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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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 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.