This trip was special because our college group trolls were set to unite after 2 years to relive the good old times. We chose Tirthan Valley as the destination because we wanted to see as less humans as possible.
- Seeking the extreme, we travelled to Tirthan Valley, Himachal Pradesh in the month of December. The weather was extremely cold, averaging to about 2°C over the days of our stay.
- Tirthan valley is at over 1500m altitude and is an excellent place to get a flavor of the mighty Himalayas.
- It is an uncommercialized place where people make living mostly by farming and by running home-stay cottages.
- If you are not into hardcore trekking, I would recommend that you limit your outdoor activities to be before 17:00; it gets intolerably cold after that.
- The local crowd is super friendly and easy-going. You can randomly chat with people and they have interesting tales to amuse you.
- You should carry cash as there are very few ATMs and they are frequently out of service.
We assembled at Chandigarh and started our journey by car at 15:30. It was a smoothe ride until we reached Himachal Pradesh where the steep roads started troubling some motion-sick people. We then stopped at Hotel Beas for dinner, where we had some awesome Palak Paneer (make sure you try it out if you go).
At 01:00, we reached Tirthan View Home Stay where we were greeted by Mr Raju Negi, the owner of the homestay. We missed the first impressions of the place because the area was pitch dark. However, one thing surely took us aback: “It was disgustingly cold”; so cold that we couldn’t really converse comfortably.
We rushed to our rooms to avoid the coldness where we were placated by some hot water (to drink). The rooms, just like the entire homestay, were made purely out of wild wood and hence were cozy in the cold climate. Honestly, we were quite afraid about how things would unfold given our first experience with cold. We weren’t even carrying any winter clothes except a normal jacket and some inner-wear. That was when Raju came in telling some nice things which pumped us up for the upcoming days.
The river and the village
We had planned on waking up early, but the cold weather and the cozy bed didn’t allow us waking up until 09:00. We woke up and Mr Munna Negi came with hot water for the morning rituals. As we opened our room doors, we went speechless at the sight:
We saw huge mountains that sparked a realisation of infinity and a deep sense of oneness with nature. I wish I could write more about it, but I think no words can do justice with the feeling of oneness with the Himalayas.
After some discussion with between KC and Raju, we decided on taking the day to feel the place, the view, the local people and the Tirthan River.
We climbed down to the nearest village (Gushaini) that lives on the bank of the Tirthan River. People in Gushaini seemed to be living a very simple and self-sufficient life. There was mostly just one center per department i.e. one grocery shop, one medical shop, one tiny hospital, one small school on the riverbank. The folks were super friendly; we talked to a couple of people asking them for recommendations about things we wanted to buy, about things we wanted to see etc. Finally, we sat down at the river and stared at the clean water talking about life.
We also met Shady at this river. Shady is a cute, chubby, lazy and friendly dog that doesn’t give a damn about anything in life. He gazes like a lion and walks/runs like a bear.
It was almost 14:00 when we decided to climb back to the homestay for lunch. There was some delicious Shahi Paneer and Dal Tadka for lunch. I wanted to eat chicken, but the Paneer did not really disappoint.
The plan was to go back down after lunch and play with the kids, but it was already 16:00 then and things had started becoming chilly. So we sat down in the balcony, talking about life and watching the reflection of sunset in the snow.
The day ended early with a couple of us tripping on the campfire and carrying our warm bodies to the cozy beds.
Jalori pass trek
Next, we wanted to experience snow. For this, Raju recommended Sirolsar lake which is usually frozen in the winter. Raju, besides being the owner of the homestay, also behaves as a “free guide”. So all of us, along with Raju started our journey to Jalori pass.
We hired a driver who introduced himself as “Chor” (meaning: thief) and later told his name to be “Fifty-fifty”. He was overall an amusing person and most people on the way seemed to know and revere him. He drove really well and also kept giving us lessons on how to drive. It was a beautiful ride up the mountain and we could see how it got snowier and snowier.
