Tirthan Valley-an uncharted heaven in Himachal

Time of Visit: June 2019 

Places covered: Jalori Pass, Serloskar Lake, Sharchi village, Gushaini village, Jibi waterfall, chhoie waterfall

I have heard about tirthan valley from few of my trekking enthusiast friends some time back, but never took it seriously as I though it must be the same as any other hill station in Himachal. And now, when I have visited this place recently, I couldn’t stop myself talking about its beauty and solitude. We unanimously decided that we should visit this paradise every year before rest of world discover and spoil its beauty.

Me, husband and 6 year old daughter boarded the Volvo from Delhi around 7 PM on Friday and landed in Mandi around 5.30 AM. Although Volvo can take you till Aut Tunnel, the closest point from where u can take taxi till Tirthan, but as we have already booked a taxi from Mandi, we deboarded the Volvo here.

The taxi took another 2 hours to reach Tirthan valley, crossing Banjar which is the nearest bus stand and the marketplace near Tirthan valley, so ensure to buy necessary things from here, in case you need any. The valley doesn’t have any big commercial outlet, except some small snacks shops. Our introduction with Tirthan River started from banjar only and by the time we reached our resort ‘offbeat abode’ its 7.30 AM.

It was pure love at first sight. We just couldn’t resist the first close look of the river and its charm that made us fall in love with it. We asked for an early check-in and to our luck one of the families was checking out early, so we just had to wait for an hour, while room was getting ready.  Honestly, the kind of atmosphere it was, we were more than happy to wait for hours and hours.

The river was flowing in her full gush, just along with our cottage; its sound was so loud and soothing. The water was chilly and crystal clear. We sat on a big stone, just to see the majestic stream of Tirthan river, it was therapeutic experience. This life is far away from the hustle-bustle of city life, just the roar of Tirthan River and the chirping sound of variety of birds. There was little chill in air making sitting under sun a pleasant experience. 

Within an hour our room was ready and we moved in. It was a wonderful property just along with the river; our balcony was the most attractive feature, which has the sound of the flowing river 24×7.

We were finding ourselves too close to nature, and were thrilled to explore more so after a bit rest and breakfast were ready to go for a long walk to see the area around. Tirthan valley is spreaded around the river ‘Tirthan’, which ultimately merges into Beas River near kullu.  

This valley has exquisiteness in abundance and has less tourists’ inflow, which makes it all the more peaceful and divine. There are few resorts, home stays are being set up both the sides of river and most of them have direct access to the river. A narrow road alongside the river takes to the village Gushaini. We reached to a steel bridge and clicked some pictures of the river. 

I wonder, initially our popular hill stations manali, naianitaal etc. would have been this beautiful, but excessive tourist pressure lead to the present situation of non-stop chaos and lack of peace just like the city life. Oh god, please save this place from the mad rush, so that we can come again and again to have this celestial feeling. My 6 year old daughter was eagerly waiting since morning to take a bath in the river flowing just below our room.

So we returned to the room and went to the river down, the water was freezing cold and despite of bright sunny day, it was not easy to take a dip. She enjoyed in the water for some time and we again came out to have an exploration walk on the other side of the resort now.  

We got hungry by this time and saw a poster of wood fired pizza, and reached to this place called ‘Himalayan Troute House’. It was small restaurant along with a fancy home stay, which serves delicious traditionally baked pizza.

My daughter really enjoyed the serving as well as the creative close-to-nature interiors of the place. Next was a river trolley ride, which we got arranged through the help of one of the resort local guy. There are hardly one or two bridges in the whole area, so to reach to the home stays and resorts on that side, people use trolleys. It appeases to be easy, but trust me it is not for city dwellers like us, it requires a lot of strength to pull our own weight on the opposite side.

There is a certain technique to be followed for successful transition from one side to another, but overall it was fun and a different experience for us. While wondering through the bushes, be careful of insects and giant lizards, which are present here in good numbers.

We spotted a good roadside cafe named ‘Muskan Cafe’ here which serves terrific coffee, run by a local household. Sitting in small lawn under a big umbrella, watching flowing river and lush green mountains, sipping a good cuppa and just imagine it started drizzling.

Wow! What a day, we wish the time to stop here and we could remain in this bliss forever. We returned to our resort after a while before getting dark and after dinner again came out for a walk. These sessions of walk never stop until the day we actually checked out from Tirthan, it is surely a place which is best explored on feet.

