It is no secret that India is home to some of the best trekking routes in the world. Lofty snow-capped mountains, tranquil lakes, dense green forests, frozen waterfalls – whatever your heart seeks and your eyes desire to witness, you will find a place that fits your criterion right here within the country. A devout Indian trekker will never need to step out of Indian Territory if they wish to bask in the glory of all of nature’s wonders. One such marvel is the gorgeous Kheerganga Trek tucked away in Kasol, Himachal Pradesh.
Kheerganga or Kheer Ganga Trek gets its name from the Indian desert Kheer, as the River Ganga that flows through this region is known for its milky white appearance much like the well-loved sweet dish. Located at an altitude of 13,050 feet and tucked deep within the Parvati Valley, the Kheerganga Trek takes you along a whirlwind journey that encompasses holy towns, verdant valleys, mountain villages, and of course the much anticipated hot spring to soak your tired bones and soul in. But as gorgeous as the ultimate destination may be the Kheerganga trek is more about the journey. Although the trail lasts only for 2 days its sheer diversity will astound you. From adventurous rocky pathways to the evergreen beauty of nature one experiences when accompanied by a snow-white river, countless mountain streams, and vibrant flora and fauna, the Kheerganga trek has it all. The location also comprises a small ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, which acts as a sanctuary for those in search of peace and solace.
Major Attractions of the Kheerganga Trek:
- Kasol: Known as the Mini Israel of India, Kasol has emerged as a hotspot for tourists, travelers, and trekkers from across the world. The town is always vibrant and boisterous brimming with people enjoying the mountain life, feasting on various Israeli delicacies, strolling the riversides of Parvati and Beas, or exploring the solitude of the forests. But simply put Kasol’s beauty cannot be justified via words. The hill town is a land of mystery and folklore where the air smells like romance, adventure, and dreams. It is the land of turquoise rivers, purple skies enveloped in fog, extensive greenery, and warm-hearted locals. And when the Kheerganga Trekking journey begins from this offbeat town itself, you simply cannot deny yourself the pleasure.
- Parvati Valley: A spot straight out of a Bollywood love song, the Parvati Valley is renowned for its flourishing beauty. The endless meadow carpeted in thick green grass surrounded by towering snow-peaked mountains is the perfect place to lay down your camping gear and settle in for a night under the starry sky. Needless to say, the sunset and sunrise you encounter here will be etched in your memory forevermore.
- Manikaran: The holy town of Manikaran makes for the perfect pit stop. Dotted with temples of the bygone days and the awe-inspiring Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara, the town holds a special place in the heart of all Hindus and Sikhs. And really, what is a trek without a little spiritual awakening?
- Hot Spring: Parvati Kund, the natural hot spring is easily the most popular attraction of the expedition. The piping hot sulphur spring perched at an elevation of 13,000 feet flanked by imposing snow-clad mountains sure sounds delicious, but nothing can actually beat the feeling of soaking your tired body in the steaming hot water while admiring the grandeur of the place. The water of the hot spring is also said to possess healing properties meaning a dip in this natural Jacuzzi is therapeutic in every sense of the word.
The Trek Route
The trip begins from the picturesque hill town of Kasol with a one hour drive to Barshaini. The drive is refreshing and exhilarating at the same time, as it keeps you in wait for the journey that is to unfold all too soon.
From Barshaini begins your trekking expedition. The Kheerganga trek is 12 km and takes roundabout 5 hours to reach the top. En route, you have the opportunity to visit the Rudranag Temple and waterfall, take a plunge into the hot water spring, feast at one of the many cafes of the locality, and ultimately settle down in Parvati Valley for the night.
After witnessing a mesmerizing sunrise atop the Parvati Valley and enjoying a scrumptious breakfast, you begin your descent downhill. Day 2 of the Kheerganga Trek basically comprises of you retracing your steps back to Barshaini. Although laced with regret for having to leave the Himalayan Mountains far too quickly, the vivid beauty of the location, the melodious birds, and the gushing streams keep you distracted while also making you promise yourself to return to the Himalayan foothills pronto. Your Kheerganga trekking adventure concludes once you board a bus from Barshaini for Kasol.
Best time to visit
Kheerganga is an all-season trek. The trek remains open for prospective thrill seekers and adventure enthusiasts around the year. However, there are some months when the trek is at its glorious best.
Kheerganga in March, April, May & June:
If you are fond of summers in the mountains and feel best under weather conditions that are all about comfort, we recommend you opt for the Kheerganga trek in the summer months of March, April, May & June. Around this time the temperature varies anywhere between 13 to 35 degrees making it the perfect weather for a long hike up the mountain route. As might be expected the trail is also particularly beautiful around this time of the year as nature flourishes and thrives. Kasol too awakens from its winter hibernation and the town livens up with tourists from across the globe.
Kheerganga in July, August & September:
Monsoons are not exactly very agreeable if you are planning on a trek. The Kheerganga trail is also no exception. During the monsoon months of July, August & September the temperature ranges between 22 to 32 degrees and the weather remain quite pleasant. Drenched in continuous rain the region has a different kind of sublime beauty around this time of the year. And such weather conditions would have been perfect to embark on an adventure had it been for the slippery trails covered in muck and mud, road blockages, incessant cold wet downpour, and landslides. Hence, the Kheerganga route is best avoided during these monsoon months.
Kheerganga in October, November, December & January:
Indians have a soft corner for lands covered in snow. Since time immemorial winter holidays in India mean packing up and migrating to locations where temperatures are in the negative. If you too often feel the intense desire to experience a holiday adventure in knee-deep snow, you might feel that the Kheerganga trek in October, November, December & January is tailor-made for you. During the winter months of October, November, December the temperature fluctuates from 3 to 10 degrees. In January the temperature drops below -4. Kheerganga is undoubtedly a sight to behold during these winter months but it is also worth mentioning that many roads become inaccessible during this time of the year. So, unfortunately, despite the attraction, it is best if you opt-out of trekking Kheerganga during the winter months.
The difficulty level of Kheerganga Trek
The Kheerganga Trek is labeled as an easy trek and is therefore quite beginner-friendly. The trek also only takes 2 days to complete so it’s rather perfect if you are planning a weekend gateway of sorts. The Kheerganga trek length is 24 km altogether, 12 km up and down respectively. The journey to the top of the trail comes with so many variations of attractions that the hike actually seems rather short. The trail is adventurous enough to keep its trekkers entertained but easy enough to ensure that even a family can enjoy the trek without fear and risk.
This being said, it is also important to keep in mind that trekking as an activity favors people who lead an active and fit lifestyle. Before you embark on your Kheerganga trek ensure you are flexible, well-balanced, enjoy long, brisk walks, and are devoid of any major health condition.
So leave your worries behind and set out on this weekend adventure. The Kheerganga trek promises to be a journey full of surprises, unforgettable panoramas, first experiences, and of course a much-needed gateway from the humdrum of city life.