Found in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh at over 1600 meters above the sea level, Tirthan valley is named after the Tirthan River, which stretches through the valley. The immaculate river arises from the icy cold glacial spring of Hanskund, a snow-capped peak in the verdant Great Himalayan National Park. It indeed is traveller’s paradise and a hidden gem.
Tirthan valley has something to offer for everyone and is an offbeat destination. The mesmerizing valley is ideal for trekking, hiking, fishing, exploring wildlife- birding, driving to locals and discovering the villages. The best time to visit is from March to June and then from October to December. Monsoon season between July and August must be avoided as the paths are slippery and landslides may occur.
Tirath Trek (source of Tirthan River)
Tirath trek is a rocky trail through forests, meadows and goes along the river gorges. This trek follows the Tirthan River from Gushaini till its source at Tirath and offers alluring mountain scenery as well as possesses some of the most pristine and unique ecosystems in the world.
The amazing verdant meadows with flowers in full bloom (also the Bramh Kamal), Himalayan blue sheep, Ibex, Himalayan black bear, birds like- Himalayan Griffon, Rock Bunting, Himalayan Snowcock and Snow Partridge can be the highlights. The trail is moderate to difficult type and takes around 7 days. Backpackers may get sense of achievement after covering this terrain.
This serene lake situated among nature and surrounded by thick forest is ideal for camping and trekking during summers. In winters, the snow sheet covers the surrounding forest and the lake get frozen. This unveils another level of beauty of the magnificent lake. The locals believe that the lake possesses medicinal properties and a small temple of Buddhi Nagin situated nearby is believed as the goddess of all snakes..
Local food of Tirthan Valley
Siddu, the favorite delight of Pahari (hilly region) people is a must try local cuisine. It is a simple food cooked with minimal spices and consist of local steamed croissants, filled with mashed potatoes, onions, walnuts and served with melted ghee (clarified butter) and walnut chutney. The river water used for cooking also adds nutrition and an incredible taste to the dish.
Angling / Fishing for Rainbow Trouts
Gushaini region in the Tirthan valley is the major place in India to enjoy Trout fishing. Rainbow trouts and brown trouts are the major species found in the stream of this valley. The heavenly surroundings of the valley create a perfect ambiance for fishing enthusiasts to enjoy this leisure activity. They catch their own fish and get it cooked at the home-stay, however, the locals are better aware to cook it tasty.
The license from the forest department gives the consent to enjoy fishing in 45 km stretch of the river and there are many places where a fishing fanatic can set the base of angling. Due to this reason, the Himachal Government has declared Tirthan River as an angling reserve and have decided not to set up any hydro project to preserve nature.
Traditions and marvel architecture of the temples
The locals of the valley live in the traditional way by maintaining their ancient customs and following age-old rituals. People believe in self-sustainability and are very approachable and warm by nature. The Chehni Kothi temple is the tallest standing structure in the entire Western Himalayas which was constructed for dual purpose.
Another temple dedicated to Lord Shringa, the ruling deity of the valley, is the Shringi Rishi Temple. It contains the idols of Lord Shringa and goddess Shanta. The intricate wood carvings that depict the 24 different births of God is a must watch for travelers. Built by the local king Dhadhu in the 17th century, the temple is made out of local stone and deodar wood. It is believed that the temple act as a vantage point for guarding villagers against attack from the strangers.
Village hopping is one of the memorable experience in the midst of the mystifying beauty of nature. Various villages mark the landscape of Tirthan Valley, such as Gushaini, Sai Ropa, Shoja, Banjar and Nagini.
Birding and hidden waterfalls
The residents of these villages offer local accommodations which provide a scenic view of rolling mountains and terrace farms with different shades of green. Village hopping is an experience to view the basic lifestyles of the inhabitants.
Walking around the Valley explores the exotic species of Himalayan birds such as- Paradise-flycatcher, Verditer flycatchers, Black bulbuls, Magpies, and Himalayan Griffon. They can be spotted either on the trees or on the riverside.
Other colorful species like Cheer pheasant, Kaleej Pheasant, Western Tragopan, Monal pheasant can be spotted from the Hamlets height. The jewel of the hidden waterfall in the forested valley can be a rewarded sight if uphill hike from the Rolla village is taken.