Himachal Pradesh is one of the most beautiful, serene, aesthetic, and travel-friendly states. The famous hill stations of the state such as Manali, Dharamshala, and Shimla bustle with tourists throughout the year. With the growing influx of tourism, these places have become overcrowded and offbeat destinations have emerged. These destinations offer you a chance to connect with nature and are more peaceful. Tirthan Valley is one of the new emerging offbeat destinations in Himachal Pradesh, it is beautiful, serene, and largely uncrowded.
Tirthan Valley Trip
It is a good place for hiking, trekking, rock climbing, river crossing, and fishing. The valley is located in the Kullu district and like many other valleys in the Himalayan region is named on the major river flowing through it which is Tirthan here.
Location & How To Reach
The valley is located 50 km away from Kullu and around 70 kilometers away from Mandi. There are two main routes to reach the valley coming from Delhi/Chandigarh, one is taking the Chandigarh-Manali Highway to Aut Village. From there instead of entering the Aut Tunnel going towards Kullu and Manali, you go straight to join National Highway 303 which will take you there. This route is open throughout the year.
The second route is taking the Hindustan Tibet Highway or National Highway 5 from Shimla towards Kinnaur, after reaching Narkanda, divert from the highway and drive towards Jalori Pass and cross it to reach. This Route is closed from December to mid-March because of heavy snowfall on Jalori Pass.
You can easily drive to this place using your own vehicle, roads are good, there are a few choke points due to developmental works being carried, but relatively the journey is comfortable.
You can also travel using public transport, Himachal Roadways operates buses in every motorable village in the valley. Banjar, a main town in the valley is connected with bus service with major towns of the state. You can even get a bus from the Kullu bus stand. The frequency of buses from Kullu is good. People from Chandigarh and Delhi who travel via public transport often take a bus going towards Kullu/Manali, they get off before Aut Tunnel and take another bus from there. You can even hire a taxi from the Kullu bus stand. Taxi rates vary highly on weather conditions.
Best Time to Visit the Tirthan Valley
You can visit the valley anytime during the year. Like every hill station, visiting in summers is a good idea to escape the heatwave in the plains and other parts of the country. If you’re interested in snowy landscapes, you should visit them anytime between December to March.
The months you should avoid are July to September. That is due to monsoonal weather and heavy rains in the area. During this period, landslides are common. Trekking is difficult and dangerous because the mountain slopes are slippery.
Places to visit in Tirthan Valley
Great Himalayan National Park
Great Himalayan National Park is a national park spread across the Kullu district it was established in 1984, the altitude of the park varies from 2000 to 6500 meters above sea level. Park is spread across Tirthan and Parvati Valley. From the Tirthan side, it can be accessed from Gushaini and Banjar. Park is home to endangered species such as Himalayan Bear, snow leopard, and Himalayan Blue Sheep. There are many trails, particularly from Gushaini that you can take to explore the beautiful forest. However, do ensure that you take a guide along with you so that you don’t lose your way as well due to the presence of wild animals.
Chhoie waterfall is the most popular waterfall in the valley. Reaching here requires a short hike of 30 minutes from Gushaini. Water is maximum during the summer and monsoon season as compared to winters
Chehni Kothi is a village in the upper reaches of Banjar. It is known for its huge tower-like structure. The structure is similar to fort structures in Kinnaur such as Kamru and Kalpa fort but the one in Chehni Kothi is taller. In fact, it is the tallest traditional structure in Himachal Pradesh. The structure was even taller than what it is today but unfortunately was damaged in the early 20th century due to a massive earthquake in the region.
The complex also has a Krishna temple located beside it having a similar traditional architectural style. Chehni Kothi can be reached only through a hike. The hike to the village is challenging and it takes around one hour to reach, the hike is steep and gets even more challenging after rains. The hike starts from Shringa Rishi Temple of Banjar.
Shringa Rishi Temple
This is the temple of the main deity of Banjar. The temple is made of wood. The temple is 3 km away from Banjar on the Jibhi Road where a board of the temple can be spotted, from there one has to walk for 15 minutes to reach the place.
