I just came back from a trip to Ghiyagi with the cherry on the top being the trek to Chehni Kothi Village. We started late in the evening on Friday the 18th of September from Chandigarh with an intention to drive on as long as possible.
The route taken was the usual one with a short diversion to Anandpur Sahib to capture its glory in the night light. I must say that it turned out to be an excellent decision as the place exuded a divine serenity.
The drive beyond Kiratpur Sahib was bad because the roads have deteriorated very much due to the rains & to add to that, the plethora of trucks. We ran into a small traffic jam just after Kiratpur Sahib & this coupled with the 5 kmph trucks ensured that I did not proceed beyond Swarghat that night.
Night halt was at HPTDC Hill Top. An 1800/- room was offered for 1400/- on account of the off-season discount. The hotel was comfortable as all other HPTDC hotels except that the food left a lot to be desired. Sleep was good with the highway noise supplying the background music.
Chehni Kothi Trek
A picture of Chehni Kothi by Outlook Traveller magazine had enchanted me for quite a while. Ever since I saw that picture, I wanted to visit this place. Earlier trips to Shoja & Gushaini did not materialize into this trek & the more I skipped it the more impatient I became.
So I woke up very early the next day with this picture in mind. We had a breakfast of Chicken Cutlets & Toast & started from Swarghat. The chicken cutlet was yum. I think all the HPTDC hotels share their recipe as the chicken cutlet is yummy at all their hotels.
Anyway, another struggle with the trucks continued till Bilaspur. The roads too were bad & the delayed rains coupled with the cement-laden trucks have taken their toll.
Shringi Vatika Homestay
It took a lot of time to reach Bilaspur & then stepped on the paddle to reach Ghiyagi by 2:30 in the afternoon. The travel from Swarghat to Ghiyagi had taken close to 5 hours.
Lunch was prebooked by calling up Pummy Aunty at Shringi Vatika homestay. It consisted of Chicken Curry & Rice. The food was good though must say that the meal portions have become really small. It was tasty nevertheless.
Upon reaching Shringi Vatika, we found it to be undergoing a major renovation. The inner dining hall has been extended & so have the rooms.
The grass too was unkempt & wooden logs to be used for the renovation were lying all around. The waterfall was not functional & the meditation room was leaking & dirty. Still, the place exuded a lot of charm, warmth & character. Loved it.
The flag flies high
Since there was enough time, having finished our lunch by 3:30, I decided to climb up to Chehni Kothi today itself. This idea met the approval of Manohar Lal Ji also as the next day was Sankrant & so a heavy rush was expected at the temples.
Mrs. Pummy showed concern about doing this trek as it was through a forest & did her best to arrange for a guide. No success & so I decided to go nevertheless.
Shringa Rishi Temple
The way to Chehni Kothi is via the Shringa Rishi Temple which is around a Km from Banjar. I have been up to Shringa Rishi Temple (also known as the Baghi temple) & so I knew that the climb was not going to be easy.
Off we went towards Banjar from Ghiyagi. A Km before Banjar the road forks off upwards towards the Baghi Temple & via the village of Bhiyar reaches the foot of the hill on which the temple is located.
From there it’s a huff & puff trek of around 1000 odd stairs to the Shringa Rishi Temple. Since this was my second time at Shringa Riashi I had armed myself with a backpack containing the camera, tripod, bottle of water & some chocolates.
The climb of around a km up to the temple is arduous no doubt but also presents an array of views. Distant valleys of Deodars. It was beautiful.
The Shringa Rishi temple was nice. But this was not why I was here. I was eyeing this path for this was the path that was to lead to the Chehni Kothi.
Chehni Kothi Trek
The priest at the Shringa Rishi Temple told us that there are 2 routes to Chehni Village. We took the more frequented one and forewarned that this being the rainy season the path would be slippery.
We were also advised that in case we get lost we should take the path that skirts the electric wires going uphill. Undeterred we walked up but soon hit a place where the trail bifurcated.
We were lucky that there were a group of schoolgirls that were going up to Chehni village after completing the daily formalities at Banjar. They happily agreed to lead us to their village.
The trail however was much worse than what we were prepared for. It was a steep climb, all slippery & muddy due to the rains & was quite densely forested at times.
I knew that this would be one walk where coming down would be much trickier. After a lot of huff & puff, around 2 km from the Shringa Rishi Temple to be precise, I had my first view of the Village.
Also Read: Jibhi – A Complete Travel Guide & Itinerary
Chehni Kothi Village
Chehni Village is famous for having two towers called the Chehni Kothi which are used as a place of worship by the local people.
Google tells me that Chehni Kothi was built by erstwhile Maharaja & was earlier 15 stories in height. The earthquake of 1905 shaved off the top 5 stories. Villagers at Chehni told me that the tower had a tunnel underneath that opened onto the Raghupur Fort near Jalori Pass.
The village & the towers were magnificent. Serene, Calm & awe-inspiring. I met the Sarpanch of the Village who rued that hardly any Indian tourist visited this place & they have only seen angrez’s here. He however was hopeful that with a hotel coming up in the village, more & more people would come.
Climb up the towers is prohibited now & thank God for that as the stairs were extremely tricky & a fall from the 10th floor or so would not have been all that good. Words cannot express the serenity, beauty & calmness of the village & so I let the pictures do the talking.
Return to Ghiyagi
The village, the towers & the people in the village was a humbling experience. We were stunned into silence, assaulted by the beauty & the grace of the village.
The climb down was difficult as expected. Had small falls at a couple of places. The slope was tricky & full of slush & leaches. Nevertheless, there was a sprint in our steps. Hats off to my 8-year-old daughter who was the only one brave enough to accompany me.
The next day was relaxed. After having breakfast of robust aloo paratha, we went down to the river, just soaked in the beauty & checked out for the long drive back home.
Surprisingly the drive from Ghiyagi to Chandigarh took only 6 hours. This completes my short but memorable trip to one of the prettiest parts of the Country. If this travelogue inspires even a single person to climb up to Chehni, my purpose is served.
Chehni Kothi Trek – Conclusion
I hope the travelogue, pictures, and information on Chehni Kothi trek were of help. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below and I will be happy to answer. You can also follow me on Instagram and chat with me live there or subscribe to my YouTube channel and ask a question there.
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