Experience this gorgeous valley in Himachal before commercialisation ruins it

Tripoto
13th Jun 2018
Photo of Experience this gorgeous valley in Himachal before commercialisation ruins it by Vinnie Singh

The landscape of Himachal is no longer as we knew it a couple of decades ago. It is changing rapidly, and for worse. Most of the hill stations now are thick clusters of thousands buildings overspilling with millions of tourists. Shimla has water shortages, Manali has traffic jams, Mussoorie's strewn with garbage. The roads to all these destinations, which once used to be lined with grass and shrubs and fruit trees, are now infested with shops and hotels all along. You only feel good about going to these places when you're from a dirty, big city like Delhi where even clean air has become a commodity. It's a sad, sad state of affairs...

Thankfully, there are still a few corners of Himachal which have not been ruined been commercialisation, at least not yet. Tirthan Valley is one of them.

She is a precious relic from the bygone days of Himachal, where time hasn't brought much of a difference to the way of life. Most of the people still don't own any vehicles or smart phones. There are no towering hotels blotting the beauty of the mountains; no exhaust-spewing queues of vehicles on the road. In fact, this place is so pure that it ruins you. I, even after having spent 2 weeks here, wept while going back to the smoke and squalor of Delhi.

However, time is running out. Manali's become an eyesore and a pain in the ass (literally, because you spend hours sitting in your car stuck in traffic jams), and it's just a matter of time before all kinds of tourists begin swarming to other lesser-known places such as Tirthan Valley, which are in the hill station's vicinity. Travellers, you have to experience this place before that happens.

Here's what to expect when you visit Tirthan Valley now -

1. When you skip entering the tunnel at Aut and take a right instead, you are driving on an other-worldly tree-lined roads with the river flowing beside. The path feels right...

Somewhere in Faryadi village

Photo of Tirthan Valley, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

Enroute Sharchi

Photo of Tirthan Valley, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

2. Since there aren't any fancy hotels around (thankfully!), you'll be staying at one of the homestays or guesthouses in the area, where you will get to interact with the locals and experience their way of life. You can go apple-picking with them or discover one of the many shortcuts of getting up and down mountains.

Krishan Homestay in Faryadi Village

Photo of Tirthan Valley, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Tirthan Valley, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Nagini, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

Sharchi

Photo of Sharchi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

3. Tirthan Valley is a giant fruit orchard. Depending on which season you are going, you'll be able to find fruit-laden trees everywhere. If you befriend the locals, they'll generously give you some freshly-picked fruit from their orchard, and believe me, it'll be the best fruit you would've had in your life.

Cherry Trees in May

Photo of Raju Bharti's Guest House, Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh

Apples in August at Apple Blush Orchard

Photo of Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

Pears in July

Photo of Tirthan Valley, Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

4. When you befriend the warm-hearted people of the place, they'll invite you to their homes and treat you to amazing Himachali food. We tried Siddu for the first time. Siddu is a large, soft dumpling made from dough and stuffed with walnuts and apples, or potatoes, and served with mint chutney and desi ghee.

Delicious Siddu at Apple Blush Orchard

Photo of Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

Fresh Rhododendron Juice at Apple Blush Orchard

Photo of Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

5. If you go to Tirthan in monsoon, you'll find flowers in the most gorgeous shades in full bloom.

Photo of Raju Bharti's Guest House, Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Tirthan Valley, Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Tirthan Valley, Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

6. You'll be able to go for long solitary walks or just sit by the river. Since you'd have stepped out of your regular life, you'll be able to observe it from a distance and think about it, maybe even find answers to some of the questions which have been bothering you. In 2 weeks, I was convinced that I did not want to live in Delhi anymore and that I had to do something about it.

Photo of Tirthan Valley, Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Tirthan Valley, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Tirthan Valley, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

7. You might even end up making some new non-human friends.

A wild goat chase

Photo of Sharchi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

Hello there <3

Photo of Raju Bharti's Guest House, Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh

Isn't he the cutest doggo ever?!

Photo of Tirthan Valley, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

8. You'll get to treat your eyes to the most gorgeous golden sunsets ever.

Photo of Tirthan Valley, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Tirthan Valley, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Tirthan Valley, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

9. Wherever you go, you'll be able to find such breathtaking vistas. I went there in May, and then again in July, and both the times, I couldn't get enough of Tirthan's beauty.

Photo of Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

10. Are there any famous spots to check around? Well, there are many. Tirthan Valley houses the world-famous Great Himalayan National Park. It takes days to explore the entire area, and there are many wonderful treks in the park that lead to mighty waterfalls and amazing view points.

Places to check out -

If the idea of exploring the expansive park appears daunting to you, you can do other things instead such as checking out this amazing waterfall - Chhoie, which is an hour's trek from village Naagni.

