Unplanned trips often give memories to be etched forever in the mind because unexpected adventures thrill us more than the expected escapades. We went through the same series of adventures on our Kheerganga trek.
We, a group of 5 friends, planned a trip to Rishikesh but one friend turned down and the trip got cancelled. My husband and I have a problem. We can never cancel a trip. Transforming the impossibilities into possibilities, we always end up saying to each other ‘yes, we are going’ (no matter what).
After the cancellation of the trip, we had no backup plan. I was considering destinations after destinations, but finally settled on Kheerganga Trek. Why? Because my school friend, Narendra Singh Rawat, runs a travel agency ‘Travel Syrup’, and he was already there with a group of 10-15 people. So, I knew there would be no problem of accommodation.
The only task was to reach Kasol in the morning as Kheerganga trekking begins from Barshaini which is 16 kilometers from Kasol. It was already 4 PM when we decided to trek to Kheerganga and the bus options were few. The only bus that matched our timing was HRTC ordinary bus, which was scheduled to leave Delhi at 6.15 PM to reach Bhuntar at 4 AM.
We could have reached Kasol on bike, but we had a friend-cum-bro, Nihal, to accompany us on the trip and he was more excited than us for Kheerganga. He has the same level of our craziness, so we could not say ‘No’ to him.
Without wasting time, we packed our bags and booked a cab for ISBT Kashmiri Gate. Nihal met us at the bus stop. Ordinary bus and Volvo bus were standing next to each other. Unaware of the fact that we are going by an ordinary bus, Nihal started moving towards the Volvo bus as he was all the way dreaming of traveling by a Volvo. He is from Orissa and he has no experience of traveling by bus.
Mr. Gupta stopped him from making a further movement towards Volvo. With a devilish smile, he shattered his dreams by pointing a finger towards HPTDC Ordinary Bus and told him that this is our bus. He looked shocked for a moment and then burst out laughing. We settled ourselves in the bus and realized that the crowd is better than what we expected.
Only one lady troubled us in the bus and that lady was sitting on the seat behind me. She vomited all through the journey making horrible sounds, strong enough to make anyone nauseous. Luckily, Mr. Gupta & I are mentally strong enough to not get affected by such sounds. But to add more entertainment to our bus journey, barfing sound works as an emetic for Nihal as he feels like puking. After deboarding the bus at Bhuntar and taking another bus for Kasol, it was Nihal who took the charge of vomiting.
We reached Kasol at around 11am. Narendra arranged a room for our refreshment in Hotel Tashila and the tempo traveller was waiting outside to take us to the starting point of the trek – Barshaini. It takes around 30-40 mins to reach Barshaini from Kasol.
In the tempo traveller, we were accompanied by a group. They were from the different parts of Rajasthan and most of them were colleagues-cum-friend. Accommodating ourselves in the tempo traveller, we reached Barshaini to begin our on-foot journey.
There are two routes to reach Kheerganga top. We chose the Rudra Nag – Nakthan route to climb up and Kalga route to descend. Nakthan village is the last spot to get mobile networks on the way to Kheerganga. So, it’s advisable to inform your loved ones before starting the trek and losing yourself in the beauty of nature.
This wonderful 12-km trek encompasses natural bounties of the region. We were greeted by River Parvati on starting the trek. People offer sticks for rent at the cost of Rs.10 which you need to give back on the completion of the trek. You can take one as they prove supportive while trekking.
Kheerganga trek via Rudra Nag has an easy pathway in the beginning with almost straight walking passage till the midway & a few climbs and slopes. You will get some dhabas on the way, offering maggi, soft drinks and tea. But it is recommended not to eat too much during or before the trek. Having light snacks, chocolates, energy bars and drinks are a good way to stay energized.
We crossed several streams on foot, enjoyed the sight of mighty waterfalls and apple loaded trees.
Singing and rejoicing, we walked halfway in no time. Moving towards a bridge, we started hearing the thunderous sound of the water and witnessed the river Parvati flowing vigorously. It was quite scary. I couldn’t watch the constant and powerful flow of the river for a long time and I crossed the bridge speedily.
The terrain changed after the bridge. The flat, paved track turned into the narrow rocky pathway with tiring ups and downs. It started raining as we were acclimatizing to the high altitude, which added more challenges to finish the trek. We wanted to be the first one of our group to complete it, so we were walking without taking many breaks. Also, we wanted to make it to the campsite before the sunset.
The most challenging part was when we saw a landslide on the way. There was a long queue to cross the landslide affected area and people were moving one by one. After standing for more than half an hour, it was our turn to pass through the 100-meter landslide. With bated breath, I went ahead, stepping on the debris that moved down the slope, crossing the mudflow occurred due to heavy rain, taking giant steps up & down on the masses of rock to cross the landslide area.
When I was about to finish this terrifying task, I heard someone calling my name. I looked up and it was Narendra, stretching out his hand to help me take the final step of coming out of the landslide. He helped everyone as the last step to cross the slush required a big leap and it wasn’t possible without anyone’s help. Overall, it was an adrenaline pumping experience with a mix of fear and excitement.
