In search of some trance: Kasol

Give peace a chance !

This very famous hippy quote made me to search more and more about the hippy culture. I watched a documentary ‘Last Hippy Standing’ and finally decided to spend a few days in Kasol. I have been to the place once before, with my friends. But that was on bikes and we spent only a night in Kasol. This time i planned to stay there for atleast 4 days and same number of nights. After going through many blogs, I decided to stay at Alpine Guest House owned by Sanjay Mukherjee. The companion would be none other than Munish Bhya (who accompanied me to ‘Trip to Mussoorie and Landour‘. as well).

I booked the tickets online, of an HRTC (Himachal Roadways) Tata AC Bus up till Bhuntar. We boarded the bus from Chandigarh at about 8:30pm on 15th December, 2009. I was wondering about the difference between Tata AC and Volvo. I didnt find much. Bus started rolling on NH-21 through the small towns of Punjab viz Kharar, Kurali, Ropar etc. Soon we found that the bus is full of couples going to Manali (as the final destination of the bus was Manali). Some of them were listening Kumar Sanu numbers on their Smartphones. We realized the irony that in search of Hippies, as we left for, we are travelling on a wave of matrimonial romance all around. Munish bhya slept for a few hours and I kept on gazing on the darkness of the hills, sparsely illuminated with domestic lights. Distinction between earth and sky was getting difficult. The bus halted at a ‘dhaba’ near Sundernagar. It was chilling outside, we warmed ourselves with coffee. We got off the bus at Bhuntar at about 4:30 AM.

Ready to take off


A Maruti 800 (yes, in HP they employ Maruti 800 as taxi) with a driver, was standing at the Bus Stop. We hired him till Kasol for Rs.600/-. He drove as if he was hastier to see Kasol than us. Everybody in the Parvati Valley (the region is known as Parvati valley) knows about Alpine Guest House. I knew that most of the cafes in Kasol would be closed as December is an off-season month there. Most of the Hippies go to Goa in December, so there are not many customers for the Cafes as well as guest houses. Anyhow we got a room at Alpine Guest house, just at the bank of the river Parvati for Rs.400/- per day. It was a spacious room with a lots of windows and a continuous hush of the river was audible 24 hrs. We called each other Good Morning and slept !

We got up at around 11 and left to stroll in the beautiful town. To my good luck, the restaurant named Little Italy was open. We had a pizza along with some coffee, the pizza (keeping in mind the price) has to be rated 5/5. We didn’t mind passing the day by roaming and relaxing here and there in the village as we have two more days to our disposal. We had lunch at Little Italy only. The Indian Thali at Little Italy was not that impressive. We got some Doughnuts with chocolate packed. Doughnuts seemed like westernized version of ‘gulgule’ (the stuff made by deep frying jaggery with wheat flour). Anyhow we slept contently at night after having some sandwiches at Little Italy (Indian food is not worth a dinner). We also found out that theres no ATM in Kasol, nearest one being in Bhuntar.

Little Italy !

Near to utopia !

Serenity defined !

The next morning we got up late again. Had a Pizza at Little Italy and decided to leave for Manikaran Sahib. It is about 4 km from Kasol. Instead of walking on road, we sauntered along side the river which ran parallel to the road, though a few meters below. The thought of igniting a bonfire struck my mind. I don’t know whether the problem was in leaves or in air, but the thought remained a thought. The riverside walk was becoming tougher so we decided to move back to the road. Eventually we reached Manikaran. It was as enchanting as anything. Gurudwara is beautiful, Langar (Kadhi Chawal) was good. Above all the Shiv ji’s dark idol was sublime and the hot water geysers magical. After experiencing what i would call a shear bliss, we got back to Kasol. We met a backpacker on our way back (probably a hippie). He was alone and seemed so happy. I wondered what he is up to. But as they say only happiness matters in the end. I felt good for him. We went to Little Italy and decided to have a Green Olive Pizza. An old white man was sitting there, he was continuously smoking ‘beedis’. He was even cutting apart the smoking side of the beedi to make it shorter.

Heavens Falling !

A nice view of the Gurudwara

Boom Shiva !

Boom Shiva !

Finally, on to the last day of the trip. After having some sandwiches in the morning, we went back to Alpine and went downstairs from its veranda, to the river. We saw a suspension bridge down about 200 meters and went along to check it out. It was a wooden bridge. Scary but beautiful. We crossed the bridge and reached the other side of the bridge and started walking along the hill towards alpine side. After going a little up hill on we found a small cafe kinda thing. It was not covered (no roof), just a few chairs and a hut along side as kitchen. A guy (seemed inebriated) started offering us ‘marijuana’ and stories. I felt very insecure because I felt that I am in a place where no one knows me and was carrying the camcorder as well. So we left the place in a hurry. After having some chocolates in the evening, I felt like staying on for one more day. But Sanjay Mukherjee (the owner of Alpine) told us that they are leaving for Kolkata tomorrow. And we need to vacate the room early in the morning (6:00 AM ! ! ! !). Went to Little Italy again at 9:30pm and watched India-SriLanka ODI while grabbing Pizzas. The Beedi waala old man was still there, smoking beedis one after the another. We decided to leave tomorrow.

