Kheerganga trek takes you along a journey to discover Parvati Valley and one of its many secrets. Nestled deep in Himachal Pradesh, the views on this trek are invigorating, slowing unveiling the depth of the terrain. Also, this trek gives you ample opportunities to explore the beautiful and unique culture of the region.
If you are a beginner trekker or a backpacker looking for a hike deeper in the Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh, a trek to Kheerganga makes perfect sense for an upcoming trip. It is one of the most recommended treks when traveling to Parvati Valley.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Mythology of Kheerganga
An important destination for both Hindus and Sikhs, Kheerganga has a rich history. Let’s look at it in more detail before we dive into the travel guide.
Parvati and Kartikeya
Kartikeya, son of Shivji and Parvati, chose Kheerganga for his meditation and prayers. When his parents decided to visit him, Parvati wanted to cook for her son. Thanks to the presence of hot water springs in the region, legends have it that Parvati would cook rice pudding (Kheer) in this water itself. Hence, the greyish color and the milkfish complexion of the river is because of this!
If you are confused about picking up any destination for the upcoming trip, then check my article on planning a visit to offbeat places in Himachal Pradesh?
In Satyug, Kheer appeared out of nowhere when Shivji and Parvati Ji visited this place. However, Parvati Ji asked Purushotam to convert the Kheer into the water, knowing that people of Kalyug (aka us!) would fight over it.
Gurunanak visiting Kheerganga
During Udasi, Guru Nanak Singh Ji came to Kheerganga to visit his staunch disciple – Bhai Mardana. During one such visit, Bhai Mardana was hungry but had no food available. Upon Guru Nanak Ji’s Bhai Mardana went to collect Aata (flour) from the Langar. But, there was no fire nearby to cook the chapatis.
Here, Guru Nanakji asked Mardana to remove a giant stone – and this is where a hot spring appeared. When Mardana dipped the Rotis into the spring, the Rotis sank. Upon the advice of Guru Nanak Ji, Mardana prayed to God for the Rotis to float back up, and when this happened, he pays it forward to feed other people as well. The Rotis did float back on to the surface, fully baked.
Thus, whoever donates in the name of God, with good intentions, will always have meaningful karma follow him as well.
Key Details about Kheerganga Trek
|Maximum Elevation||2690 Mts|
|Best Time to Visit||April – October|
|Distance Covered||12 km|
How to reach Kheerganga Trek
The starting point for the trek to Kheerganga is Barshaini, which is easily connected by Kasol.
The nearest airport to Kasol is the Kullu Manali Airport in Bhuntar. The flights to Bhuntar are pretty limited, and apart from the frequency, the reliability can be up for a toss as well. Here, taxis and buses are available for your onward journey. The next (safer, reliable) option is the Mohali Airport (Chandigarh), approximately 300+ KMs away
The nearest railway station is Joginder Nagar railway station. You can hire a cab from here and you can reach Kasol in under 4 hours.
Obviously, the most convenient way to get into the Pavati Valley. Total driving time from Delhi to Kasol is about 12 hours, covering approximately 565 Kms. Take Tonnes of pit stops for an easy, memorable journey.
The roads to Kasol from Delhi is in good condition for the most part. All thanks to Parvati Valley being a famous place, especially amongst foreign tourists. The views are amazing, however, and compensates for the long road journey to Parvati Valley.
Many public transport buses leave ISBT, Delhi for an overnight journey to Bhuntar. Volvo/Mercedes buses will be available starting INR 1500. A bus from Chandigarh will take you around 8 hours.
From Bhuntar, you’ll need to change buses and catch the one heading to Manikaran and get off along the way at Kasol.
Taxis are available at all major stations (Airports, Railways, Bus Stops) – be prepared to haggle, especially if you’re getting off at the Railway Station. However, the best way to proceed with this would be to book a prepaid taxi service. Also, sharing cabs are available here.
The 13 km long trail from Barshaini to Kheerganga should take you around 4-6 hours, depending upon your fitness levels. Do not forget to refer the list of must-have things to carry on a trekking trip.
Day 0 – Reach Kasol
Reach Kasol by your preferred mode of transportation and enjoy the hippie scenes of the village. It is a cute little hamlet in Himachal, full of foreigners and has an innate charm that you cannot easily find anywhere else.
Day 1 – Reach Barshaini and Start your Kheerganga Trek
Leave early in the morning, but ensure the arrangements to reach Barshaini are done the day prior- as it becomes difficult to hail a cab/ catch a bus in the AM. 6 would be a perfect time to move upwards.
Routes to choose from for your Kheerganga Trek
There are three major routes that you can choose from. As the saying goes – I took the road less traveled and it made all the difference – or something like that.
- Nakthan Route – This is the most popular route, as it is the quickest. You can reach Kheerganga in about 4 hours. If you believe in the destination and not the journey – then Nakthan is perfection (however, the journey is pretty too!). Once you reach the Barshaini Bridge, you’ll take a left and start on your way up to the Nakthan Village, leading you from the left side of the Parvati River. Since this is the most popular route, it is well marked and also has a tonne of tourists climbing up the hill.
- Kalga Route – Instead of taking a left, turn right from the Barshaini bridge and start your hike towards Kalga. This route will merge with the main (Nakthan) route halfway through the trek. ON this trail, you’ll be crossing through dense forests, hence, for first-time trekkers – you might want to consider taking a guide along on this Himalayan trek.
