There are not many trekking destinations in Himachal where one can go in the month of December as the snow makes the higher areas inaccessible. The roads are usually closed towards the higher reaches and even the life gets cut off there, water freezes in the pipes itself and people move to low lying areas. It was indeed very difficult to find a weekend trek that I could undertake. Searching the internet for an offbeat destination where I could spend my weekend I ended up finding Thachi valley, a very less explored destination. Perched between the mountains that overlook the Great Himalayan National Park, the captivating Thachi valley is one such hidden place which has been kept away from the so-called commercialization.
The valley offers great views of the pristine Himalayan range. The majestic peaks such as Griffon Peak 5522 ft, Mani Mahesh Kailash 18484 ft, Shikhar Beh 20341 ft, Mulkila 21381 ft, Papsura 21165 ft, Parvati Parbat 21759 ft are clearly visible from the valley itself. If you are imagining yourself to be sleeping under billions of dazzling stars, getting up to witness a beautiful early morning sunrise and a breathtaking sunset, Thachi is the place to be !!!
Next, I started looking online for the various staying options available at Thachi valley and but I could only found one, The Cottage, Thachi valley. Thachi doesn't seem to have hotels or home-stays. You have to pre-book your room as there is limited occupancy. The Cottage is booked on first come first serve basis. Mr. Mukesh & Rajesh run this Cottage and you would find Mr. Rajesh in the cottage quite often. Here are the contact details of both.
Mr. Mukesh - 8587802134 Mr. Rajesh - 9817035673
For pre-booking, you have to pay 40% advance to them and the overall package is of Rs 3500 per person. I usually leave on Friday evening for my treks as this the best time one can spend on traveling and can have the next complete day for the adventure. I found some people going towards Mandi at ISBT Sector - 43 and we decided to take an Uber instead of a bus as due to holidays very few buses were coming and we were losing the time. I started my journey from Chandigarh at 1:25 AM and reached Mandi early morning at 6:00 AM. Then after I hopped on to my bus to Aut. Aut is about 56 km from Mandi. I reached Aut at about 7:45 AM. Then I got the bus to Thachi. After reaching Thachi I called Mr. Rajesh to locate the cottage and he told me that it is 1 km behind Thachi bus stand. Ahhh.. again I got the bus and finally, I reached the cottage at about 10:30 AM.
The property is beautiful, they have 2 double sharing rooms at basement and a hall which can accommodate about 15 persons at ground level. Above that is a dining area where one can enjoy the sumptuous food they offer. Hahaha... actually it is not that good.. honestly, I didn't like it. Typical fine wheat flour (maida) chapatis, aaloo paranthas and the vegetables are also so-so. Not too many delicacies. I think they gonna improve on the food quality. Leave the food apart the place is beautiful offers mesmerizing views and peace which you wouldn't find at other places. Thachi Valley is a small hamlet and is one of those rare places unknown to the world that is only visited by a few who venture out in offbeat destinations. It is located at 3000 meters above MSL.
As soon as I reached there I found a girl sitting on a wooden bench having her breakfast and enjoying the sunshine. I sat on a wooden bench nearby after keeping my backpack in the room. We introduced ourselves and she asked me whether I wanna go trekking to Chanjwala peak right now. I asked her about her trekking experiences and she said I had been to Indrahar pass. I was shocked to hear that she did her first trek to Indrahar pass which is at 14245 ft. I congratulated for her achievement. Malvi is my name, she said I came here with my friends to spend some quality time. I hadn't slept the whole night and I was thinking of getting some rest so I said no to her and asked her to carry on with her schedule as I am gonna go for some sightseeing today.
Mr. Rajesh took me to Bithu Narayan temple. I learned that after 8 days trip to Saakti (Sainj) Deity Bitthu Narayan returns to Thachi where welcoming rituals were performed following the traditional dance called Nati. Batwada Fagli is the festival of Devta Bithu Narayan. Thachi people, at least one from each family comes to this place and this festival celebrated for 7 Days. Bithu Narayan Thachi Hoom is celebrated yearly but the Fagli Festival is celebrated once in a four year. In this event, people with mask dance on the Fagli Music (Dev Dhun) called Madhiye. And the Jleb (People Travel with Devta) of Bithu Narayan travel every village of the area and celebrate the festival for 7 days. This tradition is being played by the people of old. Bithu Narayan temple has a beautiful architecture.
