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Old 18th January 2015, 13:09   #1
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Default Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity

At the outset, I must admit my usual mould of writing travelogues has been broken here. Firstly, I went to Tirthan valley 10 months ago, and am penning the travelogue now, which makes it a delay of 10 months compared to the time within which I usually write. Why so? Because in these 10 months, all I've been thinking is – what's the point of describing the beauty of such a place in words? When pictures themselves are not adequate? You have to be there to understand, to take in the beauty of what is probably the last unspoilt Himalayan haven.

Secondly, it was not a drive–around trip. We did drive to the place, and back, but all we did in the interim was laze around. Well not actually. We took in the sights, took some photos, tried to catch Brown trout in the Tirthan, walked around, had jolly good conversation sessions at night, and took some more photos. Also I wasn't driving any of my cars. We made the trip in my friends 2006 Honda City automatic.

Thirdly, you'll not find my usual, endless narrative (historical/route description) here. In fact I'd have made this a photologue, if not for the incurable habit of commenting on each photo.

So here goes my own Tirthan Valley Travelogue:

Date travelled: sometime in March 2014

Route Taken: Delhi–Chandigarh–Roopnagar–Kiratpur–Bilaspur–Mandi –Pandoh–Aut (upto this is the usual Manali highway. You turn right just before the Aut tunnel)–Larji–Gushaini.

We drove through the night. Left Delhi at 9, had a quick dinner at Murthal, then drove non–stop. Found sunrise before Mandi. Keep in mind that:

1. The route condition from Kiratpur to Bilaspur is very very bad.

2. When you turn right from the Aut tunnel, you come on to a road that is narrow and much less populated than the Manali highway. This takes you along the Beas into Banjar valley. Just before Banjar there is a small hairpin bend on the left. Take that road and it will take you to Gushaini.

Just 2 pics from the drive:

Morning breaks somewhere before Mandi.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-morning1.jpg

a lovely sight from the car window.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-morning2.jpg

Himalayan Trout house – our destination and stay in Gushaini for the next 3 days.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-hth1.jpg

Himalayan Troute House (HTH) was a homestay started by Christopher Mitra and Shefali Mitra, a couple from Noida who got fed up of their urban life one day, gave up their jobs and came and settled in Gushaini 12 years back. Since then HTH has earned a record in service and reputation. It has also steadily grown to a point where it serves different types of accomodation (see pics below) and also arranges tours to nearby places.

You first see the main building, where Christopher's family stays and where some rooms are available for rent – the cheapest form of accomodation.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-hth9.jpg

Then you come across the Gazebo restaurant. Wonderfully decorated. Every evening Christopher calls all the guests staying in HTH here. A bonfire is lit, and conversation and singing (Christopher is a wonderful guitarist and singer) continue into the night.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-hth4.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-hth5.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-hth6.jpg

Further up are the mud huts, the next level of accomodation.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-hth2.jpg

And the stone cottages, the most expensive accomodation in HTH. We stayed here.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-hth3.jpg

The stone cottages have their own balconies/sit–outs.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-hth11.jpg

On the other side is a new complex, almost ready for use.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-hth7.jpg

And a running fountain built for the many species of birds who are regular visitors.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-hth8.jpg

But this thread is not a review of HTH. It is about the stunning beauty of Tirthan valley. So let us start with the view from our cottage window.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery11.jpg

The Tirthan river, bursting with brown trout and roaring under our window.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery6.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery7.jpg

Apricot and Plum trees in their autumn cycle, just behind our cottage.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery8.jpg

Snow clad peaks to our left.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery-4.jpg

And grey peaks to our right.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery9.jpg

The tranquility around us is shattering. We realize this is not the place to lounge in a hotel room. So (tired as we are) we step out for a walk. And find this cute gentleman sleeping outside.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-dog3.jpg

Meet Shera, or as Christopher calls him, "Ready steady go". A brave 3 year old mountain dog who has fought a leopard that had come to attack his sleeping sister. Both dogs were badly injured, but survived.

