Finding Yourself All Over Again in the Lap of Tirthan Valley
The hustle bustle of the city life, the never ending honks on the road and while at this, just close your eyes and hear the rushing sounds of the river…the sound that never ceases to exist and the sound that moves with you through the valley and never even for once leaves you alone.
Tirthan Valley is just the best place for solo traveling in India. Even with the quaintness, for the solitude that you find and the connection that you build with nature does not actually leave any room for company.
I leveraged the Holi weekend and visited Tirthan valley from Delhi for 3 nights and 4 days just to be with myself. After doing a couple of international solo trips I was actually looking forward to one in India but to be honest, I was a bit anxious. However, my nerves came at rest within 6 hours of my journey as I realized that people neither in the bus nor at the mid-way dhaba really gawked at me for travelling alone – even if it was at 3 am in the morning. The fear mainly is of the awkward uncomfortable small talks that people like to engage with but I was left in peace and could not have wished it any other way.
Tirthan valley is a hidden paradise located in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh at an altitude of 1600 m, deriving its name from the Tirthan River that swerves its way through the valley.
How to Reach Tirthan Valley from Delhi(especially for solo travelers)?
Hills are notoriously famous for the roads that lead to them and that only makes them even more attractive. Here I would actually like to appreciate the efforts made by Himachal tourism in managing the bus service seamlessly from ISBT. Even though there are a number of private buses that run from Majnu ka tila, the service & comfort offered by HPTC is so far the best & comfortable for a solo traveler. If you’re new to solo traveling, it’s better to go with travel communities because there is not much to worry about conveyance, accommodation and other arrangements.
I boarded the bus at 6:40 pm from ISBT heading towards Manali and dropped off at Aut just about 6:30 am. I had pre-arranged a pick up by a local taxi and reached my resort at Banjar in about 50 mins. If you ignore the pit stops at Highway for washroom facilities, the bus service so far is the best way to travel definitely not discounting the road trips J
Best Place to Stay in Tirthan Valley?
When it comes to booking Hotels in Tirthan Valley, one must prefer homestays. The true essence of holidaying in the mountains can be felt only in a typical Himachali homestay, which are dozens in Tirthan. The most popular out of these are Trishla Resorts, Nature’s Lap and Raju Cottage.
For years, Raju cottage has been synonymous with Tirthan valley and has all reasons to be so. The rustic little home stay is strategically located by the river that gives the traveler a true taste of the Tirthan valley for its rawness and exquisiteness. The place is always in high demand and advance booking is highly recommended. But this should not deter you from making random plans after all that is what travelling to mountains is all about- just pack your bag & leave. The valley is flourished with many beautiful ways all along the river and equally picturesque as Raju cottage.
I had been following “The forest edge” for few months as it is a dream child of an avid book reader and the ambiance speaks for itself. The cottage breathes of different characters and speaks of many different moods as you walk through it. Each room is actually dedicated to a book and it was by sheer luck that I landed in Harry Potter styled room (Being a potter head can you ask for anything more!! No right!)
Best Food to Eat in Tirthan Valley?
Fortunately or unfortunately, the valley does not have the quintessential Mall road or a line of cafes that it can boast. Does that even limit your options? Alternatively, does that work in your favor?
I think it’s a thought through decision else Tirthan Valley will commercialize and become tourist dense much like ever crowding Shimla, Manali & like. All the properties in the Tirthan valley offer home cooked meals through the day that are savored till the last drop. Pahadi food is famous for chicken & mutton preparation but this round I came across a traditional Pahadi breakfast . When you are here you must try Siddu, a steamed Bao filled with walnut paste and served with hemp seed chutney. It is like one of those things that is a crime to miss, if you know what I mean.
What are the Things to do in Tirthan Valley?
To be honest the best way to explore Tirthan valley is to lie beside the river with a book in hand and your favorite drink (read the “the drink” J ) . If you are looking for a place that slows down the time and you are able to feel the flutter of the leaves, the passing by of the birds and changing sky colors in each second then Tirthan it is for you.
Even though by now it sounds like a place where you have an option to just laze around with a book but there are many outdoor activities to indulge in & even more tourist places in Tirthan to explore. If you are visiting Tirthan Valley during winters (October to Winter) then put Jalori pass at the top of your list just for the sight of snow. If you’re in luck you might get to witness snowfall. Going to Jalori pass from Banjar is an easy route without much of trekking terrain to its credit.
You can hire a local cab or drive down to Jalori pass which is around 20 kms from Banjar and will take you about 45 minutes. The taxi will go only as far as the snow allows and from there on you would have to walk to the pass. You will not regret the walk as you will be welcomed with the layers of never ending Kinnaur mountains all the way to the Jalori pass. There is literally a snow garden beyond Jalori pass but you have to be really careful going there during winters as it snows quite frequently leaving the soft snow behind.
During summers you can trek down to Serloskar Lake for a 360 view of the mountains.
If trekking is in your mind then you can hike up to see the tower temple called Chehni Kothi. This tower survived the 1905 Kangra earthquake. It’s quite a steep trek and avoid if you travelling with kids. I was exploring with a private guide and it took me 2.5 hours to cover this spot.
There is always the trek to Great Himalayan national park from there but that needs a trip on its own.
The list of activities are quite exhaustive that even 4-5 days will seem to be less. At the end of the day it’s a traveler’s choice to balance between relaxation and that instinct to explore.
Tirthan for Me
Was it an escape? Was it a break? Was it just for books?
It was more; so much more. I was lost with myself, within myself & at the comfort of hills. The few lines below will sum up my feelings
“I am here & there, finding & losing myself.
As I look up & as I close my eyes, I just feel love.
I became one another with the river, I became the river and I flew.
I flew somewhere deep within me as the river few through the valley.
I lost & found myself all over again.”