Number Of Traveller(s): 1
Transport: Himachal Roadways Volvo
Place: Kasol, District Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India
Total Distance Covered: 1200 km
Date: Mid March 2015
Total No Of Days: 4
The mysticism of the Himalayan mountains can intrigue every soul, and i am no different. I have always been fascinated by the amazing size and beauty of the Himalayas. Unlike other mountain ranges, the Himalayas are not just one mountain range, instead, they are multiple ranges one after another. They are a cradle of spiritual well being, knowledge, and most importantly they are a path to discover yourself. No wonder, for thousands of years, countless Indian monks and sages have traveled through the length and breadth of the great Himalayas to seek salvation. This history shows that we are a nation of seekers rather than just believers.
Going to the Himalayas to find god is not the aim, instead, the aim has always been, for thousands of years, to seek the truth. In this land, finding heaven or god is not the highest goal, instead the highest goal has always been nirvana. Even today, the goal is the same for a large number of people in India.
I planned this trip just to take a break from my everyday work which was taking a toll on me and i was waiting to get engulfed in the mesmerizing beauty of the Himalayan mountains.
DAY-1 (Altitude: 4000 feet)
The morning light woke me up, and i felt the twist and turns that the bus was taking through the mountains. The morning tea stop was at the Sher-e-Punjab dhaba(roadside restaurant) in Himachal Pradesh. As soon as i got out of the bus, i felt a rush of fresh air, it was as sweet as honey, and i just stood there for a while taking deep breaths.
After the brief stop at the dhaba we carried on and in about two hours i had reached Bhunter bus stop. From Bhunter the straight road goes to Kullu, and the other one goes to Manikaran. I took a local bus which was going to Manikaran, and i had planned to get down at small road side Shiva temple which was about 3 km before Kasol. The local bus ride through the valley is pretty scary, the road is so narrow that the bus often used to go near the edge of the road, and i could hear the sound of the Parvati river flowing almost 200 feet below. I got down at the small Shiva temple, from there i crossed a shaky bridge to the other side of the river to a small village of Katagla. I had met a local guy in the bus and it was he who told me about this little village. From Katagla i took the wrong trail and after walking for about 15 mins, i was lost. I found a local lady who stopped me from going any further as there were no more villages up the mountain. So, i came down and and then i met a Russian girl with a baby. She was very helpful and she guided me to a trail that led to the village of chalaal, which was also on the banks of the Parvati river. I was walking through this village when i met two brothers who were from Mandi and they were running a house hut for travelers. They offered me accommodation for 400 rupees per day and i gladly accepted the offer. On the ground floor was just the kitchen, the rooms were on the first floor, and there was also an amazing open space, just outside the rooms, for everyone to sit and enjoy. I sat outside my room and within minutes it started raining, the air was so damn sweet! I felt that lord Shiva himself had embraced that place. While there was a thunderstorm, the owners sat down with me and we chatted on for hours. The food that they served was a simple rice and dal, which was very delicious. The night set in, and almost the entire village was asleep, only me and a local cook who was preparing food for me were awake. After a while i switched on the speakers, which were provided by the owners, and i started listening to High Hopes by Pink Flyod. The sound of this beautiful western track intermingled with the sound of the holy Parvati river flowing just a few meters away from where i was staying, this mix was so extraordinary that i completely felt at peace within me.
After a while, a guy walked up the stairs and came to where i was sitting, he had herd the music that i was playing and he wanted to join me. Like me, he was also a great fan of the 1970s western music. I do not remember the name of the person, but he was from Gurgaon, and he was staying in Chalaal since one month. He told me that he planned to go back to Gurgaon only after all his money got finished. So now there was me, the unknown guy, and the cook, we were all sitting together and we discussed almost everything from spiritual well being to the mysticism of the Parvati valley. During all this, i got to know from them about some amazing trekking routes in the valley, and almost immediately i decided to go for one of the treks next morning. In between, the cook took out some Malana cream from his pocket and rolled up a joint for the three of us. There is a joke in Kasol, that nobody will steal your unattended money or belongings in Kasol, rather if you leave a lighter or some Hash unattended, they you are never going to find it again. Anyways, after a while i thanked everyone for their company and i decided to go to sleep at about 3 AM.
