As usual “Pankaj” called me again for one another trek, he was planning for the Kheerganga Trek. It was also his birthday which he wanted to celebrate in the mountains. We ended up planning the Kheerganga trek. So the idea was to camp for a day in Kasol and then do the trek.
On day 1 we left Chandigarh and agreed to meet at Bhuntar (Kullu). I took a Volvo at night from Chandigarh and Pankaj after finishing his US shift drove to Bhunter. Bannu one of my friends happened to work in Bhuntar so I called him in advance so that we could meet. I reached Bhunter a bit earlier in the morning and after waiting for a few hrs Pankaj also reached along with Pulkit.
Pulkit was Pankaj’s work colleague who was very excited to go for a trek and joined him for the trek. Vinesh (Bannu) used to live in a beautiful rented home near Bhunter Airport. The setting there was beautiful with a huge mountain facing opposite to his home. He welcomed us with awesome Maggi (pahadon mein maggi nahi khayi to kya khaya).
Our original plan was to go to Bijli Mahadev if time allows but we skipped the plan as we were late. It was somewhere close to 6:30 PM when we decided to go to Kasol for camping. My friend asked us to stay for the night at his place but we also wanted to spend some time in Kasol. I took his bike and we drove all the way to Kasol which is approx. 30 KM from Bhunter.
If you want to visit Kasol you don’t need to go towards Manali and there is a detour which you need to take from Bhunter. Kasol is a beautiful hamlet and you can simply say it is the hippe capital of India. By 7:30 we reached Kasol. Kasol is a different place when you visit in the evening. It looks like a hippie town and there are a lot of foreigners who you can see there. That’s one of the reasons it is also known as the mini-Israel of India. There are a lot of cafes that are always packed and you have to wait for some time before you get a table (If you have been to Kasol you know it !!).
After a bit of challenge and going through cafes we found a cafe that allowed us to set up our own tent on their property. We sat up our tent in dark, to be honest, it’s not easy to sit up a 4 person tent especially when you are setting it up for the first time and it’s dark 😬. The vibe at the Cafe was really cool and it was only in the morning when we realized that we were so close to river 😃.
In the morning we started our journey to Barshini. Barshini is the base for Kheerganga Trek and is around 16 KM from Kasol town. There are a couple of shops at Barshaini where you can find essential items and there are few dhabas where you can eat simple food. You can find more about Barshini and Kheeranga Trek travel guide here.
On the way to Barshini, we stopped at a cafe and did breakfast where we met this beautiful family who was waiting for the bus as they were going towards Kasol.
On the way to Barshini, we witnessed some of the most beautiful mountain villages. Life in the mountains is a bit tough and while on the way you will see a lot of villages on the opposite side of the road where you will see a lot of trolleys which are used for to get essentials from road-head to the village.
After reaching Barshini we got all the necessary things and food which we would require for the trek as we were planning to cook our own food which we generally do when we do treks. We spoke to a few shopkeepers in Barshini and found that there are 2 trails which goes to Kheerganga. We took the trail through Pulga village which is on right from the bridge. I personally recommend that you should take this trail while hiking and take another one while returning from Kheerganga. Few minutes into the trail we found ourselves in the forest. The trail is well marked and you can see it is followed by Shepherds.
Halfway into the trek, Pulkit got cramps in his legs as it was the first time he was doing any trek and also was not physically active, he could hardly walk. We motivated him to keep walking. He was hardly able to walk so took his bag and carried that. The trail was becoming more beautiful the more we were into the valley. Parvati valley is very beautiful valley and you can literally feel that it is blessed.
We were just near to the waterfall which is also like the midpoint of the trek when we found this board on the trek. The paths in such trails get tricky at a few points and you need to ensure that you are keeping an eye on your feet.
After walking for a few more minutes we reached the waterfall where there is a small shop where you can find food and tea. I observed a few foreigners who were camping here and the shopkeeper told us that they were camping there for good enough days now.
