Himachal Pradesh is as scenic as it gets. There is a reason why so many of our domestic vacations begin and end with Himachal Pradesh in mind! While everyone is aware about the beauty of Manali and the old-world charm of Shimla – we, at DoW pride ourselves in introducing you to the lesser known wonderlands hidden in plain sight. One such beauty lies in the unassuming village of Gushaini!
Tirthan, Banjar and Sainj Valleys are some of the most unknown, unexplored regions that are well connected by a road network. The beginning of Great Himalayan National park sees these valleys dotted around. Over the course of the coming articles, I will introduce you to this charming region of the hills.
The big entrance to the Great Himalayan National Park lies this quaint little town of Gushaini. Literally 10 KMs from the big mammoth National Park, Gushaini lies at an elevation of 4500 ft. With natural groves of the hills, the captivating aura of the Tirthan river is only catapulted further by the lush green Himalayas all around. If Parvati valley is stunning for its magnanamous and very alive Parvati River, then Tirthan Valley is calm, cool and collected like the river that flows through it too! So calm, so tranquil – you’ll soon be in a trance like no other. The river is also the home of the epic Himalayan Trouts, which is why this valley is often nicknamed as the Trout Country!
Most people heading on treks in to the Great Himalayan National Park are well aware of Gushaini. The town itself offers a host of activities from fishing and angling to river crossing, rappelling, hiking, camping – you can do it all here. Or, if you prefer- you can choose to do aboslutely nothing, nada, zilch and still get the most of your adventure! Such is the charm of this tiny town.
Akin to the region, the weather is pretty synonymous with most of the Himalayas. Summer months are pleasant, winter months are a magical wonderland and monsoon season is best avoided! If you’re looking for enjoying the lush green hills – head to Gushaini right after the monsoon season. Best months for sightseeing are April – September (minus the monsoon period, of course!)
Best time to visit
Unlike other places in the region, Gushaini makes for a perfect visit in the winter season. With the hills covered in a white blanket and the beautiful trees just poking through – there is nothing more calming than views here. Also, you can embark on many a trails for the winter and enjoy the region to its full glory.
How to get there
The most common way of getting to Gushaini is by road. I suggest taking the Delhi – Manali route. You can also choose to travel via Shimla side –though the route is longer. However you may also take the comfort of Air or rail transport. Details as below –
While Bhuntar airport is situated only 50 KMs from Gushaini, I suggest you take a flight to Chandigarh. I say this because Chandigarh is pretty well connected from the rest of India and you can commence the road journey through a lot of beautiful scenery!
Chandigarh is the closest and most connected railway station, at about 250 Kms distance. From here, you can hire a cab, go for self drive or even take a bus to reach your destination!
Delhi – Sonipat – Karnal – Chandigarh – Swarghat – Bilaspur – Sundernagar – Mandi – Larji – Banjar – Gushaini
The total driving distance is about 500 KMs from Delhi and will take you about 12 hours to cover. The route remains the same as when you’re heading to Manali up to Mandi. Post Mandi, you will cover a distance of 38 KMs and instead of heading into the Aut Tunnel, you will take the road towards the tiny settlement of Larji. The drive towards Gushaini is pleasant, and along the river – leading you to the small settlement of Gushaini.
If you’re travelling from Shimla – it will become a 2 day long journey taking you over 20 hours to cover. This is only because a major portion of your route will be traverssing the narrow and winding roads of hills for a longer duration! You can break your trip up and have a pleasant stay at Narkanda before commencing again in the morning for your destination. From Narkanda, Gushaini is about 2.5 houts away and youi’ll cover a distance of approximately 73 KMs.
It should be noted here that in the winter months, you can only reach Gushaini via Mandi route as the Shimla route through Jalori Pass remains closed.
I suggest skipping the Shimla route and heading to Mandi as it is an easier journey. Take a bus from aut tunnel which will cost you about INR 60. The bus willl be heading to Banjar and takes about anhour to reach.
In terms of the village itself – I suggest using your feet. Gushaini is stunning and best explored by walking around and enjoying the slowness of time.
Things to do in Gushaini
A small village, Gushaini doesn’t have much to offer for the mainstream tourists. For the explorers, however, this place is pure magic. Gushaini is home to many beautiful routes. From here, you can head on out to many small hamlets and villages some of them are Nagini, Chalogi, Mungla etc.. Essentially you’ll learn the art of village hopping.
