Himachal has always been a warm and a cold host in the summers. This time it’s calling for Kasol, a small hill station located in the Parvati valley. With the rapidly increasing number of backpackers and explorers looking for relaxing getaways in north India, the popularity of Kasol has seen a sudden surge in the past ten years. It’s on everybody’s checklist and the place hasn’t disappointed any of those who planned a Kasol trip.
I first visited Kasol last year with my friends and fell in love with it. It has been my wish to make other people see this place since then. My heart pumped wildly even before I was exposed to the trippy air of Kasol. No, it wasn't because I was smoking up. The road leading to this popular hill station is so nerve-rackingly dangerous that every time the bus took a sharp turn (and there were plenty of those), I looked out the window with trepidation.
On one side of the highway stands massive and mean looking rocks that threaten to slide on to the road causing havoc. And on the other side is the Beas river with an unrelenting current. The bus had to tread a delicate path between these two stubborn natural obstacles. The life of 25 bus passengers (including mine) was entirely in the hands of the driver and there was no margin for error whatsoever.
After a twelve hour bus ride from Delhi, I reached the first pit stop of the journey at Bhuntar (Himachal Pradesh). From Bhuntar we took cab for Kasol. Within five minutes of our trip, our cab driver boomed a Joint and all of us were ready to enter into Heaven with slogan "Har Har Mahadev". After a short trippy journey of 50-60 minutes we reached our destination and the small town of Kasol was right in front of our eyes. If you are an Indian and never been to Kasol then be ready to be shocked. What meets the eye is something you would not imagine in daily life.
We wanted to have lunch right after reaching Kasol, so we decided to go to a small little café with a really nice ambiance named “Evergreen”. Most of us who were traveling for the first time were literally shocked by the ease with which people were smoking up hash & marijuana on every table. Men and women, Indians and foreigners, young and old, rich and poor, every one in Kasol was smoking up. Not just smoking up but were smoking up openly in a restaurant. The owner of the café was an old guy on the counter who accepted a drag of our Joint as a tip, waiters were offering hash on sale and customers were rolling Joint's there as if they were making tea.
After having lunch we decide to explore the town. The small town of Kasol is filled with hotels and cafés on either side of the road. We could literally cover the entire place on foot. More foreigners/hippies than Indians are found on the sidewalks of the town, people are eating, smoking up, smiling, talking, breathing the fresh air. Not a bad way of living life, if you asked me.
Kasol: The Little Israel of India
The Parvati Valley is the favored holiday destination of young Israelis and Kasol is undoubtedly the hotbed of this recreational immigration. The readily available weed, low cost of living, peaceful environment and prospect of rave parties draws many foreigners to this hill station. After one more Joint, we decided to walk up to a small village of Chalal. The trek began by crossing a bridge that swings perilously with every step. The winding path of the Parvati river, tall trees and the setting Sun had a soothing effect on me.
By the time we came back from Chalal it was already started getting dark. We stayed at a place called "Apple Gardens" in kasol which was surrounded by jungle. Finally the time has come for which we were eagerly waiting. Yesss....LSD it is. Owner of the place where we were staying provided us with LSD. Only one guy in our group had tried LSD previously (we used to call him "ACID Monster"), rest all of us were new to it so all of us were very excited.
We took that LSD and went into the jungle. For the first 45 minutes all of us were completely normal. But then it all started. We were about to go on a most amazing and trippy journey of our life. We started hearing different noises from the jungle with little hallucination. So we decided to go back to our room which on the other hand was completely decorated with all the trippy posters on the wall. We were talking and laughing a lot but I don't remember any of the topics now. The only memory I have of the next 12 hours is that we ate lot of apple pancakes that night. Next day we woke up around 1 PM, trying to figure out what the hell happened last night. When we got out of our room, a couple of guys in the next room asked us "How are we?". We had no clue that we have met them earlier. Later they told us that last night we went to their room and smoked hash with them. After having lunch we started for another beautiful place called Tosh.
Tosh: Where Time Stands Still
Another four hours on the road and an hour long trek finally led us to the remote village of Tosh, located on the slopes of a mountain. The snow capped mountains high above and the waterfall below made the long and tedious journey to Tosh worthwhile. The sun had set by the time we stepped inside the Pink Floyd cafe for snacks. The smell of hash reeked from every corner of the dim lit cafe with Bob Marley posters on the walls. In no time I understood that why it is called that Time Stand Still in Tosh. People don't come to Tosh for the weekend, they come for weeks that turn to months. Stubbles turn to beards amid the smoke and sound. There is a rule here in cafe's that TV is played on mute and the silence is celebrated with joints and psychedelic music.
Best time to visit Kasol is mostly either April-May or October-November, you will get lesser crowds and better accommodation, however that being said I have been told winters bring out a very different side of Parvati valley. I guess I will have to witness those stories myself before I start telling you those stories.
Life is too small to be in a cocoon, start living, start traveling. Some day when you are on your travels, we will bump into each other and will smoke one Joint together. Till then, live out and live loud.
Signing Off Hardik Surti !!!