Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip)

Tripoto
7th Oct 2016

So finally I completed the Kasol trip with 2 of my friends..hush!!!

Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) 1/1 by Gireesh Gangadharan
Day 1

Initially when planning we were 7 members who were ready for the trip. This was my first trip to the northern part of India and so was the case for most of us. As the planning started nearly 3 -4 months prior we were pretty much unsure of the route to take, booking and the expected budget. To add further to the pain of planning I was not getting a perfect itinerary, no blogs nothing, which would help us cover the main spots in Amritsar and Kasol travelling from Mumbai, let alone the route to take. We had 4 members backing out because of the news about the unrest on the India - Pakistan border(they are sure to have backout remorse after seeing our pictures :p), leaving us 3 to execute the plan. We decided to do prior booking of only the to and fro travel. To keep the budget under check we decided to travel in train when going to Amritsar and return by flight from Delhi.

Day 1: Amritsar

We started our journey on 7th Oct,Friday night after a hectic office day. We boarded the Golden Temple mail from Borivali station at 10pm. We knew it would be a very tiresome journey, as it was 36 hours that we had to travel in the train. It was Sunday morning 8am that we arrived at the Amritsar junction. We hired an auto to go to the Golden temple for 100 bucks. After getting down we have to walk for 15-20 mins to reach near the temple. There are plenty of other gurudwaras too along the way. On the way we enquired for the rooms provided by the temple authorities at reasonable rates, and found one which was charging us 400 bucks for a night stay. We headed straight to our room to keep our luggages and to freshen up which we eagerly need after the long train journey. The room provided was more than a kilometer away from the temple and we had to walk. We had no time to waste so we took turn to get fresh as soon as we got to room.

Harmandir Sahib(Mesmerizing Golden Temple)

It was 11 am when we changed and started for the temple. We walked for half an hour to reach near the temple. We handed over our footwears on one of the many counters available there. We tied the customary orange scarf to our forehead before heading into the temple premises.

Photo of Mumbai Central Railway Station Building, Mumbai Central, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Gireesh Gangadharan

The crowd is self managed and disciplined. The view of the temple in the center of the waterbody is mesmerizing enough to skip a heartbeat. There's a sense of calm when you step foot into the premises. The sounds of the thousands of people around you seems to be diluted and your mind is at peace. Soon everybody is busy clicking pics to get a perfect snap with the temple in the backdrop. Be careful because sitting near the pool with your feet dipped in the water is not allowed. We joined the queue to enter the main temple sanctum. It took us about 1.5 hours to enter and seek our blessings.

Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan

Now we were hungry and only had food on our mind. It's now time to head to the langar which we have heard so much about. It was shocking to see the number of people in this part of the temple. The volunteers of the Sikh community were all involved in some activities of serving the people. Some were pushing the trolleys containing dishes to serve on, glasses and bowls, many were helping to wash the dishes in a synchronized manner and some were handing over the plate to people waiting for their turn. We finished our delicious served food and felt that our visit to the temple is indeed complete now :).

Jallianwala Bagh

The bagh is just at a 5 mins walking distance from the temple.

Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan

This is a small garden which had a huge role in our independence movement. The walls for the garden has information about the history. It has a small museum which has historical artifacts about the place and the events that took place on the unfaithful day in this very garden, Jallianwala Bagh.

P.S

Now the time was 3pm and we had a plan to visit the Wagah Border. But owing to the unrest on the borders the Wagah Border ceremony was cancelled indefinitely, so it was meaningless to go.

But if you plan to visit the Wagah Border ceremony, you will find plenty of cabs nearby the temple charging you 1000 bucks for the round trip. I guess the ceremony starts at around 5pm, you are expected to arrive and be seated by 4.30pm. The border is about 30kms away from the temple.

As we could not got go to Wagah Border we decided to head for Kasol on the same evening. On our way back to our rooms we had the famous Punjabi Lazzi and enquired about the buses plying to Kasol or Manikaran. We go lucky to find that there is a bus from the Amritsar bus stop which directly goes to Manikaran Gurudwara and departs at 5pm(this means we do not have to get a connecting bus to Chandigarh or even get drop at Bhuntar). We reached our room and packed our bags quicks and checked out of our room. Hired an auto to rush to the bus stop which was only 2 kms away, only to find that the bus arrives at 5.30pm and leave at 6pm for Manikaran. So we had to sit at the bus stop killing time, checking our photos at the temple. The bus arrived, we boarded paying the fare 550 Rs and knowing that this is a 12 hours long journey.

Day 2 : Parvati Valley

Manikaran

After a very bumpy and almost roller coaster like ride on the zig zag valley we reached Manikaran at 6am. The shift in temperature from last night was huge , here it was 10 - 11 degrees. We had our jackets on and were still shivering, as the mercury this low is very unlikely for us Mumbaikars.

Getting down from the bus we rushed into the gurudwara crossing a bridge on the river.

Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan
Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan

As we were very sleepy were went in and enquired for the room. Now comes the fun part we had to do some seva in the gurudwara before we were handed over our key. We had to carry some firewoods to the kitchen to be used for the day to day works. The room we got was merely a small area with 3 beds and had a door, but on the other side it had only half wall, we had an open view of the mountain, the river flowing below and the HOT water pool.

To get some relief from the cold weather we decided to go to the pool immediately. I was expecting the water in the pool to be warm, but here it was shimmering hot water with thick layer of smoke coming out of it. I touched the water and believe me we could have cook rice in that water, damn hot. It took me some time to wrap from head around to actually enter the pool. It sure cuts out the cold weather around. We finished our bath and went for a langar inside the gurudwara. After having our food it was around 9 am and we decided to have a quick nap before heading out.

