For a peaceful break in the times, one that won’t have you swimming amongst swarming crowds, you can head to Sainj Valley. It is a serene hideaway in the Great Himalayan National Park, about 45kms from Kullu. This quaint valley comprises of charming little villages and picturesque views. Here are some of the best things to do during your trip to Sainj:
Pudrik Rishi Lake
If you find yourself getting engaged and lost in stories, then you will enjoy the visit to this lake because more than its beauty it’s the myth around it that makes it a must visit. Visit the lake with a local who can share the folklore with you. Legend has it, that there was originally a paddy field here. However, one day the local deities fought and effectively brought an end to the cultivation. It was Rishi Pundrik who with his spiritual knowledge blessed the land here. His birth anniversary is celebrated here every October.
The Great Himalayan National Park is quite the trekker’s paradise. There are a number of treks that start from here. From single day treks to longer week like treks, you can opt for one as per your time and convenience. Sarikanda, Raktisar, Lapa-Shumga and Jiwa Nala are the recommended treks in the area. Make sure to have a local guide accompany you though as these paths don’t see a lot of people. Throw on your trekking shoes and head off to explore the flora and fauna, the greenery and the beauty of this region. For the nature lovers, there is also the chance of camping out to fully immerse yourself into the lap of the mountains.
Sainj’s true gem is Shangarh. It has a vast stretch of endless green meadows. In fact, the Pandavas are believed to have passed through this region. When the land was being used by both local gods and the cattle, there came to arise a friction. The Pandavas helped call for the truce by placing stones to separate the area of the meadows, one section for the gods, the other for the cattle to graze in. It is for this reason that till date the locals have refrained from using these meadows as camping grounds.
Click here to read about Kufri, a beautiful hill station in India!
If you are religious, or if you simply enjoy paying respects at temples, you can visit the local temples in the valley. One is in Shangarh itself with ornately decorated doors and wood work. Built around a banyan tree, Shenshar is a five storeyed pagoda like temple. Sanj and Banjar valleys both are home to a number of tower temples which were initially constructed as garrisoning stations. There are the Buddha Narayan and Ashapuri towers in Raila village. Similarly, there remain a number of unnamed ancient tower temples to explore in these valleys.
These temples make for a worthwhile visit not just for religious reasons but more so to get closer to the culture of the place and to learn a little of its history and to observe what’s left behind of it.
Gradually growing in the country of India, is the concept of homestays. When you’ve been travelling and staying in hotels your entire life, homestays present the unique experience of getting a taste of what life is like for the locals here. You can stay in a home converted into a guesthouse or homestay, in the rustic old houses, with some local people attending to you. In my experience, this lets you converse with them and befriend them as you learn their tales over cups of tea and hot meals. Let the traveller inside you, try something new, something that can turn out to be a heart-warming experience.
So, for those who love their peace and quiet or for those who feel like indulging in it, that too in the pleasant atmosphere and prettiness of mountain meadows, Sainj Valley offers the offbeat and quaint experience of a getaway.