Picture this: You are surrounded by the Dhauladhar Mountain ranges on both your sides while having a clear sky above you to look at. And amidst the countless stars, you see Milky Way as clear as day. It feels like if you would just stretch out your hand a little higher, you could almost touch it.
Well, that is exactly what it feels like when you stay in Rajgundha Valley. Never heard about this place before? Thank god for that because otherwise, it would suffer the same fate as countless other hamlets in Himachal Pradesh like Manali, Kasol, Kheerganga, Triund and so on.
I don’t mean to say that these places aren’t beautiful or worth going to. But the commercialization and the increased tourism has ruined these places. It is time we learn how to travel responsibly because otherwise, you are just ruining the place for people coming after you.
So, make sure you travel responsibly to this beautiful hamlet near Barot and mountains will definitely reward you in return.
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About Rajgundha Valley
A small village lying between the Dhauladhar Ranges, Rajgundha Valley is not connected by any roads. This is why it is a popular trekking spot for all the adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers. A village full of life and energy, Rajgundha follows the old ways of living and believes in self-sustenance.
Referred often along with its twin village, Kukkar Gundha, Rajgundha village has a beautiful environment. Situated at a height of approximately 8900 ft., this village is surrounded by majestic mountain ranges and witnesses beautiful sunsets and sunrises every day.
There are a couple of villages in the Rajgundha valley which are connected to each other which can only be reached via walking or by hiring a mule.
As I said earlier, the way of living in Rajgundha is quite basic. The primary occupation of villagers here is farming. So, they sell the produce in the markets of the popular Himachali towns. And they use the same produce to prepare their own meals as well which results in a healthy diet.
In my 3-days stay at this haven, I had freshly cut vegetables and pulses and it was just exquisite. From rajma to cabbage to potato, you will find everything fresh and highly nutritious over here. The villagers stay here throughout the year, except for the winters when it starts snowing here. Since they own old traditional houses made up of mud and stone, they have to leave for the lower villages to escape the cold.
But once the winter ends and the snow melts, they come back to grow their crops and start with their lives here.
One of the reasons why Rajgundha is such a nice place to visit is because of the clear air and sky. Since there aren’t any roads here, there isn’t any cause of pollution. In fact, after spending a couple of days here, you would literally feel the difference in your body and mind. That is the magic of staying in Rajgundha and just one of the reasons why I am in love with this place.
Also Read: Dobhi: A Lesser Known Paradise Near Manali
How to Reach Rajgundha Valley
Now, I am sure you must be thinking that all of this is fine how to reach Rajgundha valley. Well, as I explained above, there are no roads connecting Rajgundha village to other places. So, the only way to reach here is via trekking. And there are two starting points for this trek: Billing paragliding site and Barot valley.
But in order to start trekking, you need to reach Billing or Barot first.
How to Reach Billing in Himachal
After you reach Bir, you can head to Billing which is around 14 km and takes approximately 45 – 60 minutes in a car. If you have your own car, then you can simply take it to the Billing site and park it there. There will be a parking fee but it should be safe mostly.
Another option would be to hire a cab for this journey which can cost you anywhere between 600 – 1000 INR. If you are traveling in a group, then this won’t turn out to be a lot and you will end up paying 150 – 200 INR at the most. But if you are traveling solo, then you need to find other travelers heading for the same trek.
Once you reach the Billing take-off site, your 14 km trek to Rajgundha starts.
How to Reach Barot in Himachal
If you are planning to start the trek from Barot village, then here is what you will need to do.
First, you will need to reach Barot which can be done via bus, cab, or a private vehicle. You can find more information on how to reach Barot in our Barot Guide.
After reaching Barot, you will need to take a taxi to reach BadaGraan village which is around 20 km. The taxi will cost you around 800 INR for the full cab. If there are a few others, then you can even persuade the taxi driver to take you on a shared basis.
It will take you around 40-50 minutes to reach the BadaGraan village from where your trek will finally start.
Best Time to Visit Rajgundha Valley
Ideally, you can visit Rajgundha throughout the year except for the monsoons. Here is a detailed breakdown of what to expect in each season.
Summer Season (March – June)
If you want to escape the heat and the humidity in the summer season, then Rajgundha is definitely a good place to visit. Since this valley experiences a cool temperature throughout the year, you would definitely get a respite from the summer heat.
