Backpacker’s Haven: Kasol, Himachal Pradesh

The little town of Kasol in Himachal Pradesh is called the backpacker’s heaven! A fourteen hour winding road ride from Delhi in a Volvo bus and a two hour bumpy ride on the roof top of a local bus from Bhuntur and behold paradise. The Great Himalayas with their snow-capped peaks surrounds Kasol, situated 5,380 feet above sea-level (1,640 m). The awesome Himachali village is inhabited by descendants of early natives who migrated there from Leh-Ladhak.

Once in Kasol, the billions of Indians seem far and widespread with the sons of the soil getting outnumbered here on a ratio of 5:1. The pleasant weather and cheap hash attract back packers and junkies who mostly hail from Israel and the European countries. Most of these are people who served in the armed forces in their native lands for a statutory period of time.

The weather in Kasol though pleasant is a bag full of surprises. So much so that even natives find it hard to predict. What starts out as a chilly morning turns to a warm and sunny day to a windy and cold night. The spice to the time-table is the Himachali winds that bring rain with them without much warning at any time of the day.

The pine tree covered landscape of Kasol resounds with the gushing sound of the Parvati River that flows through it. Rocks at the side of the river are an ideal spot to spend time soul searching, lounging and lazing around.
For the gourmets, there is momos, tukpa (noodle soup) and chowmen available at every nook and corner of the village. Rice-beer is a specialty of this village in Himachal Pradesh and is a great hit with visitors, knowing a local helps to get one with ease. The village has plenty of small inns and motels where visitors can spend the nights at reasonable rates.

Funky haircuts and hippie hair-dos are easy to get here at cheap rates. From dread-locks to Mohawks and lulus, the village saloon is a hairstyle Mecca. Junkie sweatshirts, Aladdin pants, animal face mufflers, reggae T-shirts and a host of trekking gear are a few of the things worth shopping for in Kasol. Hand painted psychedelic T-shirts and jewelry made out of wood are unique specialties there. Bargaining is a good skill to have while shopping here as well.

A fifteen minute walk from Kasol village leads to Chalal, on the other side of the Parvati River. This forest destination is accessible by crossing a cable supported bridge over the river. The nature walk along the trail is awesome in the moonlight with the Great Himalayas on one side and the Parvati valley on the other. Though the path is narrow, the walk is scintillating with the sound of the river as background music along the way. Trance parties are a feature here, as they are held often deep in the woods attended by both locals as well as visitors.

 

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