The next day we planned to visit the place called jalori pass and Serloskar Lake. This place involves approx. 2 hrs. of road journey and then onwards 5 hours of trekking, so whole day is required.

As the breakfast timings were from 9 am, we decided to start early and skip the breakfast at the resort to save time.  We reached banjar market quite early and had tasty tandoori parantha at a local dhaba near bus stand named ‘ Bisht Bhojanalaya’ and resume the journey to the pass.

To reach jalori pass, we crossed this place called Jibhi. It was another picture perfect village and a trekker’s paradise. You will find lots of home stays and trekking guide here.  A responsible tourism creates lots of opportunity to the locals without harming the environment and trekking is one of such thing. 

There nothing much to see at the pass except a big temple and large meadows, where few tent based eateries are set up for tourists. We parked the car nearby. The lake is around 5 km from the pass and one required to trek to reach as there are no motorable roads. There is also very old and famous temple there, due to which you will find huge amount of local devotees on the way of trek.  

We took a small bag with us containing water, some snacks, extra cloths for daughter in case of rain and started our trek. This trek is mix of plains and hikes and due to the green cover all the way you really don’t feel much tiredness despite of the bright afternoon.

We met and interacted lots of local people on the way, this makes the journey easy and pleasant. A tourist couple who was from HP forest department was trekking along and gave us knowledge about flora and fauna found in this forest how useful they are to our lives. We took multiple small breaks in between and finally made it to the lake in two and half hours. The view of the lake was mesmerising. 

There were large amount of huge crows there, who believed to be working as natural cleaners of the lake. The moment any devotee throws anything in the lake during pooja, crows’ immediately comes and pick the thing up. The aura of the palace was very serene and eye soothing.

We sat in the shadow of the trees for something to just observe the water on the top of the mountain before moving to local huts to eat something. There were limited options like raajma chawal, kadhi chawal, maggi and Tea/coffee. Off course you can find packed snacks (chips, namkeen and cold drinks) in every corner of the world, so this place was also no exception.  After a while we decided to start our journey back.

There we found strange looking rocks, which appeared to be dwelling units of shepherds.

The trekking is a wonderful experience and the best way to observe and absorb the abundant natural beauty around. This cannot be compared with the gazing at nature while sitting in tin box which runs at speed. While walking, you have plenty of opportunities to look around and feel the atmosphere, to touch the things and being aware that you are a part of it for the moment.

We clicked many pictures as we encountered stunning views of the mountains and meadows. It was not easy for my little one to walk that much in a day so with zillions of short rest breaks, water breaks, snacks breaks and music breaks we somehow managed to reach back to our car. 

The next spot we wanted to cover was Jibhi waterfall. It is near to the motorable road, down from the jibhi village. A small walk till waterfall consists of few tiny wooden bridges, small water stream and lots of greenery. It was a tiny waterfall with freezing cold water. We removed our shoes and went ahead to dip our feet, it was brave act and helped us to wash away all the tiredness of trekking.

It was impossible to take out my daughter from the water, so we spent double the time, half an hour of having fun in the waterfall and half an hour trying to take her back from there. It was very refreshing experience. 

While coming back to resort, we again stopped over to the same ‘Bisht Bhojanalay to have a meal and tasty tea. Then we reached back to our resort before getting dark. My daughter got busy playing jenga blocks with other kids at the resort, husband got tired so went to sleep and I picked a book of Ruskin Bond. It was such an ecstasy to read ‘blue umbrella’ in the lap of nature itself.  

Next day we planned to visit a village ‘Sharchi’, which is around 17 km away and involve absolutely no trekking.  After few minutes of journey, my daughter shouted “mumma, see the snow peaks” yes the whole range of Himalayas was visible there as treat to eyes throughout the way to Sharchi. Since the roads are narrow and condition is just ok, be careful while driving. Enjoying the beautiful view outside, we kept following the milestones to sharchi, and at milestone which says Sarchi 0 KM, the road ended, literally. We were like where to go now, there is no road. The view from there was just terrific. We clicked a few pictures before calling to the resort guys for help.

Came to know that the village exists near the milestone Sarchi 2 KM, so took a U turn and reached to this small but gorgeous village of wonderful people. It has everything, beautiful landscape, tiny houses, small fields for agriculture, a temple, a pond, backdrop of mountains and a large open meadow just at the centre of the village. Just visualize such a large plain area in the middle of small mountain village; this village was strikingly attractive. 

