Kasol, a picturesque village surrounded by lush green mountains of Parvati Valley on the banks of Parvati River is now the one of the favorite backpacker’s destination in northern India. Its world famous for being a pot heaven, Cannabis plants could literally be found everywhere in Kasol.
Kasol has developed into a mini Israel in India – having many Israeli Cafes and even some signboards in Hebrew. It is only natural that it attracts a lot of Israeli tourists.
There’s much more to explore nearby Kasol- Trek to Malana, Tosh and Kheerganga each offering an stunning yet much different experiences.
What is the Best Time to Visit Kasol ?
- March to June: This is the best time to visit Kasol. This is also the peak season for tourists in Kasol. The temperature ranges between 13*C to 35* C. The sky is clear and days are warm, perfect for the sightseeing, trekking & camping. A lot of festivals are held during this season where people high on drinks & psychedelic drugs dance to the beats of trance music.
- July to September: This is the monsoon season and temperature ranges between 20*C-32*C. Its better to avoid visiting kasol during this time as there are frequent downpours, landslides & road blockages.
- October to February: Kasol experiences chilly temperature in this season. This isn’t a good season to visit Kasol unless you love the silence of the snow cladded mountains on a chilly winter night. Although, Trekking to Kheerganga could be a unique experience in winters.
Festivals In Kasol
If you are planning your trip anywhere near these festivals do not miss these crazy parties, check out some videos on internet to get stoned already.
- Indrasan Festival is one of the best music festivals in this country which takes place during the last few days of May. The energetic vibes blended with the trance creates an atmosphere that will set your soul free. Usually held for four nights and five days, the Indrasan Festival receives many biggies from the music industry.
- Summer Hills Festival Usually held in June-end, it goes on for two days. Face paintings, bonfires and music, it’ll be one of your unforgettable memories.
- Electric Mahadev Festival or the EMF has a motto “dance is a form of active meditation”. This three-day festival receives backpackers from all over the world to party on psychedelic music with unlimited alcohol.
How to Reach Kasol ?
To reach Kasol you have to reach Bhuntar first (31 Kms from Kasol). Bhuntar is a town in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh well connected by road & air.
From New Delhi/ Chandigarh catch a bus or flight to Bhuntar. From Bhuntar take a local bus or a taxi to Kasol. By bus, Kasol is almost 13 – 14 hour journey from New Delhi (540 Kms).
Things To Do in/Nearby Kasol
1. Riverside Camping:
- Live in the nature’s lap listening to song of gushing Parvati river, gazing the stars in the night sky, enjoy the bonfire with music and dance.
- You can book a camp online or on the spot and yes, staying in a camp would be cheaper than staying in a hotel.
2. Chill by the Banks of Parvati River
Get lost in the beauty of the moment and just relax. Getting high could be an icing on the cake.
3. Try Israeli food:
There are a lot of cafes serving Israeli food in Kasol – Pink Floyd, German Bakery, Evergreen Cafe are some popular places. So, experiment with the dishes you’ve only heard-of only in Hollywood movies & TV-series.
4. Take a Trek to Chalal
Chalal is a small isolated village only on a 30 minutes trek from Kasol. Dine, take pictures & trek back.
5. Go for a Trek to Malana
Malana is a small isolated village 21 kms from Kasol still untouched from modern lifestyle. Malana is famous for the fine quality of its hashish branded as Malana Cream. There are some myths related with this village which makes the visit all the more intriguing :
- There is fine of Rs.1500/- for outsiders on touching any of the villagers, their houses/ temples. Well, for a fact we did find there was a fine on touching the temple walls, it was clearly mentioned on the walls.
- The villagers believe themselves to be the descendants of Aryans left from the Alexander’s army and that the purity of their race would be compromised by interaction with outsiders.
- The village has its own government and the villagers do not consider themselves within the jurisdiction of the Indian government.
- They speak their own language and it is one of the oldest democracies in the world.
- They worship Jamlu Devta.
We did talk to a restaurant owner to check the truth in the myths, he told us that some old people there do believe in the myths.
On reaching the village there are open air air cafes at the top. Have maggie with a hot cup of tea as you admire the view. You may also choose to stay here for a night, a number of camps are available.
How to Reach Malana: Take a taxi from Kasol which will take you to the base point of the trek. Trek to the village is quite steep & takes almost an hour.
6. Visit Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara
Manikaran located 5 Km from Kasol, is a Sikh Holy site. Take a bus from Kasol to reach there. Take a dip in the Hot Spring located inside Manikaran Sahib and take Langar.
