The Tirthan Valley
Tirthan Valley is a quintessential hill-station – 40 Kms ahead of Aut and perched at an altitude of approximately 1,600 metres above sea level. I have explored almost the length and breadth of Himachal and my first visit to this quaint “hidden gem” was in the year 2012. At that time there were a handful of travellers who would know about Tirthan and was aptly called “Himachal’s best kept secret”. However, recently this magical valley has seen a surge of travellers including adventure enthusiasts, trekkers, and people preferring solace and to unwind themselves.
A friend in Tirthan
When I first visited Tirthan in 2012, I met Mohan Thakur – a native of Gushaini. I stuck a conversation with him and conversation turned into long talks. He became my companion and guide throughout my stay. Both of us had one thing in common – our love for mountains. Now after six years, I have developed a strong friendship with Mohan. During all my subsequent visits to Tirthan, Mohan has always been my host.
Mohan is an avid mountaineer and has scaled many mountains of height above 6000 meters including CV13, Stok Kangri, Deo Tibba, Cerro-Kishtwar and any more. I wish he keeps on exploring new heights. His passion lies in Peak Climbing, Rappelling, River Crossing, Skiing and Bike riding. He is an adventure enthusiast in the true sense and above all a great human being.
He runs his own travel agency The Himalayan Aura
Mohan with Monal
Mohan Thakur- the mountaineer
Jalori Pass- Milestone
Frozen Serolsar Lake- Jalori Pass
My fascination for this magical valley
I am in awe and really taken in by this place. I have been so attracted by the culture and simplicity of the people of this place that I started considering myself a part of them. The urge had become so strong that I started to hatch plans to establish a permanent relationship with Tirthan Valley- the place that hypnotizes. This idea saw light when through our NGO- Sarvahitey (http://www.sarvahitey.org) and with the support of the local people, we were successful in establishing a library at Bathad village. In case anyone wishes to read more about the library, please refer to:
Library at Bathad
Snow clad peaks and valley
The Great Himalayan National Park – a UNESCO Heritage site.
Spread over 755 sq km, it was given the status of National Park in 1999. The GHNP is home to some rare and endangered flora & fauna. The flora includes some rare species of Buckthorn, Leycesteria, Spurge, Balsams, Valerians, Yew, etc. The GHNP boasts of over 375 fauna species, including 31 species of mammals and 181 species of birds. The park is home to some exotic species of animals like Snow Leopard, Himalayan Brown Bear, Musk Deer, Himalayan Tahr, Blue Sheep, etc.
The presence of some rare and endangered species of birds makes the GHNP a huge attraction for bird lovers, botanists, zoologists as well also trekkers. It is home to the endangered species of Western Tragopan and over 50 species of migratory birds. Some of these include the Himalayan Griffon Vultures, Lammergeyers, Golden Eagles, Raptors, etc.
The GHNP is located at an altitude of 1500m to 6000m. This makes the Park a diverse mix of Moist Deodar Forest, Rhododendron Scrub Forest, Western Mixed Coniferous Forest, Ban Oak Forest, Moist Temperate Deciduous Forest and Himalayan Alpine Pastures. The landscape is characterized by high alpine peaks, alpine meadows and riverine forests.
The above features make the GHNP the perfect place for trekking and camping amidst the bewitching beauty of nature in its fullest bloom. Its remote location and picture perfect setting in the lap of the majestic Himalayas are the ideal ingredients to isolate from the mundane world and indulge time in solace and solitude.
Through this write-up, I would like to highlight two treks that I concluded at Tirthan Valley. Both these treks were easy to moderate grade and can be completed within 3 to 4 days. I hope my readers find this blog informative and help travelers in planning future treks in this region.
Gate leading to GNHP
Trek Name- Shilt hut
Shilt hut trek is the easiest and shortest trek in the GHNP. It is perfect for nature lovers, birders, and trout fishing enthusiasts. Shilt hut trek offers a beautiful view of the sunrise and changing colors of the sky.
Day 1: Gushaini (1580m) to Rolla (2100m)
This is a short trek, best suited for first timers. The trek commences from Gushaini through the eco zone and ends in GNHP park gate. The Tirthan river accompanies the trek along the way. The trek passes through two villages – Ropa and Kauncha. This place is at its magical best during the sunset which is a treat to the eyes. The camps are pitched here for the night stay.
Day 2: Rolla (2100m) to Shilt (3000m)
The trek continues through Rolla via narrow trails across the forest. River Tirthan continues being a constant company to the trekkers who can experience rare variety of birds along the way. Three hours of trek will lead the trekkers to Shilt Hut. Trekkers can rest assured of mesmerizing views of the majestic Himalayan range as well as glaciers. Tents can be pitched here. Trekkers can engage in star gazing if there is a clear sky.
Day 3: Shilt (3000m) to Gushaini (1580m)
In the morning we witnessed the beautiful sunrise and gradually descend down to Gushaini.
Bashleo Pass Trek
Bashleo Pass – This pass is perched at an altitude of 3277m above sea level. This trek is not a difficult trek and leads through dense deodhar and pine forest presenting panoramic view of the the Himalayas. The trekkers will come across beautiful green meadows/ pastures on the way and can also meet local villagers who always greet everyone with a smile as well as many school going kids.
Bathad Village – Bathad village is situated in Banjar Tehsil in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. It comes under Chipni Panchayat.
Bathad is a sleepy village which is 17km from Banjar. This place is surrounded by deodhar trees and the Palachan River runs through it. This place is very laid back and everything seems to move at a languid pace. Travelers can indulge in various activities here like – Trout fishing, bird watching. This place will suit the trekker community as it has numerous treks and trails emanating from Bathad as the base point.
The travelers who want to spend some time with kids and read books can pay a visit to the Nikka Bharti library established under the aegis of NGO – Sarvahitey
Day 1: Aut – Bathad
We drove directly to Bathad through meandering roads.
Accommodation: Homestay or Camp
Activities: Hiking to the Waterfall, library walk, village walk.
Day 2: Bathad – Rani Panni (4 hours)
Trek till the base camp at Ranni Panni to spend the night.
Sightseeing including waterfalls, thick canopy of forest, different species of birds.
Stay at campsite.
Photo- Shashank Singh
Day 3: Ranni Panni – Bashleo Pass
Breakfast in the morning
Trek to Bashleo Pass to witness the breathtaking and mesmerizing view of the meadows
Bashleo Pass top
Return to the base camp to spend the night.
Day 4: Rani Panni – Aut
Trek down to Bathad and get transported back to Aut.
Bid adieu to the pristine Tirthan Valley with memories to cherish for life.
When I say I want to travel I mean I don’t want to stay in a fancy hotel or buy souvenirs for friends and relatives. I want to meet locals, know their traditions, eat like a local and ultimately be a part of the culture.
This was my experience when I was in Tirthan Valley, a place very difficult to say ‘Goodbye’.
How to reach
To get to Tirthan (550 kms from Delhi) one must turn off from Aut, just before the Pandoh Tunnel. Its about an hour before Kulu on the Manali-Chandigarh highway. From Aut, it is 26 kms of pleasant drive along the river via Larji bypassing Banjar on the way to Gushaini. The best way is to drive by yourself if possible.
Road Map from Delhi