Nestled at an altitude of 2956 meters (9678 ft.) and surrounded by the Himalayan mountain range, Kheerganga or Khirganga is a scenic trekking destination from Kasol at Parvati valley in Himachal Pradesh, India. As per locals, Kheerganga has spiritual significance and is known as the ‘abode of Lord Shiva’.
Kheerganga Trek Overview
Kasol to Kheerganga trek involves Barshaini (also known as Barsheni), Kalga, and Tosh as starting points. The distance covered is around 12 Km which usually takes 4-6 hours to complete, depending on the capability of the trekkers. Most part of the trek is pretty straightforward. Still, some can be a little difficult and risky for beginners due to steep stairs, slippery paths, and precipices.
The best things about Kheerganga are the surrounding scenic view, forest trek, and a hot water spring. Its beauty is incomparable in different seasons. While the temperature reaches 26 degrees Celsius in the summer (May-June), the winters (December-February) are colder, and there is often snowfall. However, you can trek to Kheerganga from Kasol at any time of the year according to your preference.
The Mythology About Kheerganga
Kheerganga is an ancient pilgrimage site. The name “Kheerganga” comes from two words- “kheer”, which means a slurry sweet dish made of milk, and “Ganga” means a river of great importance.
It is said that from Satya-yuga till now, Shiva Parvati and Kartika have been living here. By the grace of Shiva and Parvati, Kheer (usually made by boiling milk) flowed here. That is why the place is called “Kheerganga”.
In order not to quarrel over the kheer, it was turned into hot water by the grace of Parasurama in Kaliyuga. Bathing in this water is virtuous. Also, the Kartikswamy cave is located 60 meters away from the hot spring. Now it is forbidden to enter the cave, but pilgrims can still visit there.
Highlights Of Kheerganga Trek
*Includes the cost of accommodation, food (breakfast, lunch, dinner), and charge for the guide.
Kasol Kheerganga Trek Map
This map explains the Kheerganga trek routes from Kasol, Barshaini, Tosh and Kalga. Check more details.
How To Reach Kheerganga From Kasol?
The best option to reach Kasol is availing of the AC Volvo Bus service from New Delhi or Chandigarh. The distance is roughly 520 Km which needs an overnight journey. The nearest airport to Kasol is Kullu–Manali Airport, Bhuntar, just 23 Km away. You can get both public transport and private cars to reach Kasol.
Once you have arrived in Kasol, you can book a cab or ride on a bus to reach Barshaini in 40 minutes. The distance between Kasol and Barshaini bus stand is 17 Km, and the trek to Kheerganga starts from this point.
Kheerganga Trek Routes
There are three different trekking routes from Barshaini to Kheerganga, covering a 9 to 14 Km distance. Every route is best for their unique experience and adventure. So, let’s explore!
Route 1: Barishaini to Kheerganga via Nakthan
Nakthan is known for its 460 MW hydropower project and its surrounding scenic village. After passing the bridge on the Parvati river, take a left turn to reach the Nakthan village. Follow the Barsheni road to reach Rudranag which meets another trail from Kalga. The path is well-marked and easy to follow.
This route is easier to descend from Kheerganga than other ones. The distance from Kheerganga is the shortest on this route, usually taking 3-4 hours to complete. If you are an experienced trekker, it will be the best option. The famous Pin Parvati trek starts at Kheerganga, and most trekkers prefer this route to save time.
Route 2: Barishaini to Kheerganga via Tosh
This trek route connects Barshaini to Kheerganga via Tosh. This small village is surrounded by mountains and the Tosh river (nallah), which meets the Parvati river near Pulga village. This picturesque village is a perfect place to visit for trekkers and hikers. The only disadvantage is that this trek route adds an additional 2.5 Km to the course mentioned above.
If you plan to trek to Kheerganga from Tosh, you must follow a different trail that meets the previous route 1 near Nakthan village. You can stay overnight at Tosh and begin your adventure the following day to trek to Kheerganga from Kasol.
