KASOL: full of surprises, in the pretty hills of India

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Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Parvati Valley
July 10th 2008
Published: July 18th 2008
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During the steaming times at the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur), we dreamed of the cool hills up north, particularly of a small village called KASOL. I had heard it was home of the best guesthouses and some of the cleanest restaurants in India. No second thought, we put it on the itinerary.

At 7:45 am, backpacks on, we walked down the steep of hills of Shimla to catch the ''luxury' tourist bus. After some minutes, we were very lucky that an Australian traveller took the time to come down the road and let us know that our bus had been cancelled, and the substitute one was up the hill. We hop on the "not-luxurious-at-all" bus, and remembered that here in India, luxury is relative. In this parts, this busic, dusty, squeeky bus, is probably deluxe alright.
The trip was actually very nice. Friendly travellers from all over the world, beautiful lush mountain views, and a river and mango groves lining the road. We were the only 2 heading to Kasol. Everyone else was going to Manali and beyond.

8 hours later we were literally DROPPED off the main busy road, in the middle of Bhuntar. We were to figure out how to find a bus to Kasol, on our own. No one spoke English, it was dirty, confusing, raining, and we attracted lots of attention, being the only 2 foreigners around, and females. There was no bus station; just a bunch of old buses randomly parked on puddles of water. I kept saying loudly: "KASOL, BUS", and locals kept pointing; we kept walking in the rain until we were finally inside this very old public bus, which soon was crammed with locals. Lots of staring and smiling, and I prayed to the blue Shiva picture with neon flashing light at the front of the bus, that this was indeed, "the" bus. The 2.5 hour ride was to cost only 50 cents!

The smell of body odor was soooo intense that we laughed hard, not to cry. Soon we had hand sanitizer up our noses, followed by hand lotion from The Body Shop... they didn't help... it was that bad! I than had a brilliant, life/nostril-saving
The great team of 2 in KasolThe great team of 2 in KasolThe great team of 2 in Kasol

We've become super travel buddies
idea: stuck a strong smelling, kiwi and citrus flavored Trident bubble gum on our noses. IT WORKED! We were to use the newly discovered "olphatory-saving tool" at all the smelliest Indian situations.

Oh my God!!! We were not warned about the suuuuper dangerous, scary as heck drive up the hills. Blind curves at every few feet; super narrow roads. The bus door was left open and we could see the thousands of feet drop a few inches away. Seriously, there were times when I thought I was going to have a panic attack. Amanda turned red as a beet. What were we thinking????? I thought. I hate roller coasters, so why I am here????? Well, because the travel book, n,or anyone else warned us about the scary drive, we were already there, the scenery (if you could concentrate on it, rather than your upcoming death), was spectacular. So, we decided to make small talk, laugh, even if nervoursly, and somehow minimize the adrenaline rush.

Kasol is tiny, and we were so happy to find the super nice Holiday Home. Great room on the 6th floor, with balcony, clean bathroom and mountain view, for 300 rupees (the most expensive
blind turnsblind turnsblind turns

Craaaaazy, scary but beautiful roads on the way to Bhuntar and also Kasol.
one... with TV and all, for $7.50!!!).

The setting was beautiful, with a fierce river, a suspended walking bridge, snow-capped mountain peaks. But, and there is always a "but", it didn't take long at all to notice that the travellers who flocked to the village were, let's say, "different". Blond dreadlocks, hippy-like clothing, and a different "vibe". We definately did not mix/belong with the crowd.

Well, we came to find out that Parvati Valley has been nicknamed " Hashishi Valley", Kasol mecca for pot lover Israeli travelers who stay for 2 to 6 months, smoking "charas" (marijuana, which grows literally as "weed", everywhere) during the day and partying in the forest at night. I read that the Parvati Valley, has a bad reputation with dozens of foreign travelers vanishing or being murdered due to drug related incidents!!!! The box title on our book read:"Warning: Fatal Vacations." Holy cow!!! Where have we ended up?
Well, again, this is India, where you have to be preapered for the unexpected. The village, hotel and local people are extremely nice, so, we decided to cautiously make the most of it.

