8 Exciting Things to do in Shangarh for a Memorable Trip

Have you heard about this idyllic little town before? Shangarh is a blissful Himalayan hamlet stationed in the Great Himalayan National Park, in our extraordinary state of Himachal Pradesh. Now, what makes it so special? First, the fact that it falls in a zone which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. India’s biggest National Park, the GHNP is an ecozone and a protected site, featuring a treasure trove of flora, fauna, and unperturbed communities. Second, unlike most Himalayan villages, this one has bright green meadows in its landscape! But that is not all, of course.

Waterfalls and meandering nature trails invite you for an exploratory hike, whereas the peaceful milieu compels you to lay low and embrace nature. With plenty of day trips, adventurous treks, and scenic villages all around, your time here is likely to pass like a sweet, magical dream. So, read along to know about all the things to do in Shangarh, Himachal Pradesh that you should absolutely look forward to.

1. Stroll through the Shangarh Meadows

The meadows of Shangarh are everything you would expect them to be- vast, lush green, serene, and gorgeous! Watch the sky change its colours at the horizon as you walk through soft grass, surrounded from all sides by marvelous pine trees and colourful little houses. Making you feel like you have entered la-la-land, these meadows are ideally for a sunset walk.

Note: The meadows are of a religious importance to the locals and thus, camping or drinking is not allowed around the area.

Meadows of Shangarh
This is what a day out in the meadows of Shangarh looks like.  @ankitguptaphotography

2. Go to the beautiful Barshangarh Falls

Reached by a short drive and then a hike of half a kilometre, the Barshangarh Falls are a pleasant delight on this mountainous terrain. A lofty gush of milky-white fresh water pours down in force, and you can go as close as to the foot of the falls without having to dip yourself in high waters! The hike uphill is also refreshing, with a thick cover of green trees pairing up with melodious chirping birds to make the walk a nature orchestra for you.

Barshargarh Falls in Shangarh
Looking for a refreshing change in scenery? Head to the Barshagarh Falls. @ankitguptaphotography

3. Indulge in bird watching

Imagine waking up to not only a picturesque landscape, but also the fauna that accompanies this unique town. Marking the onset of the Great Himalayan National Park, Shangarh is home to a variety of native birds that greet travellers. From the vivid Western Tragopan to the rare Monal (Google them up for a treat), Shangarh serves as a habitat for nearly 35 different bird species. So, on an evening stroll through the meadows or a trek to a nearby village, keep your eyes (or your binoculars!) on the prize.

4. Visit the twin towers of Raila

Standing tall to offer a magnanimous view of the many settlements of the valley, the twin towers of Raila are a must-visit. With small rooms cramped up on every storey, these towers used to house people at some point of time. Drive down for a short trip and cover the twin towers, the village of Raila, the Raila Temple, and the hidden waterfalls before you take the road back to Shangarh.

5. Explore the historic temples

Our green town of Shangarh is known for its temples, harrowing a rich history that is seen in their architecture. One of the most revered local shrines, the Shangchul Mahadev Temple, is located right in Shangarh Meadows. It appears as a bold brown structure amid a sea of green grass, catching your eye at once. Another majestic temple showing extraordinary wood craftmanship is the Tower Temple, in the village of Raila. There are a few other temples scattered around the Sainj Valley including the Manu Rishi Temple in Shanshar, where you can drive by if you want to explore further.

5. Go local in tiny Himachali villages

As you get set to explore Shangarh, do also take your footsteps to the nearby villages. Close by, the settlements of Goshati and Darari welcome you with eye-pleasing apple orchards and colourful Kullu Topis in sight and the simple mountain life. You will come across fields of wheat and vegetables, all kept up with archaic agriculture techniques. The iconic wooden Himachali homes steal the show here too. In fact, the locals here are also very receiving and accommodating, so you can also stop for a pleasant chat with someone or entertain yourself with a local mythological story- there are lots of them.

Villages in Shangarh
The view from ZostelX Shangarh comprises of little villages and lush green mountains surrounding them. @ankitguptaphotography

Did you know, a luxurious chalet with dorm and private rooms, gorgeous views, and large home-cooked meals awaits you in Shangarh. Click here to know more about Zostel Home Shangarh.

5. Trek in the noteworthy ecozone

With its glorious abundance of nature, the Great Himalayan National Park offers many mesmerizing trekking trails for you to tread. The shortest is the one-night trek to Jangaon Thatch, that takes you through a canopy of forests with gorgeous flowers, rejuvenating grasslands, and birds all around. If you are up for a longer adventure, add two more days to this trek to explore Thini Thatch and the Pundrik Lake, both worthy of every step you take on the trek!

