Kheer Ganga is a serene meadow in the Parvati Valley situated at 2960 m where Shiva is said to have meditated for 3000 years. The hot springs at Kheerganga are extremely important for Hindu and Sikh pilgrims as well as many others who believe the waters have sacred healing properties. It takes about 4–5 hours trekking to reach Kheerganga Top which is approx. 12 km from the starting point near Barshaini,17 km away from Kasol enroute the pilgrimage site Manikaran.
It is famous for its natural sulphur hot water springs and stunning views of Parvati Valley, the white sulphur makes the water look whitish, hence the name Kheer Ganga. There is a cave above the temple which is said to be a short cut to Mantalai lake but it’s closed now and not in use.
This trail was discovered and still used by local shepherds to cross Pin Parvati Pass to reach Pin valley of Spiti with their life stock migration. But I noticed some articles pointing that in 1884 Sir Louis Dane crossed it first time in search of alternate route to connect Kullu and Spiti but local shepherds state that their families had crossed way before 1884 and have been using this trail for centuries now.
Its was late 90’s when I visited Kheer Ganga for the first time, there used to be nothing here apart to a small temple and muddy hot water ditch made by shepherds and locals to take bath, only hikers in the region were locals and Israelise hikers later on a temple and Dharamshala was constructed here which still exits. I have visited this place more than 50 times as of now and man I have seen this place changing like crazy year by year.
Over the past few years Kheer Ganga has become one of the most visited and apparently the most polluted trails of Himachal, thanks to all the insensible and unethical stoners and hikers. With crowd came the plastic and pollution, but in recent past 4 years Kheer Ganga has become the hub for stoners and first time hikers. During season time any given day average of 1000 people visit Kheer Ganga sometime even more, I have witnessed people not getting accommodation as all camps were full, but in past 2 years around 20 new cafe and Camp settlements were established here. Specially from 2005 when locals started running cafes there, every year the place got more crowded and today there is barely any place left to pitch a personal tent for Self Supported hikers.
Here is a timeline from 2004 to 2018 by Google Earth showing the settlements growing in the region.
Kheer Ganga in 2004
Kheer Ganga in 2008
Kheer Ganga in 2017
Kheer Ganga in 2018
Growing Polltion Issue
In spite of ban on polythene in Himachal the plastic rappers of edibles like Chips, Cakes, Maggie, Biscuit etc, Packaged water bottles, Cold Drinks bottles, Canned Drinks and Alcohol and Beer bottles continue to pollute most of the Hill stations.
Growing numbers of cafes on the way is another big cause of huge piles of garbage in both the major trails to Kheer Ganga. Local people sometimes burn the plastic to get rid of garbage which is more harmful to the environment. Govt or any local administration is doing nothing to improve the situation, inspite the staggering numbers of people visiting Kheer Ganga.
Himalayan Drifters have tied up with Healing Himalayas Foundation to help clean the polluted trails of Himalayas and already organised two clean drives since last year. We are organising another clean drive on 28th, April 2018. Care to join? Get in touch with us.
Kheer Ganga is on the path of destruction and needs a lot of care and restoration. Government and local community with help the of visiting hiker can surely achive this by following simple hiking ethics and leave no trace policy.
Please visit our another article about 24 Dos and Don’t on Himalayan Trek.