A hike to the small village of Chalal, after crossing the scary pedestrian narrow suspended bridge, proof to be delightful. Just passing-by locals herding cows and us thru the trail.

On the second day we met another "fish out of the water". A lovely, older Israeli woman, who was also feeling lonely. We travelled together by public bus further up the hill (now getting used to the narrow, hilly roads) but our plan to hike at ...... was ruined by rain. So, we stopped at the Sikh religion temple in MANAKARAN, which was quite an experience.

The misty and mystical place by the river and the hot springs was filled with tons of friendly pilgrims, colorful banners. We're the only tourists, so again attracted lot of attention, with families and guys asking to take pictures with us.

At the entrance, shoes must be taken off and heads covered. I didn't have my scarf, and looked pathetic with my raincoat hood on. At sikh temples they offer "Langar", free "food from the Gods". We were invited to eat with the pilgrims, lined up sitting on the floor, like everyone else. I felt very welcomed, and loved to see on one wall, pictures of many Gods and deities, including Shiva
Shiva & Bob Marley!!!Shiva & Bob Marley!!!Shiva & Bob Marley!!!

Worshiped side-by-side in Kasol, where dreadlocks from tourists and faith from local Hindus co-exist
and Vishnu, of course, but also Jesus and Buddha among others. All is welcome.

Other things which we will remember about Kasol:
Learning how to cook Indian food at the hotel's kitchen, with our new friends.
Massage ($12 for 2 hours!)
Run down school, kids seating on the floor, no matching uniforms. Sad reality of poverty.
Encounter with village women on colorful but ragged clothing, many looking more Nepalese than Indian (this area was part of the Nepalese Empire in the past), wearing 2 nose rings.

Pictures of Shiva and Bob Marley, side-by-side at restaurants!!!!!

We spent 3 days in Kasol and loved it. It's a shame that it doesn't get more travelers who appreciate the place for all that it has to offer. I hope that a variety of people will come to enjoy this special place as much as we did.

Moving again, I wish you the best and hope to hear from you.

Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 24


Every God welcome at the Sikh TempleEvery God welcome at the Sikh Temple
Every God welcome at the Sikh Temple

That's my kind of temple! Choose one, choose none, choose all. Whatever brings you peace, shanti.
at the Shiva temple in Manakaramat the Shiva temple in Manakaram
at the Shiva temple in Manakaram

right besides the Sikh temple
Free " food from the Gods"...Free " food from the Gods"...
Free " food from the Gods"...

at the Sikh temple. We ate too, metal tray on the floor in front of us, with men serving.
Very poor village school...Very poor village school...
Very poor village school...

kids seat on the floor. Despite the beautiful mountains views, friendliness of locals, I am reminded of the poverty of India, and it's consequences.
Pretty village girl: smiles and wavingsPretty village girl: smiles and wavings
Pretty village girl: smiles and wavings

She smiled and kept eye contact. One of those moments I wish that the language barrier didn't exist.
Starbuck make believe..Starbuck make believe..
Starbuck make believe..

No, it wasn't the real thing, and I am glad. The local coffee is great and the fresh mint tea even better. We just don't like the popular chai (tea with milk)
View from our balcony...View from our balcony...
View from our balcony...

