Leaving the Kullu valley and turning into the narrower and wilder Parvati valley, one reaches Barsheni, the last village of the valley that can still be reached by car. Barsheni itself is not particularly beautiful. For some years now, a construction site has been here due to a planned hydroelectric power plant and it is rather dusty than scenically attractive here. But once you have left Barsheni on a small, easily recognizable path, the Himalayas show their most beautiful side here: the bubbling Parvati river, on whose banks we hike along, is crystal clear, the tall trees of the deep coniferous forest look like from a fairy tale and the small villages could not be more original. Grass and wood are collected for the winter and each house has at least one cow infront of it!
If you follow this path, which always goes uphill, you will reach a green forest clearing after about three to four hours. This clearing is known as Khir Ganga.
“Khir” means “rice pudding” and “Ganga” means “river”. So a river of rice pudding. In fact, it is not a dessert that flows, but hot sulfur water flows from a spring into two basins- One for men and one for women! What can be more pleasant than taking a hot and healing bath after a hike in the Himalayas? And while you float on the hot water in the middle of nowhere, you can admire the wonderful starry sky with its millions of stars. Even the Milky Way can be seen!
In the summer months from April to November, you can easily dine and sleep in one of the small temporary huts, so that you can stay here for a few days. Of course, you can also bring your own tent and cooking utensils.
Since this place is becoming more popular, I can recommend a hike to Khir Ganga rather in the low season, especially in the months of November and December. Then you have Khir Ganga almost on your own and the place seems even more magical!
In fact, there are also several temples up here to honor Shiva and his wife Parvati. Together with their children Khartik and Ganesh, the family had their home up here. And it is said that rice pudding was really flowed during this time!
Today, the locals equate the sulfur with cream, which is considered a food of the gods. So it’s not just worth taking a bath here physically.
If you follow a small path for about 5 minutes further up, you will reach a cave. Here Kartik is said to have lived and meditated and walked every day for a swim to the distant Matalei lake, a decent route for which I need several days!
You can go into the cave yourself. There is an incredible energy here and it is worth spending a few minutes in meditation.
By the way, the route from Barsheni to Khir Ganga is the first stage of the nine-day Pin Parvat Pass Trek, during which you follow the Parvati River for several days to its spring- Lake Matalei, then cross the 5318-metre-high Pin Parvati Pass and reach a side valley of the Spiti Valley! A great trek!