Note: Trekking in GHNP may require a permit. Our hosts at Zostel Home Shangarh can help by taking care of all your permits since they also take travellers for the trekking experience.

6. Drive down to the Tirthan Valley

The splendid Tirthan Valley of Himachal is only a two-hour drive from Shangarh and absolutely worth a visit. Set by the Tirthan river, the towns of Jibhi, Banjar, and Gushaini are sumptuously picturesque. Jibhi has its own hip vibe with cafes set by the river, hikes, and a waterfall. Nearby is the Serolsar Lake, which is a legit 2-day trek worth considering for trekking enthusiasts. Drive down, fish, swim, or chill by the river, have your brunch at a café and Jibhi, explore the surroundings, and drive back. How fulfilling is this trip?!

Tirthan Valley near Shangarh
Tirthan Valley is known to charm travellers with its pristine waters and unbeatable views. @ekchhokri

7. Explore the mythological reverie of the town

Last but not the least, Shangarh entails a rich mythological history, some of which dates way back to the time of the Pandavas. It is believed that the Pandavas have themselves walked the Shangarh Meadows and worshipped at the local temples. So, if you have the chance and are interested, do talk to our hosts at Zostel Home Shangarh or speak to a local about a few stories!

View from ZostelX Shangarh
Make the most of the tranquil surroundings here, with a warm cuppa chai. :) @ankitguptaphotography

8. Make reaching a trekking adventure

You can hike all the way up to Shangarh if you like! If you are coming from Manali, you can trek from Naggar and reach Shangarh in 4 hours. Alternatively, once you reach Sainj Valley, you can trek for approximately 11 km to reach the village too. Far and yet around are the treks of Jalori Pass and Parashar Lake. You cannot really trek to these two places from Shangarh, but this is just to give you an idea of the region.

A special travel request from us

As you must have figured by now, Shangarh is a town that holds ignificant religious importance amongst the Himachalis. Therefore, it is important for them that all visitors respect the surrounding and their rules. For example, drinking outside is prohibited, and so is littering, making too much noise, or creating nuisance in the temples or the meadows. As a responsible traveller, we urge you travel without causing any harm to nature or the sentiments of the locals!

Amazing food at ZostelX Shangarh
While you're here, make sure to enjoy the delicious food spreads. @ankitguptaphotography

How to reach Shangarh

Due to its eccentric location, the reclused town of Shangarh is a dream-come-true for travellers looking to escape the conventional tourist crowds and places. For those of you who have not really heard of Sainj Valley or Shangarh before (we don’t blame you!), here is an accurate guide to reach Shangarh. :)

By bus- Hop on a bus going towards Manali and get down at the Aut Tunnel or the Aut town. From this point, Shangarh is approximately 28 km away. From Aut Tunnel, opt for a bus going towards Sainj, which is only 11 km from Shangarh. Be mindful that there is only one bus that runs between these 2 destinations, which leaves at 4 PM. So, we advise you to adjust your travel plans accordingly.

By train- The nearest railway station is the Joginder Nagar Railway Station, approximately 120 km from Shangarh. You can opt for a bus or taxi from here onward.

By air- The closest airport is the Kullu Airport, 47 km away. You can opt for a private taxi or if you are budget-travelling, board a bus from Bhuntar. :)

P.S. Google maps are not entirely reliable in the valley. Don’t hesitate to call our Zostel Home host for directions once you make a booking!

Zostel Home Shangarh

Sitting overlooking an uninterrupted green Sainj Valley, Zostel Home Shangarh is a gorgeous chalet with dorms and private rooms that make your stay happening. A common room treats you with board games, guitars, and hammocks that go with an incredible view. And our hosts treat you with hearty, home-cooked meals, served along with stories and warmth. They also take you on activities like drives around the area in their jeep, trekking in Great Himalayan National Park, and make sure that your stay is a wonderful one. Know more about our offbeat and mesmerizing Zostel Home Shangarh here

Finally, as we get accustomed to the new normal around us, remember that the pandemic has unfortunately not let us go yet. Make sure to be safe and responsible while travelling to crowded places and co-operate with the locals. Rest, we already know you are going to have a gala time. Wishing you safe travels!

ZostelX Shangarh
ZostelX Shangarh standing beautifully in the midst of Shangarh's beauty! @ankitguptaphotography

Writer, Pranavi Chhikniwala.