We reached Jalori pass and the view was beautiful. It was a blend of snow, distant mountains, dense trees and sky.
Jalori pass seemed to be more occupied than what we had expected. We could see a few human faces and a few tea/coffee shops. After we clicked some photographs, we were left with two choices: Trek down to Sirolsar Lake (5km, snow) or Trek up to a nearby mountain (4km, nice view). I wanted to go to the mountain but was outvoted.
Then the trek to Sirolsar lake began. It was more of a hike than a trek because the lake was at a lower altitude than Jalori pass. Going down was fairly easy as we were full of energy and enthusiasm at that point. Finally, we reached a hill of snow and the kid in us wanted to slide on it. Believe me, it might feel scary, it might feel cold, it might feel messy, but it is worth it.
About 200 metres down from this snow hill was Sirolsar lake, a lake completely frozen and with a 3-feet deep snowy bank. We had a great time throwing pebbles in the lake and seeing them bounce as the lake was frozen. Later we read that throwing pebbles in the lake was forbidden; please do not do it if you visit.
We spent a good time playing in the snow fighting, rolling, sliding etc. Some funny pictures and videos were taken for capturing the memories.
Climbing back to Jalori pass from Sirolsar lake was quite cardiovascularly challenging. It was a message for me that I must include some intense cardio in my routine. Me and KC climbed slowly taking a lot of breaks because we were panting a lot.
It was about 17:00 by the time we reached Jalori pass. It had gotten super chilly, so we sipped some tea, ate some noodles and headed back to our homestay. We were super tired and crashed by 10.
Shirchi trek and the waterfall
The next day, we headed to Shirchi Village for a beautiful trek that oversaw a lot of huge mountains. This was an easy trek (3km) and was entirely on the aesthetic side of things. The mountains ranged beyond our sights and it was another experience where we could feel one with the Himalayas and perceive the sense of infinity.
We trekked through the village on the way and met some really cheerful people. They made their own wool, grew their own stash, built wooden equipments and played simple games with coins and hand made cricket bats. We spent some time indulging in their games and some of us smoked the tobacco from the chillam from one cool-ass old man.
We reached the summit of the mountain to find traces of snow lying around. That’s when I did something that I regret while I am writing this blog. I wanted to take a shirtless picture with the beautiful background (#ToplessOnTheTop). None of my friends were kind enough to stop me from this dumbness.
As I was looking at my love handles in the pictures, these morons hid my clothes behind a stone and it took me a while to find it. It was about 20 minutes that I was topless with the chilliest winds of my life piercing my skin. I got sick in about an hour and I have a running nose till now.
Tirthan river revisited
Next, our group headed to trek to a waterfall in the Great Himalayan National Park. I skipped this because I was sick and I decided to medidate at the Tirthan River till these culprits of my sickness enjoyed the trek. That is where I met Jackal, an old dog who seemed to be very ferocious. As I was alone and needed company, I offered some biscuits to Jackal and headed to the river with him. I had a great time with him and he accompanied me till my friends returned. I miss Jackal.
You can find dogs everywhere and it takes just a tiny gesture to get their constant silent company.
This river point was just near the water purification center of the Tirthan Valley. This was a point where you actually feel like being in a valley, the one you read about in your Geography textbooks.
I also started writing a poem there which I couldn’t complete. Hoping to complete it soon.
We did some more things (nothing nasty :P) that I am told I shouldn’t write publicly, so I am cutting this post short.
This was a fun short trip and there was a lot of self discovery and a lot of great discussions. Tirthan valley is a beautiful place and you should definitely visit if you like being in the nature; and more importantly, if you want to escape from the world in the realms of self-discovery.
Note: if you are looking for a place to live in Tirthan valley, I highly recommend Tirthan View homestay in Gushaini. It is a cozy place with a beautiful view from the balcony and super amazing people to comfort you. The owner Raju Negi will also be a free guide to help you figure out the destinations as per your taste.