Himalayas is a dream destination for travellers in India. Especially, places like Kullu Manali, Leh Ladakh are some of the frequently visited ones and the checkins by friends leave you longing. Like every other person who loves travelling, trekking and exploring new places and cultures, I as well wanted to visit the majestic Himalayas for quite a long time then.
It was then a colleague of mine asked me if I was in for a trek in the Himachal Pradesh. It was a group of 7 and he was the only person I knew among them. The rest of them were friends of his, and so on. But all that did not matter to me, I said yes almost immediately, and then the destination hunt started.
We had someone in the gang who had been to Kasol and Mcleodganj earlier, so she suggested we could trek to either of these places. Some of them were interested in Kheerganga, Kasol because there was a hot spring there but I felt Mcleodganj was prettier. Finally, we decided to go to Kheerganga, and only after the trip did I realize that it was the perfect decision.
Want to find out why? Read on.
It was in May 2018 that we went for this trek. We reached the Delhi airport and then rented a car from there to drive to Kasol. It took a good 11-12 hours for the drive, through Chandigarh and Punjab. Another option also is to book a flight to Chandigarh directly.
We reached around 9pm on the first day. We decided to get proper rest and then prep up for the next day’s trek to Kheerganga. We also had camping plans on top of the mountain for a night. We had already coordinated this with the camp organizers at Kheerganga.
But when the hotel owner got to know this, he told us that the state government had issued a ban on commercial establishments ( camping sites / cafes ) and thus asked us to double check it before we started. Because obviously we couldn’t be stranded at the top of a mountain with nowhere to spend the night in.
We confirmed this again, and then started the trek at around 11 am not feeling too sure about what to expect at the campsite. We reached the summit in the evening just before the sun disappeared with its last ray for the day. The entire duration of the trek one way must be around 6-7 hours. As soon as we reached, we had some food as we were famished, and then went to the camps.
We were so glad to see that the camping sites were still there, and we could spend a night there. The people responsible for organizing the camp told us that it was the last day for camping at Kheerganga. Though we were happy that the camping sites were available that day, we were sad that this luxury could not be afforded from the next day onwards.
The ban was issued to protect the beauty of the place and keep it intact, by preventing plastic pollution and other activities by tourists.
We trekked there that night, enjoyed a campfire and then woke up to see the sunrise the next day. But we were surrounded by tall mountains that completely shielded the sun, until 8am in the morning! We took a bath in the hot spring near by, and considering the cold weather, it was literally heaven.
We then had breakfast and started back way down. We saw a continuous stride of mules upwards, to carry back all the stuff from the top. It felt sad from a tourist’s perspective but eventually good for the place.
If only we had realized the importance of not polluting a place, we would have had the luxury of readymade tents to enjoy this beautiful beautiful place.
But not to worry, you can always camp by carrying your tents when you trek up, which is difficult but at least you have an option if you really want to camp over there. Lightweight tents make this much easier, and if you are looking at options, check out some of the best backpacking tents that we have used till now.
Commercial establishments are mainly to make a place more accessible but if we do not realize this and continue polluting the places we visit, we are the ones at loss. After all, it is our planet and it is so so beautiful that not keeping it clean, is a crime.
So, that’s it guys! If you visit the place, please let me know of your experience of it in the comments. 🙂 Have fun and most importantly be safe.
Mark Bennett is an writer and traveler, whose major inspiration has been camping with his father ever since his childhood. He aims to visit 75 countries before he’s 30. You can also follow his adventures on his site outdoorily.com.