Tirthan Valley is one the last few remaining regions in Himachal Pradesh that have managed to retain the charm of mountains. Unlike its more popular cousins like Manali, Dharamshala, Palampur or Dalhousie, Tirthan Valley has fortunately escaped the scars of crass commercialization and mostly remained out of radar of the maddening tourist crowds. It is the perfect destination for people who prefer to travel to the mountains for solitude and experiencing the local charms rather than shopping or binging in a fancy restaurant in so called ‘Mall Roads’. (Disclaimer – I am not against tourism. But, I am against unsustainable tourism. More on that later)
I visited Tirthan Valley with my family earlier this year during the extended Holi weekend in March and I can easily say that it was one of my most memorable trips to a hill station in recent times. If you have read some of my earlier blogs, you would have known by now that I prefer visiting destinations that offer me the pleasures of simple things in life. Tirthan Valley offered me just that – lush green forests, fresh mountain air, rustic homestays, limited tourists and no traffic jams that provided a complete break from the cacophony of city life. Nestled close to one of the largest protected national parks in India – The Great Himalayan National Park – Tirthan Valley is an ideal destination for nature lovers.
Tirthan Valley Facts
Tirthan Valley is located approximately 500 kilometers from Delhi. The valley derives its name from the river that flows throughout within it. Tirthan Valley is actually a collection of small villages that dot the region for several kilometres. Some of the prominent ones amongst these are Gushaini, Jibhi, Nagini, Pekhri, Larji amongst others.
Tirthan Valley is also termed as the gateway to the Great Himalayan National Park located just a few kilometres away. In fact, a lot of famous treks in the region originate from here.
The best option to reach Tirthan Valley is to drive down or take Volvo bus plying to Manali and get down before the Aut Tunnel. You can ask your hotel to arrange for a cab or use local public transport.
There are no fancy hotels in the region and most of the tourist accommodations are traditional village homestays. Although some new hotels have come up alongside the river in some places, these are small properties with limited rooms and basic new age amenities like western toilets, geysers, room heaters etc.
We stayed in Khem Bharti Homestay which was built traditional Himachal style, but recently renovated in parts to offer some comfort to visiting travellers. You can read a review of Khem Bharti Homestay in another blog of mine posted earlier.
Things to do in Tirthan Valley
Visit Jalori Pass – Jalori pass is the same place where a portion of the film ‘Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani’ starring Ranbir Kapoor & Deepika Padukone was shot. This information was provided to me by the local taxi guys although I cannot completely corroborate this fact. However, the place including the temple did resemble the locales of Jalori Pass, where both the film actors go for their hill station skiing trip.
Jalori pass is located at a distance of approximately 15-20 kilometres (depending on where you are staying in the valley) is a must visit spot if you are in Tirthan Valley. It is named after a centuries old temple dedicated to local Goddess ‘Jalori Mata’ located near the pass. The pass is located at a height of more than 3000 meters and experiences heavy snow during winter months. The road leading to the pass sometimes gets shut down during peak winter months. Make sure to check with the local taxi guys before you decide to visit the place. If you are fortunate enough, you might be able to find fresh snow in the month of March too, as we experienced during our visit.
The drive to Jalori Pass from Nagini, where we were staying was a pleasurable ride. Although we had our own car, we decided to rent a local cab from the hotel as I wanted to just relax and experience the sights from the back seat. The taxi ride costed us around 2000 to and fro that included stopovers at Jibhi and also wait time as we trekked to Serolsar lake.
Trek to Serolsar Lake – Serolsar is a high mountain lake located near Jalori Pass and accessible on foot with a 3-4 hours trek from Jalori pass. While we did embark on this trek, we aborted it midway as the route was very slippery due the recently melted snow. Although it was really difficult for us to convince ourselves to return midway, it was unsafe for us to tread further with our six year old kid.
Trek to the Entry Gate of Great Himalayan National Park – One of the best experiences of our trip was the trek to the entry gate of the Great Himalayan National Park. It is a 22 kilometer trek (11 Kms) and is an experience that is not to be missed if you are in this part of the country. The narrow paths of the trek offers excellent views of the mountains above and the Tirthan river flowing below. The hike is not so steep and even our six year old could manage this trip. Make sure to leave early for this trek. It is also advisable to carry some food/snacks as the journey takes almost 8-9 hours to complete and there are 1-2 small village shops en-route that offer nothing much to eat except biscuits and on depending on demand, boiled Maggi Noodles.
Visit the various Waterfalls – If you like taking a splash in water, Tirthan Valley is an ideal place for you. It boasts of numerous waterfalls – small and big. While not all of them are easily accessible, the most frequented ones are the Jibhi waterfall and the Chhoie waterfall. While Jibhi waterfall is easily accessible, one needs to trek for around minutes to reach the Chhoie waterfall.
Angling for Himalayan Trout – Tirthan Valley is famous for the Himalyan Trout – a fresh water fish found abundantly in the region. The Himalayan trout is actually a close relative of the brown trout that inhabit the fresh waters of several European countries. It is this resemblance that attracts anglers from across the world visit this place to engage in this activity. If you are an angling enthusiast, make sure to get necessary permits – available locally. You also have the option of hiring a guide, of course for a price.
Do Nothing – Yes. You read it right! Tirthan Valley is also an ideal destination to visit to do just nothing and just pass your day lazing around in your homestay or sit by the river sipping cups of tea, reading a book and soaking in the local environs.