Snow Clad Parvati Valley

13th Jan 2017
Photo of Snow Clad Parvati Valley by Travelcult India

Weather in north part of India during month of January is damn cold but also offers the opportunity to witness some of the prettiest mountains and valleys covered in blankets of snow and what better than to witness Parvati valley in the midst of snowfall.In this article I would be describing my experience of travelling to Kasol and Tosh during winters (January).

Day 1

We as a group of 6 started from Delhi on the day of lohri on Friday. We were on brink of missing our bus due to traffic on occasion of festival but somehow managed to catch our bus. Regular buses from ISBT kashmeri gate (state run buses) and Majnu ka Tilla (Private buses) heading towards Manali can be taken to travel to Kasol. Just to clear one needs to get down at Bhuntar and then catch another local bus to reach Kasol. From bhuntar , kasol is approximately 31 kms which takes about an hour atleast to reach.We had booked a semi-sleeper Volvo till Bhuntar from Delhi to leave around at 8:30 pm which would cost approx Rs.1000. It would take approximately 12 hours to reach Bhuntar .

Day 2

I woke up after the bus reached its unplanned morning break point of waiting in a long queue of buses due to some accident involving a trailer. This half an hour of waiting time turned out to be quite a bit of fun. We six feeling cold decided to try creating a bonfire on sides of road. Soon we were joined by some other strangers who tried to lit up the fire..but after many attempts and wasting few lighters we just managed fire for like a minute max due to winds and by that time traffic got cleared and we were on our way once again. We finally reached Bhuntar around 9:30 am in the morning. We had some refreshments and started our journey to Kasol. These local buses to Kasol get packed pretty easily, so grab your seats early so as to avoid being thrown around like a bell during the ride. During the journey locals confirmed that Khirganga remains closed during this season due to heavy snow. We had wandered on option of going to khirganga which was now out of question.We reached Kasol around 11:45 am. During winters many of cafes in Kasol are closed down and only handful are open and Evergreen cafe being one of the good cafes open during winter, we headed there to get our bellies filled. They serve different cuisines from Israeli to Spanish. Their Spanish breakfast was amazing. Mind you the local shopkeepers in Kasol sounded quite rude and frowned at even slightest bargaining we tried and cafe owners do not like waiters being kept waiting long while taking order .

On way to Bhuntar

Photo of Kasol, Himachal Pradesh, India by Travelcult India

Being full once again, we left for Manikaran which is famous for its Gurudwara Shri Manikaran Sahib and a natural hot water spring. We went to check out the hot water spring but it was not clean , so we did not bother getting in the spring. Now in winters road leading up to Tosh is covered in snow, so it might not be possible to reach Tosh directly though a taxi. The road is mostly cleared till Barshaini (a small village which is also a starting point for Khirganga trek). From Manikaran you will get a taxi till Barshaini for Rs.800 (at same cost you will reach tosh in other seasons). Tosh is approx 3.5 km from Barshaini by road. The friend of this taxi driver was also going to Tosh, so he would take us till tosh from Barshaini through small trekking trail which is about 45 mins long usually! We had not come for any trek so we were all in like canvas shoes or etc which were not suitable to trek let alone think about walking and hiking in snow!

Parvati through Manikaran

Photo of Manikaran, Himachal Pradesh, India by Travelcult India

After buying some packet food and some alcohol, we started our trek to Tosh. Initial phase is steep and within few minutes we are faced with daunting task of walking and hiking on the snow in our canvas shoes! So as one would expect , we were slipping quite often , struggling to get a grip and of course in all of this struggle, the snow ball throwing ritual was performed. After the initial struggle, we  started to enjoy ourselves in the snow and the heavenly sights in front of us. It felt like I was Kashmir. It took us like approx 2 hrs to finally reach Tosh at around 5:15 pm and it was almost dark.

Views on the Trail

Photo of Barsheni Village Bus Stop, मणिकर्ण - बर्शेणी सड़क, Himachal Pradesh, India by Travelcult India

After reaching Tosh we lost sight our friend who got us there (probably was getting late to reach his home stay). As soon as we reached , we began to look for a place to stay. Everyone had same answer "We do not have food and water apart from that we have space". Many locals were advising to return to Barshaini as it may snow again and one would not be able to leave tomorrow and would be stuck here. We saw few groups starting to return to Barshaini, but we were stung on the idea of spending night in this beautiful village. Two of our group members went in search of place to stay and one of them slipped right away to land on his back which was funny and a reminder again to be careful on snow. Rest of us went to a small shop which is just at start of Tosh village, and started buying necessary packet food-chocolates, cheese,canned juices,etc in case we are not able to get food; candles , extra lighters just in case required. After an hour those two guys came back with good news of accommodation along with dinner at place called Pinki Didi's last resort which made so much sense. We went to that place crawling in between on slippery ice. The house was damn good. There are two houses here, one for the guests and the other for owners. The house for the guests is at last tip of the village with no other property in front, giving you amazing view of entire Parvati valley. We got 2 rooms at Rs.400 each. The common balcony at the property offers you the feeling of sitting at cafe located on edge of the mountain. The food cooked by Pinki Didi was amazing and one would love her Dal and rajma. I always feel that here in the land of Shiva, its him who will decide what you will enjoy & when and now arrived the real icing on the cake , the guy serving food asked us if we would like to have Nutella pancakes for the dessert. We were astonished. About an hour ago we were going to sleep without food and now in negative temperatures in a remote village we were going to have Nutella pancake. That was probably the best Nutella pancake I have had till date.

Do we need a caption?

Photo of Tosh, Himachal Pradesh, India by Travelcult India

Pinki Didi's last Resort! Indeed last

Photo of Tosh, Himachal Pradesh, India by Travelcult India

Cafe view from Pinki Didi's Resort

Photo of Tosh, Himachal Pradesh, India by Travelcult India
Day 3

The night was so cold that I was wearing three layers of Tees and 2 jackets and still required 3 blankets to be able to feel warm and sleep. The neat shots of whisky did not help much. Morning welcomes you with majestic view of the valley though quite cold and doing your daily activities might seem quite daunting if you know what I mean. What really made this morning even more interesting was learning about how the lady (Pinki Didi) on her own was able to build this place and take care of her family. Even in such testing region she was able to build a 2 floor property and manage on her own. It made us realize that how easy our lives are compared to those living in such remote places. After breakfast , we started our walk to Barshaini. This time we decided to walk by the road even though it would take more time rather than using that trek trail. This walk got additionally mesmerized when it started to snow. This was first time in my life that I was witnessing a snow fall and at this point the entire landscape looked like it was painted by Shiva himself as it was that beautiful. We reached Barshaini by 12 pm and left for Kasol immediately. Again, we went to the Evergreen cafe. Blessed by Shiva, we met a guy over there who got us high!!. That was only thing that was left on this trip. We had a evening Bus from Bhuntar , so left Kasol by 4 pm . This marked the end of my first trip to Himachal and as they say "You do not take trips, Trips take you" turned out to be so true for this trip.