Chehni Kothi is a secluded and pristine village up in the hills in Jibhi valley. Located at an altitude of about 2145 meters above sea level, this village is known for its two temple towers. According to the folklore, the temples are more than 1500 years old. Though there is no written record on that. Built around 17th century by a local King Dhadhu, the temples are also locally known as Dhadhiya Kothi. What makes this village exclusive is the fact that there is no motorable road to reach the village. One has to trek up in the hills to reach the village, albeit a well-defined trail is available for trekking. Lately, the Chehni Kothi village has become one of the main attractions in the region.
Unplanned Trip to Tirthan Valley
Visiting Chehni Kothi was not in my plan when I randomly landed in Tirthan valley without any proper schedule. It was just one phone call from my friends who were travelling around the Kullu region which made me plan an instant visit to Tirthan while. It was not the first time that I was visiting Tirthan. I had visited Tirthan ten years back when there were hardly any home-stays, hotels or resorts. It was one of those untouched valleys in Himachal Pradesh. I am glad that I had experienced the virgin land before it became one of the most popular valleys for tourists. It saddened me to see the concrete constructions alongside the Tirthan River. The uncountable Homestays, resorts and camps surely have destroyed the charm of this most beautiful valley of Himachal Pradesh. The adverse effect of commercialization of any hill station is an insensitive crowd that it brings to the place.
Anyway, after 8 hours of journey, changing 3 buses from Fagu, I reached Banjar around 4 pm. It was drizzling. Luckily, a cab was arranged by my friends prior to picking me up to reach the pre-booked Homestay in Hurla village in Tirthan valley. The location of the Homestay was one of the highlights as it promises absolute silence and is far away from the over commercialized side of Tirthan.
After spending 2 nights in that home-stay with a lovely Pahadi Family, we moved towards Gushaini, one of the most popular villages in Tirthan valley. Since, we had only one day in hand, we decided to explore Chehni Kothi, instead of scrolling around valley. It was rather an impulsive decision to trek up and explore the village that we had heard a lot about.
Trek to Chehni Kothi
We decided to take a cab to the starting point of the trek to Chehni Kothi. The cab took approximately 50 minutes from Hurla village, crossing Banjar towards Jibhi to reach the trekking point. Once you reach the gate of the Shringa Rishi Temple, the signboard says that the temple is around 500 meters above the main road. The well-constructed stairs to the temple starts from here. It takes hardly 20 minutes to reach the popular Shringa Rishi Temple.
Located at a place named Bagi, the Shringa Rishi Temple is considered very sacred by the locals and they believe that the deity protects them from evil. Shringa Rishi is also one of the eighteen main deities of Kullu valley. Encircled by the apple orchards, pine and deodar forest, it is a three storey temple, entirely made of wood. Shringa Rishi is the ruling deity of the Banjar valley. The deity is kept on the top floor of the temple.
Once we reached the temple, we asked one of the locals in the temple premises, the correct route to Chehni Koth. He said, “Bijli ki taar ko follow karo” (Follow the electrical wire). Initially I found it quite a weird instruction. As we were trekking up gradually, we realized that the instruction was absolutely correct. We literally followed the wire vertically. We met a few travelers on our way up to Chehni Kothi, though the trail was fairly empty during the entire time. The unspoiled nature, dotted traditional houses scattered in the hills, the changing landscapes, aerial view of the surroundings and the perfect weather to accompany, we managed to trek up to the top, hassle-free.
Just before the final stretch, amidst the lush green apple orchards, there is a café named Apple Tree Vishal café, run by a lovely local young woman. The location was simply breathtaking. Amidst the full grown hanging apples, lush green verdant valley, the café up in the hills is an ideal place for a quick break. We stopped there for tea and snacks, but ended up having Siddu with local chautney and Maggie.
It was the much needed halt before the final elevation to reach Chehni Kothi. Just a few meters above, the main temple tower became visible. It simply boosts up the much needed spirit to trek up a bit to finally reach this beautiful village.
Temple Towers of Chehni Kothi
Once I reached the main courtyard of the Chehni Kothi village, the very first look of the fort like structure stunned me. The main temple tower of Chehni Kothi stands on a plinth and is made of locally available stones and deodar woods. It is the finest example of architectural brilliance. I was astonished to know that this tallest tower had withstood the deadly earthquake in 1905 which devastated the entire Himachal Pradesh. Only two upper storeys got badly hit due to the earthquake.