... the green mostly "weed", yes, the marijuana one.
Learning to cook Indian food...Learning to cook Indian food...
Learning to cook Indian food...

the staff at the hotel in Kasol was very nice and improvised a free cooking class for us!
Her mom gave me a great 2 hour massage...Her mom gave me a great 2 hour massage...
Her mom gave me a great 2 hour massage...

at $12, I wished I had more time for more.
House top on a small village by KasolHouse top on a small village by Kasol
House top on a small village by Kasol

Shiva's trident and a cobra
Moon Dance Cafe with AielitMoon Dance Cafe with Aielit
Moon Dance Cafe with Aielit

Great German pastries, Lassi and fresh mint tea. 'The mountain view was superb too

20th July 2008

what else is there in kasol for foreign tourists is it only abt the nature
20th July 2008

very nice place to visit expect for the surprises mentioned by the girls of ones security especially for the girls travelling alone i would like to visit that place if could get a more info about the safety factor and a bit into the accomodation facility .reading the blog it seems to be a nice indian place to visit especially for foreign tourists .waiting eagerly for the response steffe
20th July 2008

it depends on you...
It's a tiny village, so not much to do there besides taking hikes and bus to other local villages. Like I mentioned, the tourists seem to be all from Israels and they group together to play pool and party, I guess.
20th July 2008

More info on Kasol
We did not have any troubles there at all, but again, we are not into the drug scene. The safety issues I read on the Lonely Planet and the reputation for being a place for pot smokers I heard everywhere, during and after I had already visited the village. So, I think the safety issue is related to where you stand and what you end up doing in kasol. I recommend you try to stay at a place called "Thakur Cottage" I met the owner, a very nice local, in the bus to Kullu. He and his wife run the place (purant@yahoo.com) Enjoy your trip.
22nd July 2008

Love the neon Shivas!
Ha! I'd forgotten about the neon Shivas in the front of the bus - I guess they need them with those roads!!! :)
23rd July 2008

Shiva protection
Absolutely we need protection from Shiva and all other Hindu Gods in the old buses and run down roads in India. Believe me I started to pray to all of them. Just wait until I tell you about my last road trip. Tchau for now
20th August 2008

Some Mistakes
HI Patricia, wonderful travelogue.Congratulations.But have some common spelling mistakes (no offense to you, but sometimes Indian names could be real tongue twisters). I can clean it up a bit, just to make it more convenient for the fellow travelers to find the references.At least Google them. ciao
24th August 2008

spelling mistakes
On my own defense, consider the following: some names are translated wrongly on travel books and usually the on-line time is very limited... I often make spelling mistakes even in non-translated names. My primary language is Portuguese, and I sometimes write as it sounds in my native language. But, I don't care, as long my messages comes across. That's what really matters, right?
29th March 2009

Thanks for the comment and I hope you enjoy your time
12th April 2009

hello from kasol
its hukam from kasol .panchali holiday home . i thanks
13th April 2009

Kasol: A Heavenly Bliss!
Hi, loved reading your blog. Just came from my 4th visit to Kasol. Dunno whether you had done the Malana valley trek ( yes the hyped Malana, the little Greece in india which has their own Govt!!) a 12 hour trek through insanely steep terrains starting from a small village called Jari, 6 kms from Kasol. Two of us did it, and all that I can say is it's paradise on planet earth. The Moon dance cafe, authentic israeli food like Shakshuka, Jerusalem Mix, Shimsum, Hummus with pita bread n ofcourse the malana cream..gosh I still wonder if earth could be Heaven, Kasol is the stairways to hell! Nothing else matters...
28th May 2009

hello back
Hi Hukan. thanks for the message you sent me. You sure contributed to great memories of Kasol and India. Good luck and congratulations on your website.
28th May 2009

Hi Arindam. Thanks for reading my blog and sharing some of your experiences. Sounds like an incredible hike. Take care.
21st July 2009

kasol is good place yaar its very peace full areea thanks ks yaar boom shanker
29th July 2009

my visit to kasol
hi guys, recently i visited kasol and found something very interesting there that is still in my mind...if some one knows more of that please let me know.... On my way to manikaran I saw a place which looked like a hebrew temple.it had a picture of a rabbi like person and some thing written on it in hebrew letters.I went inside iot but the girls inside were a little scared to see me inside.I am still wondering what is that pleace.It had lots of books and looked kind of library inside,If any one visited that place please let me know what it is. Please let me know as my curosity is too much Ravi
20th August 2009

moksh shiva namah
26th August 2009

Amazing journey you had... and place looks peaceful too... Now I'm also planning to take a trip...
7th September 2009