Kasol

As the room provided was not very comfortable we couldn't sleep well. We decided to check out and head to Kasol. Now Manikaran to Kasol is 10-15mins bus ride, you can directly board a bus directly in front of the temple.

You will find this map everywhere in the shops, hotels, etc

Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan

You can call it a hippie town, mini Israel as at sometime you would see more israeli people than indians or stoners paradise as the special stuff is readily available literally everywhere, you can spell it in the air.

We reached Kasol in no time. We began to search for room, initially we wanted one which has a view of the river flowing below. After 2-3 failed attempts we were happy to find a room on the main road next to the Kasol market for 900rs per day.

A view from our room

Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan

The room was very comfortable, it had nice beds and it was kept very clean. We freshened up and went for a stroll in the market lane trying to find a nice place for lunch. We had a list of cafes to visit and found Buddha Place cafe at the end of the lane. We had an awesome lunch and walked for sometime on the main road till Silent Camp which was on the riverside and enquired about the rates for the tent stay. It was 1000rs for a tent of 3. However we thought of our comfortable room :) and decided not to leave it. It was around 5pm and we were very much tired as we didn't had a proper sleep after the bumpy ride. We slept in our room still 8pm and only woke up for dinner. For Dinner we planned to go to Bhoj Cafe, it has an ambience. After dinner we called it a day.

Day 3: Malana - Chalal - Rasol

After having a splendid breakfast we boarded a bus to Dhunkra, which is the place to hire cab for reaching Malana. The cab charges 700 - 1000rs for the round trip. Malana is a small village with an awesome view of the valley. The special stuff here grow freely and the villagers trade it with the visitors.

We planned to walk to both Chalal and Rasol from Dhunkra. It is roughly 8kms from Kasol. After walking a couple of kilometers hunger striked in so had some Chinese fried rice in a small hotel. Continued walking post lunch to both Chalal and Rasol.

Bridge to cross for both Chalal and Rasol villages

Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan

The bridge does not seem to be in a very good shape, but you have to cross it to go to the villages on the other side. We walked back to the main road and found that we are still 3 kms away from Kasol, as we couldn't walk any more waited for the next bus passing by.

Finalized Stone Garden Cafe for dinner, they serve delicious food.

Day 4: Kheerganga trek

We had to check out from room as this was an overnight trek and camping plan. The room owner made arrangement for keeping our luggage, so that we only have to carry minimal stuffs with us on the trek. We boarded a bus to Barshani, which is base village for both Kheerganga and Tosh. You can hire a cab to Tosh from Barshani. For Kheerganga you do not have this luxury, it is a grilling 6 hours climb.

We started our trek at 11am from the base village. Along the way we had some awe-inspiring views of the snow cladded mountains, gushing waterfalls and alpine forests. You can sense the force of the mighty river flowing.

Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan
Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan

It was 2pm when we reached a village Naktaan. It had hotel for lunch and they also had facilities of guest house in case you want to stay. We had our lunch in one Mount View Cafe there and continued the ascend. Had many points when I almost gave up but the thought of the hot water spring at the top kept me moving. We reached the Rudranag temple in sometime.

Barshani - Naktaan - Rudranag - Kheerkganga

The ascent was getting even steeper. We walked taking small breaks. Finally reached the top at 5pm. I was done, could not walk any more.

Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan
Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan

We arranged for a tent for the night stay as soon as we got there for 500Rs. We went straight into the hot water pool. The water here was comparatively warm, could have stayed all night long. The water here is miraculous, it takes away all the pain of the excruciating trek we just completed. We then visited a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and went back to the tent we had booked.

Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan

As the night started falling, the climate started shifting gears backward. It became so cold, the blow of the wind felt like poking with a pin. The tent owner arranged for both dinner and camp fire.

Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan

Day 4:

Tosh

We planned to start our descend as early as possible, but because of the extreme cold we could only start at 7 am, not before thanking our tent owner for all the help.

Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan

The descend took us 4 hours and we had a sense of achievement when we finally reached the base village. The hardship the villagers have to go through made me feel thankful for the luxury we have back home, which we often take for granted. After a short pit stop at Tosh we boarded a bus from Barshani to Kasol.

Kasol

We were in for a late lunch after reaching Kasol. Went to The Evergreen Cafe just next to our room. The interior of the cafe looks splendent and the menu seems to be equally overpriced. The service too is nothing to shout about :(. Had a walk in the Kasol hippie market for shopping some souvenir. For dinner we crashed into Moon Dance Cafe, of all the cafes I personally liked this the most. The food and service here was exceptional.

Day 5:

We were worried as we have not booked a bus for our journey to Delhi and we had a flight to catch at 9am the next morning. We went out for breakfast and enquired to our room owner about the bus that goes to Delhi. We got lucky again to find that there is a bus from Manikaran at around 1pm. We went around for a short walk as we had some time in hand. Tasted delicious momos :)

Photo of Mumbai - Amritsar - Kasol(A budget trip) by Gireesh Gangadharan

We went to the Manikaran bus stop and boarded the bus to Delhi charging 750Rs. The bus was expected to reach Kashmiri Gate, Delhi at 5 early morning the next day. Airport is about 25kms from Kashmiri Gate we hired an ola cab for 250 bucks after getting down :)

Hope this itinerary will be helpful to some :) 

2 Comment(s)
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as you mentioned it was a budget trip, can you tell me how much did it cost you?
Tue 03 27 18, 00:25 · Reply · Report
Thanks for sharing such an nice trip to Kasol, and Manikaran. I loved your Amristar part. Good Job Gireesh. Happy Travelling.
Thu 10 20 16, 01:38 · Reply (1) · Report
Thank u Harish :)
Sat 10 22 16, 22:10 · Report