Churah valley, as the heading of this blog represents is a lesser-known but magnificent destination in Himachal, and is famous for its apples and other organic products like honey. The word Churah means four paths as it is a gateway to four major places Chamba town, Pangi Valley, Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir.
Churah valley is the perfect place to spend a few days to refresh your mind and body amidst snow-capped mountains, wilderness and orchards. Its history, lifestyle, dance and music styles, handicrafts, memorials, palaces, temples, cuisine, costume and language present a glowing glimpse of the glorious culture and heritage of this region.
Himachal Pradesh is a fascinating place. There are many places that are unexplored, yet have great potential in terms of scenic beauty and adventures that lure travelers to visit and explore this region. Before I get lost in the fond memories of this place, let me provide you with an overview of this lesser-known but magnificent destination of ‘Churah Valley’.
Churah Valley: An Overview
Churah Valley being hidden from normal travelers, has many fascinating places to touch the wanderlust of backpackers. The local folklore, cuisine and other native things will make you fall in love with this place.
Chamba, Himachal Pradesh, North India
|Best time to visit
March to June
October to February
|Ideal accommodation options
Government guest houses
|Ideal means of transport
|Functional mobile operators
|Places to explore
Gadasaru Mahadev Lake
Devi Kothi Temple
Goiya Naag Valley
This is me, in love with Churah Valley and Chamba. The cap I’m wearing here is a traditional Himachali cap. Traditionally worn to protect oneself from chilly winds, it has now become a cultural symbol of the state. If you want one, you can pick it up in Chamba.
Places to Explore in and Around Churah Valley
Not only the mountains but the wilderness and fragrant orchids give travelers a great sense of satisfaction and refreshment at Churah Valley. If you’re in the region for a short trip, the places listed below can surely be covered by you.
Let’s have a look at them –
|Devi Kothi Temple|
|Gadasru Mahadev lake|
|Goiya Naag Valley|
The places mentioned above are the prime locations, where you get to test your physical and mental abilities along with a touch of Himachali culture.
There are no fancy hotels or malls to spend time in, but the valleys, fresh air, orchids, rich culture and local tales are sources of never-ending thrill and entertainment for travelers.
How to Reach Churah Valley?
Churah Valley is well-connected with the major cities of Himachal Pradesh, by a good network of roadways. Let me elaborate on the details of transport in the region for your convenience as a traveler.
|Nearest Airport and Railway station is at Pathankot, which is approximately 160 km from Bhanjradu/Tissa.|
|Direct buses to the headquarters of Churah Valley i.e. Bhanjradu/Tissa can be boarded from Shimla, Pathankot and Chamba District respectively.|
|Churah Valley is 62 km away from Chamba Town, and it takes almost 4 hours to reach Tissa by bus and 2.5 hours by car/bike.|
|If you are traveling from New Delhi, the best way to reach is to take the direct bus to Chamba and from there, board the Chamba-Tissa bus as early as possible.|
A Description of the Must-Visit Places in Churah Valley
Let me now throw some light on the must-visit places of Churah Valley by elaborating them more for you as a traveler.
Situated at an altitude of 14,500 Ft, Sach Pass awaits you for a complete adrenal rush. Often mentioned as the ‘World’s most treacherous road,’ it is in the top slot for travelers and bikers.
It connects Churah Valley to the Pangi Valley of the Chamba district. Also, it provides a gateway to the mecca of bikers ‘Leh and Ladakh’.
|It is the shortest and toughest route to Pangi (170km) and Leh-Ladakh (542km).
The pass opens from mid May till October only. It’s a treacherous and slippery road where even the most experienced drivers do not dare to drive faster than 10 kmph at any point in time.
The scenery is sublime and limitless charm beholds the eye at the top. A view of Pangi Valley is obtained from these passes. Snowy valleys around the pass, add mystique and an awe-inspiring dimension to this place.
Devi Kothi Temple
As the name explains, Devi Kothi means Goddess Palace. It is a temple dedicated to the goddess Chamunda and is located 35 km from Tissa at Dei Kothi village beneath the mighty Pir Panjal mountain range.
The Devi Kothi shrine was built in 1754 by the King of the erstwhile Chamba province. The major attraction of the temple is its wall paintings, which depict historical and religious Hindu figures, and the traditional ancient style woodcarving.
|Every year, during the month of April, a festival is organised here dedicated to the Goddess Chamunda during the time of “Bishu” or Baisakhi. People gather around and perform Himachali nati (folk dance of Himachal) in order to make the goddess happy.|
I recommend you all to witness this festival once in your lifetime and don’t forget to ask about the adventurous and historical tales related to this temple from the priest.
Gadasru Mahadev Lake
In the vicinity of Tissa, there are some very scenic mountain lakes that can be easily approached on foot. The glacial lake of Gadasru Mahadev is one of the most visited places by travelers.
Located in the north of Upper Churah Valley, there is a unique place in the skyscraper chain of Nosrahar Mountain Range, a wonderful place of Lord Shiva, “Gadasru Mahadev”. It is situated at an altitude of 3,470 meters and is spread over an area of about 2 km.
