Barely 65 KMs from Mandi, lies the valley of Tirthan river. Although not as popular as Manali, Kullu or Kasol, it has it’s own charms which are hard to find elsewhere. It is a relatively lesser explored destination and offers some solitude and peace. Something we city dwellers badly need.
Adventurous drives, lush green farms, apple orchards, Trout fishing, treks – name it, and you have got it here – it offers all this and much more.
Why Tirthan Valley?
Like I said, it is often hard to find peace and solitude in our crowded cities. The obvious choice then, for folks looking for some peace, up north, are the Himalayas. But, not everyone is ready to leave the worldly pleasures behind completely to attain this nirvana. We often desire this peace for the “long weekends” only to return to our chaotic lives on Mondays. Tirthan valley offers a perfect mix of modern comforts in a peaceful, serene natural setting.
Being in the buffer zone of a World Heritage Site – The Great Himalayan National Park has ensured it is not run over by commercial interests and still has limited stay options in handful of the villages. Gushaini, Nagini, Ropa are some of the prominent places in this valley.
The valley gets its name from the river that flows through it – Tirthan. Tirthan originates from a place called Tirath, quite close to the revered peak of Shrikhand Mahadev. It then flows down towards the villages of Rolla, Ropa through the Great Himalayan National Park. Near Banjar, another small stream, Jibhi Gad, merges into Tirthan river. At Larji, Tirthan merges with Sainj and then finally with Beas, coming from Manali.
WATCH: VIDEO LOG FROM TIRTHAN VALLEY.
How to reach Tirthan Valley?
Tirthan is around 550 Kms from Delhi and takes around 11-12 hours for the journey with a few breaks.
The route from Delhi is the same as Manali (Delhi – Ambala – Rupnagar – Kiratpur – Bilaspur – Mandi – Aut) till Aut tunnel. Instead of taking the left towards Manali, you continue straight and cross the Larji dam. From here on, roads are narrow but traffic is less. You will cross many bridges and switch from right to left bank of Tirthan several times.
After you cross the Khunan pul, travelling on the left bank of Tirthan, the views are simply awesome! This is where you enter the Great Himalayan National Park buffer zone. Forests, farms and apple orchards welcome you.
Our experience in Tirthan Valley
We arranged our stay in the vilage of Nagini. This is where the Fisheries department has an office and the Trout breeding farm. On the first day, as soon as we reach the destination, we dump our bags and head down to the river and regret it almost immediately. The water is super cold and it’s better to enjoy the river from a distance.
Sitting there on the banks of Tirthan, with not a soul around, I try to empty out my mind. To just soak in the nature, enjoy this moment and not think of anything. You can never experience this kind of solitude in the cities.
I watch the sun go down from the banks, and return only when it starts getting r-e-a-l-l-y cold.
There is a Nag devta temple a few meters down the road. The village has got its name from this deity, is what I am told. Some distance away on the same road is the Trout farm and the fisheries department’s office. That’s where we head to get our permits. What permits? Read on to find out. 🙂
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Fishing in Tirthan Valley
Tirthan has a thriving Trout population. Fishing activities are tightly controlled by the government. One needs to obtain a permit for fishing in the river. Fishing is completely prohibited in Trout waters during their breeding season (November to February).
Tirthan valley is also a popular place for Anglers. The stretch between Larji and Nagini has been specifically identified for Angling by the Govt, to promote this sport in the region.
How can one then, let go of this opportunity to fish while being in Tirthan Valley? We take permits for fishing and move towards the village of Gushaini. Palchan Gad merges with Tirthan at Gushaini. The route left from here goes up to the village of Ropa, entrypoint of the Great Himalayan National Park.
We take the road towards Bathad along Palchan Gad. There aren’t much vehicles on the road beyond Bathad. The road is sort of a dirt track, narrow, rocky and steep. It passes through some forests before ending at a small settlement with only a few houses. Our guide, Deepak, then takes us to a beautiful spot for fishing. Soon, some boys from the nearby village join us and we have a great time. Do check out the video, there is some underwater footage there too!😎
We carry packed food and have a gala time having a picnic in the middle of nowhere with some awesome kids for company. It was truly the highlight of our trip. I wonder, if I will ever meet them again.
Treks in and around Tirthan Valley
You can also go trekking into the nearby areas. I am kind of a lazy bum and tend to stop where the car stops. Situated in the buffer zone of Great Himalayan National Park, there are some very well documented trek routes in the valley. You can find some of these trek routes listed here –
Map credit: greathimalayannationalpark.com (Not an official site of the GHNP)
Apart from these treks, there are also smaller treks around the villages of Nagini and Gushaini which take you to some wonderful meadows and waterfalls. Ask your hosts and they will be most happy to show you the way. 🙂 People in these parts are some of the most hospitable and helpful I have come across.
Hope you guys enjoyed this journey! Share your stories from the valley too, what did you like the most? And when do you plan to return? :)
Keep Rocking, keep Roaming!