Updated: May 23, 2020
WHY TIRTHAN VALLEY
To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to receive all while you give,
To feel lost, while you find your soul,
To walk the paths of lands remote,
Yes, to travel is to live…
Wow!! Isn’t it?
Offbeat, tranquillity of nature, pristine calm beauty of the Himalayas, and that much-needed dose of adventures, if you crave all of these in one trip, The Orange Sky has a surprise for you, yet again!
Yes, we are talking about “Tirthan Valley” - an enchanting valley alongside the Tirthan river in Himachal Pradesh with several unexplored places and things to do.
Yes, it is Himachal’s best-kept secret. Tirthan has something magical to offer to everybody who gives her a visit and that too any time of the year – Waterfalls, lakes, heritage sites, the Great Himalayan National Park, and many untouched easy to difficult grades of treks to explore. What more can a wandering soul ask for!
Come, join us for nature hikes in the midst of hugely tall oak trees, trout fishing, river-rafting, local culture trips, Himalayan expeditions, birding and photography trips, wildlife encounters, quiet time in village homestays… yay!
Here is a detailed and interactive map of the places we have covered in this blog.
Do you want to be one with nature away from the hustle-bustle of our city lives?
The Orange Sky welcomes you to Tirthan Valley!
WHERE is it?
Tirthan valley in Himachal Pradesh is part of Kullu District. This pristine and beautiful valley derives its name from Tirthan River which originates in the Great Himalayan National Park and flows through this valley.
HOW TO REACH
It is extremely convenient to travel either by road or by air to Tirthan Valley.
From Delhi take any bus going towards Manali (there are plenty of buses leaving from Delhi to Manali every evening till late night) and get down near the tunnel close to Aut village. From there you will get buses or local taxis/vehicles going towards Banjar in Tirthan Valley. That’s why we believe it is a perfect long weekend getaway from Delhi.
Arrive at Bhuntar airport which is 11 kms away from Kullu. Banjar is 44 Kms from Bhuntar airport by road. You will get local buses as well as cabs for going to Banjaar via Aut village.
Distance between important places..
● Aut to Banjar: 25 Kms
● Banjar to Gushaini: 10 Kms
● Bajar to Jibhi: 8 Kms
● Jibhi to Shoja: 7 Kms
● Shoja to Jalori Pass: 5 Kms
● Delhi to Tirthan: ~500 Kms
Please Note: Although the distances look very close in Tirthan Valley but roads are narrow and at some places there is steep elevation gain. Assume an average speed of between 15 to 20 KMs per hour and plan your travel accordingly. If you plan to travel by public transport - the frequency of buses is less in the region. Do check with locals about the bus schedule for the next day before planning your activities once you arrive in the valley.
THINGS TO DO in TIRTHAN VALLEY
There are a lot of places to see and things to do in Tirthan valley. We have divided this section as per the nearest town ideal for visiting a particular place or ideal for any specific activities.
So let's jump into it..
A gateway to Tirthan Valley, Banjar is a relatively big town. It is well connected by bus with most of the villages and places of interest in and outside of the Valley.
We suggest you take a quick break here to buy your basic essentials as well as withdraw cash, if needed. Hereafter, it is challenging to find ATMs in the nearby villages.
A breathtakingly beautiful tiny village set at the banks of Tirthan river is only a 10 Km drive from Banjar. You get to see different shades of the beautiful Tirthan river all along the way.
In case you are traveling by Bus, you will be amazed by how they drive on such narrow roads and how buses cross each other when they come face to face. You can witness the true mountain life.
On the way to Gushaini there is another beautiful place called Nagini.
There are a lot of scenic resorts, welcoming homestays giving quiet space to you, and your family at both Nagini and Gushaini.
Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP)
If high altitude biodiversity on your Himalayan expedition is what you want to experience, GHNP (Great Himalayan National Park) should undoubtedly be the next on your bucket list. This Himalayan park ranging between the altitude from 1500m to 6000m is spread hugely over 1,171 Sq Kms.
Habitat to some of the endangered species of high altitude wildlife including the bharal (blue sheep), common leopard, snow leopard, Himalayan brown bear, Himalayan tahr (wild goat), musk deer and serow (goat-like antelope), GHNP also hosts Tirthan river that originates high up in the mountains inside the park.
You may plan multi-day expeditions throughout the year in different regions inside the park suiting your interests, however, autumn (September to November) is the best season for sighting particularly mammals. GHNP is massively popular for birding, a species of bird called Tragopan in particular.
Your hike for GHNP will begin from Gushaini and you will enter inside the park near Hippo Waterfall. Do remember to get your entry permits in advance from the forest office at Sai Ropa (on the way to Gushaini from Banjar) or better leave that hassle to us while you enjoy your solace at Gushaini!
This beautiful waterfall welcomes you at the entrance of The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP). When we were hiking to the park for the first time, we wondered why anyone would call a waterfall - Hippo waterfall!
Pleasantly surprised, we located a rock formation at the base of the falls, which looks just like a Hippopotamus and hence the name of the waterfall. Interesting huh!
Extremely quiet with only sounds of nature that we craved in our city life, serene to the core, we knew we were about to enter a soulful journey within and not just a nature park. We chose to reach this point as early as we could in the morning only to make it even more enriching.
The crystal clear waters of Tirthan river not only satisfies your hunger for mesmerising beauty of nature, but also your real hunger as it offers you trout fishing. And, hey, do remember to take prior permission from local authorities for any fishing activities in the Tirthan river.
If whites everywhere is what you want to experience, just add Shoja to your list of winter travel and enjoy an amazing view of the valley full of snow.
