Wait, you’re also going to Kasol?
India’s summertime makes the roads seem to be on fire!
Seriously, we all need our dose of mountain magic with temperatures nearing 48 degrees in New Delhi and 35 degrees in and around Mumbai.
Every weekend, almost everyone I know makes the trip to the mountains.
The new generation of backpackers travels elsewhere, while family groups and honeymooning couples visit places like New Manali, Shimla, Nainital, and Palampur.
Where do the majority of them go?
Oh, and Kasoli and Kasol are two distinct Himalayan locations with very different cultures.
Near Manali, in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, is Kasol.
It is located in the Parvati valley, a stop along India’s hippie trail.
This summer, if you’re going to Kasol, I strongly suggest you also visit some of the places close by.
Most of them can only be reached by trekking, although some can be reached by a quick walk, others by a 4-5 hour bus ride.
The following is a list of 11 hippie locations in the Himalayas that you can visit beginning in Kasol.
What was once a charming small town next to the Parvati River is now a party town populated by young backpackers.
How come they travel there?
The obvious ones are that it provides a welcome respite from the oppressive heat, that it is close to the Himalayas, and that it is accessible by overnight bus from Delhi.
The absence of families and honeymooning couples makes Kasol a fun destination for young tourists.
The most important ones are that it has a thriving underground psytrance scene and easy access to some homegrown magical herbs that are purer, more reasonably priced, and significantly more potent than those found in Amsterdam’s coffee shops.
It is no longer a secret that Kasol is the hashish capital of India.
Advice: Exercise caution when purchasing
How to reach Kasol
Catch any bus that’s heading to Manali and get off at Bhuntar, which is 2 hours before Manali. These buses typically run from Paharganj / ISBT / Majnu Ka Tila in Delhi from 4 pm to 7 pm and take around 12 hours to reach Bhuntar. I highly recommend you book an air-conditioned Volvo bus preferably from Himachal Tourism (HPTDC).
As you board the bus, let the bus conductor know that you will get off at Bhuntar so that they can mark your luggage accordingly and wake you up at 5 – 6 am.
Expect to get surrounded by 3-4 taxi drivers when you reach Bhuntar even though it’s very early in the morning. If you want to save money, politely say no to them and walk a little ahead and take a right turn to reach Bhuntar’s bus station which is less than 5 minutes walk away. From here, you will find many buses to Kasol, Barshaini, Kullu, Manikaran and around.
Where to Go After Kasol? Here are the other Hippie Destinations in the Himalayas:
Chalal is a no-brainer and is the closest in the list to Kasol. Chalal can be reached by just crossing the bridge over the river in Kasol. Wooden houses, cafes and beautiful viewpoints – it’s so close to Kasol, yet it feels like a different world. Freedom cafe has the best viewpoint in Chalal.
How to reach Chalal from Kasol
Reach Kasol and cross the bridge over Parvati river to reach Chalal. This walk amidst alpine trees will not take you more than 20-30 minutes.
Tosh is a magical village which has still managed to retain it’s quaint charm despite a new road that has been constructed to make this place more accessible.
There is no road inside the village, hence walking is the only mode of transport. If you walk at the end of Tosh and cross the village, there is a little trail that leads to a waterfall.
You don’t need to book a place to stay from before. Just reach and ask for Siva Moon, Shiva Garden or Pink Floyd cafes for a room to stay.
How to reach Tosh from Kasol
You can catch a bus from Kasol to Barshani and from there trek for around 2.5 KMs to reach Tosh. This trek is very easy and fun because of the sights that one can witness. The trek is uphill and can take around one hour if you walk at a leisurely pace. Alternatively, it is also possible to catch a taxi up to Tosh.
Kheerganga is 5-6 KMs away from Tosh and the only way to reach is by trekking. The reward? A hot water pool at the highest point in this village surrounded by snow peaked mountains! Yes, this is definitely one of the best treks in India that I have done.
Legend has it, Lord Shiva meditated in Kheerganga for 3000 years and the water from the hot springs is supposed to be holy. For more details, you can read about my experience here.
How to reach Kheerganga from Kasol
In order to visit Kheerganga, we highly recommend you stay at either Tosh or Manikaran for the night and start your journey at 5 – 6 am in the morning. You can start your trek from either Manikaran, Tosh or even Barshaini. Just ask the locals and they will guide you where to start the trek from.
05) Kalga, Pulga Tulga
Kalga, Pulga, and Tulga are three different villages but are commonly referred to as a “trio”. Legend has it, that these were once the names of three sisters who lived in this valley centuries ago!
Just like Tosh, these three villages can be accessed from Barshani (or Barshaini) too and they are on the other side of the Parvati river. The nearest to Barshani are Pulga and Tulga. The way to Kalga from Barshaini is really beautiful and is surrounded by alpine forests.
If you plan to stay in Kalga , try and look for “The Pink house” which is run by a friendly MOHIT BHAI. If in PULGA , you can stay at “OM SHANTIl”.
06) Rashol (or Rasol)
Rashol can only be accessed by trekking from Kasol through Chalal village. As you cross Chalal, you will see “Magic Rasol” written on the rocks with arrows that will guide you to your destination. The trek is easy and it takes around 3 hours and it gets steeper towards the end. This trek is surrounded by Rhododendron trees with vibrant red flowers.
There is not much to do in Rasol, except enjoy the tranquility. There is an ancient Shiva temple in Rasol.
How to reach Rasol from Kasol
From Kasol, cross the bridge over parvati river to reach Chalal and from there you will see a trail that leads to Rashol. Travel time from Kasol to Rasol is 3 hours.
Trek to Malana is not as easy as Tosh or Kalga but is shorter than Kheerganga. The solitary village if Malana was cut off from the rest of the world for many years and many say it’s the oldest democracy in the world.
Legend has it that many years ago, Alexander the Great’s army took a shelter in this area and ended up staying here for many years. Thus, as per this theory, Malana was founded by remnants of his army and many people of Malana are the descendants of Alexander the Great’s Greek shoulders. The people of Malana consider all outsiders to be untouchable, so please don’t touch or photograph anyone.
Update: As of July 2017, Malana village will be off limits for tourists. Please ask the locals in Kasol / Tosh or Jari for the best information.
How to reach Malana from Kasol
You will need to get out of Kasol to go towards Bhuntar by bus or taxi. The trail starts from the center of the village Jari, which is 15 KMs ahead of Bhuntar. From Jari, it’s about 4 hours. We recommend you stay at Jari overnight and start your trek from there. I have heard that there’s another way to Malana village from Rasol, but this is unverified information. If you know of this way, please let me know! 🙂