Thanks for your comment. Kasol area is very small and a delight to explore. You just have to survive the bus there. Be ready to get scared, but it's worth.
16th September 2009

nice pics
All pics are very nice.
10th December 2009

Well Patricia thank you u very much for information coz am also planing to visit kasol and its really amazing place .no doute its a place of lords .ttttthhhhanks once again for all photos and informations
12th December 2009

Awesome pics...
Surprisingly not a lot of the local population knows abt the beauty of the place...hope it stays that way ...so that it doesnt get commercialsed...lovely pics///
8th January 2010

nice work
hey patricia altho i m livin in USA from past 3-4 years but after readin ur blog all my memories related to INDIA especially himachal pradesh r refreshed.. u captured the beauty of kasaul and manikaran in a very way..i liked ur fotographer's eye. I was wondering if u ever visited Macleodganj in India? if not try to visit this place i hope u will like it. Sorry i forgot to ask about ur wellbeing>>> so how ru and where ru these days ?? r u a avid traveller ever again in india do contact me,, it will be pleasure showing u our INDIA
6th February 2011

Awesome pictures... I was just going through the travel blogs about Kasol then I find yours. Planning to go there soon.... Peace
3rd March 2011

hello my frend, i read ur blog abt kasol,its really very nice,2morow m leaving for kasol. thnx alot
1st June 2011

Travel Log
Hi Patricia, thanks a lot for sharing the info about your trip to Kasol and the Parvati Valley. I would like to know if you have maintained any travel log which I could follow on my trip to malana valley and the rest of that region in search for all the different experiences I may gain ... Boom Bholenath!
1st June 2011

nice travel experience have u been to jibhi nd jalori pass .They r amazing places.Waiting to read more of ur travel experiences. take care bye
21st November 2011
View from our balcony...

hi, lokin gud mam. .....wow
23rd January 2012

very nice blog
i would like to use it on this site, www.evergreenkasol.com please let me know, i am traveling again in the second week of Feb. 2012 to kasol contact me via e mail, we can meet in Delhi. Om Namo Shiva
9th February 2012

Beautifully written…short…crisp… hilarious…informative
Thanks Patricia for the lovely blog. Me and my friends were looking for an offbeat location to spend our long weekend and your blog was really informative. Found the place through a site called indiamike.com and when i googled it, chanced to see your blog and boy I was glad I did. Really made me chuckle while I was reading it. Thanks again for taking the trouble for sharing this...tk care. Bye.
6th March 2012

Glad you liked it!
Thanks for the feedback. Happy travels.
3rd May 2012

Btw you went in which Month? Did rain spoiled your whole charm?
30th May 2012

Your blog has been very informative and helpful
Hi, I was searching about Kasol when I found ur blog. Its really helpful. I am planning to go there in a week. Can you please tell me which guest house you stayed at, if you can remember ? Your photos are great. Really appreciate it.
30th May 2012

Hi. I don't remember the name, but we stayed at a hotel on the right side of the road, as we entered Kasol. It had about 4 floors. On the blog I mention a GH of a friendly gentleman I met. Hope you enjoy the area.
16th July 2012

Hey patricia..my name is Rocky & m form delhi.I really lykd ur review about Kasol.I v been der 1nce n plan 2 make a 2nd trip..by mid august.What made me comment on ur blog is the ingenuity of it & ur style of laying it accross to the readers..!! :) Yea U ryt...about safety concerns,completely depend upon where u stand n wat u choose to do.ALso, since kasol has been reciving a lot of attention from tourists,foreigners as well as us indians, and the psy parties and all becoming more common....security concerns have also been pretty well noticed by the police and the administrations..So u can let all ur beautiful freinds acorss d world,kno dat they wolud be much safer now..and wudnt face any trouble...just like u didnt..unless they become foolhardy ;) so they can al cum dwn n have fun n njoy d beauty of d place..!! would love to read more of ur experiences...!all d pics r beautiful n spellin mistakes dont matr( oops...sorry for using text lingo)as long as d mesage is clear. till den tk care...god bless..Om Namah Shivaya.!!
24th September 2012
View from our balcony...