A Beautiful Day !

Our Room (Bottom right)

Little Italy\’s

River Parvati in the background !

The \’Scary but Beautiful\’ wooden bridge !

When evening arrives…

I got up, the next morning, at 5:00 AM but the Mukherjees got up at 8:00 AM. So we left at 8:30 AM. Waited for the mini bus to Bhuntar at Kasol bus stop. I noticed some school going pahari girls playing a game. They made something by tying many rubber bands together. They were sustaining that thing with kicks, one girl at a time, and counting the number of kicks. It was amazing, how skillfully, they were kicking. They seemed very happy. A bus came after about 20 mins. It got full of School going kids. They were all so beautiful. The conductor was behaving very affectionately with them. In spite of the tyranny of going to school in the chilling cold, they all appeared very happy. I was astonished by the levels of happiness engulfed in the remote part of our country. Thats the reason its called ‘Incredible India’. The bus took a break at Zari. I read a poster there about a missing backpacker. His name was Hoshua and Nationality US/Israel. He was wearing the back pack in the picture as well. Bus dropped us at Bhuntar, from where we boarded an HRTC bus to Chandigarh. The conductor, although polite, was too talkative. It was a tyring journey of about 8 hours with a long break at Mandi Bus Stand.

I am hereby attaching a small video, I compiled out of the whole trip.

Kasol: Boom Shiva

Do post some comments ;-)

53 Comments

  • Prashant says:

    ur things have always been perfect !!!!!!!

  • Abhishek says:

    well its the beauty of Himachal that every body falls in love with it.
    It was good to know that you enjoyed every bit of your journey and even remember every minute detail of it.
    Well as we have seen Kasol through your eyes now, I would really like to cherish the beauty of Kasol one day.
    You know there are many places or rather i would say beautiful places out there to be explored in Himachal……Hope you will soon be on a new journey.

  • Mini Sarin says:

    Beautiful place indeed! And very nice description.

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    @ Prashant
    Thanks a lot for appreciation

    @ Abhishek
    I loved to read your comment and I think that you should also try your hand on blogging

    @ Mini
    Thanks a lot, and yes this place is worth a visit (or rather more than one :) )

  • Divyam says:

    you made me feel like i am also along with you… it is really a nice description of the journey.But one thing I found that ;the main motto of your journey i.e to explore the hippy culture didnt came out in the content.
    I am eager to know wat kind of hippy culture is…and with this kind of b’ful description I also want to explore ‘Kasol’.

    Gud job done…

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    @ Divyam
    Thanks a lot Divyam… I expected a trialling comment from your side and so was it. As I mentioned that Hippies migrate to Goa in December so there were a very few hippies there, when we visited. You can google Hippies if you want to know more about them. You said rightly that motto of the journey didnt come out in the content. May be it was not completely fulfilled…
    Thanks again..

  • Sushant says:

    Hi Vikas,
    Nice account. Maybe because it is past 1 am, maybe I missed it, how much time does it take from bhunter to kasol pls.

    Thanks,
    Sushant

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    Hi Sushant,

    It took us about an hour on that taxi from Bhuntar to Kasol. And on return, the mini bus took about 2 hrs.

  • nandanjha says:

    Kasol is not a very touristy joint so big thanks for taking us there. A lot of us though know about it but only a few have visited and to read a first-hand account, with pictures, is very useful.

    Are there other hotels/kids+seniors friendly guesthouses/lodges ?

    I have inserted the video right in the story.

    some day I see myself there. your story is making it easier. thanks.

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    Thanks a lot Nandan sir. I am afraid theres no guesthouse in Kasol eligible to be called Family guesthouse (esp. not suitable for kids). Chilums are smoked openly in every nook and corner. But the natural beauty of the place is unmatchable.
    Thanks again

  • Mohit Rattan says:

    Bravo Vikas,,,,Bravo.
    U had mentioned the beauty of this at its best…Keep It Up,,,,
    Cheerssssss…………

  • amit khatri says:

    damn good buddy , would like to go over there. this is the first time i have heard of this place…..b’ful presentation buddy

  • neha says:

    well ur words are as usual splendid and so expressive…. u knw u r god gifted of ur writings and expressions…. i wud like to suggest u to take forward ur this hobby to sum upper level…..its an ultimate place and wil surely try to visit it sum day in my life.
    ol d best…. kp it up :)

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    Thanks a lot Neha for words of encouragement….