Approximately 45 meters tall, the Chehni Kothi tower temple is the tallest standing structure of its kind in the entire Western Himalayas. The eye-arresting temple is visited by the priest once in a month. Outsiders are not allowed to enter the towering temple. A steep wooden staircase is permanently fixed above the ground to the temple entrance, which looks quite daunting to climb. The tourists are warned of potential risks of these stairs.
It is said that these Tower Temples were built primarily as garrisoning stations. It used to serve as a vantage point to keep a watch on the village and its surroundings. Basically, the tower was used to safeguard the village and served as a storage structure as well.
There is another tower temple in the same premises. It is a smaller one in comparison to the other. The locals mostly spend time around the area. We met a lot of adorable kids and local women there.
Apart from these two tower temples, there is an old Krishna temple which is known as the Muralidhar Mandir. This five storey temple is another locally popular temple in the village. The wood carvings and intricate details on the doors and windows are quite impressive. It resembles a lot with the Bhutanese architectural designs.
The weather was just perfect. The overcast sky was pregnant with rains. It drizzled for some time, accompanied by cold winds with the descending clouds hovering around the thick deodar forest. The changing colour of the sky presented a dramatic yet pleasing vistas in front our eyes.
What I loved most about Chehni Kothi
It is not just the temple towers which are the unique aspect of this spectacular village, but what filled my heart with joy was the fact that you will not find any concrete structure in the entire village. My eyes literally popped out seeing houses retaining the traditional Himachali architecture. Not just one, each house is traditionally built. It is quite commendable how they are still maintaining and retaining the old world charm of these precious architectural designs up in the hills.
I was so disheartened to see the sea change in the Tirthan Valley that I had lost all hope to see traditional houses in the region. The concrete houses, resorts, home stays, hotels, etc.,have simply faded away the charm of the valley completely. So, when I visited Chehni Kothi, seeing these local houses just restored my faith. I hope that it remains raw and rustic always and the village never comes under the spell of commercialization and modernization.
All you wanted to know about Chehni Kothi
Where is Chehni Kothi?
Chehni Kothi is in Jibhi valley, Himachal Pradesh.
How to reach Chehni Kothi?
From Delhi, take Kullu Manali Volvo or roadways (based on your budget) and get down at Aut. From Aut, you will get a local bus to Banjar (The main and busy bus stand). From Banjar town, it is around 10 km to the Bagi Village where the Shringa Rishi Temple is located. From there, you have to trek to reach Chehni Kothi. The trek will take around 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your pace.
Where is the starting point of the trek?
You can take a bus towards Jibhi town or a private cab till the gate of Shringa Rishi Temple. You will have to get down here. The trek starts from here.
How much time does it take to reach the top?
It entirely depends on your speed and pace. Generally it doesn’t take more than an hour.
Is it a day trek?
Yes, you can cover Chehni Kothi in a day.
Is it a moderate trek?
The trekking route is well defined. Though, it has some steep patches. It is an easy trek.
Can children accompany on this trek?
If your kids are used to hiking and trekking, you can take them on this trek.
Is there any café out there?
Yes, there is a café just before the final stretch of the trek. It is called Apple Tree Vishal café. You can take a halt for a quick snack and hot beverages.
Is there any Home-stay available in Chehni Kothi?
Not yet. Probably in coming days, you will find home-stays in the village. You will find a lot of accommodation options in Jibhi, ranging from budget to luxury.
What is the right time of the year to trek there?
Anytime except peak winter as it witnesses heavy snowfalls.
Do you need a guide?
No, you don’t need a guide. If you are into solo trip, you don’t need a guide. But if you are absolutely new to this area, it is advisable to go with a local.
- Start the trek early in the morning to avoid harsh weather.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes for the trek.
- Don’t forget to carry water, cap/hat, and sun glass on the trek.
- Don’t litter around. There are designated dustbins on the trek trail. Kindly use it.
- Dress moderately as you are visiting a remote area.
- Be respectful towards the locals.
- Kindly respect the local culture & follow instructions.
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