The Himalayan Trout House

March 13, 2015

The Tirthan Valley in Kullu District is one of the most beautiful places in Himachal. Located within the Great Himalayan National Park , the `pucca’ road winds its way lazily along the river through forests and past fields and tiny hamlets with quaint names like Chalogi, Mungla, Nagini, Ghushaini……. numerous paths lead off the road to the snow fed river itself as it gushes its way over the rocks to drop into pools and spread itself out over flats where every stone is visible through its crystal clear waters, home to the wilder brown trout and its cousin, the rainbow trout.


The Himalayan Trout House is a friendly place for locals and visiting fishermen, trekkers, campers and other holiday makers to meet each other, exchange stories, share bonfires and eatouts, read, listen to music, play games, laze in hammocks, tan .. whatever…

A modern multi cuisine kitchen serves many of the delicacies available in the city including some surprises. The charming breakfast kitchen next to the gazebo boasts of a wood fired pizza oven , barbeque and crockpot stove. A speciality is, of course the fresh trout accompanied by salads , vegetables and herbs from our bio garden and seasonal fruit from the local orchards

The gazebo is an all day social centra for inhouse residents and has a fine selection of music and a fireplace for chillier days.

General club facilities provided include a choice of literature, children’s play area, relaxation areas, fishing rods and reels, a studio with art materials and a potters wheel for potters, sculptors and painters, various kites, indoor board games for rainy days and a collection of balls for those who don’t mind running down the hillside to fetch them back.


The Trout house offers different options of accommodation.

The Eco Cabin: These are light brick walled all weather cabins. They are comfortably furnished and decorated in an ethnic flavour. There are four cabins built around an efficient toilet block with four baths and four toilets.

The Mud Hut suites: These are large family suites with an attached bath. They are comfortably furnished and decorated again in a local ethnic flavour. The natural lighting and decor make the mud huts a unique experience to live in.

The Stone Cottage suites: These are larger family suites with, of course, an attached bath. They are also comfortably furnished and decorated in a designer ethnic fashion. These rooms are easily comparable with the best you will find in the district.

The best seasons to visit are from Mid March to June and then again from September through to November. Even at the height of summer light woollens may be required in the early mornings and late evenings. However the winters in the valley are mild (for Himachal) with many days of bright sunshine and the occasional light snowfall.

The Trout house is Wi-Fi enabled.

The Trout House Family

Trout angler, trekker, camper, musician, alternative educator, vagrant poet and story teller, existentialist with Chriswa, the Great Himalayan Barking Dog

Artist, traveler, jungle path wanderer, collector of stones and leaves and little flowers, part time chef and full time mother, with Thumki, miniature lhasa

Explorer, entertainer, seeker of bliss in cupboards and in boxes, hide and seek artist, balloon master, learner of languages and perpetual prankster.


Angling, that is fishing with rod and line , is a legal , entertaining and relaxing sport. It is a philosophical activity requiring intelligence and skill and can at times test your agility and endurance. It will often take you among some of the best remaining environs on the planet, places of pristine beauty that can be refreshing to the body and mind.

It’s about getting close to the earth. Following a few primeval instincts. Tuning into life cycles.

The Himalayan Trout house offers guidance and facilities to anglers from India and abroad. Our knowledge of the river and the sport and our experience in the hospitality industry ensures that your angling experience will be satisfying and comfortable

There are four elements to being a successful angler. Follow the links below to learn more and see how you fit in.

The River

The Trout House is situated in the tiny hamlet of Nagini on the banks of the Tirthan stream.

The Tirthan stream is a tributary of Beas with its source in the Tirthan Glacier. The Tirthan glacier is within the limits of the Great Himalayan National Park , a vast reserve of Himalayan flora and fauna. The Park and the glacier are also the source of the Sainj stream that joins the Tirthan briefly at Larji before tumbling into the Beas.

The stream itself is fast flowing and icy cold. Judging from the daily shift in temperature and the rise and fall of the river it is estimated that the water flowing past the Trout House is about 4-5 river hours from the Glacier. However a trek to the Glacier within the park , I am told , could take upto 4 days of good walking. You would necessarily have to carry all your living arrangements as the last hut is at Shilt, barely a days walk from the roadhead at Goshaini. You would also have to gain permission from Park Authorities.

