Kheerganga is a high altitude meadow, situated at a height of 9,500 feet in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. Located on the left side of the Parvati River (a tributary of the Beas River), one can reach Kheerganga after a 5-6 hour hike if you start from the road ending at Bharseni. On reaching Kheerganga, you can expect a lot of campsites set up in a large forest clearing. At the end of the marked trail, there is a natural hot water spring for tourists and it will help you rejuvenate the exhaustion.
The meadow continues to the right of the hot spring and then, merges into the forests above. Upon continuing upwards into the forests of Kheerganga, you will reach the Buni Buni Pass. Enroute to the paradise in Parvati Valley, trekkers find this trail a mix of easy to moderate terrain sections. The first section is an easy to do part with a little ascent, while the last section consists of a gradual increase in altitude.
There are two routes to Kheerganga: one passing through the village of Kalga, a serene hippie destination, and the other passing through the village of Nakthan, a conventional village in Himachal Pradesh with houses displaying local Kathkuni architecture.
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How to Reach Kheerganga
Bhuntar to Kheerganga Bus
For Solo Travelers
There are a lot of buses between Bhuntar and Kasol, all the way to Barshaini. The buses charge up to 80 INR till the Kasol bus stand and 50 INR addition charge till Barshaini (via Manikaran). Now, a lot of buses are privately owned, but HPTC (Himachal Pradesh Transportation Corporation) bus service is also pretty good in the valley.
The road conditions are not in the best condition as possible due to constant landslides and tree falls on this route. So, if there is a delay, don’t get anxious. It’s all part of the dynamic mountain life.
Taxis are also available from Bhuntar to Kasol throughout the day, and for most of the night. They charge around 850 INR for Bhuntar to Barshaini, and from Barshaini, one has to walk till Kalga to begin the Kheerganga trek.
Kasol to Kheerganga
To reach from Kasol to Kheerganga, first, you have to reach Barshaini. There are many buses that run from Kasol to Barshaini and Manikaran in every 30 minutes. So, even if you don’t get a direct bus till Barshaini, you can always reach Manikaran, as a lot of buses start from Manikaran bus stand and go all the way to Barshaini.
Shared cabs are also available from Manikaran to Barshaini and they charge a decent price of 100 INR per person. In any case, even if you get a direct bus till Barshaini, the bus will make only one halt at Manikaran Sahib for 15 minutes before going forward. So, it makes sense to reach Manikaran, revealing more options to reach Kheerganga.
Barshaini to Nakthan
If you wish to start from Kasol, then you can take a local bus to Barshaini, helping you reach Barshaini within an hour. After reaching there, walk 300 meters forward and you will come at a point where the road starts going uphill towards Tosh and another trail going down to the river a little further down the trail.
Upon descending, you will see a bridge over the gushing Parvati River. On crossing the bridge, you will be on the trail to Nakthan. The ascent is gradual at first, however, there comes a small section where the trail’s inclination increases rapidly and then eases off.
It should take you about 1.5 hours to 2 hours to reach Nakthan. A section of the path is nominally covered with apple orchards. These orchards are protected and plucking an apple entails a fine put by the villagers. There are a few eateries in Nakthan, and if you want to grab a quick bite, this village is a must-try spot for hungry travelers.
Nakthan to Kheerganga
The distance from Nakthan to Kheerganga is approximately 6 km, and it takes around 3 hours to reach from Nakthan to Kheerganga. If you continue walking from Nakthan, within 30 minutes you will reach Rudranag – a temple with a waterfall beside it.
One has to cross over the bridge near Rudranag to get to the other side of the mountain, where the high altitude meadow of Kheerganga are found. The bridge built above the gushing stream passes through a narrow gully and thus, it stays white throughout. This stream generates from the holy Mantalai lake, which is the source of the Parvati River and falls on the route to the Pin Parvati trek.
After crossing the bridge, the path to Kheerganga keeps getting steep and the altitude increases exponentially. The trail at this point is usually very slippery and muddy, owing to the small mountain streams coming from above (disclaimer – tread with caution). The bridge is the point where the other trail coming via Kalga merges with the main trail to Kheerganga. This trail is one of the most frequented trails in all Himachal Pradesh, where you have to step up on thick tree roots, climb cascading steps, and walk on lush grass.
Kalga to Kheerganga
After crossing the dam crest, you can either follow the trail to reach Kalga village (10 minutes) or you can continue on the other route. You can explore the village for half an hour or maybe eat some hash brownie (locally called Magic Brownie); a famous delicacy in Kalga amongst tourists.
There are many cafes in Kalga that offer hash brownies to hikers. If you don’t have any prior experience with edibles, then it would be wise not to have any of it in Kalga, rather you can carry it with you and devour it later in Kheerganga.
Coming back to the trail, upon reaching Kalga, you will come across Om Shanti Guesthouse and Café. From there, if you go to your left, you will be back on the trail to Kheerganga. The trail is pretty easy and the altitude gain is very gradual.
You will discover large grasslands in the middle of the forest before the trail enters back into the forest. After some time, you will come across a stream crossing, after which the trail moves in the forest. The trail starts gaining altitude at this point.
However, the gain is not as extreme as Nakthan, within 2 hours of starting from Kalga, you will reach near a metallic bridge near the Parvati river (on your left). You don’t need to cross the bridge and continue on your trail. The path that you will see on your left is the one coming from Nakthan.
