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Barshani - Kheer Ganga

INDIA | Tuesday, 7 October 2008 | Views [4823] | Comments [2]

05/10/2008 - 07/10/2008

Barshani to Kalga, Kalga to Kheer Ganga.


We disembarked our Mahindra 4WD at the end of Barshani. We were quite high up from the river, and the road seemed to keep going down, but the driver assure us that he could go no further. And the view from the hill wasn't very encouraging. Unfortunately, through the spindly flowering buds of all the pot growing at the top, all we could see was a wasteland of dam construction - tin sheds lining the river, trucks, earthmoving machinery, cranes, barrel upon barrel of grease and diesel. They were in the process of creating the Pulga dam and hydro power plant. And because no one was actually there working, it really looked like a wasteland. It wasn't what i had imagined Kalga to look like, especially after the recommendation from Shai. But i guess, we weren't in Kalga yet. We started to wander down the road laden with our packs in the only possible direction other than from where we had come. Soon enough we were at a boomgate, with a very friendly policeman guarding the way. He insisted we rest in the shade, then pointed out the way to Kalga. From our vantage point, we could see the way quite clearly - he indicated the path all the way down to the river, then across the bridge, then past all the trucks and grease, then all the way up that path. The path led to a plateaux, well above our current height. So high, all we could see was the roof of one house near the edge.

"That's Kalga", he said. "Half an hour, or thereabouts".

Thereabouts. I started to do my own calculations as we expressed our thanks. Half an hour for a young fit mountain dweller maybe. Probably even for an elderly local carrying 3 boxes of apples (yes, we were overtaken numerous times) but not for us. By my reckoning at the time, we'd be lucky to make it in 2 hours.

And i wasn't far off the mark. We'd left Barshani at 2:45, and we were sitting drinking chai at Kalga by 4:30. As much as i would have given to a porter to take our bags, it felt good to have made it alone. While sitting, staring, and contemplating our achievement, the clouds began to lift, and i caught a glimpse of where we were. With no sign of the dam from here, it was pretty stunning. Surrounded by pine forests and towering green hills, all topped by the awesome snow capped peaks in the background. Kalga is set amoungst an apple orchard, with quaint little cottages and houses dotted throughout. I seemed to be yet another step closer to heaven. As equally stunning as the sights around me, was the silence. No motors, no horns, no music, no yelling, no power tools - almost nothing. There was the occasional crow, a couple of insects and a distant dog barking. This seemed more like what Shai would have been talking about. A pity he hadn't mentioned the walking bit....

But, we should have been ready to walk anyway - the next towns up were inccessible by vehicle also. We met some Isreali's (who else?) who had just walked back from Kheer Ganga. 4 hours of up hill walking, but they had said it was definitely worth it. Close to the snow line, with a naturally spring fed hot bath... While Kalga was pleasant, it would be a dream come true for me to go wandering in the Himalaya's to a village up near the snow line. Out of my two windows here in Kalga, i can see snow capped mountains, the impressive pine forests, some of the village houses here, some of Pulga and even a bit of Barshani and the dam. While i could easily sit here for days, i think i would really rather get up into the hills a bit further. We are running out of time - i think there is maybe a week or two of the season left. Then Kheer Ganga is pretty much abandoned, the snow leaving it all but inaccessible for the winter. And the snow is certainly not far away now.

I awoke at about 6am and negotiated the 2 flights of dodgy stairs (more like ladders) down to the toilets, only to be confronted with a mind numbing cold, clouds all around and a sleety type rain. Maybe the snow was closer than i thought... It was a bit better when we got up for breakfast, but while sipping our chai, it really started to come down. The weather kept us in Kalga a day longer than we wanted but as i mentioned, it wasn't really such a bad thing. Using our new thermals to the fullest, we appreciated good food, time by the fire and chats with BJ, our host. And then, the next morning, out came the sun. It was a glorious day to do the walk, and after getting our shit together, finding a couple of porters and having something to eat, by 12:30 we were walking.

And what a walk! It was everything you would expect of a forest walk in the Parvarti Valley; wandering amid the huge pines; the roar of the Parvarti River reverberating its way up to us; eagles soaring above the cliffs of the opposing side of the valley; the sounds of the myriad birds and a few monkeys in the trees; both the sun and a light rain filtering its way through the needled canopy above - it was simply breathtaking. We walked in silence for most of the way, appreciating such an amazing day, in such an incredible place. Walking here instills an acute sense of just how small we are, and also of just how massive, powerful and amazing is the world where we live. About 3 hrs in, our "light rain filtering through the needled canopy" became a heavy downpoar. We gained the shelter of a chai stall, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, ordered 4 chai's, and sat down to rest. Unburdened by our packs, the walking is reasonably easy, but to sit down was heaven. We shared a couple of spliffs with our porters, and enjoyed hot chai as the rain turned to hail. Still an hour away, it was looking like we might spend the night on the dirt floor the chai stall..

But it did ease, and while we didn't get drenched, by the time we reached Kheer Ganga we were pretty damn wet. Unable to really see where we were due to the clouds and rain, we wandered around to find a guest house. The only real buildings there are a place called Ashram, and of course they were full. We settled on a packed earth and tarpolin construction, dumped our packs in our cold leaky room, and went into the common area to sit by the tandoori. Damn it was cold. It really felt like it should be snowing! And there wasn't much to see, since the clouds were all over us. Not really prepared for the extreme cold, we wondered weather we might leave in 2 days rather than 4...




Hey Mr Nomad, ;p ,,I have a query,,I m a regular trekker speacially in Kasol old manali and other places as well,,so is it a good idea if i carry my bycycle beyond barshani ??

  Dhruv Jul 21, 2010 8:55 PM


hi.............i have one query..............can u plz me that what is the right time 2 go kheer ganga ...we plan 2 go there in end of april ..is it right time

  ankit goel Apr 11, 2011 7:08 PM

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