The cold wind gently brushed across our faces as we got down from the Volvo bus that brought us to the beautiful Kasol Valley in Himachal Pradesh. It was an overnight journey from Delhi. I looked around; the landscape mesmerized me. I could see tall mountains on either side of the road and a small river flowing beside it. It was Friday, the streets were packed with tourists. Kasol has been a weekend destination for a lot of people for a long now, but not us, our journey had just begun.
We went to a cafe called Kasol Foods. It was just as good as the place itself. The walls had framed pictures of the tourists, the mountains and everything from around the place that’d make you fall in love with it. We ordered our breakfasts, chai and a local dish called Thukpa.
It was almost ten in the morning by the time we finished eating and decided to head out for Pulga in Parvati Valley which was our destination for the day. It was about a two-hour drive from Kasol to the base point of Pulga. Vehicles cannot take you up there. It’s a four kilometres trek from where the road ends.
“500m Pulga”, I saw written on a milestone. I smiled. “We almost made it”, I thought to myself, pretty unaware of what the trek was going to be like which we were actually there for. Soon we reached Pulga village. And it was one the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. The backdrop was snow-capped mountains with bright yellow mustard plantation as the foreground. We walked through a narrow road and reached a guesthouse where we were to stay for the night.
The view from the balcony was out of this world. It was so peaceful! It was in fact so different from the places we usually live in. You hear birds chirping instead of vehicles honking. The air felt so fresh. It’s a whole different life up there.
In the evening we explored the village and took a walk to the beautiful fairy forest. I saw a beautiful sunset that day. Post dinner we sat at the terrace, sipping tea enjoying the night sky. We were supposed to sleep early that night but you hardly make it to bed early when you’re on a trip with your friends.
I turned off the alarm which I had snoozed probably over 4 times already and looked at my phone, it was fifteen minutes past seven. And surprisingly, we’re actually late at starting our day. It was going to be a big day for us. I went out to the little patio area on that floor to soak in the fresh air and looked at the landscape. The sun was hidden behind the clouds. The mountain on the west was covered with snow which was brown the previous day. It glowed like the very soft rays of the sun made its way to it through the clouds. It left me awestruck. I could sense a smile on my face. Everyone woke in the next ten minutes. We freshened up and ordered breakfast. Once done, we packed our bags and it was time we left for the trek we were there for. The ravishing Kheerganga!
We started trekking down from Pulga and it took us a little over 40 minutes to reach Barshaini, the starting point for the Kheerganga trek.
We started for Kheerganga at around 10 in the morning. It was going to be a 15 kilometres trek. The first couple of kilometres felt pretty tiring. We stopped for a very quick water break and continued our journey. As we kept clocking miles, the terrain didn’t intimidate as much as it did before. However, a few patches were challenging and could’ve been difficult to get through without the guy who was guiding us through the route. The landscapes we came across were among the best visually pleasing I’ve ever seen.
We had covered over 10 kilometres when we stopped at a small shop for a break. All of us were hungry. We ate paranthas and chai. It started drizzling when we were about to leave. There wasn’t really any point in waiting for it to stop so we continued our journey. The last leg of the trek was even more beautiful. We came across beautiful waterfalls and bridges as we climbed up the mountain. The drizzle turned the path slushy and made it difficult to walk on. We had to watch each step.
I climbed up a steep turn and was absolutely in love with the first view of the Kheerganga Camps. We finally made it to the top, top of Kheerganga! We stopped at a small café as the rain intensified. I pulled out my smartphone and clicked a few images. Fifteen minutes down and the rain stopped. We went out and kept going up to take a tent.
“The higher we’d go the better the view would be,” we kept saying to each other and finally settled for one with an insane view of the mountains. It was almost 4 in the evening. After resting for some time, we went to the top of the camps which hosted a temple of Lord Shiva and a hot spring. The temperature was close to negative but it didn’t stop people from swimming in that pool of hot water. The place was covered with snow, I could see clouds at an altitude lower than ours. What do you call it if not heaven?
A couple of hours went by like minutes. The sun was down and the temperature sent chills down the spine. We sat on the swings outside our tent enjoying the hot bowl of Maggie in our hands looking at the snow-covered mountains at a distance. It was a beautiful day!
Note: this travelogue is written by Indraroop Goswami, Student of Journalism and Mass Communication at a University in Punjab. Indraroop is a native of Vijay Nagar, Delhi.