We took a small round of the village and surprised to see a fully functional post office there. To create and retain memories of this place, we decided to post a handwritten letter from there to our address in Ghaziabad. My daughter quickly written a letter to her cousin and we did a speed post.

By that time the postmaster uncle became a dear friend of my daughter and put some extra stamps on the letter as goodwill gesture.  It’s always a warm feeling while you meet such simple and charming folks of mountains. While drinking tea at a local shop there, we met few village trekking guys who were returning from a three days trek.

Here, local people organise treks for tourists, since they know the place to the core and are experts in carrying weight on long mountains trails. We will surely make plan for such trek in future, we thought in our mind. After finishing the tea and chitchatting we took leave.

Fields at Sharchi 

After reaching back to resort, we finally made up our mind to take a chill bath in the river. It was a bright sunny day, so we thought; it will not be a big deal. But honestly, it was. We just could not spend more than 10 minutes in the water which was just freezing cold. We all were shivering after a dip and could not bear it anymore.

Sitting near the river and just watching the flow is a better idea I guess. After this water adventure, we decided to explore nearby eating options and found a wonderful resort near the bridge on the river called ‘Anand@Tirthan’. We had the best ‘mushroom masala’ here; it was so tasty that we could not resist coming here again the very next day before checking out Tirthan.

Post lunch we sat on the deck restaurant of this place and were watching the river as usual, then suddenly the cool wind became stronger and a huge storm began. We quickly moved inside the place, but the intensity of the storm was so strong that it broke the glasses, false sealing, outside boards and some electrical items of this place.

Kids present there got panicked and started crying. It was indeed horrifying to see such a violent face of the nature, which otherwise appeased to be so beautiful when at peace. However it stopped after a while and started to rain heavily, a breather.

We realised we put the wet cloths in the balcony to dry after river bath, the chances are we might never see them again after this storm. But it was not a big loss compared to what we have seen here. We returned to our room.

After raining about two hours, the temperature went down sharply and we took out the warm cloths, came out in the balcony and ordered for pakodas and coffee.  In the evening we again decide to go a long walk, this time our resort kitchen guy ‘Yogi’ accompanied us and took us to Gushaini village, which is 2 Km away and has only vegetable shop in the vicinity. He was going there to buy some veggies.

It was wonderful walk till this small village which witness the confluence of two rivers ‘Tirthan’ and ‘Flachan’.  

This village also has lots of home stays and it’s an entry point for the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP), which is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Trekking is the only way to enjoy and explore this National Park.

We will surely explore this in our next trip here. Another wonderful day ended in Tirthan. The next day we were to check out.

It was our last day in this valley, we had a Volvo to catch in the evening from Mandi, and it will take 2-3 hours to reach there, so we had half of the day to be spent at Tirthan. We decided to do trek again and go to the chhoie waterfall. We got good companions in form of a Guajarati couple who were staying in the same resort and were looking for a company to trek.

Our very own resort kitchen guy ‘yogi’ also hopped in for this trek with due permission and became our trek guide voluntarily. It was considered to be an easy trek of about one hour one side for adults; but with small kids it was relatively tough.  

Walking on the narrow mountain trails under the shadow of trees was a wonderful experience and we learned a lot about local fruits, local vegetables and natural medicinal plants etc from our guide Yogi on the way. The view of the valley from the above was stunning. 

View from the trek to chhoie waterfall 

And then we reached to this astonishing waterfall. After a long trek, we were so impatient to dip our feet in the water that we forgot to click photographs of this place capturing its magnificence. It’s a bigger one as compared to Jibhi waterfall and retained to its natural form due to less tourist inflow.  

The fall is followed by a big natural pool and we all were having fun by getting soaked ourselves in the chilling water. While going on the trek we were seven, but on the returning, we were eight, a dog joined our group and trek with us all the way down.

We also spotted an apricot tree and had few fresh apricots. It was memorable trek. Although we never wanted to leave this charming place but one has to go to come back again, so we also bid adieu to Tirthan Valley. 

But we promised to ourselves to come back soon and explore the rest of its treasures, preferably on trekking. I wish its radiance will remain like this forever to attract me towards it again and again.

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