Route 3: Barishaini to Kheerganga via Kalga
Trekking to Kheerganga via Kalga village is most scenic in dense forests, waterfalls, and eye-soothing greeneries. Watching the dance of light through the shadow of giant trees is mesmerizing. You won’t get such a beautiful form of nature in any of the previous trek routes. If you love photography, trekking to Kheerganga via Kalga won’t disappoint you. This is the best trek route to Kheerganga.
Previously, this 10 Km long route was lesser known to trekkers, and there are reports of people missing in the dense forest. Presently, it is getting popular, and you can follow the trail easily. However, hiring a guide from Kalga is highly recommended as there are some difficult bridges on waterfalls and steep areas where beginners might need an expert hand.
Kheerganga Trek Itinerary
The Kheerganga trek can be covered in two days with one night stay at the camping site. However, if you are travelling from Manali or Delhi to Kasol, it can be exhausting to trek on the same day. For this reason, staying at Kalga or Tosh for the night and starting trekking the next morning is advisable. In this way, you will be refreshed and able to enjoy the adventure more. So, it will be best to plan a 3-day-2-night itinerary unless you plan to complete it in 2 days.
Itinerary 1 (Kheerganga Trek Direct From Barshaini)
- Starting Point: Barshaini Bus Stop
- Endpoint: Kheerganga Camping
- No. Of Days: 2
- Distance: 12 Km
- Completion Time: 4-6 hours
Day 1 (Trek To Kheerganga And Camp Overnight)
Day 2 (Return To Barshaini From Kheerganga)
Itinerary 2 (Trek To Kheerganga Via Kalga)
- Starting Point: Kalga village
- Endpoint: Kheerganga
- No. Of Days: 3
- Distance: 10 Km
- Completion Time: 4-6 hours
Day 1 (Arrive at Kalga and Stay Overnight)
Day 2 (Trek To Kheerganga From Kalga)
Day 3 (Return Trek From Kheerganga To Barshaini)
Itinerary 3 (Trek To Kheerganga Via Tosh)
- Starting Point: Tosh village
- Endpoint: Kheerganga
- No. Of Days: 3
- Distance: 14 Km
- Completion Time: 4-6 hours
Day 1 (Arrive at Tosh and Stay Overnight)
Day 2 (Trek To Kheerganga From Tosh)
Day 3 (Return From Kheerganga To Barshaini)
Best Time For Kheerganga Trekking
Anyone can trek to Kheerganga throughout the year, as Parvati valley offers unique beauty in different seasons. Summer (March to June) is the most preferable time for Kheerganga trekking as the trekkers will get sunny yet comfortable weather (Avg. Temperature: 16°C 20°C) with minimum possibility of rainfall. However, accommodation, food, and transport rates are the highest at this time.
On the other hand, the trekking trail and Kheerganga get covered with thick snow during the winter (October to February). The temperature drops (Temperature: -11°C to 12°C), and the path becomes slippery and unpredictable. Unless you are an experienced trekker, winter is less preferable than summer to trek to Kheerganga from Kasol.
Monsoon (July to September) is an adventurous season to trek to Kheerganga. At this time, nature gets soaked with raindrops (Avg. rainfall in monsoon: 1000 mm) and becomes greener and more soothing. However, the path becomes slippery, and many waterfalls start flowing over the trail, making the trekking difficult.
Considering all the seasons, summer, especially the months of April, May, and June, is the best time to visit Kheerganga. During these months, you will get clear weather and comfortable temperature with the least rainfall. The trail is relatively dry, and you can enjoy the spectacular view during your trek. After reaching Kheerganga, the breathtaking view of the Himalayas would surely stun you.
Kheerganga trekking in summer is highly recommended for beginner trekkers as the journey would be easier for them. However, if you are a reasonably experienced trekker and have not got the fun of trekking in rain or snow previously, winter and monsoon will be ideal for you.
Where To Stay At Kheerganga?