Though the river is full of wild brown trout , the Tirthan is one of the last of the Himalayan streams in Himachal to still be so. Not long ago brown trout were teeming all over but over the years the angling has given way to hydel projects which bring in their wake , avalanches and mudslides accompanied by a total destruction of the local environment and culture. The valleys of the Parvati and Sainj stand as ugly examples of this ongoing devastation.

Your daily fishing license will allow you access to about 45 kilometres along the Tirthan from Larji to Ropa and upto Tila along the Palachan , a tributary also from the Tirthan glacier that joins the Tirthan at Goshaini. Though the riverbank is consistently rocky it is possible to get down to the stream at most points along this route. However as you go higher upstream away from the road , steep , overgrown hillsides can make access difficult and the catch correspondingly larger. Remember the best fish are in the pools least frequented by humans but I must admit there are large trout living in the deeper pools all along the river. I have seen many caught and know that there are lots more.

To ensure your safety and for a satisfying angling experience it is highly recommended that you avail of the services of the trained river and fishing guides at the Trout House.

The Fish – wild brown Trout

There are two kinds of trout in the waters of the Tirthan.

The Rainbow that do not breed in the river and are escapees from the local fisheries. Being used to fishery feeding they are easily caught and rarely grow beyond a pound in the river, though it has been within my experience to occasionally land a larger Rainbow.

The Brown Trout is a native of European waters and were introduced to Himalayan streams first in Kashmir in the 1860’s and later from there to the Beas in the 1920’s.The legend that they followed everywhere the British army and empire went, its officers insisting on fishing it for sport can’t be far off the mark as they are found almost everywhere, from North to South America to Japan to Korea to New Zealand to the Himalayas, where we are.

Their presence in these rivers over the last hundred years or so has enabled them to evolve according to the environment and hence the term `Himalayan Trout’. This and the nature of the river compares with some of the most exciting trout angling to be had anywhere.

There is a lot of talk about how smart a brown trout is. The truth is these fish have a brain smaller than a pea, like any other trout. They’ve been hunted with hook and line longer than most other freshwater fish, and the instincts they’ve developed may make them harder to catch (sometimes) than other trout, but “smart.” may be a bit of an exaggeration. Don’t let them become aware of your presence, match what they are eating, when they are eating, and you’ll discover the mythical “wary old brown trout” can be caught. By you!

Brown trout–especially big brown trout–also have a reputation for being nocturnal and piscavorous. They fight well, but don’t jump as frequently or as vigorously as a Rainbow. With Browns, it’s often a bull-dog run toward the bottom, where he will try to fall into the next pool or lead your line into a hole to be snagged on a piece of wood. If you hold him and get him to the side the game almost always ends with a close range punchout.

A typical brown trout has a brown or yellow-brown body, with black spots on the back, sides, dorsal fin and tail, especially the upper portion. There are also some red or bright orange spots scattered down the sides of most brown trout, sometimes with light blue halos. The tail is square-ended on most mature fish. And don’t stick you fingers or thumb in the mouth of a brown trout. They’ve got teeth down there and could very well take the digit off.

Brown trout are closely related to the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), and share many of the same river systems in Northern Europe. Like the salmon, brown trout sometimes swim out to sea and return to the rivers as sea trout. Sea trout can be found in many European waters, but the most famous place in the world to catch large sea- run brown trout is undoubtably Tierra del Fuego’s Rio Grande River (Argentina), where fish weighing 10-25 pounds are common.

All in all the Brown trout is a very fine game fish and makes excellent eating. The Trout House kitchen is geared with a range of recipes to make your meal a culinary delight.

