After an intense time in Bir-Billing (More on that, here), the next stop in my expedition was the Parvati valley. Having heard so much about this valley’s beautiful location and serenery (serene scenery) – I decided I will spend at least a week here, before I head to the beautiful Manali.
From Bir I caught a bus around 10 am to Mandi (Mandi is home to be beautiful Prashar Lake: See pictures here) – then, (around 3) I caught a bus to Bhuntar, and from Bhuntar finally one for Kasol (Around 630). By the time I reached Kasol it was dark, and I was alone without a guest house or a plan, of course.
If you are some one who is travelling to, in and around Parvati valley and is reading my story, I would like to GRAB YOUR ATTENTION by placing this picture here. This was my (and now your) hack to the valley:
Coming back to my story, I met some really cool people on these bus journeys – people who told me to get off at Mandi to have a look at the Prashar lake, or have momos and jalebi at Bhuntar – one even told me to buy a raincoat at Bhuntar because it was raining in Kasol – and I should have listened. I reached Kasol around 8 pm, and it was raining, like it does in Mumbai.
Kasol and Malana
The sound of a river gushing & cold drops of rain played in the background while I struggled to find a guest house at a few places close to where I got off; and the room costs made me want to cry. I probably did cry, but no one knew, because, rain. I was all ready to give up and contemplating my life decisions when an angel appeared. When you’re travelling by yourself on a rainy dark day in a cold new place, angels generally don’t come and talk to you – so I went ahead and spoke to the said angel. Turns out he has been visiting Kasol every year for the last few years and knows more than a few my kind of places, and my life felt sorted again.
I followed him around till we found a place and he seemed like a nice guy (of course, he was an angel) (I am totally overdoing the angel bit, no?) – and we ended up sharing a room. At a couple of hundred bucks a night, I was feeling so much better – plus, I had changed into warmer, dryer clothes. There was light in my life again. We then went to one of the most famous cafe there – called Cafe Evergreen. Having eaten little all day, I had an intensane (intense + insane) chicken lasagne, all by myself with some chai for dinner. We exchanged stories and he told me about the beautiful areas around Kasol such as Chalal, Rashol, Malana, Pulga etc and we planned the next few days for me post which we walked back to the room and lights out.
Waking up to the sound of the river and birds chirping (lol, so cliche), I went out for a walk to check out what the hype about Kasol was all about. After walking about 750 metres from New Kasol to Old Kasol (They are seperated by a bridge under which the river flows) I reached a point by the river. AND THIS IS WHAT I SAW AND say no more, Kasol. Say no more.
We grabbed some breakfast at Little Italy in Old Kasol (Another amazing place to eat) post which we left for Malana Village. To get to Malana you need to take a cab/bus to Jari post which you need to take another vehicle to get to the base of the village. A 2.5 hour trek will get you to Malana. More on that in a different post. After spending the entire day at Malana I got back to Kasol alone, found myself another place right behind Cafe Evergreen – this guest house you have to hike for atleast 7-8 minutes to get to – but 150 bucks a night (What a deal – found outta nowhere). And the view from outside was something like this:
Manikaran and Chalal
Manikaran is a small village about 3.5 kms from Kasol towards Barshaini. It is famous for its gurudwara and natural hot water springs – which get so hot that the lungar food is cooked in them (Wow!). You can take a bus from Kasol which costs you about 5 bucks to get there, but I decided to walk there because I am a solo traveller and I decide what to do with my life. Actually though, someone mentioned how its a really nice walk and I would really enjoy it – and I was in the mood. Some pictures I clicked along the way:
After spending sometime in Manikaran, I walked back to Kasol, and then to Chalal. Not that I did much there, but since getting to Chalal is not a lot of walk (Its an easy 30 minute trek with some beautiful views) and the fact that I felt like walking some more, I took off for the same.
The trek starts as one crosses over a really weak and jerky bridge over the Parvati river. On the other side of the river you can some really steep stony things – which you don’t have to climb. Instead you just have to walk along the river. From what I understood, Chalal has some crazy trance parties during season time. Its also called the Bob Marley country. Bob can be seen and heard everywhere – the music, tshirts, walls – everywhere.
After spending a couple of hours in Chalal, I walked back to Kasol in the dark and reached late – around 1030 pm. Even though Cafe Evergreen just 5 minutes away, I was too tired to go there and thought about having a quiet night and being by myself. That didn’t last for too long though, as I went out to use the washroom (My room was without one), I ended up meeting 2 guys from Kolkata, one 90 year old man from Russia who’d travelled to 58 countries, and another Israeli guy who’d been travelling in India for the last 2 years – we shared stories, laughed for a few hours and I called it a night – after having walked close to 17 kilometres on a single day. I woke up 12 hours later.. had a Nutella Banana Pancake at Evergreen and left for Tosh…..the Parvati Valley just beginning to unveil its magic.
This is Part 4 of a part of a 5 part series about my solo backpacking travels in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh in August/September of 2015. You can see all the places I travelled to here
- Part 1: Delhi & Amritsar
- Part 2: Experiences in McLeodganj, Dharamkot
- Places to see in McLeodganj and Dharamkot
- Part 3: Bir-Billing – Paragliding and monasteries
- Part 4, A: Parvati Valley: Kasol, Manikaran, Chalal, Malana
- Part 4, B: Parvati Valley: Tosh
- Part 5: Manali & Vashist
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