Parvati & Pin Valley for Backpackers

Parvati & Pin Valley for Backpackers

Of all my wandering, if a region has come pretty damn close to earning the title, ‘paradise on earth’, it is Devlok. Parvati Valley, also known as Devlok, or abode of the gods, is the home to River Parvati, as well as to a large number of backpackers and Hippies. Parvati is a spectacle of nature, with green slopes and blue skies, rivers and waterfalls, and a more stunning view at every bend.

Places in Parvati valley

With its scenic slopes and perfect summers, Parvati has been a popular haunt for backpackers, who are constantly searching for a good blend of beauty, peace and charas.

Bridge over River Parvati from Kasol to Katagla
Bridge over River Parvati from Kasol to Katagla

Bhuntar

The entry point into Parvati Valley is through the town Bhuntar. You can reach Bhunter by air (from Delhi or Mumbai), or by road. Himachal tourism, Punjab Tourism, Haryana Tourism and various other state and private outfits run a huge number of buses in and out of Bhuntar daily. The closest railway line is in Kullu. Bhuntar houses the only Airport of the region. The airport consists of a single, small runway set in a deep valley whose peaks rise several thousand feet higher than the runway, which limits it to be used by small aircrafts only.

Kasol Main Chowk
Kasol Main Chowk

Kasol

Kasol is a small, bustling Himalayan town at the entrance of Parvati Valley. Filled with cafes, shops, motels, and fewer power cuts than the rest of Parvati Valley, (and hence more developed), on the media map because of its recent Free Kasol Cafe fiasco (a cafe with a customized menu for Israelis in Kasol, which refused entry to Indians), a testimony to the fact that Israelis outnumber Indians in Kasol.
In 2015, I was furious when I was refused entry at this cafe. A few months later, an Indian journalist was refused entry, and the rest is history. Nevertheless, Kasol is gorgeous. The people are friendly, and the weather is perfect.

Charas in Parvati Valley

Parvati is often referred to as Amstedam of the East, and is also (secretly) known as the Hashish capital of the world. The famous Malana charas grows here like common weed in the fertile soil. Charas is abundantly available, and more easily found in smaller places like Tosh, Malana of course, Katagla and Chalal. Here, you will find most travellers engulfed in small fortunes of smoke. Be warned though, this is strictly illegal, and you probably will enjoy a high-free trip rather than the insides of an Indian jail.

Manikaran, A religious village over Parvati River
Manikaran, A religious village over Parvati River

Treks in Parvati Valley

Assuming the startiing point to be Kasol, here are few treks that I recommend for their views, experiences and uniqueness. I would advise that you spend 3 to 4 weeks trekking all through Parvati Valley, as this region is best explored on foot.

1 to 2 hours from Kasol

Kalga: Take a bus/drive to Barsheni (1 hour), then trek up to Kalga (1/2 hour)

Pulga: Take a bus/drive to Barsheni (1 hour), then trek up to Pulga (1/2 hour)

Malana: Jari (8 km/half hour from Kasol) is an entry point to Malana.  About 1.5 km from Jari is the Malana powerhouse where visitors must register their names before entering the valley. You may take a shared jeep (about 200 per head) from Jari to the second gate of the dam. From the powerhouse to the dam is 10 km, and thereafter it is an uneven trek of 7 km to Malana. The last 4 km stretch is treacherously uphill.

Trekking in Parvati Valley
Trekking in Parvati Valley
Breakfast by the river, Kasol
Breakfast by the river, Kasol

Katagla: A 30 to 40 minute walk down from Kasol, then cross the bridge across River Parvati to reach Katagla

6 hours from Kasol

Kheer Ganga (Khir Ganga): Trek through Kasol and the many villages of Parvati listed below, to the hot springs in Kheer Ganga.

 

Manikaran

Manikaran is a small pilgrimage town, 4 km from Kasol, packed with Sikhs (a religion known for its turban wearing followers) who have come to offer their prayers at the Gurudwara. Try the tasty Indian food at the Punjab Dhaba at the Manikaran Bus Stop.

Bear, the mountain guide of Chahaal
Bear, the mountain guide of Chalal

Katagla

A small, cute little village which lies opposite Kasol, on the other side of River Parvati in the valley. This side of the valley has no roads, and hence all commute must be on foot. Katagla features a handful of guest houses, and also acts a venue for many 24 to 72 hour trans festivals and rave parties.

Chalal

Chalal is a 20 minute walk up from Kasol toward Manikaran. It is the tiniest of villages on the other (road-less) side of the river. If you find an exceptionally large Golden Retriever leading your way as you walk through the tress, let him. His name is bear. He is a good dog. Chalal has a couple of large clearings in its wooded area, which provide as venues for the many trance and rave parties of Parvati Valley.

Rasol

Rasol is a 8 kilometer semi-tough uphill trek from Kasol. Takes about 4 hours (depending on your speed). The inn at Rasol is cheap, and the trek scenic. However, the route is lonely, and if you are travelling alone, I suggest you pair up or find a group to trek to Rasol.

Tosh

Tosh is It is now possible to drive up to the base of village Tosh (some two hours from Kasol), and climb up a mere 20 to 25 minutes to find yourself touching the bottom fringes of the steep slope of Tosh.

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