The myriad patterns of woodwork along with the yellow, green & red color scheme makes the temple complex strikingly beautiful.
After capturing the beauty of Bithu Narayan temple I hiked for Hidimba Peak. En-route I found people preparing their apple orchards. Even the women were working tirelessly for their crop. There is a beautiful temple of Hidimba Mata at the peak surrounded the sky touching Himalayan peaks.
I was just left awestruck by the beauty of this royal architectural masterpiece. The temple adorns the wealth of wooden carvings. The temple is situated on a grassland. It was dry grass, however in summers this place would look marvelous with its unparallel beauty. The craftsmanship of wooden columns on which the entire structure rests is magnificent.
The temple architecture temple exhibits fine artwork of Himachali craftsmanship. Hidimba temple is constructed in pagoda style architecture. The eaves decorated with hanging wooden bells knock and rattle in the wind producing divine music which takes over your soul.
As I was clicking pictures around there came Malvi with her friends Anu & Priya along with their guide, Guddu. They asked me if I wanna come and this time I said yes as there was not much left in Thachi to see. The time is running Guddu said, and I looked at my watch it was about 12:40 PM. With my DSLR in hand and nothing else, I started my journey to Chanjwala Peak. Enroute we spotted Beas river slithering amidst the valleys.
The Chanjwala peak is a 9,800 ft mountain peak that is blanketed with crisp snow in the winter. Peppered with deodar trees, the summit of the peak requires a 5-hour trek from the cottage. The trek stretches for the entire day and it is about 18 km in total including the descent at Zahira. We took unofficial small stops in between due to fatigue arising because of poor stamina. There is no cafe or shop throughout the trek and the only source of water is Sheela Pani, glacial water en-route so carry enough water to strive your quench. The water is said to remain cold in summers & hot in winters. It is about 4.5 kms from Hidimba Peak. We finally reached the Chanjwala peak. The peak offers spectacular views of the mountain ranges covered with dazzling white snow. We played a bit in the snow, captured some shots and started our descent towards Zahira, the place where we were to stay for the night.
The return journey was somewhat easy and quick. In the last stretch, we felt a little bit scared as the trail was a complete jungle and we were walking on snow with last light of the day gone.
We finally made it and reached Zahira at 6:45 PM. We straight away dropped dead on the sofas which were none less than heaven to us after such strenuous trek. We had some tea and ate our dinner and finally called the day off.
Next morning I woke up amidst the beauty of Zahira with the Saponidhar peak right in front of me. I very much wanted to trek the peak but the fatigue overpowered my ambitions. I went for an early morning walk in Zahira and captured some amazing shots of temples situated there.
We took the bus from Zahira to Thachi. Meanwhile, Guddu made a girlfriend on the way. Yeah, you heard me right !!! Guddu is a fun loving guy but a flirt. He kept on talking to this girl sitting in front of me throughout our journey back to the cottage. We were all observing him and wherever we gotta a chance we pulled his leg. Anyways he is a great person and well known in the valley. After freshening up and having my breakfast, aaloo ke paranthe I decided to go to Ropa temple which is about 16 km from the cottage. After covering a distance of about 5 km by bus you have to trek for 2 km down to reach the temple premises. Malvi and group had to leave for Delhi in the afternoon so they rested for the day & I went with Guddu to the Ropa temple. The entire route he kept on talking to the girl he met on the bus and I was like bhai bas bhi kar !. Enroute we found one cave, might being used by some wild animal.
Finally, we reached the temple premises. I was amazed to see the beauty of Ropa temple. I really do like the slate stone pitched roofs mounted on wooden columns which are distinct from the ones in plains.
I captured some amazing shots of the temple complex. The color scheme of every temple. I visted was different. The Ropa temple is dedicated to Deity Pundrik Rishi.
The temple complex houses a crystal clear pond water with colored fishes in it. The fishes keep the water body crystal clear. The place is totally winsome with its surreal ambiance, lush green surroundings.
