If you, too, wish to truly understand the meaning of numinous beauty and if you, too, believe in the magic of nature then read on, for this trip took me to places which can and which will unleash the wayfarer in you!
It’s time we Indians got over the overrated Shimla and headed out to the more beautiful places of Himachal! Shimla at one point, yes, was undeniably beautiful, but now all that remains of a once ‘Summer capital of India’ is commercialized streets with cramped houses and hotels.
Kasol, Tosh and Kheerganga had been on my list for almost two years and I’m so glad I could make it there in 2019, finally!!
I had been meaning to do Kalga and Pulga too, but hell, I’m going back there, so no regrets! 😊
This trip was part of the ‘TravelWithBanjara’ series that came second in line to the Meghalaya trip (which reminds me that I haven’t written about Meghalaya yet!)
How I went about it!
I chose some 15 of my followers to join me on this little escapade to the hills and we got Bummlers as our Travel partner. It costed us 14k all inclusive of transfers, stay and meals from and back to Delhi!
The people who joined me were all my followers and while some might find it weird, I find it absolutely normal and in fact a healthy way of meeting new people who share a similar passion for traveling and have stories to tell! 😊
While I got the people to join in on my trip, the logistics and bookings were taken care of by Bummlers. We had a traveler to ourselves for the trip that took us from Delhi to Kasol and then back to Delhi. The traffic sure did kill us and what would have normally taken 12-14 hours one way took us close to 18-19 hours because well, dilli ki garmi had everyone swarming to the hills and what better than Himachal that is home to over 15 hill stations!! Having said that, every moment outside of Delhi, and inside of HP was like looking into a painting which made the terribly long journey bearable!
- Day 1 – Overnight journey to Kasol from Delhi (520 km)
- Day 2 – Reach Kasol in the morning, check into campsite(tents) by the River Parvati. Trek to Chalal Village
- Day 3 – Drive to Barshaini from Kasol. Trek to Kheerganga (15km). Stay in Kheerganga camps
- Day 4 – Trek down to Barshaini. Trek up/Drive up to Tosh village (5km). Stay in Tosh campsite
- Day 5 – Trek down to Barshaini. Drive back to Delhi!
Best Time to Visit?
Himachal has a pleasant weather throughout the year. The best time to visit Kasol, Tosh and Kheerganga is from April until October since in winters the whole village is covered in snow and becomes quite hidden. However, if you want to enjoy the snow, you can opt for November to February.
What to carry on treks?
If you are reading this blog and you haven’t been on many or any treks before, and you plan to go on one sometime in your life, then this section will be useful for you! 😊
Nowadays most of us no longer live much closer to nature and are used to the obvious availability of certain things in life. Hence, it is very important to understand and appreciate that when you are hiking or trekking a mountain, some obvious things may not be around you when you find yourself in a tricky situation. Here’s my must-carry-items’ list:
- Trekking Bag – You CANNOT carry a trolley bag on treks, guys, understand
- Best Quality Hiking Shoes (some treks are okay with general sports shoes too, but make sure your shoes have good grip, especially in monsoon season)
- Backpack / Rucksack (For some one-day treks when you don’t want to carry a whole donkey on your back :P)
- Thermals – Top and Bottom (IT can get really cold in the hills! Keep some brandy handy too :P)
- Moisturizer and Sunscree
- UV Protected Sun Glasses
- Good jacket to protect from cold
- One Raincoat
- Lightweight Towel
- Toilet Paper (plenty, since when you stay in tents, washrooms are usually make-shift and only one per 30-40 people)
- 3-4 Pair of socks
- Dry Fruits, Chocolates and Energy bars (They keep you fueled for long spells of the trek where you do not have shops)
- Water bottle (please refrain from using disposable plastic ones
- Medicines: If you are under any medications, please carry enough to last for the whole trip
- SENSE OF FUN AND GOOD HUMOR 😉 😀
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the actual trip and how it was! 😊
Kasol – Mini Israel
Imagine staying in tents put up right next to the serene Parvati river, waking up to the gushing sound of the river in full flow, sun shining through the trees and ricocheting off the rocks of the river making your skin glisten as you go and perch yourself on those rocks to enjoy the music that the river and the trees so melodiously deliver. Now add to it some music that other fellow travelers are playing on the guitar as they smoke you-know-what! What a different high, whoa!
