Himalayas are truly a land holding exquisite beauty and hidden heavens. The land holds the distinction for having some of the world’s best picturesque sceneries that behold the visitor’s breath.
One such heaven is the small town of Kasol, located in the steep terrains of Parvati Valley, 30 km north of Bhuntar in Kullu district, Himachal Pradesh. It is soothingly located on the banks of river Parvati, a tributary to Beas. The town has basic facilities for tourists, viz, a medical shop, an ATM, a few internet cafes, cheap stays and not to forget, the centrally located booze shop on the main square!
Hanging bridges, Evergreen tree cover, enchanting voice of flowing waters and what not, Kasol is the darling getaway for nature enthusiasts, backpackers and peace seekers.Yet, until recent, the town was not particularly famous with the mainland Indian travelers due to remoteness and harsh terrains of Parvati Valley. Though, the scenario has changed recently in Kasol as it has made into the bucket list of many people, thanks to the hippie trail and foreign tourists.
Talking about the hippie trade, lets first talk about what makes this place more peculiar than the other small-town-hillstops. Kasol boasts of high quality ‘hashish’ which attracts tourists and hipsters from all around the world who are looking for the famous ‘indian cream’. This hashish or ‘charas’, as we Indians call it, is availed from the nearby hill villages where most of the farming is done. This has now become one of the major sources of livelihood for the valley-men and people coming from nearby villages.
Though stereotypes convey heavily that Kasol is only for cannabis trade, one realises only after a visit the scenic beauty this place beholds. The serene atmosphere and the tumultuous waters of Parvati here takes a person into everlasting tranquility.
THINGS TO DO : There are a couple of things to do in and around Kasol which are a travelers’ delight. Go around trekking to nearby mountains for mountain berries (No, not all of ’em are safe) or sit with strangers on the bank of river Parvati near the Chhalal Bridge. You can go for a 15 minutes walk to the beautiful Chhalal village across the river (Places recommended : Maya Cafe, Camp stay in Katagala) or could just walk around the market of Kasol for a few souvenirs or hippie clothes. Kasol also offers a great deal of variety to foodies and Oenophiles. The cafes in and around Kasol serve some of the best Mexican, Israeli and Italian foods. Everything foreign, from Humus Pita, Bruschetta, Quesadilla, and even our very favourite Pizzas taste so good (pronounced ‘heaven’) at most of the cafes (Give a sure try to Jim Morrisson Cafe, The German Bakery). Though, try avoiding Indian food (It tastes dull). These very same cafes also provide cheap stays or you could opt for staying in camps by the river side. The local made fruit wine is a must try.
EXPLORE : There are many scenic treks and places to explore in the vicinity of Kasol. Rashol is another beautiful hill-top village located at an extreme 3 hour trek from Kasol. It is only recommended if you are a seasoned trekker or a really fit one! Also, you can easily get cabs from Kasol to Manikaran, Jari, Tosh, Kullu, Manali, etc.
HOW TO REACH : Kasol could be reached by road from Chandigarh via Mandi-Bhuntar in 7-8 hours ( Well that depends entirely on weather and traffic). Nearest airport is Kullu Domestic Airport situated in Bhuntar, nearest railway station is Chandigarh, from where a taxi or bus is suggested.
Kasol is best in springs when it is devoid of excessive tourist traffic of summers and also, the harsh winters. Though it rarely snows in the main town, it is not advisable to visit in peak winters as the temperature dips negative to the scale.