting two mountains. Below the bridge flows a heavy waterfall and beside the bridge on your side is another waterfall. You can enjoy the sangam (convergence) of two water streams into one standing over the bridge.
That’s the beauty of this trek, it will surprise you at every turn. Standing over the bridge and experiencing the beauty of nature is pure bliss. Once you cross the bridge you will be showered with heavy sunlight. If you go for this trek in winters, you will find this soothing but it can turn scorching during summers. From here the route in dusty, passing through the village with a defined trail. You can sit with villagers and interact with them. People are very friendly. However you will find very less cafes or refreshing area. It is advised to keep your energy high and refill your water bottles as soon as you cross the bridge. You won’t find much places to refill again. The trek ends at the dam site in Barshaini. You can have food and refresh yourself for sometime and then start your journey back home.
This was my story of the most spontaneous, thrilling and to the moment best trekking experience. Amidst the beautiful Parvati Ranges, Khirganga offers a breathtaking trek through the mountains. You will enjoy every phase of this trekking experience and most important love the hot water spring bath.
Hope you liked reading this and will soon make a visit to the mountain to embrace its beauty.