The temple exhibits fine artwork of Himachali craftsmanship with pagoda style architecture, pitched slate roofs supported on wooden columns, and carved doors.
We then returned back to cottage via Kau village. The walkthrough Kau village goes amidst apple orchards, peas, oranges & wheat farms. The houses are very old have typical old Himachal architecture.
The view of slithering roads and Chir pines from Kau that lead to Thachi valley do not fail in giving you an idea of the sanctity of the valley.
After reaching the cottage I met two guys from Rohini, Delhi and a group of three people from HCL, Noida. We had an awesome bonfire, talked about each other lives & jobs. Mr. Vinit had told me that he has a great passion for trekking. Chit-Chatting we even made some raw plans for a trek in January. Finally, after 2 days I had Chicken Tariwala, an exclusive recipe given by Mr. Sarit, Vinit's friend. Pointing at the sky looking for some celestial bodies, I captured some constellations and even the moon. We finally called the day off. I was very tempted to go for my trek the next morning and specifically asked Mr. Rajesh to ensure that all goes as per the plan.
Early morning after witnessing the sunrise I prepared for my trek to Gaunbeed Waterfall. I wanted to go to Gaunbeed Plateau but due to time constraint, I had to cut short my trek.
This time I took Hari Om, trek guide. Hari is a great person, lives in village en-route. A 12 km trek he said to me, and we will cover well in time. He packed the lunch and we left for the trek. I got some fresh oranges from a shop en-route as I didn't want to Sabzi, the guys prepared. Okay, I didn't like the food. What to do about it... I am very choosy at eating vegetables. He was very fast in the entire journey and very well determined to come back before 4:00 PM because the last bus leaves Thachi Valley at 4:00 PM. The trek goes down through the Thachi village. After walking for sometime you would spot a bridge with a water body flowing beneath. This waterbody gets merged with the Ashu Alli waterfall pond nearby. Now the ascent starts and the trail changes to rocky surrounded by lush green forests of Chir Pine & deodar.
I could hear the sound of pheasants but was unable to spot one. En-route Hari called Guddu to know their whereabouts as Guddu had gone with the guys from Delhi to Chanjwala Peak. I asked Hari to ask Guddu to come near the Phone towers so I could try to click them. Woah!!! I got their picture from the other side of the mountain and similarly, I got the picture of the guys from HCL, Noida on their way to Ropa campsite. Now being on the other side of the mountain the houses looked so beautiful and I couldn't resist myself from capturing them.
I was having a great time and soon after some unofficial stops, we reached the Gaunbeed Waterfall at 1:30 PM. The water has frozen due to extremely low temperature. I took some shots and spent around half and hour there. As I had to reach before 4:00 PM it was now the journey against time.
We took 3 hours to reach Gaunbeed and were left with 2 hours to trek the journey back. Normally the return journey is decent but the trek to Gaunbeed doesn't differentiate between ascent and descent, Hahaha... both are equally tiring. While going back I was able to spot some wildlife of Himachal too, however I was looking for pheasants in particular but ended up finding Red - billed blue Magpie & Mongoose. May be I will get lucky next time.
We moved further & faster, thanks to oranges who gave me the strength to reach cottage back. We made it before 4:00 to be precise 3:50 PM. the bus was 30 minutes late.
I had a sigh of relief and packed my bags for the return journey. Meanwhile, Mr. Rajesh came and gave me a souvenir for my time spent with them. It was time to say goodbye to the place I had fallen in love with. A beautiful small unexplored valley which felt like home. I am surely gonna miss the natural beauty of the valley.
I then took a bus to Thalaut, not Aut as you don't have to cover 2.8 km tunnel since the bus comes back to Thalaut and from here you can get a direct bus to Mandi or Chandigarh. So if you gonna go to Thachi valley take the bus from Chandigarh to Mandi and from Mandi to Thalaut. You will get a bus from Thalout to Thachi and vice-versa.
I reached my home at 2:00 AM in the morning and rested for the day. Thachi valley is great off beat destination which offers spectacular views of snow-capped peaks, the peace you want and the treks amongst the beautiful flora and fauna. The valley is open throughout the year but looks beautiful during the summer months when it is lush green. The beauty of Thachi Valley is prodigious and one can never get just enough of this place at once.