There are plenty of options to stay in Kheerganga. However, do not expect hotel-like facilities as all the accommodations are inside camping tents. There is a common dormitory stay option; however, if you have family or friends, you may like to book private accommodation inside a tent for 2, 4, or 6 persons. Depending on the size of the tents, all the accommodations are priced in the range of ₹500-₹1500 in different seasons. There is also a Dharamshala or ashram where you can get cheaper stay options.
Sunshine Himalayan Camp, Kheerganga Hike Camps, Woodland Camp, and Om Shanti Camps are some of the famous campsites of Kheerganga. All these camping sites have the basic facilities of a warm blanket, waterproof tent, shared toilets, drinking water, etc. They also serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the designated dining area. The tents are comfortable for a cold night but do not expect much cleanliness in the common toilet facilities as we have experienced.
What To Eat At Kheerganga?
Every food item is overpriced in Kheerganga. This is because the sellers have to carry them on the entire high-altitude trekking route. For the same reasons, you will not get rich food items like fried rice, biryani, or any non-veg food items. Every camp provides rice, roti/paratha, dal, mixed veg, rajma, and occasionally paneer.
You will also get namkeen, biscuits, Maggi noodles, tea, coffee, cold drinks, and juice from the stalls and campsites nearby. There are a few cafés around with limited facilities. So, it is wise to carry some food for Kheerganga.
Activities In Kheerganga
- Adventure Camping
Camping under the starry sky is an exciting activity for all trekkers. The camping site of Kheerganga is picturesque and worth visiting for a lifetime. If you are a trekker, camping at Kheerganga would definitely be an adventure. The glimpse of the snow-covered Himalayas from the tent under a full moon is a memorable experience.
- Bathing In The Hot Spring
The main activity in Kheerganga is bathing in the hot water spring. After completing the trekking journey, it is incredibly refreshing when you immerse yourself in the pool. The gents’ section is open, while the ladies’ section is covered all around. So, anyone can get fun and relaxation while bathing in the hot spring. There is a shaded cloth/luggage storing area where you can keep your bags and come down.
- Visit The Kartikswamy Temple
Just 60 meters away from the hot spring, visit the Kartikswamy temple. As per local mythology, the god Kartika meditated here. So, if your religious soul is calling, visit the temple in Kheerganga.
- Watching Sunset And Sunrise
The magical beauty of Kheerganga, surrounded by the sky-piercing Himalayas, is most enjoyable in the evening, especially before the sunset. During this time, nature paints itself with a mystic dance of colourful light and shadow. This is the most mesmerizing time of the whole trekking to Kheerganga from Kasol. The sunrise also looks beautiful from Kheerganga.
- Photography And Videography
Kheerganga is a very photogenic place. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and dense forests, it is a perfect trekking destination for beginners. Located at an altitude of 2956 meters, Kheerganga is also free from air pollution and dust.
For this reason, the visibility of the night sky of Kheerganga is high. You can easily watch the stars, planets, and galaxies with your bare eyes. Using a good quality camera with suitable lenses would be very beneficial in capturing the starry night sky like it did to us during our trip.
If you like the Kheerganga trek for its short duration and easy difficulty, you will also like trekking to Triund and Thachi Valley in Himachal Pradesh, Sandakphu near Singalila National Park, West Bengal, and the double-decker living root bridge in Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya.
You can also check other trekking destinations with easy to challenging difficulties.
Things To Carry In Kheerganga Trek
Kheerganga Trek Cost
The cost of trekking to Kheerganga includes charges for accommodation, food, transport, and a guide. If you want to complete the trek within 2 days without staying at Kalga or Tosh, the expense would be lesser. It also depends on the number of trekkers.