On your trek to Chalal, expect to see many tourists especially from Israel, some of whom have settled in the nestling hills of the area.
We learnt a thing or two about how Kasol used to be a truly untouched remote area until 20 years back(this makes me sad for what we saw was already a pretty urbanized version of Village Kasol), how Cannabis cultivation and export is the only form of livelihood for the locals and how they worship deities from their folklore.
Kasol was all about cafes, the flowing river, bonfire and music for us 😊
Cafes to visit – Evergreen Café, Moondance Café
Kheerganga – Stairway to Heaven
Imagine vast green grasslands with little white flowers springing out of those grass beds, vast 3D mountains, where you could see green hillocks in the foreground, and endless silhouettes of gigantic hills in the background followed by snow capped mountains further beyond those green hills.
Can you imagine what a sun rising from among these hills or a sun setting into those hills would look like? No, you can’t. I can’t even begin to put it into words. MAGIC is what it can be best described as.
Don’t get me started on the moon in the hills, I might just drop a tear in the memory of its beauty!
The trek to Kheerganga encompasses everything- walking through rivers, waterfalls, holding on to dear life on narrow walkways, apple orchards – you name it. If you’re a regular hiker, then this one is a dream to do. One of the most beautiful treks, so picturesque that you feel an impulse to reach for your camera or pinch yourself hard to make sure it’s real. The amazing landscapes, waterfalls and the alpine meadows are bound to make you stop and feel it and soak it in! Trek from Barshaini to Kheer Ganga is 15km. Agreed that 15kms is a lot of climb but heaven awaits you at the end of it. All your tiredness will be washed away with a sight of the unending view of the glaciers and mystical hot springs of Kheerganga. 10 minutes into the pool and you’ll be tripping because of the Sulphur fumes. Do not be surprised if you hear Dholak and groups singing and beating some Shiv Natraj Music. It is a one of a kind experience!
At Kheerganga, we ate, ate and ate, witnessed the most beautiful sunrise and sunset, petted and became home to fluffy dogs, watched beautiful white horses graze the grass, took a dip in the hot water springs, sat on infinity swings, sat around bonfire singing and sipping on hot tea and slurping down hot Maggie, and engaged in the super intriguing stories of locals! 😊
I would have loved to extend a day at Kheerganga! Probably next time! 😊
Tosh – Save your HASHtags for later, coz brownies are here babbay!
5kms ahead of Barshaini, lies the charming village of Tosh. Tosh, the last village in Parvati valley, is well-hidden amongst tall pine forests and is located alongside the Parvati river. Alongside the village is the Tosh River, which begins at the Tosh Glacier.
Tosh is a preferred destination for lazy hippies. Unlike Kheer Ganga, Tosh is much populated and not surrounded by thick meadows. Trekking trail passes through ranches and unorganized plantation of Marijuana. Accommodation and food options are in surplus in Tosh and are in much better shape than what we find in Kheer Ganga. The tents we stayed in offered an excellent, mesmerizing view of the Parvati valley and we had nothing to complain about!
There is nothing much to do in Tosh than to explore the surroundings. With every step you take there will an upsurge in love for this place. Such breathtaking views it provides of the beautiful Parvati Valley. In addition, as Tosh is becoming quite popular among the backpackers, many trance and psychedelic parties are being organized here.
We trekked up further to reach Pink Floyd Café just in time to catch glimpses of the sun melting away behind the hills. We tried the much talked about ahem ahem, brownie there. Hah! Oh my! What an experience! Shall not forget it 😀
That was my trip for you guys! We headed back to barshaini and back to Delhi the next day with heavy hearts but with hope of returning sooner this time around! 😊
Hope this blog leaves you a little more enthused about planning a trip to the beauty that these places are! 😊
Do follow my updates on Instagram to be a part of the #TravelWithBanjara trips! Bali is up next! 😉
Till the next time then! Do drop in your questions, your comments, your feedback below and I’d be happy to address them!
Forever a Banjara,