Out of the many setbacks I faced during the Covid pandemic, cancellation of 3 Himalayan treks from April 2020 to October 2021 was the most anguishing. Yet I was determined to ensure that I set foot on the Himalayas in my trekking boots before 2021 ends.
Himachal Pradesh is not just Kullu-Manali/ Shimla, it is has many more undiscovered valleys. I realised this when I went to Parvati valley in October 2018.(Read all about it in the blog https://wordpress.com/post/meetimein.wordpress.com/1916)
My quest to explore Himachal further led me to extensively research and Google search till I found a natural untouched paradise called Tirthan valley that had earned a reputation as “Himachal’s Best Kept Secret”. Mid-November 2021, I got my “Girl Gang” together and planned a trip there before it got too cold.
Find someone who shares your passion and the trip becomes even more amazing ! Dr Sangeeta Agrawal, Dr Mamatha Shriyan and Vaidehi Rajpathak : The Feisty Four !
Nearest Airport : Bhuntar (but flights are expensive, connections via New Delhi are not very convenient ) Chandigarh is the best option, although the drive is 8-10 hours from here, the amazing food at the highway dhabas makes the journey so worth it !
Tirthan valley has many villages along the Tirthan river from Gushaini to Banjar. The accommodation here is mainly home-stays and cottages along the riverside. After spending 2 nights here @ Riverwalk, we moved to Jibhi @ Jalori house higher up in the mountains.Let the adventure begin !
Part 1 of the women-only Tirthan valley trekking trip : around GUSHAINI
Riverwalk (aptly named) by the gurgling river has quaint rooms and cosy cottages,clean and comfortable. They offer a gorgeous view of the azure waters and jagged mountains.The meals were served as a buffet or a la carte option by the warm fireside.
The next 4 days were planned in such a way so as to enjoy nature by getting as close to it as our trekking boots would take us
Our trekking plan was split into alternate days of long (5 hours) and short (2 hours) treks.
TREK 1 : to GHNP Gate
The Great Himalayan National Park is a protected zone of over a 1000 sq km, a biodiversity treasure house.
Since there is no road to the GHNP gate, the route is an easy 8km trek from Gushaini village.To really explore GHNP well, one can spend a few days inside, a “camping in the wild” experience, various treks and trails at hand.
For those like us who want to sleep in a warm bed with a heater every night, the trek to the gate has delightful vistas of the Tirthan river, autumn foliage, some sleepy villages and friendly villagers en route
Traipsing over wooden bridges, we trod on. The Tirthan river sparkling in the valley below us, racing through the countryside. The trek is gradual, signs are available so a Guide is not mandatory but useful nevertheless. Our lunch stop was at the Hippo falls so named, as you can see because of the large glistening boulder that unmistakably looks like a Hippopotamus is bathing here, surrounded by icy waters of the falls casting shimmering shadows around.
And then finally the gate of GNPH, which holds many secrets within and we may explore those on another adventure later on !
DAY 2 : Chhoie Waterfall TREK
Next morning we were up bright and early, exploring the riverside along our cottages, warming up the Quechua boots for yet another day of clamouring over the rocks.
The trek to the waterfall is only 3 km walk that begins from Village Nagini which takes about 1 hour. The latter part is a bit steep, but manageable.
The waterfall and the fern foliage around paints a pretty picture. Stopping for a rejuvenating ginger tea in the village, we had to get back and check out of Riverwalk for PART 2 of thr trip : Jalori House and Jibhi !