7. Trek to Tosh
Another gorgeous village is Tosh, 18 km from Kasol. The village is located on a hillside overlooking the river and a waterfall, the scenery will just soothe your soul.
You may stay in Tosh for a night. Accommodation and food is available in surplus.
Tosh attracts more Europeans than Israelis riding high on cannabis. There are a plenty of cafes offering Israeli and European food – Shiv, Shivaay, Stoned Age and others.
How to reach Tosh: Take a bus from Kasol to Barshaini, trek uphill through the forest taking the shorter route to reach Tosh or you may take a sharing cab for Rs. 200.
8. Trek to Kheerganga
It is one of the most famous treks in Himachal, a lot of people come only for the Kheerganga Trek. The trek from Barshini to the top – Kheerganga (3000m above sea level) is quite easy (perfect for beginners) yet adventurous. As you tire yourself on the mountain trail amidst the picturesque peaks & waterfalls, the hot spring at Kheerganga will rejuvenate your mind & body.
There are two ways from Barshaini to Kheerganga- One is a 9 km four-hour steep climb on narrow and tricky trails with a beautiful view of a waterfall, the other one is a 12 km stretch, comparatively easier & less steep passing through a village called Nagthan village(around 4 km from Barshaini) and a temple – Rudranag Temple (having a waterfall not as good as on the other route). We took the steeper one uphill & the easier one downhill. Trek through either way will take 4 -5 hrs.
It is better to stay at night at Kheerganga & enjoy camping, gaze at the stars in the beautiful night sky. A to & fro trek could be real tiring.
Note – In May 2018 government banned the camps at the top. We visited there in may only, so at the top only a few camps were available which they set up only in the night and wrap it all up in the morning. So, check the status beforehand only at Barshaini from the locals. Also, guides are also available at Barshaini who’ll carry the tents up. If tents are not available at the top you may take a guide otherwise trail is well marked and there is no requirement of a guide.
Where to Stay & Eat?
A lot of hotels & camps are available in Kasol. You may book online or book on the spot. . Hotels / guest-houses & camps are easily available in Tosh. Camps are also available in Malana & Kheerganga* (but do confirm at Barshaini) .
Places to Eat in Kasol:
- There are various Cafes offering Israeli/ Indian/ European food- Evergreen, Moon Dance Cafe, Jim Morrison Cafe, Pink Floyd, Parvati River Cafe etc. They are all quite expensive though.
- Try out China Town Roof Top Cafe, the Indian food is really great at affordable prices. Try out the unique desserts, they’re all tasty AF.
There are various famous Cafes in Tosh- Shiv, Shivaay, Stoned Age, etc. There are few smaller cafes at Malana Top, enroute Malana & Kheerganga as well.
Must Carry Trekking Gear:
- Rucksack – I use this Wildcraft 45 Litre Rucksack, for longer journeys you may use this 60 Litre one.
- Backpack– I carry a American Tourister or Quechua or Wildcraft Backpack, they are trendy and a high quality bags.
- Raincoat – Preferably, use a 2-piece raincoat, it will be comfortable, cover your full body & last longer. I use this one- Duckback Solid Rain Suit.
- Trekking Shoes – Use these Lee Cooper Leather Trekking Shoes, you may wear them casually as well. Sports shoes would work for Kheerganga Trek but its better to wear Trekking shoes, it’ll help if the route turns slippery in rain.
- Towel – Everyone has one, though I prefer these Haber Lightweight Towels, these are easy to carry & dry faster.
- Power-bank – There won’t be any power source at Kheerganga, its a must. This 10000maH Zinq Power Bank is cheap & great.
- Sleeping Bag – This STC Sleeping bag is perfect- cheap & comfortable.
- Your Own Tent (optional) – For a cheaper option this YFXOHAR 4-Person Tent is good but if can afford a high quality product use this Quechua 3-Person Tent.
To learn more about trekking gear refer to this blog-post Trekking Gear: What To Pack and How to Pack?.
- Carry less luggage.
- Avoid taking any luggage on your treks. Leave it at your hotel even if you have checked out. They would generally charge some minimal amount for it.
- Mobile Network is not available at Kheerganga, so keep your loved ones informed accordingly.
- Do not carry Hash or any such Psychedelic drugs back from Kasol. Buses are randomly checked by Police.
- Be conscious of what ‘stuff’ you are taking.
Nesia Tova !!
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