Gallu Waterfall Trek, Himachal:  Enigmatic Trails to Emerald Pools

During our recent workcation in Himachal Pradesh, we sought out experiences off the beaten path, away from the typical tourist attractions. Our local hosts had previously recommended some amazing places and we turned to them again for suggestions. That’s when we came to know about Gallu Waterfall, a secluded oasis nestled amidst the serene landscapes of Dharamshala. Intrigued by the stories of Emerald Pools and pristine forest trails, we embarked on a trek that would far exceed our expectations. 

As we walked through the forest path enveloped in dappled sunlight and melodies of bird songs, we realized that this trek was much more than just reaching the destination. Rather it’s true magic lay in immersing ourselves in the beauty of the journey itself. Read on to know more about our experience of this trek.

Gallu Waterfall
Small, yet stunning
Path to Gallu Waterfall through the Forest
Path through the forest

How to reach Gallu Waterfall

Gallu Waterfall can only be reached by a short trek. The shortest trail starts from Gallu Village  and runs through the adjacent forest. It takes 1-1.5 hours to reach the waterfall from the village depending on your speed and number of stops on the way. The trek is pretty simple, but runs through uneven and rocky surface at places that needs a bit of care. 

Take the road to the left  behind the temple and  keep on the path passing behind Horizon Huts. Then simply keep following the water pipe and you will ultimately reach the waterfall.  The route is well-marked with helpful arrow signs and occasional messages scribbled on the stones, ensuring you stay on track. So there is hardly any chance of getting lost. 

A lot of people also start the trek from Dharamkot which is approx. 2 kms away from Gallu Village.  As we stayed in Naddi (around 8 kms away from Gallu), we took a cab to Gallu Devi Temple and then started our trek from there. You can easily get taxis from Dharamkot, McLeodganj, Naddi or Dharamshala till Gallu village.

Gallu Temple
Gallu Temple under the cloudy sky. Beautifully located, I must say!
Starting point of the Trek to gallu Waterfall
Starting the trek. Look at that view!!
Well marked path to Gallu waterfall
Arrow on the boulder showing the path
The path to the waterfall
Like I said, just follow the water pipe

Our experience of the trek

The Journey 

We started our trek from Gallu Devi temple, a little before 9am, greeted by the cool morning breeze and bird calls filling the air. A Red-billed Blue Magpie gracefully crossed our path, disappearing into the lush tree cover while a Black-headed Jay settled itself on a tree nearby. In the distance, quaint villages nestled among terraced farms adorned the hill slopes like postcards. 

View from Gallu Village
View from Gallu Village, just like a pretty postcard!

As we stepped into the forest path, the bird calls became even more diverse and Rhododendrons of bright Red colour painted the otherwise Green forest with splashes of Red. Walking amidst the swaying trees and dappled sunlight filtering through the canopy, we felt transported to a magical world. It was difficult not to make stops every now and then, whether to catch sight of a bird or to revel in the leafy showers stirred by the wind. Moving further, we came across a rocky area with trees laden with small Purple flowers, attracting several Butterflies of different hues. We stood there in awe for a while watching the spectacle before moving forward. Along the trail, we found many unfamiliar shrubs adorned with delicate blooms, each adding to the beauty of the surrounding in their own unique way.

Red Rhododendrons on the way to the Gallu waterfall
Red Rhododendrons, our 2nd time spotting them after Sikkim
Flowers on the way
Loved all the little flowers we came across
Scenic path to Gallu waterfall
My fav spot in the trek route. See those flowers?
Beautiful Butterflies spotted around the path
Butterflies spotted around the Purple flowers

Not just the trees or flowers, the forest is also home to many beautiful birds and we spotted few on our way. But it was a true delight to spot a Rufous Bellied Niltava perched nearby, captivating us with its vibrant plumage and graceful movements. Many more stops to admire the beauty of the journey, and we finally reached the Waterfall after almost 3 hours. Though it took us much longer, this trek is where the journey felt equally impressive as the destination itself. And it reminded us so much of our trek in Sikkim’s Varsey.

Last stretch of the Trek
Last stretch of the trek
Rufous Bellied Niltava spotted in the forest during the Gallu waterfall trek
Rufous Bellied Niltava, the most vibrant bird we spotted

Time at the Waterfall

The waterfall itself may not be grandiose in size. But set amidst towering mountains with crystal clear water cascading into Emerald pools below, it is a soul soothing sight. Some visitors jumped into the ice cold water, some were looking around and taking photographs. Then there were 2 people who were completely immersed in their own worlds – a foreigner lady engrossed in her book in a secluded spot by the pool and Sush sitting in meditation beside the rushing water. To me, these two seemed to soak in the true essence of the place. Looking above, I noticed 2 monks relishing the views perched on a huge boulder. 

Emerald pool near the Gallu waterfall
Sitting here overlooking the emerald pool was a different feeling
Meditating near the waterfall
So glad to have captured this unique moment
Crystal clear water of the pools formed with waterfall streams
And this is what I did!

The Way Back

After spending more than 2 hours at the waterfall, we decided to come back. But not before indulging in a cup of steaming hot coffee at the café near the fall. May be it was the effect of the cool weather or the stunning views, but that coffee felt truly blissful.

