The hot springs at Khir Ganga have been luring travellers since decades, as has the Indian Rainbow Gathering which takes place here each year. It has remained a traveller secret, and has yet eluded mention in travel books.
Khir Ganga for Backpackers
Like many small heavens of Himachal Pradesh, Khir Ganga is also known as mini Israel, with hoards of the peace loving Israeli trekking up to Khir Ganga each year.
The Hot Bath at Khir Ganga : natural hot springs in the Himalayas (The women’s bath)
The women’s bath is enclosed within brown and dark walls of wood, while the bath for men next door is open onto the gorgeous view of snow capped mountains, symbolising the difference in the perception sexes in India.
Yet, in the women’s bath, incense and candles are lit, no clothes are necessary, and over giggles and girlie conversations, over borrowing of oils and body butter, I saw a beautiful bond strike between women from the West and local women from the East. Despite the language barriers, and the socio-cultural difference, in the steamy, surreal candle-lit Himalayan bath, we were all, beneath our differently shaded skin, just women at heart.
With the track improving each year, the only way to reach Khir Ganga is a four to five hour trek from Barshani in Parvati Valley. There is almost no electricity, except for the little that is generated by privately owned solar panels. Also, there is no cellphone reception. The connectivity situation improves every year though.
Accommodation & Costs
The few rooms fill up relatively fast, although I wouldn’t recommend staying in the rooms for they get terribly cold at night. Some travellers stay in caves, while others bunk inside one of the three restaurants. The restaurants are the coziest options, my favorite one being Lotus (picture above). The restaurant floor is covered completely with carpets, rugs, mattresses and cushions, and equipped with locally crafted fireplaces. The Lotus looks like a cross between an eatery and a dormitory. It costs INR 100 per night (in 2015) to stay here. I recommend carrying your own sleeping bag.
The mythological story of Khir Ganga
It is said in folklore, that after the death of his wife, Lord Shiva sat in meditation at Khir Ganga. The setting is idyllic, lush green, surrounded by snow peaks. Khir Ganga is and cold in the summers, and closed for the winters. The mountain slope has a hot and a cold spring of pure mountain water flowing down on either side. A stone bath is constructed, where the hot spring flow in and out of the pool-tub, makes the best natural bath I have had at 3,300m in the Himalayas.
With natural hot springs, a view to kill for, and the priceless experience of pristine nature, Khir Ganga is a lovely place to get lost in nature for a bit.