The Equipment; flies, spinners…

Gentlemen fish with flies, Hunters with spinners and Murderers with worms’

Bait fishing

Live bait fishing is neither recommended or encouraged by the Trout House , the reason being that there are few fishermen that are fast enough to hook a fish by the mouth as the trout are quick to swallow the bait complete and so are very often hooked from deep inside the gut, severely damaging the fish and in most cases making release an impossibility. With fishermen using bait for trout releasing doesn’t seem to be on their mind anyway. However for those that need to know the trout will take an earthworm, a minnow, a grasshopper (the black variety as opposed to the fluorescent green types) and various nymphs and other insects that can be found under the rocks by the river.


Spinners are a little more sporting in the sense that the trout rarely gulp them all the way down and the angler also stands to lose as they are liable to get snagged on the rocks or a log in the river. We have had a visiting angler with a score of 12 – 0 , that is twelve spinners lost and no fish!! It has been my experience that there are more spinners lost than fish caught. And with spinners the catching game is extended. Local youngsters set up spinner traps and will watch anxiously to see whether they got you or not as you pass on the river below their village. So in effect spinners fuel the poachers economy. The river guides at the Trout House largely manage to retrieve most spinners and can be a big help in lessening the pain.

While it is true that trout are piscivarous and eat little fish, that is not their usual diet. Sometimes they will take a spinner out of curiosity thinking they could spit it out if they didn’t like it. I’ve seen Rainbows at the fishery do this with flower petals and one of our river guides once caught a trout with chewing gum on a hook. On other occasions Himalayan Browns being territorial, a spinner might just actually cheese them off and they jump it aggressively. The treble hooks on spinners can be quite deadly and not only for the fish. It makes good sense and release easier if you flatten the barbs on the treble.

I would recommend a light 8 foot rod and reel combo with a 10-12 lb monofilament line. Longer rods tend to send spinners into the bushes often on the other side of the river. Spinners No. 0, 1 & 2 from most of the brand names should be fine though my personal favourite is the no.1 silver Mepps aglia . I am personally not fond of streamers on the spinners and also like a clean line, so no swivels for me. But you may do as you see fit.


Fly angling for Trout is the champagne of the sport. It brings you closer to the earth and your environment than any other form of fishing. It introduces a whole new player into the game – the aquatic fauna of the river.

The aquatic insects are the main diet of the Trout. They spawn during season by millions in the river and the trout will feed on them at all stages of their development, from the nymph all the way through to the spent fly. And thinking as a pea brained trout it shouldn’t be hard to imagine that a certain nymph or emerger might be a delicacy to be sought after in this or that season. Knowing this and matching it is all it takes.

Fly fishing is 75% observation. A fly angler could target the fish he wants to catch as he watches it feed. To watch a large brown feed would necessitate a stealthy approach to the pool and maybe a fifteen minute squat hidden among the rocks and bushes, observing the insects in and around the river, gradually being able to tell the signs of them emerging from the river and the feeding action of the trout from the ripples they make on the surface of the water.

Fly angling is more than just about catching fish. Many a fly angler has been lost to the magic and lure of the cast, repeating the motions whether the fish is taking the fly or not. It is more a game of skill and artistry than strength or stamina. The setting up of the leader, the tying of the fly, the nature of the line and the rod all require a degree of expertise and training, the first few steps of which could lead to a lifelong obsession and philosophy.

The Tirthan is a fast flowing glacial stream. The ideal equipment would be a 10′ rod with synthetic line DT n°4 or 5 though those who come with a 8’ to 10′ rod n°3 to 6 will enjoy fishing the place.

Taking into account the fast flow of the river wet flies and nymphs are easier to control. Weighted nymph imitations of the mayfly, caddiss, stonefly, dragonfly and other midges tied on number 10-14 size hooks work well. Two favourite patterns that work consistently are are the pheasant tail nymphs and the gold beaded hare’s ear, but largely chunky weighted flies that are similar will also be effective. There are, however, a few deep still pools where a dry fly might be used to great satisfaction especially during a hatch.

The Trout House is well geared for the fly angler and our in house equipment includes a collection of rods and lines , some flies that work and others that don’t, a complete fly tying workshop with a variety of vices and bobbins and what nots, books and cds on entomology and aquatic fauna and loads of stories and experiences.

The Angler

Anglers are a breed apart and recognize each other. The Himalayan Trout House is home to anglers worldwide.