This is a 3-day long trek and the difficulty level is medium. The scenic view along the trek attracts everyone by itself. Fragrant flowers make for a surreal sight that relieves travelers from all the exhaustion.
There are no special tours organised by any external travel agencies here, so you’ll have to venture out on your own.
A festival is held there annually where the local people gather and celebrate. Traditional Himachali cuisines are served to the people visiting there.
|“Goiya Naag Valley” or the Valley of Snakes is a scenic place in Churah Valley, and is a perfect spot for camping. The meadow exists in the zenith of the skyline and flourishes with rich flora.|
You can see snow-covered mountains just in front of your eyes which presents a very magical and astonishing sight. The Valley is accessible by car to “Shahuaa Village” and from there, it takes 2-3 hours of hike to reach the top.
Moving on to the next location, Jatbagga Meadows is truly a paradise for travelers. Some places can’t be found on Google Maps – you have to explore them by yourself. The Jatbagga Meadows will take you back to the ancient times – there is no internet connectivity, no electricity and no luxuries. Visit there to experience true rustic life.
|This place is accessible only in summer and can be reached by trekking for 4-5 hours. When the temperature rises in the mountains, local people move to higher altitudes along with their cattle and sheep. These people stay there till winter.
This is a long age tradition which they still follow. You can live with them for a few days in their temporary houses, which are generally made up of stones and listen to their folk stories.
Don’t forget to carry your sleeping bag and a few essential medications.
Living with the local people at such an altitude without any basic facilities is a real challenge, but this is what a mountain trekker should pursue – a sense of solitude. Away from the chaos and close to nature is the ideal retreat.
2-3 days are enough to explore this region. The top provides a breathtaking 360-degree view of the entire Churah valley. You can witness most parts of the mighty Pir Panjal range from there. Even Dalhousie is visible from there, but the best part is living with locals and gaining a lifelong experience. This is something you won’t be able to explain to someone else unless they themselves visit there.
High Altitude Lakes – The Paradise for Hikers
Churah Valley consists of certain high altitude lakes with magnificent views.
There are many glacial lakes in Churah Valley. Most of them have a holy significance and are hiked to as a Yatra (spiritual journey). Whether you’re religious or not, I highly recommend that you visit these lakes.
They are present in their purest form amidst the high mountains and will leave you mesmerized.
Let me share the names and altitudes of these lakes with you –
|Gadasaru Mahadev Lake||13,278ft.|
|Khundi Maral Lake||13,260ft|
|Chamunda dal lake(Enthann Lake||15,000ft|
|Mehalwar Naag Lake||14,500ft|
|Tithh Naag Lake(Himgiri)||11,000ft|
|Mahakaali Dal Lake||13,450ft|
Famous Passes of Churah Valley
As a traveler, you may have heard about Sach Pass, but how many of you know of the other passes present in Churah valley?
By means of my blog, I intend to introduce you to the other passes as well –
|Pass and Altitude||Gateway region|
|Chamba- Lahaul Spiti|
As you have the list now, grab your backpack and book your tickets to Chamba.
A whole new adventure awaits you!
I’d like to mention here that the altitudes above have been taken from my Uncle – Mr D.S. Dewal’s book. These are the official altitudes.
Now, let’s talk a little about the safety of travelers, especially women. It is important to discuss this.
Is Churah Valley Safe for Female Travelers?
We all are aware of the growing intolerance in society towards women but mark my words, the mountain people are very respectful, honest, helpful, and peaceful.
Therefore, Churah Valley is totally safe for female travelers even if they wish to travel solo to the region.
FAQ’s on Churah Valley
How much time does it take for the bus to reach Churah Valley from Chamba?
Almost 3 hours
Why is Churah Valley still not very popular?
One of the main reasons for Churah Valley still being an offbeat destination is its location. In fact, Chamba itself is quite distant from the rest of Himachal and so, it doesn’t come on the priority list of most travelers.
Initially, Churah Valley was mostly known to hardcore trekkers who came to cross its difficult and adventurous passes. It was only after opening the Sach Pass, that Churah Valley started appealing to bikers.
Thousands of bikers visit Sach Pass every year. Now, it’s time for this wonder to be explored by other travelers as well.
Are hotels available at Churah Valley?
How are the road conditions there, any risk factors?
The roads are wide and properly tarred.
During the Monsoon season, and when during winters (when it snows), the roads remain closed. This is because, around this time, landslides are common.
It’s highly advised to get updates about the weather and roads before visiting Churah Valley.
Are guides available there?
No. But you can ask the locals over there. They will surely show you the places around.
Which government guest houses are available there?
There are PWD, IPH, Electricity and the Forest department’s guest houses available. They need to be booked in advance from their website or simply by visiting their office in Chamba town.
Can I rent a bike at Tissa?
No such service is available there. Private Cabs are available which you can hire easily. Alternatively, you can rent a bike from Dalhousie.
Churah Valley is the ideal travel destination for those who want to explore the offbeat places in Himachal. This region will offer you tranquillity and quietude. Not to forget, surreal views that will stay in your memory forever.
It’s high time that as travelers, we made Churah Valley in particular and Chamba, in general, more mainstream. Don’t wait any longer. Pack your bags and explore the region with your own eyes.