There was a sense of achievement & relief that we are out of danger, but the task did not end here. The last few minutes’ walk was exhausting, almost uphill. Our competitive spirit kept us going until we reached the crowded top with a number of tents, eateries & lots of trekkers. It wasn’t a pleasant sight after a really long trek. We were a little disappointed to see a packed place as we had in our imagination a beautiful, isolated & peaceful hilltop. Nevertheless, we create happiness wherever we go.
We started searching for our camps and to our relief, they were at some distance from that crowded fish-market looking area. There were numerous tents to accommodate groups of different sizes. We got a small one as we were 3. Keeping our bags inside the tent, we straight-away headed to the cafeteria as we were hungry. We ordered tea and maggi. It started raining again in full form. We were relaxed as we reached our destination before sunset, but a little worried too as our group mates did not make it to the campsite.
After half an hour, they all came one after one and that moment made me realise that the bunch of strangers turned our friend now. And, then we started the PARTY! It’s always thrilling to party in the lap of nature (Note: without harming the natural environment & disturbing the wildlife).
There was a group of people taking joint in the cafeteria. After some time, they were high and transited to a different world and we even forgot they ever existed. They all sat still and numb throughout the night under the influence of joint while we enjoyed music, danced crazily and shared the saga of our common passion – travelling.
Travelling connects people & their lives. It brings out the commonness among strangers and boosts the feeling of oneness. It makes us realise that there are so many like us who wander to quench their thirst for travelling to different places. Some travel to get their questions answered, some travel to explore different terrains while some travel to challenge their own limits. We all travel for some purposes. This time, we travelled to gain a new experience of trekking.
It was a beautiful night on the meadow of Kheerganga, when the dark sky was our blanket and the lush green grass was our bedsheet. We were exposed to the nature from every nook and corner. And, to add more charm to the night, it rained the whole night. I could hear the drops of rain falling on the tent, which made me feel wrapped in the arms of Mother Nature. It was among the rarest of the rare nights when I enjoyed the rain. I usually don’t.
We woke up around 8am when the sunlight entered the tent and it became too hot to sleep peacefully. All our group mates were ready to take a dip in the sacred hot water spring of Kheerganga which is said to have medicinal properties. We took paranthas & tea for breakfast and then got ready to enjoy the natural hot water spring. But before that, it was the time to bid goodbye to our trek mates. We also clicked a pic with the group to keep the beautiful memories intact.
After taking bath in the hot water spring, we also started our journey back to reach Bhuntar. We took the Kalga route to descend and found it trickier than the previous one. However, this route is claimed to be a shorter one.
A beautiful waterfall passes by after crossing halfway with a café offering maggi and tea.
Trekking down was more exhausting than climbing up, maybe because we knew the adventurous journey is going to end. But the excitement of our trip did not end here as more fun was waiting for us.
We took a taxi to reach Kasol, but we couldn’t find a single bus in Kasol for Delhi. We contacted the taxi union, but they also refused to drop us to Bhuntar as there was a heavy traffic jam in Kasol. We started asking for lifts from the passers-by and we got different reactions from different people.
After a struggle of more than half an hour, a local offered us lift in Mahendra Bolero till Bhuntar as he was going to Chandigarh. I can say that it was the scariest ride of my life. He was driving crazily, overtaking each and every one coming on his way. I was calming myself down by remembering the fact that he is a local driver and he knows well how to drive.
It was not just me who was scared, I found ‘tongue in cheek’ expressions on the face of Mr. Gupta as well as Nihal. I, naturally, calm down when I see other people worried more than me. I left our fate in the hands of God and closed my eyes to open them in Bhuntar.
We were blessed enough to reach Bhuntar safely by 9 pm and we saw a bus ready to depart for Delhi. We were super-excited to ask the driver about the availability of seats and to our delight, he confirmed the availability of three seats at the back. It was a Scania bus, better than Volvo. A huge smile appeared on Nihal’s face after entering Scania. On settling down in the bus, we slept in every damn possible position on the back seat as it was solely our territory. There was no one else on the back seat. The bus was like a treat after all the hustle bustle. I can say that ‘All’s well that ends well’.
The bus dropped us at Kashmiri Gate, Delhi, around 7 am, putting an end to our wonderful journey.
Points to Remember :
- Book a hotel in Kasol to keep your luggage and carry only the essentials on trekking.
- Do not forget to keep a water bottle, light snacks and energy bars on the trek.
- A guide is not required for Kheerganga trek, but if find difficulty in carrying your luggage, then you can hire one.
- It takes approx. 4-5 hours to reach the Kheerganga top from Barshaini. So, it is advisable to start the trek before 12pm to enjoy the evening at Kheerganga.
- Best time to visit Kheerganga is April-June and September-November. Avoid monsoon and winter season.
- Do not pollute the Himalayas by disposing of the leftovers, water bottles and other hazardous material. Love, respect & save the Mother Nature so that our next generation can enjoy the same clean & green environment.
For any other queries related to Kheerganga trek, feel free to leave a comment. Thanks!