Shera's usual habit is to curl up outside the door of newly arrived guests and keep watch. Whenever they go out for a walk, Shera accompanies them around. Hence the name.

And the moment we step out, Shera is "Ready steady go".

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-dog5.jpg

Some pics as we walk along

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery12.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery10.jpg

The Tirthan is shallow in some places.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery-1.jpg

And roaring in some.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery15.jpg

We come across a small mountain village

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery-5.jpg

The building to the left is a Ghatotkach temple. Yes, Hidimba and her son Ghatotkach, referred to as the demon wife and son of Bhim in Mahabharata, are worshipped as gods in Himachal.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery13.jpg

A government bungalow further up the road.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery16.jpg

Shera meanwhile is bored with us. He has gone back alone, as we continue up the Tirthan.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery-2.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery14.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 19th January 2015 at 17:06. Reason: Rule #11, thanks!
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Old 18th January 2015, 14:09   #2
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Default To fish or not to fish, that is the question

By now you must have figured this unspoilt Himalayan hamlet isn't an amusement park. If you ever get tired of taking in the natural beauty, please indulge yourself in trout fishing.

Brown trout were introduced in Himalayan waters by the British in the 19th century. Today Himalayan rivers like the Tirthan and Baspa offer the most virgin Trout fishing territories in the world. Christopher of HTH is himself a professionally trained angler. With prior intimation, he will arrange permits (daily permit Rs 100, arranged at cost) for fishing.

He will also rent out his fishing equipment to you.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-hth10.jpg

On the day, there was a Japanese family living next to us. The husband was from the Japanese assembly in Delhi. The son was a little wonder. 8 year old kid who speaks fluent English and Hindi, even sings Hindi songs.

When we return, Christopher is giving an angling session to papa Jap.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-christopher.jpg

Mama Jap tries her hand.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery-3.jpg

While little Jap tries to make friends with Mr Ready Steady Go.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-dog1.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-dog2.jpg

Soon it is our turn for the lesson. We learn the intricacies of fly fishing - fishing by using a plastic fly (instead of live bait). Also this is catch-and-throw fishing. You throw back whatever you catch into the river.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-fishing1.jpg

Christopher makes it look easy-peasy, snaring 2 fish in about 5 minutes. Then each of us tries his hand.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-fishing2.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-fishing3.jpg

We stay at it for a good 3 hours. Christopher intersperses his fishing advice with reminiscing about his childhood in Bengal. However none of us get any fish, except Sandeep who manages this huge catch

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-fishing4.jpg

The evening is well spent at the Gazebo. The Japanese family, another family from Delhi, and a group of Christopher's old friends - Chinese residents of Kolkata. A lot of humor, singing and good food sets the tone for the evening.

Day 2

We can't get enough of this Himalayan heaven. So we decide to walk around some more. Here are some sights we come across.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery17.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery18.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery19.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-scenery20.jpg

The rope-pulley is the most commonly used method of transport across the river. Here's an example. We even sighted a marriage taking place on the other bank, the guests using the pulley to go across!

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-pulley.jpg

In some places they also have hanging bridges.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-bridge1.jpg

These things sway and creak like hell when you walk across. Here my wife is pensively trying to cross, while Sandeep is laughing at her plight!

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-bridge2.jpg

Gushaini, being one of the entrance points to the Great Himalayan National Park, is teeming with bird species. We heard more birds than we saw. Besides we weren't carrying the proper equipment to photograph birds. Still a few worth mention.