View from the cafe near the waterfall
Views from the Café.
Some coffee and soup before we leave
Some coffee and soup before we leave

As we walked back, the sight of plastic bottles and wrappers scattered at places truly felt disturbing. So we decided to take action and clean up as much as we could. Two monks of Tibetan Origin who we had seen at the falls caught up to us in the meantime. Seeing my hands full,  they graciously offered their help carrying the garbage until we reached a designated dustbin. The cleaning up was accompanied by conversations and we got to know how much they appreciated the beauty of the region, despite the broken Hindi. We finally parted ways at Sunset Café where we stopped for a late lunch.

Cleaning up whatever we could on the way back
Cleaning up whatever we could

Sunset café is a hole-in-the-wall place serving the most delicious Pizzas overlooking lush green views. We were greeted by two friendly dogs and the owner shared that these dogs often accompany visitors all the way to the waterfall. After some hot chai and Pizza against the cloudy skies, it was time to bid adieu to Gallu. By this time, the weather had changed and it had started drizzling. What a perfect end to the day!

Sunset Cafe on the trek route
Sunset Café – Café with a View
Pizza in Sunset Cafe on the way back
And definitely the most delicious Pizzas
The cutest company, one of the dogs from the cafe
The cutest company, one of the dogs from the cafe

The Not-So-Good Side We Witnessed

On this trek, we witnessed first hand the blatant disregard some people have for nature. As we trekked through the forest, the serene atmosphere was occasionally shattered by loud music played by some unruly visitors. We found plastic bottles as well as chips and gutkha wrappers scattered at places. Our moment of awe at the sight of a beautiful bird was short-lived as a group of young people passed by blasting their Bluetooth speakers. The shop owner at the waterfall had to remind people again and again to keep volume low and not to litter the place. I was truly shocked, angry and disheartened seeing this attitude in people, treating nature as their personal property and destroying the solitude without any care. The worst part is these people were all Indians, especially some young guys, whereas the foreign visitors were extremely respectful and mindful of the environment.

This made me think, how do we better protect such places from being destroyed due to human arrogance? Should the local authorities implement stricter measures to safeguard these sanctuaries from the thoughtless actions of a few? Perhaps limiting access to those who truly seek solace and connection with nature, rather than treating it as a backdrop for their revelry. 

What to pack for Gallu Waterfall Trek

  1. Carry enough drinking water on the trek. There is no other place on the way to refill water. And honestly, I would not recommend filling water from the waterfall since a lot of people take bath in that water.
  2. Sunscreen, Hat and Sunglasses – Must to protect from the Sun. You may not need it on the way, but the area around the waterfall gets enough sun.
  3. Wear comfortable clothes, preferably full pants for the trek. 
  4. A lightweight jacket – May not be needed during peak Summer. But I needed it in mid April, especially in the morning hours.
  5. Spare clothes or swim wear if you plan to take a dip in the pools at the waterfall. 
  6. Small protein bars or snacks for the way in case you get hungry with all the walking.
  7. Travel Medicine Kit as there is no medicine shop nearby

Know Before You Go

  1. The forest seemed safe enough to do the trek alone, just be careful of your surroundings and do not get distracted while walking.
  2. Gallu Waterfall is relatively offbeat compared to other places in Dharamshala. Still we could see many groups visiting as the day progressed. So, for best experience of this trek, we recommend starting early in the morning, around 7-8 am. That’s when the birds are most active in the forest and there are fewer people at the falls. 
  3. No changing room or toilet facilities are available near the falls. Toilet was available near Sunset Café on the way and at Gallu Village.
  4. When we visited in April, the water was very cold even to dip the toes, let alone have a bath. But even without that, I would not get too comfortable to take bath there looking at the kind of crowd. A lot of the guys jump in to the water in their underwear (not swimwear) and I saw some of them making gestures and ogling the ladies (I know that’s sad). So, if you are going on a weekday when there are not many people, then you may have a chance at bathing peacefully.
  5. For food, there are shops and stalls in Gallu Village itself. Two small cafes are there on the way to the waterfall and one on the cliff overlooking the falls. The small shop cum cafe at the waterfall serves Maggi, porridge, soup, coffee (tasted amazing), tea etc. and also sells biscuits and small snacks. Other two on the way serve major meals. We loved the pizza (a must try) at Sunset Café and the best part is it came with gorgeous views.
  6. We found the location of Gallu Village quite scenic, overlooking the mountains, valleys and distant villages. It felt like a small green heaven for nature lovers. So if that interests you, then there are a couple of stay options in the village.
Stunning views from Gallu Village
Stunning views from Gallu Village
Birds and the distant villages seen from Gallu village
How many birds do you see?


Reflecting on our time at Gallu Waterfall fills us with joy and gratitude. I will always remember that sensation of dipping my toes in the icy cold water, savouring coffee while gazing at the shimmering emerald pools under the sun, and the enchanting sights of Rhododendrons, birds, and wildflowers along the way. 

We hope our blog helps you find your way to this offbeat gem. Let it be a reminder to seek solace in nature and cherish the moments that nourish our souls.

Relaxing near Gallu Waterfall

For more offbeat treks, refer our other blogs here.

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