At 12 in the noon I started the 14 km trek on foot to the high point of my journey “Kheerganga”;meaning the river of kheer (a dessert made from milk and rice).This is the place where Shiv Shankar is said to have meditated for 3000 years. This trek is marked with many small dhabas and tea joints. Elevation is continuously increasing in this trek,our body takes first 15 minutes or so to get used to increased heartbeat and breathing rate. First plateau comes at Rudranag Spring, aptly named because of its serpentine path.
Wilderness,a sense of freedom, mild sunlight and Apple orchards will accompany you in this half of the trek.I used to stop time and again just to be in the moment,to thank the mother nature,to be thankful for this wonderful opportunity of being alive where possibilities are limitless and I have all the universe at my disposal.
Trek becomes more adventurous after crossing the wooden bridge over the river as path becomes slippery and wilderness get thicker..It was almost 4 in the evening when i reached "Kheerganga" .Instead of looking for a place to spend the night(which definitely should be your priority) or refreshing my exhausted body with a cup of hot tea,I bowed before Shiva at the temple,thanked the creator for letting me reach his abode and just plunged into the hot water spring.
It was euphoric.You wont feel a muscle let alone muscle aches when that hot water engulfs you.After having my full share of this hot massage I set out to look for a place to stay. Almost all the cottages will offer you secluded cabins or bed in a large cottage depending upon your preference. A small inn is also there ran by Barshaini village administration which will cost you Rs 150 for a single night which includes dinner, morning tea and breakfast. Food won’t be a problem even in this wilderness.
At 2 in the night,in front of me was a mountain whose green was slowly being covered with white as the night got deeper and deeper, white foggy clouds were floating as if Shiva was puffing his chillum. Nothing seemed more important than to be there in that moment,not my family,not my friends,not the job I’ve been stressing over,nothing.
I had to get inside as it was getting too cold outside.In the morning again I got up at 5 wanting to spend as much time as I could in the hot spring.At first I thought water here was not clean because of some white lichen floating in the water but then panditji(temple caretaker) told me “YAHI TO KHEER HAI BETA”(this is the Kheer,son).Although I couldn’t stay in the pond for more than 3 hours as panditji there is quite strict about rules and regulations.
Having my breakfast of a big bowl of honey porridge I again set out for Barshaini at 11 in the morning,which took only 1.5 hours this time.
Retracing my footsteps back to Kasol and Bhuntar,I reached Chandigarh the following night.
Now some tips on how to go about this trip:
1.Best time to visit Kheerganga is between May and November.It is advised to start the trek before noon.
2.Travel light,carry warm but light clothes.
3.Always carry a flashlight with you.
4.Don't eat stomach full before starting the trek.
5.Carry water and eatables (fruits or fruitcake) with yourself on the trek.
6.Carry some anti vomit medicine (Emeset 8 works best for me)
7.Respect mother nature.Don't litter the forest.
8.Leave your ego at home.Don't be afraid of going out of your comfort zone.
I urge everyone to make this trip at least once but beware;the "you" that will embark on this journey will be lost somewhere in those woods and a new "you" which will have lost all the pretentiousness and ego will return and you may find it difficult to adjust to same old pattern of life.