Photo of Chhoie Waterfall, Sharchi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Chhoie Waterfall, Sharchi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Chhoie Waterfall, Sharchi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Nagini, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

Or you can drive up to Sharchi, a village on a flat land on a top of a mountain- and the last village to which the bus goes. On sunny days, the village has a view of mighty snow-capped peaks. We went on a cloudy day and so couldn't see any snow-covered mountains, only thick, dark clouds kissing heavily forested mountain tops. However, that was phenomenal too. The village in itself is quite beautiful and unique, and therefore, is a must-visit when in Tirthan.

Photo of Sharchi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Sharchi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Sharchi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Sharchi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Sharchi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Sharchi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Sharchi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Sharchi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Sharchi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

You can even venture away from Tirthan for a day and head to Jalori Pass. Jalori Pass is an hour's drive from Tirthan Valley's main town, Banjar. At Jalori Pass, the Serolsar Trek is a must-do. The 5-km trek is quite easy - a meandering path with not much of a slope. The trek takes about two and a half hours one way. So, the Serolsar Trek can be planned as a one-day trip while keeping Tirthan as a base. The Serolsar Lake also has some campsites for those wishing to spend the night there.

Photo of Serolsar Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Serolsar Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Serolsar Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Serolsar Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Serolsar Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Serolsar Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Serolsar Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Serolsar Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Serolsar Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Serolsar Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Serolsar Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Serolsar Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Jalori Pass, Jalori, Sajwar, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Jalori Pass, Jalori, Sajwar, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh
Photo of Jalori Pass, Jalori, Sajwar, Himachal Pradesh by Vinnie Singh

Now, something on the practical matters of travel and lodging.

A Volvo from Delhi to Aut will cost you anything between 1200-1400 INR one way. From the Aut tunnel, you can either take a bus to Banjar costing 60 INR, or a cab which will charge 1100-1200 INR.

There is an abundance of homestays, and small but comfortable guesthouses in the Valley. Some of the ones I know about are -

Raju Bharti Guesthouse - It is perhaps the most famous property in Gushaini, which is why it is hard to get a booking here in the season. A comfortable bed + 3 meals & tea + fresh fruits from their orchard is what you get in 1800 INR per person per day. Now, that's a killer deal!

Khem Bharti Guest House - A Himachali-style bungalow in village Naagni. Price - 1800 to 2500 INR per room with breakfast.

Krishan Homestay - A budget homestay with the most awesome host -Krishan. Tirthan Valley's only superhost on Airbnb. I spent most of my time here. 1100-1400 INR per room with breakfast. The river is a few minutes' walk from the place and balcony has an amazing view. Excellent meals.

Arjun Homestay - Newly built property. Rooms at 1500 INR with breakfast.

Tara Homestay - A simple but homely cottage with a view of the river. They have a nice lawn. Complementary Breakfast.

Pooja River View - Cosy rooms with complementary breakfast. View of the river from the property.

Hemant Homestay - Some of the rooms have television. Complementary breakfast. They grow their own vegetables.

Chetan Homestay -Rooms at 1000 INR with breakfast. 

All View Homestay - A property by the river. You have to cross the river in a ropeway to get here. They serve complementary breakfast.

Tirthan Nature Camps - Campsite by the river. Budget-friendly packages for groups and families. They have a natural pool in the river in which you can swim safely.

I'll be more than happy to pass on the contact information to these properties for those who wish to book at any of these places :)

The area has one fancy cafe, the Himalayan Trout House which serves wood-fired pizzas, pastas and sandwiches.

Photo of The Himalayan Trout House, Nagini, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of The Himalayan Trout House, Nagini, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh
Photo of The Himalayan Trout House, Nagini, Himachal Pradesh, India by Vinnie Singh

There's booze shop in the Gushaini market which closes at 10 pm, and doesn't have many options. Also, it sells booze at a significantly higher price than it is available in cities. So, BYOB.

Vodafone doesn't work at all in the area. Get a Jio or an Airtel SIM to remain connected to the rest of the world.

There! I think I've said pretty much everything I should. I fell in LOVE with Tirthan, so will you. It's hard to resist the charm of its simplicity. 

P.S. Feel free to message if you have any questions or need any help planning your itinerary. 

2 Comment(s)
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Thanks for sharing detailed description of Tirthan. Loved your blog. Keep sharing :)
Wed 08 08 18, 05:00 · Reply · Report
Many thanks Vinnie. Your article is just like an awesome basket of information pertaining to the Tirthan Valley and a gift of words and pictures for the people who wish to visit to the pristine and eco-tourism destination..
Mon 08 06 18, 11:00 · Reply (1) · Report
Glad to know that you found the article useful, Sangeet :)
Mon 08 06 18, 11:17 · Report