Kheerganga – “A temple of beauty amidst the halls of Himalayas”

In its world of timelessness lies a very small settlement in a clearing at the top of a mountain peak beyond the Parvati valley in Himachal Pradesh. There is just something about those looming snow covered mountains, deep green forests, rushing sounds of waterfalls and streams, unpredictable weather and slopes with fallen boulders which make Kheerganga a place to be.The easiest way… in fact, the only way to reach the place is by trekking on a 2-3 feet wide trail from Pulga beyond the Barshaini village for around 3-4 hours (depending on physical prowess).

Kheerganga is indeed a peculiar name. The local legend has it that when goddess Parvati’s son Kartikay was in meditation in these mountains for a thousand years, his mother out of concern poured a river of ‘Kheer’ or porridge from these mountains for his hunger. And indeed the waterfalls, springs and streams which one witnesses on the trek are white with the foam which is formed due to the rushing speed of water crashing on the boulders.

The trek in itself is something to experience, as it involves climbing up and down huge mountains covered with loose rocks and mud, walking in forests which resemble those seen in movies like Lord of the Rings (Yes, they are dangerous and behold wild animals like bears), past waterfalls and gushing streams and even slippery rocks (One fall from which can ensure a quick sleep).‘Easy’ hence is a very gross overstatement. You will witness the Rudra-Nag waterfall along with the temple and Nathan village as landmarks for your trek. But the trek is one thing, Kheerganga on the other hand…

Places like Kheerganga render you speechless, with just a floating feeling of being alive, thus just the place to connect to your inner self and nature. For one, you will hardly witness any electricity or any connectivity to communicate with the rest of the world hence an immediate disconnect to the lifestyle you came with to the place. The only thing you have as a companion is the place and its beauty.

Looking at the mountains in their absolute silent meditation makes you feel like a speck, a mere insect in the schemes of nature. Ego seems a futile emotion to be pondered and nourished. You just want to be lost in their vastness.The ever changing sky looks like a canvas where deities express themselves in black, blue, purple, pink, gold, and white. You never know what they will paint next, your own control of things is a farce and you give in in to the feeling of being powerless. Summer in Kheerganga is like that playful lover which teases you all day with rains, comforts you with sunny warmth and leaves you in a black trance after nightfall. This unpredictability intensifies love for the place. Nights particularly are something to remember when you are old. After dark the only light Kheerganga enjoys is candles within those locally run cafés and the Milky Way, clearly visible from this height of 9,000 ft. Constellations, shooting stars and shifting stars no longer remain phenomenon read about in those school textbooks. Silence is particular something to be experienced there. Silence not from the environment around but within. Mesmerized senses make you forget the past or future. Watching wind tickling themountain peaks creating a snowy mist and rushing past leaves of 50-60 foot tall trees, birds flying in the never ending valley, wild mules grazing in the wild and mountain dogs playing seems much more important than pondering over trivial things like career, wealth or even family.

The temple in Kheerganga which is situated at the top of settlement and built around a hot water spring is another landmark to be explored. The hot spring bath in the open and midst of subzero to 14-15 degrees of temperature on an average summer day relieves you completely. The religious Kund or pool is filled with water naturally heated, and actually withholds properties to cure many diseases. Once in the Kund, even an atheist will start believing in spirituality and will not be able to hold back to meditate and take-in the view around.

Winters are definitely something which could be explored… if you are up for a challenge of course. According to a friend’s account there are hardly six to seven people witnessed in winters, the place is almost closed to tourist, covered in heavy snow and temperature never even goes above the zero mark.

Places like these are not to be disturbed with commercialization, modernization and large human habitations. Else what the travellers in the past have witnessed and accounted will never be explored and experienced by another traveller in the future.

Harsh Vardhan Yadav

A journalism student who loves to travel, debate and play.

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