- Tosh Route – Another different path that will later merge into the Nakthan Route as well. This route is also quite mainstream, especially for people who were staying in Tosh before heading on the trek. Tosh river flows by near Tosh village which joins the Parvati river near Pulga.
You can also plan to visit Tosh on your trip to Kheerganga and add a night or two in Tosh to relax after the trek.
Up, up and away!
I would highly recommend choosing the Kalga route for ascending and either the Tosh Route or even the Nakthan Route for descending after completion of the Kheerganga Trek.
The trek is mild, especially in the beginning, and crosses through apple orchards. Nakthan has developed thanks to the presence of confirmed hikers in the region, and there are quite a few cafes sprinkled across. You can even stay here on your way back if interested in exploring the hamlet-life.
Nakthan is the center point near where all three routes would join. From Nakthan – you head on to RudraNag, which has the most beautiful waterfall. You should fill up your water bottles here. Rudranag has a beautiful Dharamshala as well, specially set up for the pilgrims.
30 Minutes after Rudranag, you will reach a bridge (on your right) with a cool dhaba that serves lip-smacking food. While there are plenty of shortcuts along the way – it is advisable (and advised!) to not venture out as there have been many fatal experiences here. Stick to the route!
Did you read my tips on trekking in the Himalayas for beginners?
Halfway to Kheerganga
Halfway along, you’ll reach a dhaba, stand-alone and near a gushing waterfall, named Shalom Waterfall Café. Watermelon Juice comes highly recommended. Also, when at a dhaba in the hills, Maggi is a must (it’s the law!).
The journey starts getting slightly tougher from here on out. It is a continuous climb, and although the path is well marked, it can be strenuous for first-time trekkers. The climb is tiring, so please walk at your own pace and enjoy the nature around you! Also, stay hydrated!
A good pair of trekking shoes is always a must for any Himalayan trek.
The final push to Kheerganga
It might seem the walk will never end, but you will first run into two dhabas with the most stunning views and then finally – one final turn – and you can see the huts and cafes and the hot water springs! There will be a newly added zeal to your steps, and the distance can easily be covered in under 10 minutes.
Also, you may want to return back to Barshaini or Tosh on the Same day, however, I would suggest spending a night (at least) in Kheerganga and choosing your path for return on the next day.
You should always carry your own water bottle and refill it as many times as you need water. It will not only keep you hydrated always, but you will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage. Remember, every tiny step counts and your step in this direction can help save the Himalayas too !! 🙂 🙂
Tips for the Trek
- Wake up early – Getting up when the Sun does is a difficult business – believe me, I understand. The hike is long, especially for the first-timers, and you don’t want to be covering a major part of your journey in the scorching sun. Yes, the temperatures are mild at such heights – but the intensity of the sun is equally up there.
- Homestays all the way – Airbnb along the way (if you’re taking breaks and making the journey a longer one). There are some beautiful properties in Barshaini and Tosh as well as in the smaller hamlets perched along the way.
- Nakthan should be a pit stop – This village is so gorgeous and full of life – it will be a great point to rest those legs. Also, it is almost the midpoint in your trail – a perfect medley. Nom on some Maggi and Fresh Juice while you’re at it – won’t forget about it soon.
- Kheerganga is all about its hot springs – Parvati Kund. Not visiting while there will be a sin! Also, imagine being in a “hot bath” out in the cool breeze, absorbing in the views of high mountains of Parvati Valley. Are you intrigued yet? It is a sick feeling – don’t miss out on this!
- Camp under the stars – This one is a given, right? Ah, the magical, mystical skies of Parvati Valley. Kheerganga is no exception – you will love every second and would probably be daring yourself to be up all night, in a spell-bound trance while camping. Enjoy, my friend!
Frequently Asked Questions
Please wear proper trekking shoes, and ensure that they are comfortable/broken in!
Layering is the KEY! Do pack clothes suitable for all weather conditions. And even if you’re doing the trek in summer months, do pack a jacket. Weather is tricky in the hills, and you should always go prepared.
There are no ATMs after Kasol. Hence, you must carry enough cash to pay meals and stay for Kheerganga trek.
It’s exceptionally difficult to find shared cabs/buses early in the morning to reach Barshaini. Plan in advance for any such shared transport else take your own car.
The best time to do the Kheerganga Trek is April to November. But, you should avoid the monsoon months. Also, always check the weather before any trekking adventure – with heavy rainfall, this easy trek can turn disastrous.
The network connectivity is zilch. You’re headed out into deep nature, so do not expect any connectivity. However, BSNL tends to catch some (intermittent) signal at some villages along the way. But, this is not to be trusted – happens sporadically.
There are food stalls and dhabas along the way – especially near-certain hamlets.
If crazy views are what you’re after – look no further. Head out to Kheerganga and experience the joy of being in the hills, within the hills. Parvati Valley holds many secrets; Kheerganga Trek is one way to understand the Valley better.
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Please feel free to post any queries or doubts you might have in planning your trip to Kheerganga in the comments section below. If you have been to Kheerganga, I would love to hear your thoughts and any other information you might feel will be worth sharing with other fellow travelers and prove helpful to them as comments