Choii Waerfall/ Nagini
Lying a few KMs from Gushaini, towards Sai Ropa comes this natural wonder, requiring only a short hike from the town of Nagini is this stunning waterfall. Enjoy the trek, the view of the waterfall is amazing. Though, be prepared to run into a few “tourists” here as this place is quite mainstream for the region.
Batahad ( Phalachan Valley)
Batahad is the entryway village to the Phalachan Valley, which in itself is a small sub-valley of Tirthan. Situated at a distance of about 10 Kms from Gushaini. It is also the starting point to Bashleo Pass Trek. The village is scenic, the folks are nice and you’ll enjoy the soothing atmosphere and hum-drum of the pace of life here.
Further up along the road, about 4 KMs ahead is another quaint settlement of Galingcha. Again, boasting of excellent views (can anything else exist?) – you can get to the village by a motorable road, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, through a short but steep hike.
Quite famous, thanks to Ronni and Bartie showing us the beautiful wonders in their inspiring vlogs (not an ad, just a big fan!) Chehni Kothi is a medieval wooden citadel in a village of the same name. It is a short 30 mins hike from the road, somewhere between Jibhi and Banjar.
Treks near Gushaini
There are many, many, many trails from this little hamlet. This comes to no one’s surprise, given we are right at the base of the Great Himalayan National Park. I can’t cover them all here ( TRUST ME, there are MANY TREKS!), but, here are some of the many that you can participate in. Needless to say, one of the major lures of Tirthan Valley in general and Gushaini in particular is the beautiful treks around the region. Enjoy exploring!
Bashleo Pass Trek (same day)
As mentioned above, this particular trek begins at Bathad. I urge you to start the trek early so that you can cover the entire 10 KM journey in one day and return back to your lodging. However, if you’re late – then you’d need to cross over to Kully Sarahan and stay there for the night.
GHNP Gate/ Rolla (same day)
Getting to the entry gate From Gushaini it is around 8 Kms to the official entry point of the GHNP. The views are truly magnanamous with the crystal clear bluish green Tirthan river kkeeping you company. What’s more – you don’t need permission for the day trek. However, if you enter the park and plan on camping there –then you’ll need to attain a permit from Sai Ropa.
Pekhri to Rangthar (2-3 days)
Requiring a total of 2-3 days, this trek takes you to the small, yet enchanting village of Pekhri right up to the Rangthar top. The trek is stunning, for at the top you’ll reach a high altitude meadow with some of the most mind-blowing views of the surrounding ranges!
Sarchi to Lambhari Top to Serolsar (2-4 days)
This trek can be completed in 2 days too, however – keep longer days to truly cover the entire stretch. Start from the Jalori pass and cross the Serolsar lake. The first day you’ll come across some “crystal caves” where you can look for some beautiful stones to carry with you as souvenneirs. You can even take a guide with you to cover the entire route. The flora, fauna and wildlife will keep you mesmerized throughout the entire duration.
Where to stay
There are a bunch of homestays, luxury places as well as affordable budget homes for you to choose from. Raju Homestay is as famous as it gets – though bookings might be difficult. However, the food is simply delicious.
What to eat
Trout fish and local Himachali cuisine should definitely be on your list of food to taste! Siddu with ghee is something that you MUST have! Non-vegetarians can indulge in the genius preparation of Chha Gosht. Other than this the ever-trustworthy Maggi with Chai, and your basic north indian affair are all valid options.
- You will have decent connectivity and mobile phones work fairly well in the town itself
- Road conditions are great for the most part. However, be careful as the width is less and oncoming traffic can be a pain to manouver.
- For anything major in terms of health issues, you will have to travel to Mandi, Aut. However, Gushaini does have a hospital for basic needs, in case required.
- Get a tankful of fuel at Mandi. However, you’ll have access to some petrol pumps in the route towards Gushaini.
- ATM is available in Gushaini
- You don’t need permits to visit Gushaini or other villages in Tirthan valley. But, if you’re planning to get into the core zone of Great Himalayan National Park, then you will have to acquire a permit from Sai Ropa office, costing about INR 100 for Indian citizens and INR 400 for foreign visitors (per day).
When you’re looking for unexplored places that are still accessible, look no further than Gushaini! This little hamlet has it all – flora, fauna, wildlife, seclusion, beauty, snow, and a tranquil river to boot. Enjoy the hum-drum of life and hop on from one village to the next. Interact with locals, eat great food, explore the woods and be happy all around. Gushaini will not disappoint you ever. Happy travelling.