Did you know that Tirthan valley is called the Trout capital. This place is known for trout fishing and angling. While none of us in the group had any interest in fish, fishing or anything fishy, Sajan was more than keen to cook and sink his teeth into them fresh trouts. The Barbarian!
If the drive was a pleasure,the stay was exotic. Our homestay was right beside Tirthan River. Next morning we woke up fresh and raring to explore the hill side. After a sumptuous breakfast thanks to our host. We decided to look around.
High in the Hills
The backside of the hotel up the mountain were huge fields of marijuana and it went all the way till the top. In this region botanically speaking cannabis is literally a “weed”. It comes up everywhere, homes, roadsides, building cracks even into other cash crops and can be agriculturally a nuisance. That being said it's not possible to ignore the other possibilities of this plant. Hence it also serves as a cash crop among a lot of the locals.
While its considered illegal by the law, most of which was passed in the 1980s as a result of western pressure, cannabis is integral to the indigenous culture of India. In this culture weed has many uses. Ayurvedic medicines, various tinctures for day-day illness, bhang for religious festivals, cannabis for spiritual and occult rituals in hill temples and hemp to make ropes, roofs, slippers and finally the recreational smoking and cooking aspect of it. So it continues to be a struggle between culture and law enforcement. For most part unless one is too obvious they turn a blind eye.
I was advised against going and clicking pictures since it was illegal activity, the farmers can be edgy about someone taking pics. But i managed to get my hands on a few fresh buds. Off Course strictly to pose for a picture. Our guy at the homestay was growing one indoors. He let me click that :)
After our little weed talk we went down the mountain to explore the hills. The hills here are unlike other hill stations. They are desolate and while that can be good it can also be tricky if one is not prepared.
These can be helpful.
Carry water & snacks.
Dress to cover arms and legs. Especially if going into forest area.
Use sports or trekking shoes.
Do not go out out of network coverage unless accompanied by a local.
Please don't litter.
Great Himalayan National Park
Now its to be noted that a lot of the hillside forests in Tirthan are part of the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP). This is a very popular trekking destination. GHNP is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park has over 1,000 plant species and 375 fauna species. Four of GHNP’s animals and three of its bird species are globally threatened, including the musk deer and the western horned tragopan.
Entrance to the park is by permit, with additional charges for still and video cameras. Permits for the core zone can be obtained at the head office in Shamshi and the range offices in Shairopa (Tirthan Valley) and Ropa (Sainj Valley)
Entry fee to the park is almost negligible. INR 50 for an Indian and INR 200 for a foreigner. In USD terms this comes to about $ 2.60. Think of it like a nice upvote :)
The park also has very cheap rates in case you want to pitch a tent in the national park. This comes to INR 500 deposit and 200/Day. In USD terms this comes to about $ 2.6/Per day. Film,video and thematic photo shoots also take place and the prices for those depend on the nature of the assignment. However these need prior permission and booking. One cannot just walk-in and pay for them. Visitors of more than one day to GHNP are strongly advised to buy travel insurance that covers emergency medical treatment and evacuation.The facilities can also be booked online from their portal. The link to the site is Here
Daddy & Mommy
GHNP is also well know for its treks.The treks in the park can be long and quite difficult. One needs to have a great deal of fitness and stamina. Also trekking gear is a must. You can refer to the site at the end of the article for more information.
In our group except for sajan no one else would have qualified so we did not go for it. However the hotel we stayed was close to GHNP territory. A lot of local villages are located adjacent to park areas. We went in with the help of a local to explore the forests;)
Our first stop naturally was Tirthan River. The river was located at the base of the mountain on which we were staying. So after a careful trek down we were at the river and we took stock. It had a nice old style bridge across the river into the forest. We decided to go into the forest and meet the river at another point, deeper in the forest rather than the one that was near the hotel.
The bridge was about a kilometre down the mountain from the hotel. It becomes all desolate 500 meters from the hotel. The greenery and natural beauty is simply stunning. It's a reminder of what we have done to our cities.
We ran into a grinding hut. The place was almost reminiscent of lord of the rings. I fully expected a goblet to pop out. Turns out it's a River water powered grinding mill for pulses. Villagers who need their wheat, rice and other pulses ground come and put their grains in a container on top of the grinder. Then they let the river do the work. They come back in the evening and collect the flour from a container below the grinder.
This technique goes back to perhaps a 1000 years. Move over solar, here comes river powered mixer-grinder. It was dark inside but Sajan managed to get a quick video.
After all the pics were taken and my folks headed back. My husband takes out some “things” he had ripped out from “some” roadside plants on the way. He then proceeds to smoke it !
The riverside is a great place to spend time. We came back to the hotel, got changed, got some fresh supplies like alcohol, snacks and headed back again ;)
We managed to kinda go into the middle of the river and sit on the rocks. It's an experience worth having. Every now and then a trout would jump up as the water flows downhill. Sajan caught a giant trout by spearing it like Jason Mamoa in Aquaman. I am just kidding, he cornered it between two rocks.
Now here he is eating freshly steamed and spiced trout with Indian salad. The Barbarian!
Time flies or in this case i could say Time flows! We spent almost 4 hours in the river. We returned completely smashed and happy! Just in time for dinner. Sajan had told the hotel guy to prepare more fish for him. The Barbarian!
We will cover more in our next posts about the waterfalls and natural lakes in Tirthan. Hope you enjoyed our post. If you need any information on this place do reach out via comments and i will try my best to share.
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Official website of GHNP - http://www.greathimalayannationalpark.org