If you are a solo trekker, you can accommodate in a single-occupancy tent. A 2-person tent would be ideal for a couple but will cost more. The cost of trekking is cheaper if you are travelling with a group and prefer a dormitory. Here is a typical package of trekking from Kasol to Kheerganga for 2 persons–
|Expense||Itinerary 1 (Direct From Barshaini)||Itinerary 2 (Via Kalga)||Itinerary 3 (Via Tosh)|
|Transport (Round Trip)||Car: ₹2400 to ₹3000|
|Car: ₹2400 to ₹3000|
|Car: ₹3000 to ₹3600|
|Accommodation||₹600 to ₹1500||₹1400 to ₹4500||₹1400 to ₹4500|
|Food (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)||₹500||₹1000||₹1000|
|Guide||₹1500 to ₹2000||₹1500 to ₹2000||₹1500 to ₹2000|
|Total||₹2760 to ₹7000||₹4060 to ₹10500||₹4360 to ₹11100|
As you can see in the above table, the total cost mainly varies on transport and accommodations at Kalga and Tosh. You can hire a car from Kasol to Barshaini at the expense of ₹1200 to ₹1500, which becomes ₹2400 to ₹3000 for a return journey (Itinerary-1). On the other hand, you can also avail of the bus service at the cost of ₹40 per head.
The accommodation cost at Kheerganga greatly varies from ₹600 to ₹1500 in different seasons. For example, if you plan to trek in the month of May-June, the price will be the highest as it is peak season. Other times, you can book a tent at Kheerganga at a significantly lower cost.
Kalga and Tosh have different homestays with unique amenities and facilities. For this reason, the cost of stay and food at these two places vary a lot. However, the food quality is excellent as the vegetables are grown on local organic farms.
Tips For Kheerganga Trekking
Frequently Asked Questions
While most parts of the Kheerganga trek are pretty easy for trekkers, some are difficult due to the narrow trail and risky landslide zone, especially if it rains. The last 3 kilometres of the journey involve a steep uphill trek which can be exhausting for beginners.
The Kheerganga trek is 10 to 14 Km long on different routes through apple orchards, pine forests, and meadows. You will cross several waterfalls, bridges, and stairs to reach there via Kasol, Barsheni, Kalga, and Tosh.
Presently, you do not need a permit to trek to Kheerganga. On 25th May 2018, commercial activities, including camping, were banned in Kheerganga following the mandate from the High Court. At that time, a permit from the forest department was mandatory. But, since many tourists and trekkers were visiting the place, the ban was lifted soon. Now, you do not need any permit to stay in a camp at Kheerganga.
If you are planning for a solo trek to Kheerganga, select a popular season like summer (April-May). At this time, lots of trekkers across India visit the place, and you will clearly see the trail and follow the crowd to reach Kheerganga. The route via Nakthan and Rudranag is preferable for solo travellers as it is easy to follow with no chance of getting lost in the forest. But if you plan to trek to Kheerganga from Kalga alone, it is recommended to hire a guide or join other groups of trekkers.
Yes, the Kheerganga trek is perfectly safe for the family, including women and kids. However, the age of the children should be at least 7. Also, the trek should be avoided if any of your family members have asthma or other breathing problems. But, in general, it is perfect for a family vacation.
To plan the Kheerganga trek, first, book your train/flight/bus tickets to Delhi or Chandigarh. Then, use any of the itineraries mentioned above and book your homestay/camp and bus to Kasol for at least 3 months before commencing the trek. Before leaving for Kheerganga, pack all your trekking essentials in the rucksack. When you reach Kasol, hire a cab and go to Barshaini, where you will start the Kheerganga trek.
Barsheni does not have a cloakroom to store the luggage before trekking to Kheerganga. However, if you plan your trekking via Kalga or Tosh and stay there according to the above itineraries 1 and 2, you can request the homestay owner to keep your luggage in the store room until you return from Kheerganga. When we trekked to Kheerganga, we kept our luggage in the homestay at Kalga and collected it after we returned.
The largest expenditure on the Kheerganga trek is the transport from and to Kasol and the guide charges. To trek to Kheerganga under ₹3500, avoid hiring a cab and avail of the bus service and travel with a group. In such a condition, you should also avoid staying at Kalga or Tosh, further reducing expenses. Follow the itinerary-1 mentioned above for trekking to Kheerganga with minimum outlay.