Kheerganga is a high altitude meadow situated at a height of 9500 feet in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. Located on the left side of the Parvati River, which is a tributary of the Beas River, one can reach Kheerganga after a 4-5 hour hike, starting from the road ending at Barshaini. On reaching Kheerganga, you can expect a lot of campsites in a large forest clearing. At the end of the marked trail, there is a hot water sulfur spring, which rejuvenates all your exhaustion. The meadow continues to your right and then merges into the forests above. On continuing upwards into the forests of Kheerganga, you will reach Buni Buni Pass. The route is a mix of easy to moderate sections. The last section consists of a gradual increase in altitude. There are two routes to Kheerganga: one passing through the village of Kalga, which is somewhat a hippie destination, and the other passing through the village of Nakthan, which is a conventional Himachali village, with houses displaying local Kathkuni architecture.
How to reach Kheerganga
Bhuntar to Kheerganga Bus
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 more till Barshaini via Manikaran. Now a lot of buses are privately owned, but the service of HRTC is also pretty good in the valley. The road conditions are not the best as there are constant landslides and trees fall 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.
Kasol to Kheerganga
To reach from Kasol to Kheerganga, you will have to reach Barshaini first. Frequent buses 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 100 INR per person. In any case, even if you get a direct bus till Barshaini, the bus will make a 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 are to start from Kasol, then you can take the bus for Barshaini, and you will reach Barshaini within an hour. After reaching Barshaini, if you walk 300 meters, you will come at a point where the road starts going uphill towards Tosh and another trail going down to the river a bit ahead of the dam. 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 inclination increases rapidly and then eases off again. It should take you about 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours to reach Nakthan. A section of the path is nominally covered with apple orchards, and you should avoid plucking as this is a source of livelihood for villagers. There are a few eateries in Nakthan, so if you want to grab a quick bite this is the place.
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 were to continue from Nakthan within 30 minutes, you will reach Rudranag, which is 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 is. The bridge built above the gushing stream passes through a narrow gully and thus is 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, it 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, so one has to tread with caution. The bridge is the point where the other trail coming via Kalga merges with the main trail to Kheerganga. The trail is one of the most frequented trails in all Himachal Pradesh. You will have to step up on thick roots popping out of the trail due to the constant erosion of the soil.
Kalga to Kheerganga
After crossing through the dam crest, if you follow the trail, you will reach Kalga village in 10 minutes. You can explore the village for half an hour or maybe eat some hash brownie (locally called Magic Brownie), which is famous in Kalga. There are many cafes in Kalga which offer hash brownies. 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 take some with you and eat it in Kheerganga sitting in nature’s lap. Coming back to the trail, on reaching Kalga, you will come across Om Shanti Guesthouse/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 on the Parvati river which will be 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. However, 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 and the altitude gain is exponential. It takes another 2 hours from here to reach Kheerganga.
Kasol to Kheerganga Itenary
Day 1: Leave for Kasol from Delhi. Leave in the evening.
Day 2: Reach Kasol and go to Kalga. Stay at Kalga./Or stay at Kasol
Day 3: Start from Kalga to Kheerganga, overnight stay at Kheerganga./Start from Kasol to Barshaini and reach Kheerganga through Nakthan. Overnight stay at Kheerganga.
Day 4: Start from Kheerganga towards Barshaini in the morning.Reach Barshaini in 3 hours.Catch the bus from Barshaini to Bhuntar. Then from Bhuntar to Delhi.
Places to be
Hot water spring
The hot water spring is a result of the condensation from the surface or water from aquifers below ground hitting the magma pipelines and coming out heated 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, considered as sacred. 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. I’m sure some other mythological tales surround the kund. It is open to people from every religion and nationality, but you have to keep its religious significance in mind, and you don’t want to get caught with alcohol or cigarettes anywhere near it. There are separate bathing areas for both men and women. In the year 2018, the kund 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 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, and thus advised to carry your supplies and get as much information about the current conditions of the route from the locals. The Buni Buni Pass trek is free from any form of tourist activity and is away from the noise. It makes you one with nature.
Tunda Bhuj lies 5 hours to the left of Kheerganga and is a part of the Pin Parvati Pass trek. Going to Tunda Bhuj is a good idea if you have a tent and proper gear to go with it. The trail passes through some of the best routes in the Parvati Valley. A lot of forests and grasslands fall between Kheerganga and Tunda Bhuj. A baba lives in an abandoned forest department hut at Tunda Bhuj and is fully equipped to host guests for which he charges too. You can ask around the shops in Kheerganga to confirm if the baba has moved to his hut as he comes down to Manikaran in winters due to inhabitable conditions in the valley.
You can pitch your tents in Kheerganga. The right side of the meadow is ideal for pitching your tent away from the toxic crowd. 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. I went there once in 2016 and saw a lot of hippies there , who had pitched their tents in the upper forests , celebrating some kind of festival. It’s mostly an excuse to get high.
How time does it take to reach Kheerganga?
It takes 5 hours to reach Kheerganga from Barshaini
How many routes lead to Kheerganga?
There are two routes.One through Kalga another through Nakthan.
Difficulty of Kheerganga?
The Kheerganga trek is moderately difficult.
What are the stay options at Kheerganga?
There are multiple stay options.Camps and makeshift shacks.
Is Kheerganga trek banned?
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.