  • Manish khamesra says:

    Very well written and well supported by beautiful pictures Vikas. You have written a vivid description of your travel and took the readers with you.

  • gaurav says:

    It was gud 2 read another one from u…. ur story has inspired me to visit kasol again….
    well guys! i was part of the first journey to kasol abt which vikas has mentioned in the begining ( on bikes) ………
    wud like 2 hav u in d company while goin 2 kasol…..

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    @Manish
    Thanks a lot Manish

    @Gaurav
    At your disposal bro :)

  • bharat says:

    yar really fantastic trip man..
    want 2 go as well…
    i will surely find out some time for trip like dis 1..
    aftr u done with ur studies.. may b we can go 2gether…
    nd 1 ding more do contact RUPA CO.
    :-)

  • shaily says:

    great…i really liked all the pics clicked by u

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    Thank you Shaily…

  • Ashish says:

    nice man….likd it……captured really gud 1’s…

  • A says:

    sounds lik u went there to put a “tick” across “Kasol” on ure bucket list or somethin!.. no offence my friend…but acc to this blog – the highlight of your trip was going to Little Italy and eat whatever they had to offer!!

    if u really were interested to meet the local ppl there and understand the lifestyle out there – why dint u interact with them…why dint u go explorin further up…and why on earth were u afraid abt someone stealing ur CAMCORDER :-)

    Do visit Parvati again Vikas…this time…a little relaxed..with a lil more time….a lil more..”broader” mindset …;-)….and lil less inhibitions…Trust me.

    • Vikas Kapil says:

      Thanks for the advice. Yes, you are quite right that being a little bit more relaxed would be a better way to explore Parvati. But, I am no Zuckerberg bro. I am afraid of my Camcorder being stolen :) . So the statement “why on earth were u afraid abt someone stealing ur CAMCORDER :-)” sounded somewhat fishy to me.
      Nevertheless you gave a critically eye opening advice.

      Thanks again
      Vikas

    • Ankush Jain says:

      Exactly my thoughts on this article. The people there are hippies, they smoke weed and chill, they are not here to steal camcorders, so relax. And you should have covered more diameter around kasol. There are a lot places around, many villages, israeli culture, malana, kheer ganga trek, what not. I’m sure the sky looks beautiful at night, I’m sure the sunrise must be beautiful sight, streams of rivers must be fun to play with, there must be more cafes around apart from little Italy. No offence meant, but “haath toh aaya muh na lagaya”, fits perfectly here. Peace.

      • Vikas Kapil says:

        To be honest, it’s been a long time when I wrote this, so have almost lost the context. I certainly agree with you, that there’s much more to Kasol than what I covered. But anyhow my intention (at least, now) is not to instigate arguments about what’s right and what’s wrong. I wrote the travelogue from my perspective, which definitely is different from yours (and everyone else for that matter.)
        Thanks for taking the time out to write the comment. I appreciate that.

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    @A
    Thanks for the advice. Yes, you are quite right that being a little bit more relaxed would be a better way to explore Parvati. But, I am no Zuckerberg bro. I am afraid of my Camcorder being stolen. So the statement “why on earth were u afraid abt someone stealing ur CAMCORDER :-)” sounded somewhat fishy to me.
    Nevertheless you gave a critically eye opening advice.

    Thanks again
    Vikas

  • Harman Preet says:

    u r a dead man kapil!
    u copied my article!!
    how could you do that!?!?
    now wot do you expect!? shud i give limited rights @ my blog too!?!?

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    @Harm
    Wow…. throw the link….
    I knew that you would post something like this only…
    anyways Thanks…

  • narinder says:

    i like the way you presented it and felt like i was also a part of this trip……………i wish i have been part of his trip.

  • arush says:

    Vikas: some times we fell like we already there when words speak out like that……………………………………love that

    gr8 wrk Vikas: i really appreciate it

  • saurabh aggarwal says:

    nyc man……u 9 wat….. every word n every sentence i was reading.. i cud really imagine myself wid u dude…….dere in d most beautiful state f india…..

    well, nice expressions n nyc presentation :) really really really liked it… (p.s : i m waitin 2 read ur snippets f ur novel ab)

    NoStAlGiC !!!! u made me remember my last trip 2 manali (dat was around 6 years back) n now, i m cravin 2 pack my bags n go 2 HP again.. i guess, u hav given me a nyc choice.. :)

    thnx a ton bro :)

    life rocks on d rocks :P

  • HaRMaN says:

    :) finally :P

    Need not mention u r a good writer, with great vocab!

    hey, the ‘rubber band bounce’ game is called, as it used to be by my schooling mates, ‘kainchi’ (scissors)
    its the tyre tube torn into fine threads. game looks lame, but boosts stamina..

    recommended for you too :P

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    Thanks for the info Harman, lets play kainchi together some fine day, both of us gonna gain (err.. loose) from it….

