Many a time you must have heard of places like Kullu, its temples, and Manali when it comes to exploring Himachal with family. Today, we take you to another hidden gem of the Kullu district, the Tirthan valley. Situated beside river Tirthan in the Himalayas, is this quaint valley at an altitude of 1600 m. The Tirthan valley is a gateway to the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP). You can literally get lost in the beauty of its pristine small hamlets, its flora-fauna, and in the simplicity of life here.
When is the best time to explore Tirthan?
If you wish to get lost in the gushing flow of the majestic river, enjoy trout fishing in its white waters, then the best time to go is the months of March-April.
If you are like me and find peace in solitude, anytime is the best time to have lots of nature walks into the woods or beside the river, from one trail to another.
From trout fishing in the Tirthan river to trekking in the GHNP, from rock-climbing to birdwatching, from comfy home-stays to camping, there is something for everyone here. The valley stands with open arms for everyone from adrenaline junkies to peace-loving gentle souls.
How to reach Tirthan?
The best way to explore the beauty of mountains is to take a road trip. The winding mountain roads, meandering river, and chilly mountain breeze offer a perfect concoction to lift your spirits.
If you plan to go by bus from Delhi/Chandigarh, hop on to any bus going towards Manali and get down at the Aut Tunnel. It is 3 hours before Manali. From here, you take another local bus going towards Banjar, which is a central point that forks into two branches around the Tirthan valley.
Branch 1 extends to one side of the Tirthan river covering small hamlets of Nagini, Sai Ropa, Gushaini, and then Bathahad.
Branch 2 extends to Jibhi, Ghiyagi, Jalori Pass, and Serolsar lake.
We restrict our exploration to branch 1 on this trip.
Buses are moving after every half an hour from Aut to Banjar from morning 7 to evening 7. From Banjar, you will have limited buses, to go on either side of the valley. You can also easily book a cab from Aut to your place of stay.
If you are flying, the nearest airport is Bhuntar, around 48 km from the valley, or alternately, you can reach Chandigarh by air which is 134 km away.
Life in the Nagini hamlet of Tirthan valley
The local dialect spoken here is Seraji, one which you can easily spot if you travel by a local bus. I reached here early morn and took a stroll to get the pulse of the place. There were school kids hopping on to the local buses and locals getting ready for work.
There are surprisingly no vegetable vendors or street hawkers which are an intricate part of city noise. You will find beekeepers and fruit orchards to give you fresh organic doses. You will also find the forest and fisheries department exhibiting their own aqua museums. You will not find many cafes or restaurants or any lavish hotels though. Pick any beautiful homestay by the riverside. The hosts will teach you angling, cook deliciously sumptuous fresh meals for you. All you have to do is dip your feet in the river, and enjoy nature.
While I was enquiring about the places to explore nearby, my host suggested to me to trek to the Chhoie waterfall. To my surprise, having lived there for 12 years, the lady herself had never visited the place. When asked for the reason, I got the cute excuse that there is hardly any time left after the routine daily tasks. Woods and treks are probably fancies for the city dwellers and just a cliche for the locals to visit. With such thoughts on my mind, I strapped my backpack and headed towards the waterfall.
A group of locals (Serajis) who were chit-chatting on the way, helped me find mine. Trailing through the woods, I felt the first drops of water, which felt like a horizontal rain dance arranged just for me. With no one in the backdrop, small water droplets falling on my face, the sound of the wind, and the majestic waterfall, I was practically on cloud nine. I sat there for about an hour before finding my way back to Nagini. There I found the same group of men still chit-chatting making me realize the soft-gentle pace of life there. I headed to GHNP Office at Sai Ropa to get my trek permit to explore the beautiful national park the next day.
Even if you do not have time or stamina for a trek till Tirath (source of river Tirthan), do hike till the GHNP gate. Stay there overnight camping, if time permits. The earth feels alive here. You will know when you go.