If you want to see Rudranag, you might as well cross the bridge as the temple is just 2 mins from the bridge. From this point, the two trails merge with exponential altitude gain. It takes another 2 hours from here to reach Kheerganga.
Kasol to Kheerganga Itinerary
Day 1: Leave for Kasol from Delhi in the evening.
Day 2: Reach Kasol and stay in Kasol or go to Kalga and stay at Kalga.
Day 3: Start the Kheerganga trek from Kalga to Rudranag and reach Kheerganga. Stay overnight at Kheerganga.
Day 4: Start hiking down from Kheerganga to Barshaini in the morning and you will reach Barshaini in 3 hours. Catch the bus from Barshaini to Bhuntar/Kasol.
Places to Visit in Kheerganga
Hot Water Spring
The hot water spring is the result of the condensing liquid from the surface or water from aquifers below ground hitting the magma pipelines. It comes out as heated water through the channels to the surface (an extreme case of hot water spring is a Geyser).
So, the one at Kheerganga has special spiritual significance to the people of the valley, and it is considered sacred by the habitants. It is believed that Goddess Parvati lived with her children near the Mantalai lake, which is the source of the Parvati River, and her son Kartik would come to Kheerganga to take a bath. There are some other mythological tales that surrounds the Kund (a boundary containing a small water body) and locals are more than happy to tell you about it.
All Inclusive Entry
The hot water spring open to people from every religion and nationality, but you have to keep its religious significance in mind. You don’t want to get caught with alcohol or cigarettes anywhere near it. There are separate bathing areas for men and women. In the year 2018, it was closed for a short while after an Israeli couple was caught having sexual activity in the holy kund.
Buni Buni Pass
The Buni Buni Pass is a 3-4 hour hike away from the Kheerganga campsite. One can reach Buni Buni Pass by the afternoon and come back to Kheerganga before evening. It is necessary to know that nobody lives above Kheerganga meadow, and it is advised to carry your own supplies as well as important information about the current conditions of the route from the locals.
The Buni Buni Pass trek is a less travelled route and it is free from excessive tourist activity. As it is far away from the rowdies crashing at Kheerganga campsite, it help you to be one with nature.
If God is alive, you might find him here
Tunda Bhuj lies 5 hours to the left of Kheerganga and it is a part of the Pin Parvati Pass trek. Going to Tunda Bhuj is a good idea even if you don’t have a tent and proper gears to go with it (but please do bring your own equipment). The trail passes through some of the best routes in the Parvati Valley. Lush forests and grasslands fall between Kheerganga and Tunda Bhuj.
Old Monk – A tale to unravel
A baba (or the God among beasts) lives in an abandoned forest department hut at Tunda Bhuj and he is known to be fully equipped to host guests (of course he charges for it). You can ask around the shops in Kheerganga to confirm if the baba has moved in to his hut or not, as he comes down to Manikaran in winters due to inhabitable conditions in the valley.
Camping in Kheerganga
Abode of the Gods
The Kheerganga trek distance is a 12 km long trail. So, after walking 5-6 hours you can pitch your tents in the serene meadow. The right side of the meadow is ideal for pitching for your tent, away from the toxic crowd vibes. There is a stream near the forest for your water needs. You can even pitch your tent high up in the forest above the right side meadows of Kheerganga.
Many hippie events are organized there with pitched tents in the upper forests, celebrating a special kind of connection with mother nature (p.s. being sober is not the theme). It’s mostly an excuse to get high.
While reveling amidst nature, one must be wary of the climactic conditions. The Kheerganga temperature fluctuates fairly in accordance to the approaching season. During the summer season, the temperature ranges from 12 degree to 37 degree Celsius and during the winter season, it drops down to even -4 degree Celsius. Monsoon in Kheerganga displays the temperature range from 5 degree to 25 degree Celsius, making the life difficult for the locals and enjoyable for the tourist.
FAQs on Kheerganga
Q1. What is Kheerganga famous for?
Ans. Kheerganga is known for its potential to attract hippies from all around the globe. There are many cannabis farms around the Kheerganga hill, and many contractors extract the main product known as ‘charas’ for selling purposes. The byproduct of the cannabis plant is thoroughly enjoyed by the locals as well as the tourists.
Q2. How long does it take to complete Kheerganga trek?
Ans. It takes around 5-6 hours to complete the Kheerganga trek. There are two routes: one through Kalga, another through Nakthan. So, time is relative to your actions.
Q3. Is Kheerganga trek easy?
Ans. The Kheerganga trek is categorized as easy to moderately difficult, exploring the famous hippie destination for the people of Haryana, Delhi, and Punjab.
Q4. Is alcohol allowed in Kheerganga?
Ans. From a enthusiast stand point, alcohol is allowed in the Parvati Valley. But, from an environmentalist stand point, you should avoid drinking during treks (causes dehydration).
Q5. Is Kheerganga trek banned?
Ans. No, the Kheerganga trek is not banned. A few years back there was a court order banning all permanent structures in Kheerganga. However, people came around this problem by pitching tents. So, Kheerganga trek remains open.
Q6. Is Kheerganga trek free?
Ans. Well, it solely depends on you. You can join various trek adventure groups till Kheerganga or you can watch and prepare for a solo adventure of your own. Many people ascend to the Kheerganga hill, so you can always ask around for directions to reach your destination.