Hidden Gem of Himachal Pradesh

It is 6AM in the morning and I woke up to the sound of rain drops pitter pattering on the slate roof of the house. I’m still in the bed and trying to register all the sounds in my brain that I hear – bird songs, swishing of leaves and an occasional bleat from the farm sheep. But everything else is overwhelmed by the massive roar of boisterously flowing Tirthan river. I step out of the room to a corridor with an array of windows with a typical rural Himachal cottage design. Through the windows there is a clear view of the alluring river and cascading mountains in the backdrop with small village cottages embedded on them. This area is the coziest area in the entire house. It has two beds placed horizontally against the wall just meant to sit back and enjoy the view, unwind, read, sip coffee, reboot your mind and fill it with creative thoughts and imaginations.

That is how I started every morning in this lovely home stay called Blue House by the River at Tirthan valley.

Pristine Tirthan river and Blue House during the sun set
My favorite spot inside the house to unwind
Snow-capped peaks of Great Himalayan National Park

Tirthan valley is one of the hidden gems of Himachal Pradesh, located in the Kullu district. There are several small villages threaded together on Tirthan river that originates from the icy cold glacial springs of Hanskund, a snow-capped peak in Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP). Each village is beautiful and unique in its own way. I stayed in small village known as Gussaini. There are dozens of activities to do in Tirthan valley. You could go for hiking, rappelling, river crossing, bird watching, trout fishing but nothing beats taking a dip in the ice cold water and sipping a drink.

River rules (at Blue House)

I went on an uphill hike to GHNP and a waterfall hike from Rolla village which is beautiful and must do if you get an opportunity to travel to this part of the planet. There are a lot of interesting villages where you could wander around and come across wonderful and welcoming Himachalis , pick some apricots from the orchards, walk in the fields with some amazing sights and freshness in the air. I came across this lovely village called Sarchi with such an affable vibe, located about 20 kilometers away from Gussaini. After seeing such picturesque village and the most laid back and simple lifestyle I wished if I could exchange it for the city dweller life at least for a few months maybe.

Himachali kids excited to see us lost in their village
Lady farmer picking up the crops in Sarchi village
The sweetest green peas from the farm
The picturesque Sarchi village

There is a great amount of bird life and butterflies in the valley. If you camp in the interiors of GHNP for a couple of days there is an opportunity to spot Western Tragopan, which is a very colorful and rare bird. I have saved it for the next visit, probably in the winter.

Plumbeous Water Redstart
Grey Bush Chat

One beautiful morning we went to another village which has good spots for fishing. The place was magically calm and the air so crisp that I couldn’t stop myself from sitting on a rock by the side of river and doing a few yoga inhales and exhales. I’m not much into fishing but I tried my hand at it, didn’t catch any. Although my peeps did manage to catch one. There is a lower limit on the size of the fish that needs to be released if caught. The rule is enforced by the fishery department for conservation and to maintain fish populations.

If fishing is not your thing you can visit a local fish farm and pick some trout from there. I did visit one, where I had a conversation with the farm guy and I got to know how meticulous the entire process of trout fish farming is. The fish needs flowing river water, which is channeled from the river. It takes about 1.5 to 2 years to transform fish seed into a full grown fish ready to hit the market. The fish has a mild flavor and very delicate texture, tastes best if treated lightly!

Fresh from the trout fish farm
Bon Appétit

The cheerfulness of Tirthan river, the calm of the mountains and the complacent feeling about taking back these experiences will make me come back to explore this relatively untouched corner of the Himalayas over and over again!

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