The untold story of Malana – India’s cannabis country

Tripoto
8th Jul 2014
Photo of by Neeraj Dhiman
Photo of by Neeraj Dhiman
Photo of by Neeraj Dhiman
Photo of by Neeraj Dhiman
Photo of by Neeraj Dhiman
Photo of by Neeraj Dhiman
Photo of by Neeraj Dhiman

Malana is an ancient village to the north-east of Kullu Valley. This solitary village in the Malana Nala, a side valley of the Parvati Valley, is isolated from the rest of the world. At an altitude of 9,938 feet above sea level lies the village of Malana also known as the village of Taboos. This village in the state of Himachal Pradesh is a magical green rimmed village that overlooks the Deotiba and Chandrakhani Peaks. Malana village is connected to Kulu by three mountain passes. Once in the state of Himachal Pradesh it can be reached from Parvati valley across the Rashol Pass and Chanderkhani pass. The easiest way to reach Malana is from Jari by hiring a taxi since no public buses ply to the village of Malana, which is 23 km away.

The village of Malana is considered as one of the oldest democracies in the world. It is also known by the drug mafia for its hash which is extracted from the Cannabis plant and travels the world which is also the main source of income for the Malanese.

If one decide to visit this village of Taboos it is advisable to not touch the walls or belongings of any of the Malanese people as you will have to pay a fine if you touch anything. ‘Kanashi’ is the local language of Malana and does not sound like any of the dialects spoken in its neighboring villages and the language is also considered to be one of the secrets of the village that outsiders from other villages are not allowed to use.

History

Malana has a history and it goes back to Jamlu rishi (sage) who inhabited this place and made rules and regulations. It is one of the oldest democracies of the world with a well organized parliamentary system. All of this is guided by the their devta (deity) Jamlu rishi. Although Jamlu is currently identified with a sage from the Puranas, this is a relatively recent development. Jamlu is believed to have been worshiped in pre-Aryan times.

Malana also known as the village of Taboos

Malana is considered to be one of the first democracies in the world. According to tradition, the residents of Malana are the descendant of Aryans, and they acquired their independence during the Mughal reign when the Emperor Akbar walked to the village in order to cure an ailment that he was afflicted with; after having been successfully cured he put out an edict stating that all the inhabitants of the valley would never be required to pay tax. An alternative tradition suggests that Malana was founded by remnants of Alexander the Great’s Army.

Malana’s Crème

Malana’s crème has a notorious legacy in international stoner culture. It has won the Best Hashish title twice, in 1994 and 1996, at High Times magazine’s Cannabis Cup. Marijuanaphiles the world over have since made this region a popular weed-tourist destination, branded in travel and ganja-hunting literature as the exotic and alluring “Malana and the Magic Valley.” It was inevitable that the farmers would start to realize the global potential of their plants—and that the cops would take any and all measures to prevent these rural agriculturalists from increasing production. The most effective tool in authorities’ arsenal is satellite technology, but the farmers have found a workaround.

Israeli

Since the mid-nineties dozens of tourists have gone missing in the valley, many have turned up dead, many haven’t turned up at all. Stories of tourists heading to the valley, then getting murdered are all too common. Bodies get washed up on river banks and in various decomposing states have also been found in the mountains. No one speaks about it and the police struggle to solve any of these cases, often finding it difficult to even pick up any leads. Travel within the valley alone (without a guide) is dangerous and has been proven to be deadly all too regularly. Locals are reluctant to speak, and a few years ago the Guardian (UK) sent reporters to find out why people were going missing without any real sense of investigation. Locals shut them out, they were spat at and even foreigners seemed annoyed and hostile of their presence. What they uncovered was something of conspiracy theories, something they could never envisage and something that when first warned by the local paper they dismissed as ridiculous. They were told by a local paper that actually, those foreigners who had been found dead may have crossed the wrong people. The drugs trade is rife in the mountains, and a survivor who saw his 14 year old son and female companion slaughtered was testament to the fact that there were robberies in the valley.

Malana Village

Malanis (the inhabitants of Malana) admire their culture, customs and religious beliefs. They generally do not like to change though some traces of modernization are visible. People in Malana consider all non-Malani to be inferior and consequently untouchable. Visitors to Malana town must pay particular attention to stick to the prescribed paths and not to touch any of the walls, houses or people there. If this does occur, visitors are expected to pay a forfeit sum, that will cover the sacrificial slaughter of a lamb in order purify the object that has been made impure. Malani people may touch impure people or houses as long as they follow the prescribed purification ritual before they enter their house or before they eat. Malanis may never accept food cooked by a non-Malani person, unless they are out of the valley (in which case their Devt can’t see them). Malanis may offer visitors food but all utensils will have to undergo a strict purification ritual before they can be used again.

20 Comment(s)
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Great article and lovely picture as well. I also visited Kasol- Tosh- Malana last year and was mesmerised by the beauty of the Parvati Valley. The most intriguing part was that people in today's world are still so connected to their beliefs and happy not to go beyond these. We had discussions with a couple of Malani people, simple beings happy in their own World. If you like you could check out the whole travelogue documented by a friend and any inputs would be really appreciated. It's here: http://ow.ly/gUeo30j8jhK Keep up the good work! Happy travelling!
Sat 03 24 18, 01:34 · Reply · Report
Great article and lovely picture as well. I also visited Kasol- Tosh- Malana last year and was mesmerised by the beauty of the Parvati Valley. The most intriguing part was that people in today's world are still so connected to their beliefs and happy not to go beyond these. We were discussions we had with a couple of Malani people, simple beings happy in their own World. You could check out the whole travelogue documented by a friend and any inputs would be really appreciated. It's here: http://ow.ly/gUeo30j8jhK Keep up the good work! Happy travelling!
Sat 03 24 18, 01:26 · Reply · Report
m.timesofindia.com/city/chandigarh/Mysterious-Malana-village-gets-bus-service/articleshow/26599687.cms There's a bus service to the village from Kullu. Plz edit where you have mentioned that only taxis are available. Also, can you give some evidence on robbery in the village coz I don't think you have visited the place ever
Sun 05 21 17, 05:14 · Reply · Report
I find it hard to believe that Malana is a tourist destination after everything you've mentioned in your write-up. I wouldn't want to spend a holiday in a place where I constantly have to be looking over my shoulder.
Sun 01 10 16, 13:33 · Reply · Report
Your bit about tourists going missing in Malana and many ending up dead is rather scary. I have read a number of articles on this village but none such as this. Thanks for giving us the darker side of this village. It helps to know.
Sun 01 10 16, 09:20 · Reply · Report
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