I was always very inquisitive about Kheerganga trek. The stories of how the thick pine forests lead to the spiritual site of Kheerganga temporary village (Kheer Ganga), a meadow at 2960m where Shiva is said to have meditated for 3000 years always intrigued me. The hot springs at Khirganga are extremely important for Hindu and Sikh pilgrims as well as many others who believe the waters have sacred healing properties.
So, when I saw an advertisement by WANDERERS for weekendtrek to Kheerganga, I latched on to it. All set, I arrived at Sarai Kale Khan bus stop, that was our meeting point at 4 PM. WANDERERS team was already stationed there with their Boleros. They got my backpack loaded into the back of the bolero. Within the next 15 – 20 mins all the trekkers had arrived, and we were all set to go. We left Delhi at 4:30 PM on Friday evening for Barshaini. This was going to be a 15-hour journey at-least.
At about 6:30 PM we stopped midway for some tea and snacks. This time all of us got talking and got to know each other. I realized of the 8 trekkers travelling in 2 SUVs, 5 were photographers and this was their photography tour. This was going to be good for my photography skills for sure, I thought to myself. We started again in 30 mins and then stopped midway for dinner. Post dinner, the drive was smooth, and I slept off in the middle. When I woke up it was time for some tea, around 6 AM. According to our trek lead Lokesh we were about 30 mins from Barshaini. We made the journey in record time. This roadside dhaba had neat and clean washroom facilities and we were advised to get fresh because Barshaini would not have such a clean facility. We took about 45 mins and every got fresh and packed up our bags in a manner that we could start trekking without wasting time. We started again and reached Barshaini in 40 mins. It was about 8:30 AM in the morning. Lovely sun was shining and there was this freshness in the air that I can’t describe in words. Lokesh then briefed us about the entire trek, the route, the stopping points, the flora and fauna and emergency measures to be taken if required. We were handed over some chocolates and biscuits to be had in case we felt hungry. The trek to the top was going to take anywhere between 3 to 5 hours depending on how we trekked. Lokesh told us that there was no hurry to reach the top and that we must enjoy the views we get on the way and soak it all in.
So, we started with all the enthusiasm.
We crossed the half-built dam and got into the thick forest. The first 500 meters was a steep climb and it did get to me for a min. All of us panted our way, thinking if it going to like this all the way. Lokesh kept telling us to drink lots and lots of water all the time so that the body in hydrated always. It did help us with our breathlessness for sure. Soon we were into dense forests. The trees were huge and covered every bit of the sky. There was barely any vacant spot in the sky. Sometimes I did feel a bit cold as well. The breeze was too cool. We crossed a few streams on our way to the mid-point. By now I was friends with the other group and got to know that they planned to shoot at night to get some start trails and nightscapes etc. We spoke less on the way, everyone was too engrossed with the scenery. I did click quiet a few pictures. Before we knew we had been climbing for more than 2 hours and we stopped for a quick bite. Lokesh was waiting for us at a local eating joint. He had already ordered some Maggie and tea for us. I got speaking to the owner of the shop and realized that they have this business for 4 months only. For the rest of the year they go to Manali and work as daily labour at the apple orchards. The Maggie was a bit soupy for my liking, but it certainly did the trick – gave me instant energy. We were back on the route to the top and this time it was easier to hike up since the gradient was not as steep as before.
In sometimes we saw beautiful waterfall which were had to cross as well. Lokesh told us that since we are in the mid of the season, with the high temperature the snow had melted, and they water a bit high. Quickly he instructed everyone to take of their shoes and socks and then wear the floaters. The good part about wanderers is that they give you a list of things to carry well before time. Before starting the trek, they do ask if everyone has got everything requested, if not some spare arrangements are made as well. So our guide, Darshan Singh went first and crossed the stream. Then Lokesh went and stood in the middle and instructed us to cross one by one. He and Darshan ensured that everyone crossed safely and then Lokesh crossed too. The water was ice cold. We then sat down for 10 mins to get our feet dry. Everyone shared jokes and ate chocolates. We filled up our water bottles from this waterfall and were all set again to hike. In about 45 mins more we reached the top and it was a feeling of accomplishment. Everyone gave high-fives and were elated. Lokesh and Darshan took us to our campsite where we were welcomed by the staff with juice. It took us 4.5 hours to reach the top. It was 1 PM. We were assigned our tents and we put in our rucksacks there. I changed back to the floaters, since the hiking boots were too heavy for me. Lokesh gave us 15 mins to change and get back to the common area in front of the tents.
Once everyone assembled, he took us to the bathing area which is one of the highlight of this trek. There are Sulphur baths at the top kheerganga trek. Sulfur is a naturally occurring mineral that is found primarily near hot springs and volcanic craters. During a hot spring bath, the body absorbs trace amounts of minerals such as carbon dioxide, sulfur, calcium, magnesium, and lithium. These trace minerals help provide healing effects to different organs and systems in the body. These seemingly subtle health benefits include increased immunity due to stimulation of the immune system; physical and mental relaxation; endorphin production; as well as gland function normalization. Lowering blood pressure is another significant health benefit of a hot spring bath. Men and women have different sections, so it was easy for everyone. The men section was full of trekkers enjoying themselves. Lokesh gave us an hour to get a dip and enjoy. We were back at camp around 2:30 PM and the lunch was ready. For lunch we had, rice, rotis, dal, aloo subji, mixed veg subji, pickle and some curd. We finished off with gulab jamun. Post lunch we all retired to our tents and went off to sleep for a while.
I was woken up by a call from Lokesh, he was calling us out saying it was 6 PM already and tea and coffee was ready for everyone. As I came out of the tent, I saw table and chairs were spread out and we had some mugs kept. As everyone came out of the tents, Lokesh poured some tea into the mugs one by one from the thermos. We had some cookies as well. It was getting dark quickly and it was chilly as well. I went and wore a jacket so that I did not fall sick. We sat down and started to chat while having some more tea. There were camps that had bonfires going on but none for us. Wanderers, as team are strict in following the rules. Lokesh explained that this was forest area and it was not advisable to start any bonfires. While locals do it all the time, we were not going to do it. I respect that with WANDERERS. As we chatted, time just flew by and we were served dinner. For dinner we had, rice, rotis, dal, aloo-gobi subji, Rajma, pickle and some curd. We finished off with vanilla flavored custard. Post dinner we stayed back in the common area singing some songs and just chit chatting. I retired to my tent around 11 PM.
Next morning, I was woken up by calls of “Good Morning, Wanderers”. This time it was Darshan. As we came out of the tent we were greeted with a smile and hot coffee. It was 6 AM and the scene was amazing. We quickly got fresh and had our coffee and biscuits andwent for a walk in the forest, beyond the Sulphur baths. The view from there was mesmerizing. It was just after the sunrise and the colours in the sky were breathtaking. We sat for a while to soak it all in. We got back to camp at 8 AM and were served breakfast of Coffee, bread and butter, Jam and aloo parathas with pickles. Before making the journey back, we were handed some packed lunch of veg sandwiches and a packet of juice. We started our journey back to the base, Barshaini. This time it took us 3 hours to get back. We took a different route this time so that we could see some more majestic views. The cars were waiting for us there.
We had quick lunch and started out journey back to Delhi.