What's the first thing that comes to your mind when someone talks about mountains?
Peace, silence, beauty
But nowadays even mountains have been converted into concrete forests.
Imagine living in a place where all you hear is the sound of birds, insects, water and your inner self.
There are some untapped beauties to focus on small white lines like Shangarh which is a beautiful village in the Sainj Valley of Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh. It's a natural treasure nestled in the Himalayan foothills in the Great Himalayan National Park (UNESCO world heritage site) ecozone in Sainj Valley, whose sceneries are breathtaking and do have beautiful homestays (at lesser price) and tiny villages. Hence giving you a close touch of local culture and traditions. Although the road is a little tough but you can also catch up with local buses, but be careful cause they are a handful. Also, there is a full-fledged road made to reach the beautiful place but be careful as driving uphill needs quite an experience (sometimes it even gets difficult for locals).
Shangarh comes under the buffer zone of The Great Himalayan National Park, which means there are plenty of trekking options around Shangarh. The climate and oxygen both keeps decreasing as you go uphill. But reaching there is a perfect picnic spot. The meadows, locals having their leisure time along with cows grazing, kids running around playing and shouting, a magnificent grassland accompanied by chilly winds and beautiful mountains around, in the corner there stood a three-tiered Shangchul Mahadev temple.
Entrance to the meadow
Information and precautions before entering
History of the huge meadow
According to locals, the Pandavas landed here during their desertion phase many thousands of years ago during the Mahabharata period. The Shangarh meadows were created by cleansing the soil in order to plant rice. This is why you won't locate any form of stone in this region.
Temples in Shangarh
There are four temples, but only one of them is open to visitors. A tiny area surrounding the temple is gated, with signs explicitly saying that no one is permitted to enter. Locals believe that "devta" inhabits within these enclosed areas, making them holy.
But I know only two of them
1)Shangchul Mahadev temple - Sangchul Mahadev is Shangarh's native god. Built using deodar wood in the architectural style typical of Himachal temples. Beautiful sculptures cover the pillars and door.
Shangchul Mahadev temple
2) Tower Temple/Citadel of Shangchul Mahadev - It's a sturdy, multi-story building. Lord Shiva's gorgeous idol was put within the temple. In most cases, the door is kept shut.
For a day tour, and to enjoy splashes in the water this place is perfect for you. It is 4km from the meadows, you can take a cab or even can ask for a lift if you are comfortable as you can see many local jeeps passing by. But for the lazy ones I still have to say that even if you go by car you still have to walk. You could see small food stalls on your way. Beware - there can be thorny bushes that can lead to unstoppable itching. You have to climb up to narrow muddy path as after a while you will realize that you've reached as you'll be able to hear a rush of water and just keep walking and there it is a small bridge to cross and you'll see water cascading down into the cold pool. The cold water not just overpowers hot weather (if it is)but also the sound of birds. But ignoring everything around and enjoying the beauty of nature is kind of an experience.
Food joints and local food
Since the place is simple, the food is also simple the homestay that i visited named 'Mystery meadows' cooked food on-demand or beforehand that too basic and they had Maggi available and there are some other places where you can find Maggi. As such there are no names for food joints or i would say cafes but you can find small shops around and ask for local food such as siddu or momos and even daal chawal or dish of the day they usually cook. They cook one or two dishes in bulk and serve that but usually the people from the areas that are around like Aut,Banala,Pandoh enjoy Shangarh as picnic spot so they bring their own food.
I used to eat this icecream when i was small,so some uncle came selling this in a small box
Waste disposal in Shangarh Valley
I was a little disappointed as Shangarh is so beautiful,a perfect picnic spot to sit and munch some chips but i could not see even a single dustbin in the huge grassland and we had to carry a jute bag and collect garbage in it and had to find a proper place to dump. Although i did found out this dumping area.
This place was just few metres away from Shangchul Mahadev temple
Overview about Shangarh
There are no fancy cafes or hotels, but there are some beautiful wooden homestays where you can adapt to the local culture. And the shops in the area are limited to basic necessities. To live a simple life, this is the place to be, with some kind and open-hearted Pahari welcoming you to listen to their stories and learn about their culture, and if you are lucky, you may even be their guest. That's the beauty of Himachal, especially where tourism has just started locals initially welcome the change. I remember visiting this place in 2018 and there was no network, roads were not properly built and it was chilly even in July but visiting the place again in 2021 I could see that Shangarh is getting ready or is ready to convert it into a tourist area as I could see some locals constructing homestays and beautifully built and clean road (except in some places), school, full jio signal and other sims also and to my surprise I interacted with some tourists from Jaipur. So i can say that the place is opening up and before it becomes a full-fledged tourist area do have a visit before its natural resources and beauty gets exploited or becomes a digital-nomad hub.
I could see many boards of this place and it was right adjacent to the meadow (few meters away)
Max Altitude - 2100 m
Best time to visit - All seasons have their own charm but avoid rainy seasons as the roads can be a little tricky.
Summers are pleasant.
Winters get too cold but if you live snow that this is place is definitely your pick.
Where to stay -
1)Homestays - As it can be a source of income for locals and you will get a local touch of that place
3) Zostel in Jibhi
How to reach?
If you prefer to ride a local bus, board a Kullu-Manali going bus from Delhi or Chandigarh and get out at Aut. From the Aut bus stand, you can take a local bus to Shangarh. Shangarh is about 28 kilometers from Aut. Take a bus to Sainj, which is 11 kilometers away from your location. However, keep in mind that there is only one bus that goes between these two locations, and it departs at 4 p.m. So, I would advise you to adjust accordingly.
The nearest airport is at Joginder Nagar, although it is connected to Chandigarh by a narrow-gauge railroad, similar to the renowned Kalka-Shimla Toy Train. The journey will be slower because connectivity will be limited. As a result, it would be preferable to travel to Chandigarh by train and then to Sainj Valley and Shangarh from there.
By Air - The nearest airport is Kullu, which is 47 kilometers away. You can take a private taxi, but if you're on a budget, you can also take the bus, as the Bhuntar bus station is only a few meters away.