Jibhi has a waterfall, similar to Chhoie. This waterfall is formed by an unnamed tributary of the Tirthan river. It can be reached by car. The waterfall area has been aesthetically designed by the government, by building log bridges and stone paths.
Jalori pass is a high altitude pass connecting Kullu with Shimla. It is 16Km away from Jibhi. Jalori Pass is named on a temple known as Jalori Mata Temple or Jalori Jot, which can be spotted once you reach the pass. It’s situated at a height of 3120 meters above sea level.
In summers Jalori Pass can be a place to start your hike towards Raghupur Fort and Sirolsar Lake but in winters these hikes can’t be done because of heavy snowfall. Cars can easily reach Jalori Pass in the summers. In winter cars can only reach Shoja, a town 5 km before Jalori Pass. From Shoja one has to walk in the snow to reach the pass.
Jalori Pass can be a good destination for Skiing, the snow slopes are good for beginner or medium-level skiing.
Raghupur Fort and Sirolsar Lake
You can visit Raghupur Fort and Sirolsar Lake by taking a hike from Jalori Pass during the summer months. Raghupur Fort is 3 KM from the pass. It takes around one and a half hours to reach. Not much of a fort is left now, only ruins. But one can get a good 360-degree view of the snow-capped Himalayas.
Sirolsar Lake is a beautiful high altitude lake that can be accessed by a short forest hike from Jalori pass during summers. The Buddhi Nagini Temple overlooks the lake, the lake is considered to be sacred, and the waters of Buddhi Nagin, the goddess of snakes.
Places to Stay at Tirthan Valley
Gushaini is a small village on the banks of Tirthan village and the first prominent place to stay in the valley if coming from Aut. You have to divert for 5 kilometers from the main highway to reach here. The village has good wooden buildings and a beautiful environment. The village is the gateway to treks in Great Himalayan National Park and is also a place of confluence between the Tirthan and Flachan rivers.
Banjar is the biggest town in Tirthan valley. The majority of tourists who visit this place stay here. It is located in the middle of the valley, hence all places of interest can be visited using Banjar as a place. Banjar has a good amount of hotels, campsites, and homestays which you can take.
Jibhi is the most beautiful town in the entire valley. It is located on the banks of the Tirthan river and is known for traditional tree house accommodation. The traditional wooden houses of Jibhi have been replaced with modern construction but still, you will be able to find a few of these old houses and can even stay in them at a nominal price. Jibhi also has campsites and adventure activities such as river crossing and rock climbing. You can even relax at the river bank and immerse your limbs in the icy cold waters of the river. Jalori Pass is just 15km from Jibhi.
These are the three main places to stay here. Other villages such as Shoja, Sai Ropa can also be considered to stay. The forest guest house at Sai Ropa and Shoja has the best location and offers brilliant views. However you would require advanced booking for these guest houses, they are usually unavailable. The accommodation expenses in Tirthan Valley are not very high, you can get a good room for less than 1500 rupees per night. You can also book hotels online on various booking websites as well.
Useful Travel Tips
- Make sure you are able to walk long distances. Majority of places to visit require a short hike. So basic fitness is required.
- The food available here is simple and decent. Local dishes such as Siddu are available on-demand in some hotels/restaurants.
- Wear shoes having a good grip while going for a trek or hike. Some of these trails can be steep as well as slippery.
- Ensure proper safety on the river banks. There are big boulders and rocks which are very slippery. Any misadventure can be risky and even fatal.
- Ensure you wear goggles and headwear when going out, especially in the snow. Because snow reflects a lot of sunlight and can cause skin burns especially on the face.
- You can go for bird spotting activities in the afternoon.
- If you plan to go on a forest trail ensure you have a guide with you for your own safety. There have been cases where tourists lost their way in the forest.
- Ensure you don’t travel in the early mornings or after sunset because of the high presence of wild animal movements. Such as Leopard and Himalayan Bear, who often attack cattle or even people.
- If you’re traveling in winters ensure you have proper snow boots. Otherwise, it will be difficult to walk in snow.
This is a guest post written by Tejas Kapoor as part of the IndiTales Internship Program.