On evening of 28th August, I and Starry (my cousin) left for Kheerganga.We reached at a town called Bhuntar around 12pm the next day. From Bhuntar, we left the highway and took the local bus for Parvati valley, that terminated at Manikaran. Reaching Manikaran, we hired a taxi to Pulga, the place from where we were supposed to start the trek. We reached there by 2 pm. Pulga is a site of an under construction hydroelectric project on the Parvati river.
At this point, our main concern was to reach Kheerganga before sunset, as the trek passed through forest area. Since average time of the trek was around five hours, we aready knew that time was of essence.
Few minutes into the walk, we came across beautiful sight of Parvati river merging with her tributary.
The trail was well developed and moved with the river itself. Now we could feel the gradual decline of human influence and start of wilderness.
Our first milestone was Nakthan village, a laid-back place surrounded by orchards of apricot and apple. Luckily for us, this was the harvesting season and people there were busy plucking and packing these fruits. Unable to hold myself back, I requested an old lady, sitting near her orchard with a dog to let us pluck apples for the way. She happily pointed to a tree, and we started stocking ourselves. Thanking her, we continued with our trek.
Within a few minutes after leaving Nakthan, the sky got overcast and it started drizzling.Though it made the trail more slippery and challenging, thereby affecting our pace, but it was more than compensated by the beautiful weather that took away all our fatigue.
After an hour of walk, we reached Rudranag. It is a small meadow and has a waterfall gushing down towards Parvati river. After Rudranag, the nature of trail changed completely. Till now, the trail had taken us deeper into the valley. But now it was time to ascend. We walked through the beautiful waterfalls and experienced some mesmerizing sights of the thick deodar forest. At some places, the slope was quite steep and with a 10 kg bag on my back, it became physically taxing. Meanwhile, the sky started to clear and clouds uncovered the surrounding mountains.
And finally, after four hours of arduous trek, we reached our destination. The first sight was enough to fill us up with energy and excitement, a sense of achievement. A meadow, with scattered tents of trekkers, few horses still grazing , cool breeze and the sun setting in the background. It was heavenly. We left our stuff in an ashram and went straight for the hot springs .The water temperature must have been around 35-40 degrees, which was perfect. Nestled in the mountains, the bath was an out of the world experience. I had never felt more rejuvenated. Till we came back from bath, the sun was already set. I thought that the best part was over, till I realized that I was standing under the clearest night sky I had ever seen.
Next day, we left in the forenoon and descended in 3 hours. We took taxi from Pulga to Manikaran and from there,walked to Kasol along the highway. Kasol has a good number of Israeli people this time of the year. At Kasol, I realised that we had walked more than 20 km that day. We caught the last bus from Kasol to Bhuntar and reached just in time to catch our bus to Delhi.