A Yellow-billed Blue Magpie

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-bird1.jpg

Himalayan Bulbul

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-bird2.jpg

A (short-billed?) Minivet

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-bird3.jpg

Probably a little pied Flycatcher.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-bird4.jpg

Some local flowers. Dunno any names.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-flora1.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-flora2.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-flora3.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-flora4.jpg

We come back to find the local lump of lard asleep as usual.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-dog4.jpg

We close the day with another round of fishing. Christopher has gone to town for some work, so his man friday Dipak escorts us. He takes us upstream, to a shallower part of the river.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-dipak.jpg

On the other bank, handsome Mr Mountain Goat comes to check us out.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-goat1.jpg

Followed by Mrs Goat.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-goat3.jpg

But they get bored of us, sitting there and doing nothing.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-goat2.jpg

And go back to enjoy their lunch.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-goat4.jpg

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 18th January 2015 at 20:43.
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Old 18th January 2015, 21:13   #3
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Default Re: Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity

The fishing expedition carries on for another 3 hours.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-fishing5.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-fishing6.jpg

Though no one manages to catch anything. The expression says it all.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-fishing7.jpg

We return to another round of camaraderie and singing. The next day, with a heavy heart and an overcast sky that seems to echo our mood, we leave Gushaini.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-misc2.jpg

That's it folks. I end this travelogue with a few favorite snaps of mine.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-misc1.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-misc4.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-misc5.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-misc6.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-misc3.jpg

PS: Gushaini is the entrance to the Great Himalayan National Park, the youngest National Park in India and a treasure trove of alpine flora and fauna. Just yesterday we were discussing that we miss Gushaini a lot. Planning a longer journey in May/June, probably accompanied by a trek to the Tirath Glacier (source of the Tirthan river). If you're interested, please PM me.

More information on GNHP or the possible treks can be obtained from this link.

http://www.greathimalayannationalpark.com/

http://www.greathimalayannationalpar...eks/index.html

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 18th January 2015 at 21:16.
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Old 19th January 2015, 17:06   #4
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Default Re: Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th January 2015, 09:29   #5
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Default Re: Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity

Reminds of our trip to the same place in 2013 summer. Though we have gone from Shimla across Jalori Pass (spent almost the entire day travelling ), and then onward we moved to Manali.

The stay in Tirthan Valley was serene. We did a small trek to a falls which Christopher suggested.

I will try to dig out the pictures.
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Old 20th January 2015, 12:17   #6
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Default Re: Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity

Hi

Lovely place to wind up.
Did you also go to Manali or other places around as you were almost there. But I guess you guys wanted to be away from Delhi and this place serves more than that.

About Fishing, I thought you could do more. May be the fast flowing water requires different skills than the lazy waters of Bengal.
Thanks and I wish to be there sometime.
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Old 20th January 2015, 12:57   #7
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Default Re: Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity

Hi predatorwheelz,

This Himalayan haven (Tirthan Valley) just looks awesome. The pictures tell us the natural beauty of this palace. Feels like an oasis of serenity amidst our bustling day-to-day lives. Going to these kind of places makes one refreshed.
Fishing must have been fun..!!

Thanks for sharing this travelogue.

Cheers,
Embee
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Old 20th January 2015, 18:08   #8
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Default Re: Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity

Quote:
Originally Posted by arindamray View Post
Reminds of our trip to the same place in 2013 summer. Though we have gone from Shimla across Jalori Pass (spent almost the entire day travelling ), and then onward we moved to Manali.
Good to know you were here. We were planning to go to Jalori Pass, but it was mid March and Jalori was still snowed over. Christopher suggested we shouldn't do the trip in a non 4wd car.

Something for next time!

Quote:
Originally Posted by arindamray View Post
The stay in Tirthan Valley was serene. We did a small trek to a falls which Christopher suggested.
We did not do any treks. Somehow the serenity of the place made us just walk around taking it all in. But we will cover the waterfall once we return for the Tirath Glacier trek.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arindamray View Post
I will try to dig out the pictures.
Please do. Would be lovely to see some more pictures of this place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wanderers View Post
Hi

Lovely place to wind up.
Did you also go to Manali or other places around as you were almost there. But I guess you guys wanted to be away from Delhi and this place serves more than that.

