Women-only Trek @Tirthan VAlley


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 !

QUICK FACTS:

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 !

Where butterflies lead the way……Waichin valley

This valley tucked away beyond Malana in Himachal Pradesh is also popularly known as Magic valley and the name needs no explanation. Magic here is in the air, in the emerald waters of the Malana river, in the towering snow-capped mountains and the in the clouds and blue skies above. In all you see, breathe and hear around you, there is only magic.

The magic begins from the Dam and Malana reservoir. As there are no motorable roads beyond, the rest of the journey is on foot. But for the next 3 hours or so your legs wont falter as walking through paradise is a very enjoyable experience here.

A scrumptious breakfast and refreshing cup of coffee at AYOYA Malana Resort – Shiva Cafe where we stayed in Malana, 4 km away, is just what you need to get you going on this wonderful trek. Its easy and the beauty of nature is so invigorating, perfect for a beginner. You could go as a day-trip but I would definitely recommend and overnight stay if the weather permits in the log huts.

One can walk through the coniferous forests or along the river, both routes behold mesmerizing beauty of the wonders of nature. The butterflies frolicking along the wildflowers led us through the forest path to Atodang village, a few wooden houses that are surrounded by fields.

Rest your weary feet, basking in the unfiltered rays of the sun in peaceful solitude. The dancing butterflies, the humming bees and chirping birds paint a pretty picture here and you wonder if you really need to go ahead ..or anywhere else in the world !

The people here live a very simple life, farming and rearing sheep. They hold on to their traditions and will not share any food or allow outsiders to come into their homes.

As the mountainous path ascends further, gurgling brooks greet you along the way with all the freshness and energy of the melted snow. A few sips of this delicious water and all the fatigue has melted away!

Here is Magic valley, where misty clouds float around.There are a few log huts and campsites for overnight stay.

The best place is undoubtedly the Monk Hut In Bela Moon. A hot plate of Maggi noodles, cozy hammock with warm blankets to cuddle in and enjoy the view till sunset.

As Jerome K. Jerome said…“Seek out some retired and old-world spot, far from the madding crowd, and dream away a sunny week among its drowsy lanes – some half-forgotten nook, hidden away by the fairies, out of reach of the noisy world – some quaint-perched eyrie on the cliffs of Time, from whence the surging waves of the nineteenth century would sound far-off and faint.”

 

The nights are also very magical here. Sitting by the warm campfire I saw my first moon rise..another magical moment. Simple pleasures we miss in the city. Making new friends with other guests from different parts of the world underneath the clear skies with twinkling stars, over a plate of warm rajma chawal. These memories will last a lifetime.

The butterflies all along the way left such an indelible impression on my heart and soul that once we were back to AYOYA Malana Resort – Shiva Cafe by the next afternoon, I got down to painting my heart out ..and lo behold are the motley crew on a pillar ! AYOYA Malana Resort – Shiva Cafe is a place you can really chill out in the lap of nature, unwind and rediscover your soul!