Tirthan Valley: Himachal’s ‘Best Kept Secret’

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Fateh Veer Singh Guram, Travel @ The Hush Post: A comfortable height of 1600 metres, a beautiful valley, the pleasant sound of the gurgling waters of a river, exquisite views and a paradise for adventure seekers.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the ‘Best Kept Secret’ of Himachal Pradesh.

Welcome to the Tirthan Valley.

Tirthan Valley
The meadows of Tirthan Valley are ideal camping sites

Tirthan Valley, located in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, is ideal for trekking, fishing, wildlife watching, and discovering under-explored hill villages. The valley is named after the Tirthan river, which winds through the valley and originates from the glacial springs of Hanskund, an icy peak located in the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP). Some of the finest and most picturesque forests are located along the banks of the river and many villages dot the river’s banks.

What makes the Tirthan Valley a perfect weekend getaway is the fact that it is completely unspoiled and not crowded like other Himachal destinations. It is still being discovered by tourists and offers a chance to visitors to experience the beauty of the Himalayas in their full glory and splendour.

Things to do:

Visit the Great Himalayan National Park:

With the snow clad peaks of the Himalayas offering a perfect background, the Tirthan Valley lies just 3 kilometres from the entrance of the GHNP. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Park is spread over an area of 1100 square kilometres and has numerous trekking trails.

The altitude within the Park varies from 1500 metres to 6000 metres. Thus, while the Park contains green meadows and flower filled valleys, it is also home to icy peaks and high altitude passes and lakes.

The Park is boasts of a rich diversity of wildlife, as it is home to nearly 375 species of flora and fauna. Animals such as snow leopard, blue sheep, Himalayan brown bear, musk deer and the Himalayan Tahr can be seen in the Park.

There are a number of treks that can be done inside the GHNP. The Rolla Trek takes up to two days, the Shilt Hut Trek can be finished in three-four days, the Maranhi Trek can be finished in around five days, while the Raktisar Trek can take up to a week to complete.

Great-Himalayan-National-Park
The Great Himalayan National Park offers an unforgettable trekking experience

It is important to note that trekking within the GHNP can only be done with the assistance of registered organisations, as tourists are not allowed to venture without professional guides.

Not a single person is allowed to reside within the Park, in a bid to preserve the sensitive ecosystem of the Park.

Visit Serol Sar and Parashar Lakes:

serol sar
Serol Sar Lake

Situated at a height of nearly 10,000 feet, Serol Sar Lake is a popular religious attraction. It is believed that the lake is home to the goddess ‘Buddhi Nagin’, who is the mother of 60 ‘Nag Devtas’ of Himachal. The Pandavas are also believed to have visited Serol Sar in the Dwaparyug during their exile. During the winters, the surroundings of the lake witness around 5-8 feet of snow. Thus, summer is the best time to visit the lake.

Parashar Lake is located at a height of nearly 9,000 feet. It is believed that Bhim, one of the Pandava brothers, created this lake. Legend goes that after the Kurukshetra War, the Pandavas were returning with Lord Kamrunag. Upon reaching this place, Lord Kamrunag fell in love with the tranquillity of the surroundings and decided to live there forever. Thus, Bhim rammed his elbow on one of the mountains and created a dent and that is how the lake was created.

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Parashar Lake

The fact that nobody till date has been able to measure the depth of the lake further adds to the mysterious aura of the lake. The place is also famous for in the thirteenth century three storied temple located on the banks of the lake. The temple is named after Sage Parashar, who is believed to have meditated on the banks of the lake.

Go village hopping:

A number of villages dot the picturesque Tirthan Valley, with the more known ones of Gushaini, Sai Ropa and Nagini offering accommodation through the various homes stays located in the villages. The village of Nagini is popular amongst people keen on fishing, while Gushaini is the starting point of many treks. The forest office at Sai Ropa issues permits for trekking.

Pay your respect to Lord Shringa at the Shringa Rishi temple:

The Shringi Rishi Temple is one of the most popular temples of the Tirthan Valley. Dedicated to Lord Shringa, who is the ruling deity of the valley, the temple contains idols of Lord Shringa and goddess Shanta.

Marvel at the architecture of the Chehni Kothi:

chehni kothi, tirthan valley
Chehni Kothi

The tallest standing structure in the entire Western Himalayas, the Chehni Kothi is a temple tower that was constructed for a dual purpose. While devotees could pay respects to Shringa Rishi, the temple also acted as a vantage point for guarding villagers against attacks from outsiders.

Built by the local king Dhadhu in the 17th century, it is made of locally available stone and deodar wood.

Camp under the stars in the Shangarh meadow:

Believed to have been made by the Pandavas while on their way to heaven, the Shangarh meadow is surrounded by dense pine forests all around. The meadow also acts as a base camp for numerous treks into the GHNP.

Best time to visit:

The best time to visit the Tirthan Valley would be in the months of March and April, when spring is in full swing. The blooming flowers add a very colourful hue to the valley and make it a very pleasant sight for the eyes.

The summer months of May, June and mid July also see a number of tourists, as most high altitude treks are undertaken during these months.

How to reach:

The best way to explore the Tirthan Valley is by reaching Aut, located in Kullu district and then heading out to the village of your choice.

The nearest airport to Aut is located in Bhuntar, which is about 20 kilometres away.

The nearest rail head is in Chandigarh, which is nearly 225 kilometres away.

Aut is at a distance of 470 kilometres from Delhi, 41 kilometres from Mandi, 29 kilometres from Kullu and 180 kilometres from the state capital, Shimla.

From Aut, one can go to Banjar, and villages like Gushaini, Sai Ropa and Nagini are all at a distance of about 10 kilometres from Banjar.

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