nice click
niccee click frn oooo so sweet
29th September 2012

Nameste from Kasol
Petrica , where you stayed it was my hotel Panchali holiday home my bebsite is www. Panchaliholidayhome.com. Where r u petrica , how r u ? Visit some time Kasol to lern more Indian food cooking . By
5th October 2012

Hukam ram
We had a great time at the hotel and its kitchen, trying to learn to cook some delicious Indian food. India is far, so I don't know if I'll be able to go back, but I keep great memories of my time there. Best wishes, Patricia
21st January 2013

Nice Kasol
Thanks for the info, I am travelling this month to Kasol, the details were helpfull will write to you again after visiting the place. Harsh
17th March 2013
Shiva & Bob Marley!!!

great pics, awesome capture of nature
please contact me to share such pics and adventure experiences
22nd April 2013

Going in May 2013
Hi thx for a nice blog with good description and photos. I am going in mid may to Kasol . I am driving. I was told by the hotel people that it is about 2 hrs from Bhunter. You blogged that your bus ride took 2 and half hours. The distance is 31 kilo meters and Google maps says I can do it in 47 minutes ! Very confusing ! Still I am glad that I searched and came across your nice blog. Cheers !
3rd May 2013

travel to Kasol
the road up the mountain is horrible, tons of dangerous tight curves shared with buses. Therefore the long time for short distance. Actually, what would prevent me for going back would be the drive up and down.
14th August 2013

Hey Patricia. Your blog was a really nice read. I was planning to visit Kasol, and wanted to know whether November would be the right time to do so. I'd like to trek around and have heard that trekking shuts during that month. It'll be great if you could give me some insight on that front. Thanks and your blog was a great read.
6th September 2013

I went in July, so not familiar. good luck
24th September 2013

KASOL: full of surprises, in the pretty hills of India
HI Patrica, Lovely blog. Enjoyed reading it a lot. I was looking for some info on kasol as its going to be my first time up there and going through your blog explained exactly what to expect. i Leave tomorrow and cant wait to get there and smell the green. Be safe and tc. Thanx
5th October 2013

nice blog.. n nice pics too.... m planning fr a visit m sure ur travelogue will help me to plan mine...:)
29th December 2013

amazing journey and very well put forward... I just have one issue that I am too scared of the bus ride with inches away from the valley, any suggestion for that
21st February 2014

i read all abt that or u feel in my place. :) thanx for visit in my place.sorry m not good in english :)
6th March 2014

Lovely writeup
Hey Patricia, just came across your blog entry, and loved it. I'm writing five years after you wrote the piece, and Kasol has changed a lot since then. Loved your description of Manikaran. You have a wonderful conversational style of writing. Carry on. Best, Rahul G Blogging from bluecabbage (dot) blogspot (dot) in
24th April 2014

best place of himachal pardesh
i am very glad to see this all place.its very beautiful and charm........................... thanks
20th May 2014

amazing jorney u had i guess,, m also planning to go wid friends, just to feel the nature and its serenity out dere.. your blog is quite good and m geeting positive vibes from it
3rd June 2014

Your Blog on kasol
Very informative for idle travellers like me. It is indeed very true to the real situation. All my best wishes !!
13th July 2014

kasol, manikaran
Hi Patricia, Your blog is very interesting and helpful for travelers. the information is crisp and descriptive with nice pictures. Me and my husband are planning to visit Manali, leh and ladakh end of July till Aug 1st week. Could you share the contact details of the holiday home where you stayed for Rs 300 . Also how did you reach the place that grows weed. Did u visit Leh and Ladakh. If yes please share your experience and recommendations for stay there. Thanks a lot Amy
24th August 2014

