Parvati Valley, not just for stoners


Parvati Valley Landscape
Enchanting Parvati Valley

There is more to Himachal Pradesh (HP) than Shimla, Manali and Dharamshala. Popular destinations in the hills get crowded during the summer and traffic jams, pollution, litter everywhere, tourists and locals fighting over parking, seating space in restaurants, queues, accommodation and this year even water shortage are common phenomena. 

Parvati Valley Himachal Pradesh
Lush Green Parvati Valley

Parvati Valley in Himachal is one of the regions I recommend you visit if you want to beat the summer heat and lay low. Although made famous for hash and popular amongst those who like to smoke up, there is more to this valley than just that. Lush green forests, the mighty Parvati River, outstanding views of the snow capped Himalayas and treks to Himachali villages that still follow ancient traditions and cultures is what you can expect when you visit this valley.

Kasol Town in Himachal Pradesh
Kasol Town in Himachal Pradesh

If you are planning to visit, make Kasol your base. There are several homestays in Kasol which cater mostly to backpackers and those on a very tight budget and then there are a couple of very comfortable, clean and stylish resorts too. Kasol town has decent restaurants and a couple of bars as well. You can get all the essentials for your trip and also catch public transportation for your onward journey.

Trekking to Khirganga
Trekking to Khirganga

I would recommend you stay for at least three nights, especially if you are driving from Delhi which takes anywhere from 11 to 14 hours by road. If you are physically fit there are several options in the region for hiking and trekking to. You can just as well lay low and catch up on a bestseller or that much needed R&R.

Sulphur springs in Khir Ganga
Sulphur hot spring in Khir Ganga

If you are keen to do day treks (easy to moderate level) then I highly recommend Khir ganga. Khir ganga is a holy place and there are sulphur hot springs at 10,000 feet above sea level where you can take a dip (separate section for men and women). The minerals in the hot water cure all your temporary pains and aches caused by the hike up to the place. The Himalayan views are pretty awesome and even more so when you take a right from the hot springs for about 200 meters till you reach a sort of meadow. This takes a full day as you have to trek approximately 15 KM. 

Barsheni dam, trek from here to Khirganga
Barsheni dam, trek from here to Khir ganga

Carry something to munch on and a bottle of water which you can re-fill from one of the many springs (the water is chilled and clean) on the way. The trek is beautiful as it passes through thick forests, cascading waterfalls and the traditional village of Nathan.

View from Tosh Village
View from Tosh Village

If Khir ganga is a bit much for you, then drive or take a cab from Kasol to either Barsheni or all the way up to Tosh Village. Once at the village you can walk to the other end (through the village) in the direction of 'the' waterfall and back. On your way you pass by traditional village houses built in kath-kuni style of architecture and will see amazing views of the Himalayas and the valley. At the waterfall you can grab some food i.e. maggie, eggs, bread and tea / coffee. Takes about half a day.

Malana Village
Malana Village

Malana - known to some as the birth-place of 'Malana Magic' a pure form of hash and to others as the land of the pure Aryan race. 

Malana Traditions and Customs
Curious Malana Village Kids

Some even say that the villagers' ancestors are said to be runaways from Alexander the Great's Greek army some 2,000 years ago.  Drive or take a taxi from Kasol to the base of the village and walk up-hill. 

Malana Temple
Temple in Malana - Do not touch!

The village has just recently started to keep up with the outside world so be careful not to invade the local traditions i.e. do not attempt to shake hands or hug the locals or the cute little kids, do not touch their homes and most importantly do not touch or walk inside their temples or else you'll be fined and kicked out of the village immediately!

Women of Malana
Women of Malana

On the outskirts of the village there are cafes and a few tents that can serve you a quick bite or you can stay the night too. This too takes half a day but you can do more depending on your level of interest and conversations that you have with the locals.

Sunset over the Barsheni Dam
Sunset over the Barsheni Dam

As you can see, there is more to Parvati Valley than just getting high and don't let people dissuade you from visiting this incredible part of Himachal. The locals are friendly and the ones who like to smoke up and party generally keep to themselves and lay low due to the increase in crackdown on drug consumption by cops recently.  It depends entirely on what you want to do once there. If you are like me - who loves being in nature, going on nature trails and lesser crowded places, you will un-doubtedly have a great time in Parvati Valley.