About Fishing, I thought you could do more. May be the fast flowing water requires different skills than the lazy waters of Bengal.
Thanks and I wish to be there sometime.
Thanks for your comments Gyan Bhai. Do go there with family. Bhabi will like the serenity, the kids will like playing with Shera.

We didn't go anywhere else. We were on a super fatigued phase of jobs at that time, and used the 2.5 days to just chillax!

As for fishing elsewhere, the only fishing I've done is in a village pond with insects and golas (made of maida) as bait. Had caught a fish called "Grass Carp", which my uncle (and tutor) threw away saying it "Tastes like Grass". Sob sob.

Quote:
Originally Posted by embee View Post
Hi predatorwheelz,

This Himalayan haven (Tirthan Valley) just looks awesome. The pictures tell us the natural beauty of this palace. Feels like an oasis of serenity amidst our bustling day-to-day lives. Going to these kind of places makes one refreshed.
Fishing must have been fun..!!

Thanks for sharing this travelogue.

Cheers,
Embee
Thank you for your comments brother. Do go there sometime, its a good place to unwind from the stress of Delhi. Stay at HTH or Raju's cottage.
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Old 20th January 2015, 22:03   #9
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Default Re: Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity

Brings back memory from 2004 or 2003 for me. I visited Gushaini and stayed at a homestay few minutes down the road - Raju Bharati. One had to go across the river - same way as you have clicked. I stayed there for 3-4 days in the month of May. The valley is simply awesome. I am sure lot would have changed in the last 10 years. Becoming more commercial?

I lazed around and enjoyed the shade and the sun.

May be, if my memory serves me right, this place had already come up when I had visited.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 20th January 2015, 23:18   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
Please do. Would be lovely to see some more pictures of this place.
just realized that i did write a travelogue here http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...an-manali.html (Unforgettable Himachal: Shimla - Tirthan - Manali)
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Old 25th January 2015, 01:45   #11
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Default Re: Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity

@Predatorwheels...A beautiful drive and awesome pics to capture the beauty of the place. ts good to be away from the usual tourist spots and find peace at places like these. And to top it all is the comfortable homestay. This place surely gets into my "to visit" list.

Could you just tell as to how much did the homestay cost? Would help if planning anytime later.
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Old 27th January 2015, 12:23   #12
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Default Re: Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity

Quote:
Originally Posted by justwheels View Post
@Predatorwheels...A beautiful drive and awesome pics to capture the beauty of the place. ts good to be away from the usual tourist spots and find peace at places like these. And to top it all is the comfortable homestay. This place surely gets into my "to visit" list.

Could you just tell as to how much did the homestay cost? Would help if planning anytime later.
Thank you brother. The Homestay has different room types, and rates vary with type and season. As far as I recall, we paid INR 2500 per night for the stone huts (which are the most expensive of rooms).

Christopher's contact details are available here:

http://www.mountainhighs.com/contact.htm

Besides HTH, you also have the option of Raju Bharti's cottage, another charming homestay. Or Riverside Resort, a newly built hotel.

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 27th January 2015 at 12:25.
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Old 4th October 2015, 11:41   #13
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Default Re: Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity

And, mesmerized as I am with the beauty of tranquillity of this little Himalayan hamlet, we paid another visit in August. This time with a group of office friends.

The steed was different too. We took my friend's Polo 1.2 TD. A lively little car with excellent stability, ride and handling, though interior space is quite bad.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010653.jpg

On the onward journey we took the usual Delhi–Chandigarh–Roopnagar–Kiratpur–Bilaspur–Mandi –Pandoh–Aut–Larji–Gushaini route. Though we started early from Delhi, and made good time till Swarghat, that's where it all went haywire. A tanker truck went out of order, blocking one lane, and errant Volvos blocked the remaining lane. This ensured a traffic jam that lasted almost 7 hours, and the queue on both sides went about 6 kms!