Also, the fresh crisp air could do wonders for your mind and body. Plus, if you still feel hot, then you can always hike to the riverside and spend a better part of your day here. During this time, you could also enjoy paragliding from Billing. And there are a few treks like the Thamsar Pass trek, Palachak trek, etc. which you can go for here.
Monsoon Season (July – September)
As I said before, the monsoon is not an ideal time to visit Rajgundha. This is because often the bridge over the Uhl river collapses due to heavy rainfall or the roads are closed due to landslides.
So, it is not safe to trek during this time. If you really wish to enjoy the Rajgundha trek, plan a trip post-monsoon here.
Winter Season (October – February)
In my opinion, October to December is the best time to experience Rajgundha. During this time, it is not raining anymore and the whole valley is bursting with color. Plus, it is also cooler but not so much that you cannot bear it.
And if you are lucky then you can also experience the snow trek here which is equally magical, if not more. However, you would need proper clothing and gears if you plan to trek during the snow time.
ATMs and Network Availability in Rajgundha Valley
Himachal Pradesh has many places which don’t offer a good network. So, it is important that you have enough cash with you for the entire journey. Here is what you can expect in terms of ATMs and Network in Rajgundha Valley.
ATMs in Rajgundha Valley
This is a simple one.
There is no ATM in Rajgundha Valley. The nearest ATM is around 30 km away in Bir or Barot. So, carry enough cash and a little surplus for your trek.
Network Availability in Rajgundha Valley
You will get only Airtel and JIO network here and even that is intermittent sometimes. If you have Idea, Vodafone, etc., then you can completely forget about the signal for the next couple of days.
And if it is raining, then even Airtel and JIO signal will stop working. Think of going to Rajgundha Valley as a way to get yourself a Social Media Detox.
Note: There is a co-working hostel here which offers WiFi services. So, you can stay here for a couple of weeks. But if it rains or snows, the signal is likely to get weak.
Rajgundha Valley Trek Route
Here is everything that you need to know about the trekking routes to Rajgundha Valley.
As I said before, one of the routes starts from the Billing site, near the takeoff point. It is a 14 km trek from Billing which takes around 5-6 hours to complete. So, make sure you start by latest 10-11 a.m. if you want to reach the valley before the sun sets.
Once you start from Billing, you will come across a couple of food stalls and then a sitting area. This is the actual beginning of your trek. From next to the designated sitting area, a trail goes straight as you can see in the below picture.
Climb uphill on this trail and after around 5 minutes, you will reach the second takeoff site of Billing. From here, very few people take off for paragliding and are usually practicing how to run during the take-off. After this, it is another 5-minute climb and you will be surrounded by the colorful prayer flags.
From here, you can also watch a few houses which are below and can still watch paragliders from afar.
Once you cross the prayer flag part, it is a walk through a narrow trail, in between the trees. Then, you have a steep ascent of 5 minutes before you reach a broken road. After this, it is a straight walk without any ascents or descents for the next 14 km.
You will pass through green forests which are mostly made up of oak trees, rhododendron trees, and deodar trees. And on the way, you will also cross the highest point of the trek – Channa ghat (2700 mt). From here, you will be able to see both Rajgundha valley and Kangra valley
When you are halfway through the trek, you will come across a small dhaba where you can get some food for yourself. If you are carrying your own lunch, then this is a good place to stop and eat. And if you haven’t packed anything, then you can have some Maggi, biscuits, etc. here.
It will take you around 3 hours to reach this dhaba after which it is only 5 km to the village. From the dhaba, it will take you another 1.5-2 hours to reach and there might be a few tricky moments as this pathway is damaged from many places due to the landslides.
On the way, you will also see the famous elephant tree here. Once you clear away from the woods, you will notice a valley on your right side. That is when you know that you have almost reached and that Rajgundha is just 3-4 turns away.
A shorter but more adventurous route to reach Rajgundha is from the Barot side. Once you reach the Bada Graan village, it is around 6.5 km to the Rajgundha village. Usually, it takes around 2-3 hours to complete this distance as there are a lot of ascents and descents on this path.
And if it has been raining, then track will be slightly muddy and you will have to be careful to not fall down. Once you start the trek, it will take you around 5-10 minutes to cross the entire village. After that, you will be walking alongside the cabbage fields which are in abundance here.