SORRY I didn't see your message tip now, after your trip. I', undergoing cancer treatment and haven't been keeping up with blog. hope you had a good time
23rd July 2014
Moon Dance Cafe with Aielit

Parvati Valley
Hi, i returned from kasol last weekend only. so obviously i loved your blog. you expressed every flavour of kasol very nicely. i would like to add two things - 1. trekking & 2. near by villages. kasol offers world's one of the best trekking called "KHEER Ganga". this is 15 kms adventurous trekking which leads you to the top of mountain nd u can enjoy natural hot springs there. but, it is not preferred in monsoon (rainy season) and unfortunately we missed it. Second, the near by villages. we went to Malana, one of the oldest village, culturelly very rich. Cab dropped us 4 kms away from the village, not even on the same mountain. we reached the other mountain via crossing river through a wooden bridge and climbed the mountain 3kms. it was awsome. this village is not at all influenced by city life. we got to see a hilly village where people are living without any transport facility nd basic facilities. it was a new experience. we spent 3 nights in kasol and i feel it was yet to explore.
24th August 2014

get well soon.
Dear Patricia, So sorry to hear about your health condition. may you get treated well and your cancer gets cured. wish you a speedy recovery. Yes i had a wonderful journey in Kasol, Leh and Ladakh> your blog was really helpful. We stayed at the Panchali Guest house. Though the room charges was 1000 All inclusive of breakfast for 2. It was ok
8th September 2014

Glad! That you guys enjoyed.
First of great getting your story and pics were absolutely great. at the time you will comes next done your bus booking first. Hehe great experience.
22nd September 2014

hey ! read ur blog
Read ur blog on kasol india. Its good. Did u go in december ?
15th October 2014

superbly narrated.
I m planning to visit kasol this December along wid two of my friends.
31st October 2014

great experience
glad to read the article as am planning to go to kasol. being a family man, its for the first time, i would go on my own to explore my own self and sort myself out. Thanks a lot for the article. Regards Rajiv +91 9811284735
31st October 2014

great experience
glad to read the article as am planning to go to kasol. being a family man, its for the first time, i would go on my own to explore my own self and sort myself out. Thanks a lot for the article. Regards Rajiv +91 9811284735
28th March 2015

Excellent blog.. its very nice.. ATITHI DEVO BHAV.... GUEST R GOD...
Hi.. Dr.Romesh here.. from Ahmedabad .. by profession I m a dentist. . And I m fond of trekking activities.. last year I completed NATIONAL HERITAGE TREK IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR... and this time I m planning for 1 more trek in May 2015.. SAR PASS TREK... base camp for that trek is KASOL... I likes ur blog about kasol... its very informative. .. I hope patricia... u will come again to India.. I welcomes u... hope u will meet somewhere in this world.. coz world is round.. hope 4 d best...
15th May 2015

This is my first visit to your blog, your post made productive reading, thank you. http://www.universalspa.in
18th May 2015

its a nice knowledge for me about kasol after few days i am going there thanks Patricia to share your lovely experience
14th June 2015

Travelled recently to kasol and had quite a few experiences like you hirls had, but sad to say place got little commercialised.
27th June 2015

note of thanks
I have gathered many informative points from this blog, although its old one(2008) and things change at fast rate in India. Still many information can be drawn out of this good blog, and many nice pictures to watch too. Thanks for sharing. Have a nice time.
23rd December 2015

I just googled and found ur blog on top of all
I am Planning to go there at the end of December. On a Solo Expedition actually.
8th April 2016

i loved your blog
yeah india is crazy but we love it,so many colors and hues,am traveling to kasol next week and am pretty excited about it..mountains are my abode :) love,god bless u
18th June 2016

Vacation packages in Dharamshala
Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it
21st June 2016

Hey Patrica , Great Review Spelling Mistakes , Its Okay Hindi Translations are little bit tough. I'm also planning a Visit To kasol and Your Review will help Me Make My Trip Better. Thankyou.

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