Being in the Himalayas and not to visit Kheerganga is the same as ordering a pita bread without masala tea! Speaking of which, the local tea is inexpressibly delicious, it is often not masala that is added to tea, but just a little clove and cinnamon, or just clove, but here tea also turned out to be on goat’s milk.
You can reach Kheerganga during 3-4 hours from Kalga or Barshaini Village. You can get there from Kasol, which is also called as little Israel (indeed, all the signs and names are in Hebrew there) through Manikaran and then in about 15 km, get to the end of the road and this is it, a tiny Barshaini. It is going to take about an hour by bus, and this hour you are to remember for a lifetime. Especially if to take into consideration the fact that seats in the Indian buses are not very comfortable to say it mildly. On another pits and bumps, you are going to fly in the air painfully turning back on your seat. However, the views from the windows will compensate for the troubles.
To enter Kheerganga, you need a permit, which costs 50 rupees. It is checked on the block post right before the place.
This is a large camping site near hot springs located in 22 kilometers from Manikaran from Parvati Valley in the Indian Himachal Pradesh state. Manikaran, by the way, is translated as earrings. According to legend, this is the place where a snake stole earrings from Shiva’s wife Parvati when she was bathing. Shiva got angry, gave a kick into the ground, and it produced hot water. This is how hot springs appeared. People even boil rice and eggs in it. Occasionally, one-of-a-kind black Parvati diamonds are found in the lake. The complete absence of human settlements within a radius of 60 km preserves the purity of the original place. It is impossible to reach it even by bicycle, only by walking 12 km along a rather dangerous path from the nearest village, near which there is a road.
An interesting fact about this place is that it remains open for seven months and there is almost no permanent settlement in this part. This place receives extreme attention due to its hot springs mentioned above. There is no electricity, no telecommunications. According to legend, the god Shiva himself meditated in Kheerganga, so the place is sacred. Kheer Ganga is located at an altitude of 3050 meters, on the way to the Pin Parvati Pass from the Pin Valley. In the summer you can see a small settlement. Trekking to Kheer Ganga restores its picturesque green vegetation with its enriched landscape.
The road is beautiful but dangerous at times, especially if to lose the way. It is better to walk with a stick because you are going to need to climb over and the stick will help you when there is no strength and the muscles are killing you. Of course, everything depends upon how gifted are you physically. Also, a stick is going to be in handy in case of raining (let alone a raincoat) when the road might get dirty. In order not to lose one’s footing, balance, and fall, the stick is quite the thing.
Life in the mountains is different, simple, and challenging at the same time. It is simple because you do not need anything from the blessings of civilization. It is difficult because you are still in need of some things and all these things you have to carry on your back. At that, the road is uphill or downhill all the time. Residents are surely got used to it, but it is hard for a traveler even with a rucksack being half-empty. You might choose another way to get back home. It might be longer, but you come across villages where you are welcome to have a rest and something to eat. To go 15 miles takes four hours and a half and the height there is 2950 m. The trip is quite spectacular, and the ascent is not very difficult, making a break for tea.
Previously, there were guesthouses with restaurants where a guest could order mushroom pasta despite the simplicity of everything around, but a decision of the environmental agency demolished them. Perhaps over time, they will appear again. Overall, there are no residential houses as such in the village, but 2-3 temples. So basically, it is not a village but a place with temples and a tourist infrastructure organized.
The hot springs are moderately hot and saturated with hydrogen sulfide, meaning that they give a health-improving effect. They shoot up from the peak of the mountain. Before you enter the swimming pool, you need to wash with soap.
The time passes by very slowly in Kheerganga. It might seem that it is gone. It is entirely of adventure to sit in a hammock, to take binoculars and to look at the mountain on the opposite (fivethousander, so that you knew). There are waterfalls, eagles fly around, and beautiful clouds. At times, you might get to see a snowy peak.
In early September, during a full moon, a holiday is held in Kheerganga, residents of the surrounding villages gather and sing songs all night long, and swim at hot springs at dawn.
About the author
Apart from writing, Melisa Marzett is a traveler, so she knows what it is like firsthand. Working for resumeperk, she enjoys good looks of wherever she goes and get inspired. Melisa loves to step out of comfort zone, to discover things, to take pictures, to swim, scuba diving, fresh mountain air, and to feel the dew on feet early in the morning.