Day – 2 (Altitude: 5300 feet to 8000 feet)
I got up a bit late the next morning, and after spending a few hours with everyone i started walking towards the main town of Kasol which was a 30 min walk from Chalaal. Just before entering Kasol i had to cross a shaky bridge and the full fury of the Parvati river was flowing below it. On reaching Kasol, i spotted a Shambhu momos(dumplings?) shop, i sat there and i had two plates of delicious momos. I sincerely recommend the readers to do try Shambhu momos if they ever plan to go to Kasol. Now i went to a restaurant called the evergreen cafe, and i had a nice Spanish breakfast there. After going around Kasol for a while, i decided to take a local bus to a place named Barshani, and from there i planned to trek to the village of Tosh.
I took the bus at 1 PM, and in about 30-40 mins i was at Barshani, which was the last stop of the bus as there is no proper road after Barshani. From Barshani there are two trails, one goes to Kheer Ganga and the other one goes to Tosh. In the bus i had made a few friends and they invited me to trek with them. They took me via a more challenging route and it was a pretty tough trek, i can recommend this route to only those who have no fear of heights and have done tough treks in the past. This route is literally an 80 degree climb over a hill, but i must say that if you do this dare then you get treated to a breath taking view of the snow clad Himalayan mountains. We sat on a plain grass land, listened to some traditional blues music and looked on at the mesmerizing beauty of the Himalayan range in complete awe. We continued our climb and after crossing a small bridge we reached the entrance of the village, from there it was again a 10 mins trek to a place called Hill Top, which was literally at the top of the village, and i was able to get a decent room with an amazing view for just around 600 Rs a night.
Me and few of my trek buddies sat down inside the place and chatted for a long time, and i did not realize that it was almost time for dinner. We also sat down with some locals, some Israelis and we all had a pretty amazing time. A few Israelis were also smoking the local Hash and they were kind enough to pass it around to everyone. The weather was pretty cold and i remember that in the end we also had some flavoured Vodka, sitting outside, to beat the chill. After eating a huge dinner i ended up going to bed pretty pretty late, i don’t remember what time it was, but i guess in that little get together of ours, none of us had any track of time and i was glad about it. The Parvati valley has it’s own way of helping you to not worry about time or even money. The most important thing during that moment was to cherish what we have, not worry too much about the future, and always be helpful to each other. Sitting at 8000 feet above sea level, at the far end of the Parvati valley, i felt as if mother Parvati had herself blessed us in one way or the other. In her grace, we found our moment of peace and tranquility.
DAY – 3 (Altitude: 8000 feet)
I got up the next day and by god the view from my balcony was so damn beautiful, rich snow clad mountains, i can never forget it nor i can ever forget the sweet fragrance in the air of the valley. I just sat in the balcony, listening to Buddhist chants of “om mani padme hum” 108 times over and over again for hours. I guess i was in a state of deep meditation. After all this, i decided to get ready, order some breakfast and leave back for Kasol. I had a good breakfast and after a while i met with everyone, specially my trek buddies, and i thanked them for their company. I left the place with no souvenirs, but with loads of good memories.
Now, while trekking back to Barshani, i met an Israeli girl, and she told me that she was lost and did not know the way to Barshani. So i told her that she can come along as i was also going to Barshani. While trekking together we spoke about our adventurous experiences, cultures and countries. Her name was Edhi, and she was a village girl from Israel, and it was great to know that she had also served in the Israeli army for 3 years. Moreover, she showed me some pics of her tomato farms in Israel and in return i showed her pics of my sugarcane farms in Haryana 🙂 :). To put it in a nutshell, we both had a very informal conversation and i learnt a lot of new things by having this talk. In the end we were so fascinated that we ended up comparing our driving licenses, and i still don’t know why we did that, maybe it was just plain mutual curiosity. Between all this we had also taken the Bus to Kasol and in about 30 mins we reached our destination. After getting down, i had to travel to Kullu to catch my bus as i was leaving for Delhi that very day. I thanked Edhi for her company and wished her well for her travels and life, and she too thanked me for helping her.
In about half an hour, at about 4:30 pm, i took the local bus to Kullu to catch my Volvo bus ride to Delhi. I reached Delhi early morning the next day and i was not really happy to see all the mad rush of Delhi city. But i promised myself to return to the Parvati valley again someday to rekindle my love for the holy Himalayan range.
I write because down the years i’ll read it all again to know that i had a great life with many sweet memories. Thanks for reading my blog, i know it is not perfect but i try and improve everyday. Stay tuned for Road #5 which would feature a time from my college days and a midnight ride through the western Ghats in Maharashtra.