After about 30 minutes of trekking, you will have your first look at the Rajgundha village as shown in the below image. But remember, there is still more than half trek left as you have to reach the village on the other side.
After around an hour of walking, you will come across a slight descent which will take you to the Uhl River. There is a small bridge here which you would need to cross in order to reach the Rajgundha village.
Once you have crossed the river, it is a steep ascent for the next 15-25 minutes so be careful. Also, avoid touching the plants here as they can spike you and then itch for a long time. When you have completed the ascent, you just need to walk to the left side of the road for about another 30 minutes.
You will see the valley in front of you and small traditional houses on the left side. Congrats! You have finally reached Rajgundha.
Self-Trekking Vs Hiring a Guide
Now, an important question to ask is if you should be doing this trek alone or not. Well, if you are coming from the Barot side, there is no need as the path is short and there are so many villagers on the way.
However, if you are planning to start the trek from Billing then I would advise you to not do it solo or alone. Do take a local guide with you as there are many wild animals in this part. So, if you were to face an animal unexpectedly, a local would know what to do better than you.
Things to Do in and Around Rajgundha Valley
From trekking to fishing, there are many things to do in Rajgundha valley.
Walk Around and Enjoy the Views
Honestly, it is one of the simplest but most enjoyable things to do in Rajgundha Valley. Just pick up a direction and walk and meet new people on the way. The entire village is located at such a promising location that you would never get bored of the amazing views.
And the sunset and sunrise views are especially mesmerizing from inside the valley. So, make sure that you just go for a stroll and enjoy the clear sky views while being surrounded by the mighty Dhauladhar ranges.
Watch the Beautiful Night Sky Here
I have said it before and I’ll say it again. The night sky in Rajgundha is to die for. The entire sky is lit up with stars at night and you actually get a chance to have a clear look at the amazing Milky Way.
And if you are lucky then you might even see a planet or two from here. A paradise for astrophotography lovers, Rajgundha offers an unfiltered, beautiful night sky to the stargazers.
Head to Chhota Manali in Rajgundha Valley
Have you ever been to Manali? Do you remember the forest enclosures comprising of pine trees over there?
Well, Rajgundha has its own small enclosure of pine trees which is popularly known as Chhota Manali over here. So, if you are feeling bored or want to read in the shade of the pine trees, then take a walk to this small pine tree section.
Trust me, the minute you reach, you will smell the glorious smell of pine tree leaves and will have a hard time heading back to your guesthouse.
Enjoy and Wet your Feet in the Cold River Water
One of the best things about Rajgundha is that the Uhl River is just a 10-minute hike from this place. So, you can easily climb down to spend some time beside the river with a book. And just dip your feet in the cold, fresh water to refresh yourself.
The water tends to be cold so don’t overdo it. And if you think you can take it, then you can also take a bath in one of the river pools which are shallow and won’t be dangerous for you to wade in.
Be careful when you are beside the river because sudden current can wash you away from the shore. If you see that it is likely to rain, then head back immediately to your guesthouse.
Experience Paragliding from the Billing Site
Another exciting thing to do when you go for the Rajgundha trek is to paraglide back to Bir from the Billing site. This way, you get amazing trekking and paragliding experience together. And it would cost you barely 2000 INR for paragliding from here since you won’t need the transport.
Trust me, paragliding in Bir Billing is amazing and offers such beautiful views that you won’t get anywhere in all over India!
Go For Short Nearby Hikes
As I mentioned earlier, there are several short hikes and treks that you can do from Rajgundha. There is the famous Thamsar Pass trek or the Palachak trek which can be done in a single day from this village.
You can also camp at these points and then return back to Rajgundha the next day for a more wholesome experience. Apart from that, there are many other nearby hikes which will take you to amazing viewpoints. Just ask the villagers for the direction and explore the hell out of this valley.
Enjoy Fishing in the Barot Valley
Another exciting thing to do around Rajgundha Valley could be trout fishing in Barot Village. You can get a license for fishing for 100 INR and can head to one of the trout fish farms here to experience the same.
If fishing is not your cup of tea, then make sure you at least try the trout fish dish in Barot. They cook freshly caught trout fish which is extremely delicious.
Where to Stay in Rajgundha Valley
In terms of staying, there are a couple of options available in Rajgundha.