While the Tirthan is approachable and fishable by anglers of all ages and physical ability, below are some qualities that might help you get that extra edge on the trout.
Strong legs and Stamina: To help you get to the higher up spots where the best size catches are.

Stealth and Balance: To leap from rock to rock along the river to reach the best vantage points for casting into a pool. Without losing your rod and tackle!

Intelligence: Endurance, Patience, Perception, Perspective: To back up the above
Philosophy: to help you deal with disappointment if all else fails.

You’ve got your stories and we’ve got ours. So let’s get together for an exciting trout experience.

The Student Angler

One is always learning. With angling even more so. One always needs to know more.
The Trout House offers the following professionals for the service of its anglers.

  • River Attendant: He will assist you on stretches of the river , finding access , getting down there, crossing boulders , carrying equipment and help retrieve snagged spinners.
  • Fishing guide: He is an accomplished angler with many years of experience on the Tirthan. He knows the places, the river, and the fish. He will assess your fishing requirements and abilities and recommend suitable stretches to ensure your success. He could also advise you on some techniques.
  • Fly Angling Instructor: He is a professional trained instructor who will guide you through all the steps that go into being a successful angler.

Special Courses

Specialized courses in spinner and fly fishing are held for teenage anglers in April, May and September. . Student Anglers will learn about the nature of the glacial river, the trout and the insect fauna and use of the specialized equipment required. They will also undergo courses in fly tying, camping and outdoor survival.

More than Fishing

The Dev Kanda Temple Walk: A strenuous trek uphill to the Devkanda mandir on the highest peak in the Valley. The reward at the top is a spectacular view of the valley below and of snow peaks and Himalayan Forest on the other side. To reap maximum benefits one should ideally camp up there on the peak on a full moon night and come down the day after. Though the descent is quicker and less tiring it takes skill and a keen sense of balance. Recommended only for skilled walkers/trekkers with stamina and perseverance.

Suggested Itinerary:

  • Departure in the morning as early as possible from the Trout House, the first stretch up (3 hours ) is unshaded and so its best to avoid midday sun.
  • Lunch and rest at Nadaar the last village below the peak. Take in some spectacular views of the river through the valley below.
  • Continue to the peak (2 hours) to arrive there by 4 p.m. Set up camp and explore surroundings. Enjoy 360 degree views. Rest.
  • Bonfire and dinner
  • Spend the next morning exploring the peak. Start down for Nadaar by 11 a.m. Lunch at Nadaar. Continue down to the Trout House to arrive by 5 p.m.

The Nature Walk: From Gushaini walkers climb for about 20 minutes to the village of Bandal. After a brief visit to the Devi’s temple one continues at the same level along the mountainside through thick virgin forest before it descends again to end at the Trout House. Along this pleasant jungle walk one may pick up pine cones and woodroses, barks and sticks and flowers and nuts and bird feathers for craft items.

Suggested Itinerary:

  • Depart as early as possible as the entire walk could take 8 – 10 hours with stops.
  • Stops and food breaks as you wish. Return to the Trout House by 6 p.m.

Great Himalayan National Park: On the other hand one could walk past Gushaini along the Tirthan to the entry of the Great National Himalayan Park. The Park is one of the most extensive preserves of Himalayan Flora and fauna in the country. There are various classic Himalayan treks through the park. It is necessary though to take daily permits from Sai Ropa before entering the park there and to carry all your own living arranements as there is only one hut in Shilt and that is for the guides.

Recommended for nature lovers and trekkers with a few days to spare.
For details on the park log onto

The Road Stroll
Catch the local bus to either Bathad (9 km) or Banjar (6 km) and walk back along the road beside the river passing little villages and interacting with the local folk along the way. Other smaller walks include a brisk twenty minute climb to Calorie Rock on the mountainside behind the Trout House or along the road to the Gushaini bridge and back or even to the offices of the Great National Himalayan Park at Sai Ropa and back.