The trail after the waterfall meets with another trail that is coming through Kalga village. While returning we can take this trail or vice-versa. There are few cafes at the point where these 2 trails meet and then a single trail goes towards Kheerganga. We were on the way to the final destination when we met Sidhant. Sidhant was travelling solo from all the way from Goa and was going to camp solo in Kheerganga. We became friends while on the trail and he joined our pack. Fortunately enough we are still in touch and keep on talking about travel very often.
We all 4 kept chatting and kept walking. The last stretch to Kheerganga is a bit steep. Finally, we reached Kheerganga and we were very happy when we saw that we reached our destination.
Well, Kheerganga is such a place which you can’t explain in words how hard you try! It’s a place out of the world. The hippie cafes, temporary setups, camps, dome tents, shepherd herds, a cool vibe and on top of that an amazing hot water pond! That’s Kheerganga for you! The trek is a hard one but when you reach Kheerganga and take a dip in a hot water pond you forget everything. It’s the perfect combination of chilled weather and a hot stream, better than any jacuzzi in the world!
I was thinking that we won the world and was underestimating what there was in store for tonight! Then happened unexpected thing which I never thought I will witness. This is the night when I got introduced to the Rainbow family and I went to my first ever rainbow gathering. The story goes like it…
When we reached Kheerganga we agreed to pitch our tent a bit far away from the cafe. We pitched our tent and then went for a dip in a hot water spring. There were a lot of foreigners there at the Kheerganga at the moment. We thought it was a normal day as there are a lot of cafes/bakeries that were being operated by foreigners there. Though Pankaj observed that none of the foreigners was camping at Kheerganga and they were going deep into the forest. We thought there is some secret Full Moon party going on which they have kept as a secret (We were not observant enough I think).
We were about to start cooking our dinner when a group of foreigners passed by us. One of them (Kal) stopped by to take a break and sat with us. After chatting a bit he told us that there is a rainbow gathering happening at the time we were camping there. He invited us to the Rainbow gathering, asked us to follow the rock signs and left. We thought let’s visit there and then we will come back and prepare dinner. First, we got confused as we were not seeing any signs and then we saw there were small rocks placed with their sharp edges pointing towards another set of rocks. It felt like a scene from the Harry Potter movie (seriously) but we kept following and kept moving.
After walking for around 15 minutes we found ourselves deep in the woods and to our surprise after crossing a few trees we found a whole plain ground covered from all sides with dense forest (almost invisible from the outside) and there it was the whole rainbow community. The atmosphere there was totally out of the world. We were welcomed by the rainbow family as their own (actually we became part of the rainbow family the moment we walked in). There were good 200-250 foreigners from around the world bonded by a code and mutual respect.
The campfire was lit and we all sat around the fire. There were a lot of musicians from around the world at the rainbow. Everyone played the instrument they liked, sang songs (even we were given a chance to sing one of the local songs which everyone enjoyed). There were groups who were cooking for the night, some were arranging things, helping everyone to pitch their tent, guiding about the camps, toilets (woods) and other rules for the gathering. I suggest everyone should attend at least one of these events, you got to know a lot of people and understand different cultures. We enjoyed it till late in the night and then returned to our camps.
The next morning we were woken up by the cheering sounds of mountain kids. We came out of the camps and found these three joyful, cheering, cute, little mountain kids. They were from the nearby shelters. We felt really happy with these kids and started playing.
These kids were so fearless and curious that they were running on small mountain trails like a pro. They kept talking to us to understand how we got our beautiful tents, how much they cost, where have we come from, how cities look etc. I usually carry a trail guide by Himachal tourism which I opened to show them. They were very curious to see pictures of different places in that.
We left Kheerganga as we had to join back our offices and I never got the opportunity to visit again though those memories are still fresh. I think to meet these kids again, someday! They would have grown into teenagers by now and I keep on thinking about meeting them again and showing the innocence they had. Have you seen these kids?