There are a couple of guesthouses where you can stay for the night for 500 – 1000 INR per room. The rooms are quite clean and cozy and they also provide you with a blanket so that you don’t feel cold at night.
You can also order meals from the same guesthouses for an additional 100-200 INR per meal. The meal will be cooked with freshly cut vegetables and will be simple yet delicious.
Apart from the guesthouses, there are a couple of campsites also available here. So, you can book a tent for your stay and enjoy sleeping beneath the starry sky. The tents will also cost somewhere around 500 – 800 per tent and will include a sleeping bag, mattress, etc.
Take Your Own Tent
Finally, you also have the option of taking your own tent and camp in the valley. But make sure that you camp in a fenced area because jackals are a common sight here at night. So, ask a guesthouse or a camping site to let you pitch your tent with them. They might charge you 200-300 INR for the same but at least, you will be safer.
Where and What to Eat in Rajgundha Valley
There aren’t many food options in Rajgundha so you have only some basics available. If you want biscuits, cup noodles, or other stuff, you better carry it yourself to the valley.
Sure, there is a small shop here but they have very basic stuff to sell like a few chocolates, biscuits, etc. As for food, there are a couple of guesthouses here which offer food service and charge you around 150 – 300 for a meal. The food is usually delicious and is cooked with fresh vegetables so you will definitely love it.
Personally, I loved the Rajma Khichdi which they used to prepare here. It was delicious and filling and really good for your health as well. They grow their own rajma, cabbage, etc. so it was all pesticide-free as well.
Things to Carry for Rajgundha Trek
If you are planning to stay even for a single night in Rajgundha, then you need a good rucksack. It should be durable and comfortable and make sure it includes a rain cover as well. Personally, I suggest:
Once you reach your campsite, you will need a small day pack for the day hikes and stuff.
It can become very cold in the evening and night, so make sure you carry warm clothing. And if you are trekking during the winter time, you will have to be extra careful. Make sure you carry with you a pair of warm socks, a jacket, gloves, and mufflers.
Make sure you cover your neck properly during the winters with a muffler.
During the winter season, you can carry a pair of woolen gloves. But if you are trekking during snow, then make sure you get synthetic gloves instead.
Carry a pair of merino wool socks during the winters as they are very warm. And, make sure you use two of them to layer your feet during the night time when the temperature drops significantly.
Good Hiking Shoes
Take a good pair of hiking shoes which will protect you during winters as well. Make sure they are high ankle shoes and are waterproof too.
You won’t find any shops on the trek so make sure you carry a water bottle with you. There will be a couple of waterfalls on the Barot side where you can fill your bottle. Mostly, the water is fresh and clean but if you aren’t sure, you can purchase a Steri Pen or a Purifying bottle.
Since there is only 1 food stall on the way from Billing and none from the Bada Graan village side, make sure you carry some snacks. You can also carry a lunch if you are planning to trek slowly to the village.
If you are planning to trek during the winters, do carry a raincoat or a poncho with you.
- Tissue Papers
- Moisturiser/Lip Balm
If you are planning to camp there, then make sure you carry the camping equipment.
One of the most important things to carry is a good tent which will protect you from wind and cold. And don’t forget to choose one which is sturdy and durable.
Another important thing to carry with you is a good, durable sleeping bag which will keep you warm throughout the night. Do make sure that it is suitable for the lowest temperature of Rajgundha before you buy it.
If you want to sleep comfortably, then you would also need a sleeping mattress for your tent. It will not only offer comfort but will also provide padding and more insulation.
Tent Rain Cover
Finally, do make sure that you carry a rain cover for your tent if you won’t want to end up cold and shivering the morning. It might rain or snow during the night and a rain cover will be your best chance against getting wet.
Honestly, I have never been much of a mountain person in my life. But Rajgundha is one of the few places which made me fall in love with the mountains. Waking up early to watch the sunrise and then enjoying the cold, fresh mountain air. It literally felt like a dream to me.
But my favorite moment of my stay here was when I saw the Milky Way Galaxy and Mars with the naked eyes. Yes, you heard me right! You can actually see them both quite clearly from here.
And the food, how I miss the Rajma Khichdi! So, if you love to be surrounded by nature and need a short break from your fast-paced life, then you should definitely go to Rajgundha.