Shoja is a beautiful hamlet just before Jalori Pass.
If maneuvering the narrowest of roads on high altitudes is what excites you, Jalori pass is the pass that you don’t want to miss driving through. It is the highest mountain pass in the Kullu district at an altitude of ~3,120m and it connects Manali to Shimla.
Jalori pass is closed during the peak winter time due to humongous amount of snow deposits on the roads, and usually it reopens around mid-March for vehicles. Jalori Pass is a trekker’s favorite as it leads you to Serolsar Lake and Raghupur Fort treks. Both of these trails during winter gives you enough satisfaction of Himalayan beauty and unmatched adventure.
You get an amazing view of the valley below from Jalori pass.
Serolsar Lake Camping
Trek to Serolsar lake from Jalori Pass is extremely scenic with its own ascents and descents. Usually it takes ~3 Hrs to reach Serolsar lake from the Pass (depending on your stamina and endurance, of course!) We recommend a minimum of 1 liter of water and a trekking pole or at least a simple stick for the less experienced trekkers.
Be ready to relish some maggie and chai or even stomach-full meals like rajma-chawal, kadhi-chawal also at many little cafes near the lake. You can even get a tent pitched surrounded by mountains near the lake for you to stay overnight. Now, isn’t that exciting enough?
We have visited this lake in the peak winter season as well and this is how it looks like!!
And this is how the trail looked like during winter trek!!
Serolsar lake is one of the sacred lakes in the region and it is assumed to be the home of Mata Budhi Nagin (Mother Goddess of Snakes). There is a temple dedicated to the goddess on the bank of the lake. The Orange Sky recommends all travelers to please respect the sanctity of the place.
Exactly on the opposite side of the trail leading to Serolsar lake there is another interesting trail leading up to a beautiful meadow where the ruins of Raghupur fort.
The serene location of this fort offers a 360-degree valley view. Distance of this fort from Jalori pass is approximately 3 kms however the trail is a lot more steep than the one leading to Serolsar lake.
Jibhi is another popular destination here. We always loved our stay in Jibhi. It is a serenely calm and picturesque place and gives you the feeling of relaxing in the lap of mother nature.
One of our favorite places to stay in Jibhi is this beautiful hostel called - Hostalgic. They have a nice cozy setup - airy rooms with bunk beds, vibrant cafe and friendly dogs too.
Also, you can enjoy some tasty hygienic food prepared by very helpful staff. The owners of Hostalgic are chilled out travel buddies. They happily extend their help to plan your itinerary and offer the best possible help you may need on your visit to Jibhi.
Don’t miss Chehni Kothi, if you want to visit a classic piece of architecture of olden times. It is an impressive tower-like structure made of stones and woods.
It is an earthquake-proof structure built without steel or concrete, still standing strong after ages of bearing harsh seasons of the Himalayas. Starting point of a scenic heritage walk, a 1.5 - 2 hours trail leading up to Chehni Kothi comes after a short drive from Jibhi or Banjar.
Like Tirthan is to Himachal, Mini Thailand is to Jibhi - a hidden gem known to very few people. A short hike on a less traveled trail from Jibhi takes you to this hidden miracle of nature. A rock formation similar to the ones in Thailand awaits you here. That's why locally it is popular by the name of Mini Thailand.
Away from the crowd of Jibhi this exquisite spot in the midst of nature is an abode to relaxation and fun with your group.
In your next trip to Jibhi, do try to explore this spot. Not that difficult to locate especially when you have The Orange Sky by your side!!
Trail built by the locals leading to Jibhi Waterfall keeps surprising you pleasantly as you experience crossing beautifully crafted wooden bridges across a small water stream that you cross several times during this short hike.
These wooden bridges add to the galore of the surroundings.
Time to savor some local cuisine? Don’t forget to explore mouth-watering Siddu - our favorite local dish here in the valley. It is a traditional Kullvi dish, a kind of bread made from Wheat (but yes of course a lot of other ingredients added to it) and served with pure desi ghee.
WHEN is the best time to travel to Tirthan Valley
Best time to visit Tirthan Valley depends on what you are seeing to experience in the mountains. If you are looking for a pleasant and comfortable weather visit this place between March and June which is the spring/summer season.
However, if you are interested in witnessing Snowfall and experience the pristine snow all around you, welcome new year here in Tirthan valley. Mid-Dec to mid-Feb is a good time to experience this Himalayan winter wonderland.
Based on our several trips to Tirthan valley, our experiences say that the valley has an entirely different charm in every season. We would suggest you visit during both spring/summer as well as winter season as it is easily accessible from Delhi.
WHO is it ideal for
Tirthan valley is ideal for travelers who like calm, serene beauty and tranquility of nature clubbed with a little adventure if you choose to explore that side of you - ideal for short hikes/treks, fishing, or just sitting lazily by the beautiful Tirthan river and feel rejuvenated in nature.
Away from the usual hustle-bustle of popular tourist places, this valley is a lot more laid back and very much close to nature.
Although you don't need a higher level of fitness for the hikes in Tirthan, but we would definitely suggest a basic level of fitness good enough to navigate some elevation while hiking/trekking.
Most of the popular places mentioned are easily accessible by road and hence pretty much every traveler irrespective of their age or fitness level can comfortably enjoy it.
How 'The Orange Sky' can help
We have been to Tirthan valley on several different occasions and in different seasons. Here is a sample itinerary for your Tirthan valley trip.
Feel free to connect with The Orange Sky team for any guidance/assistance you may need for planning your trip to Tirthan valley - One of our favorite destinations!!