Me driving (rather maintaining guard behind the wheel) with the owner of the car in the passenger seat. We were pretty much stationery throughout the night, shifting occasionally for the odd Volvo driver trying to exacerbate an already huge mess.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010656.jpg

Exhausted, we reached Bilaspur at 8 AM the next morning. Had breakfast at a roadside hotel with this lovely view from the window.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010674.jpg

Finally at 1 PM (instead of the originally planned 6.30 AM) we reached Tirthan Valley.

This time the weather was lovely. 16 deg C on an average. Most of the day one could roam about in a shirt, the night requiring one light jacket or sweater. The valley was much greener than before, having endured a season of monsoon already. Some pics.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010699.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010701.jpg

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I had photographed this tree in my last visit, when the leaves were white all around. What a difference.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010744.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010749.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010756.jpg

In my last visit this mountain was brown, not covered in a shade of green as it is now.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010760.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010762.jpg

View of the valley from an elevated position.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010763.jpg

The road that gets lost in the woods, one of many.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010789.jpg

We stayed at the Himalayan Trout House. The Gazebo restaurant made for a comfortable sit out. The bird fountain you see in the pic was not functional at this time. Why would birds need to drink from a fountain in monsoon?

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010688.jpg

The extension building has been completed and houses 2 wonderful Cedar Suites. Though I had booked the stone cottages (like last time) Christopher gave me a free upgrade to the Cedar Suites. The size of the rooms, and the huge balconies with armchairs, are definitely worth it.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010689.jpg

In our last visit we had met the brave and big Shera, a mountain dog who survived a fight with a leopard. Sadly, early this year he got eaten by another leopard. So the HTH is currently dogless.

Neighborhood dogs do come to visit though.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010698.jpg

The Tirthan, in all its flowing glory, made for a calming sight.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010713.jpg

For friends to wordlessly sit around and soothe frazzled urban minds.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010721.jpg

The only busy beings in this part of the world are a male Minivet.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010740.jpg

And its female. Both were jumping from rock to rock.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010738.jpg

One day we went for a trek, to a waterfall at the edge of the Great Himalayan National Park.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010758.jpg

Past this local temple.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010759.jpg

Walking through maize fields.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010766.jpg

And the occasional hut, where curious children wondered at us.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010768.jpg

First sighting of the waterfall.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010769.jpg

The lovely brook made by the waterfall.

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My friend gets immersed in the scale of things around. The forest, the waterfall and the solitude.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010773.jpg

And we all dash in to wet our feet.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010775.jpg
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Old 4th October 2015, 12:12   #14
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Default Re: Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity

Just some other pics I clicked.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010706.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010710.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010761.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010767.jpg

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Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010792.jpg

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Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010786.jpg

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-p1010788.jpg

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And that last pic of me being master of all I survey ends this brief photologue. That Tirath Glacier trek is on next April.

PS: While returning, we took a different route to avoid the Swarghat debacle. We came upto Gaggal, where you cross a river and reach a T point. The left says Shimla and the right Chandigarh. Take the left route, and go via Nanj – Pandoa – Dhami – Arki – Kunihar – Subathu (an army cantonment) and reach Dharampur. This way your'e on NH22 and can use the Shimla Expressway to byepass Chandigarh and come back to Delhi. The distance is the same, but at least 2 hours saved compared to the NH21 route.

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 4th October 2015 at 12:33.
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Old 4th October 2015, 13:39   #15
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Default Re: Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity

Quote:
Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
In our last visit we had met the brave and big Shera, a mountain dog who survived a fight with a leopard. Sadly, early this year he got eaten by another leopard. So the HTH is currently dogless.

Neighborhood dogs do come to visit though.
Hey Aniket, thank you for this lovely thread. I found this place because of your thread and absolutely loved it. I reached there a few days after you left, and was quite sad to not find the dogs. The day we were leaving, Christopher and his wife were going to get some dogs from the village. So, hopefully HTH is no longer dogless.

Haven't had the time to compose a travelogue so sharing one pic of HTH here. Hope that's fine.

Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity-dsc05554.jpg
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