UPDATE: Now read my complete GHNP Guide here.
Where exactly is Tirthan? This was a question I asked many years ago when I first heard of the name. Some people gave me a rough idea and the area seemed to be getting rapidly popular with tourists.
I also started visiting it soon and so far I have made several trips to the region. But even after my first visit, I had to repeat the same question, where exactly is Tirthan?
This is because there is no town or village named Tirthan, a fact that took some time to dawn upon me. Tirthan is basically the valley of the Tirthan river. This is one of the two major valleys that constitute the Great Himalayan National Park, the other being Sainj. The largest settlement along Tirthan is Gushaini, a place that has grown a bit too popular for my liking. Anyone who says he is “going to Tirthan”, generally ends up in one of the resorts around Gushaini but there is much more to see there in case you are willing to explore.
So, a few weeks ago I entered the region again with a serious intent of a more comprehensive exploration. The first one I managed was the glorious meadows of Shangarh, something I have already described in my last blog post. After that I had plans to do many more small treks in the ecozone of the GHNP but even before that, I had given my word to attend the bloggers meet by The Travel Correspondents & Bloggers Group (TCBG) being organized somewhere in Tirthan. So, I took this opportunity to relax and rejuvenate between more hectic treks and just do nothing for a couple of days.
The venue of the meet was Tirthan Angler’s Retreat, and to my relief I found it to be located not in Gushaini but a few kilometers ahead, near a village called Barnagi, right by the side of the river. Coming out of Sainj and getting inside the Tirthan valley took a few hours because there were no direct buses. Other bloggers were already there by the time I reached. The weather was also worsening and was likely to remain so for the next couple of days. So, in that sense, the decision to lie low for a couple of days was the right.
The first evening was spent in interacting with other bloggers. The next morning most of them left for a visit to the Jalori Pass. I’d seen enough of Jalori already so skipped that part, especially when the weather seemed even worse. However, later on I learnt that the inclement weather caused summer snowfall in Jalori, however counter-intuitive that sounds. So, joining that trip would not have been a bad idea. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the relaxation period and in the afternoon the weather finally and suddenly cleared, making take a brief stroll up the road to Batahad, the last roadhead, and back.
As expected, there were many smaller villages en route. Some were by the side of the road while some others had more exotic settings, with small wooden bridges and narrow jungle trails leading to them. It will take more time and effort to explore the inner villages but I will surely do it over time in the foreseeable future. But for that day, I just focused on whatever I could see from the main road. That included a solitary post office out of nowehere, colourful homes amidst lush green apple orchards, pulleys transporting goods across the hills, and cheerful kids asking to be photographed.
I returned to the Tirthan Angler’s Retreat towards the evening and the golden hour gave me some more photographs before I retired for the day. I don’t always have such leisurely days during my trips, especially during the summer ones in the himalayas. But it was a good idea to rejuvenate myself as the next day two of us moved on for a more ambitious trek, bidding adieu to the rest of the bloggers. I’ll soon return with those stories.