The Overnite Camp
A one hour trek along the picturesque Tirthan river from road head Goshaini (3 kms from THTH) or up the Palachan from Bathaad (12 kms from THTH) will bring you to a quiet spot where you will set up camp there in Trekking tents for the night. As facilities available are minimum trekkers will receive a basic course in survival in the wild and have to fend for themselves, setting up tents and collecting firewood and helping with the cooking.

Rock Climbing, Rappelling & River Activities
Learn the tricks and the skills of climbing a rock face, or the different ways of rappelling down the face and the correct use of the ropes, harnesses and other equipment from our experienced climbers. This is a highly adventurous activity requiring skill, strength and care and is extremely fulfilling to those so inclined.

River Crossing by jhulas, log bridges, hopping rocks, raft building, dam building, functioning of water mills and water play

As a trained team of three is involved in these activities advance notice and a minimum group number are required.

Library and Music
The Trout House has an varied collection of books, audio cassettes and video discs and movies.

Nature Study
Observation and reading up on birds, insects and reptiles, flowers, fruit, trees, rocks and mountain formations, agriculture and gardening, visits to the trout fisheries

Sculpture, Pottery and Painting
The Trout House has a well equipped artist’s studio with a potters wheel and a range of sculpture and painting materials.

Sightseeing Visits

Jalori pass: This trip entails a leisurely one and a half hour drive past Banjar through an enchanting forest to the Jalori pass. During April and May the hillsides are covered with a sea of blue irises. From there a two hour trek will bring us to a high mountain lake, Sareolsar, where you could have lunch and relax before the ancient Nag temple before we walk back to the pass for the ride back to the Trout House.

On the other hand you could take a different direction where an hour long walk through the meadows to the Raghupura fort on the other side

The views of the high mountains from the pass are spectacular all along. Highly recommended.

Suggested Itinerary:

  • Depart from the Trout House by 8 a.m. after breakfast.
  • Arrive at the Pass by 10 a.m. Enjoy a cup of tea and the panoramic views.
  • Begin walk to Sareolsar Lake by 10.30.. Arrive by 1 p.m.
  • Lunch and exploration till 3 p.m.
  • Begin walk back to the Pass. Arrive by 5 p.m.
  • Return to the Trout House by 7 p.m.

Manali visit: You could drive through the beautiful Kulu Valley with a stopover at Nagar where you could visit the Naggar Castle and the Roerich Art Gallery. From there a beautiful forest drive will take you to Manali where you will vist the Hadimba Devi Temple and walk around the Manali marketplace, sampling a restaurant, purchasing a gift or simply looking at what other people do when they visit the mountains.

Suggested Itinerary:

  • Depart from the Trout House after breakfast by 9 a.m.
  • Stopover at Kullu market for some local shopping.
  • Arrive at Nagaar by 2. pm. Have lunch and visit the Roerich art Gallery, the Castle and the stone temples in the afternoon.
  • Continue onto Manali through beautiful forest drive on the left bank for overnight stay in a local hotel.
  • Continue on past Rohtang into Ladhak or return to the Trout House.

Getting there

By Air
You could fly down to Bhuntar Airport, an hour and a half from the Trout House. There are two flights a week to and from Delhi. Taxis to the Trout House are easily available at the airport.

By Rail
If your catching a train from anywhere else in the country you might by pass Delhi and stop over at Ambala ( 8 hours by road from the Trout House) or even continue to the Railhead at Kiratpur ( 7 hours ). Taxis and buses are easily available for the remainder of the journey from just outside the railway station at Ambala. You would probably have to bargain a bit for a good price

By Road
To get to Nagini (550 KM from Delhi) one must turn off just BEFORE the Larji (Aut) Tunnel an hour before Kullu on the Manali highway from Chandigarh. From Larji (the dam) it is 26 kms of a pleasant drive along the river via Larji, Chalogi , Bali , Manglore Targali , Sidhwa till Kundan Bridge just under Banjar. DO NOT GO UPTO BANJAR.. At this point turn left towards Goshain. The Trout House is 6 kilometres up this road in Nagini. Look out for our boards after Larji.

The best way is to drive in yourself. The roads are fine all the way. It takes me 11to 12 hours to drive up from Delhi.