  • Jessy gill says:

    Why’s up man,I watching ur tour to kasol,uv been wanting tongi there for a very long time,I love smoking weed (chars).I was wondering if u would tell me a liltle about kasol,where is the most chars grown in kasol,uv given u my email .thanks

  • Urmesh says:

    nice… very nice…

  • pb says:

    Hi,

    Very well written. I’m planning to visit Shimla, Manali, Kasol & Kausali this winter, my itinerary is :

    Day 1: I will be reaching Kalka from Kolkata around 4.30 am & from there I will be taking toy train to reach Shimla on the same day at around 11.00 am. I will stay there on that day.
    Day 2: Shimla to Manali, Visit Hadimba Temple, Night Stay at Manali.
    Day 3: Kothi, Vasisth Spring,Rohtang Pass,Solang Valley, Night Stay at Manali.
    Day 4: Manali to Kasol via Mannikaran & Rabbit Farm, Kullu, Naggar, Night Stay at Kasol.
    Day 5: Kasol to Kasauli, Sightseeing at Kasauli, Night Stay at Kasauli
    Day 6: At leisure in Kasauli, Night Stay at Kasauli.
    Day 7: Kasauli to Ambala Cantonment to catch train for Kolkata.

    Please suggest whether this Itinerary is good or not & please answer my queries

    1)Whether Day 4 will be a hectic one ?

    2)How much time it will take to reach Kasauli from Kasol by taxi

    3)How much time it will take from Kasauli to Ambala Cantonment.

    Thanx in Advance

    • Vikas Kapil says:

      Thanks for the comment.
      I think that you have planned the trip very tightly. The essence of Himachal lies in absorbing the essence of nature. Your itinerary has way too much travelling time. But again, all of us have our unique preferences.

      1) Yes Day 4 will be hectic. In fact I do not think that it is possible to visit all these places in a single day, unless you just want a brushing view.
      2) Kasol to Kasauli is quite a distance, around 260 km which is about 8 hours in hills. Kasauli is just around 13 km from Dharampur which is a station on Kalka-Simla toy train, so you can accommodate Kasauli as the first destination on your itinerary.
      3) Kasauli to Ambala is around 100 km.

      Best of Luck

  • Ashwin says:

    Planning to go Kasol, With my wife & parents. Is Sandhya Kasol good a place to stay with family or should I opt for Parvati Kuteer? Kindly guide. Also pls guide on scenic places to visit, while in Kasol??

  • ??? ?? says:

    I would also like to add that in case you do not already have got an insurance policy or you do not belong to any group insurance, you could possibly well take advantage of seeking the aid of a health insurance professional. Self-employed or those that have medical conditions normally seek the help of the health insurance brokerage service. Thanks for your post.

  • pb says:

    Hey Vikash

    Thanx a lot dear, I’m sorry for late reply. The thing is I will be accompanied by my wife & my friend & his wife in the above said Himachal tour. I’m very much confused with my itinerary, whether Shimla-Manali-Kausali or Shimla-Kasol-Kausali or Mandi/Kullu-Manali-Kasol-Kausali, please suggest on this. If your suggestion is Shimla-Manali-Kausali then how much time it will take to travel by car from Manali to Kausali.

    Thanx in advance.

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    In any case, keep Shimla and Kasauli side by side, as Shimla-Kasauli is around 70 km, and theres no point of going from Shimla to Manali and back to Shimla (to visit Kasauli. I think if you are starting from Chandigarh, the best way out would be Chandigarh-Kasauli-Shimla-Kullu-Kasol or Chandigarh-Kullu-Kasol-Shimla-Kasauli.

    • pb says:

      Hi Vikas

      Thanx a lot. The thing is our journey will start from Kalka. I will take Shivalik Deluxe from Kalka to Shimla. So either I need to do Kullu-Kasol-Shimla-Kasauli or Manali-Kasol-Shimla Kasauli or Kullu/Manali-Shimla-Kasauli. According to you which one is better place to visit Kullu or Manali ??
      Once Again

      Thanx in Advance

  • manoj says:

    Hi good overall insight….but why had u not taken the marijuana offering? I am sure he was. Nice harmless man and that is part of the culture in kasol and Hinduism. U should try to be more free andobserve the customs.

  • manoj says:

    Yes nice blog. However as someone else mentioned y were u scared of someone stealing your camcorder…almost all those locals are extremely friendly. In fact they were even offering you weed a local cultural delicacy of parvati but hinduism as well. When in Rome do as the Romans, when in Kasol, do as the locals. You could have freed yourself and saw the reeal beauty…if smoking is not your thing had u hit up the GErman bakery they would have gladly made u a hash milkshake…aka bhang lassi. Really man try to be more open and explore cultures…we all only live once after all. Good blog nevertheless

  • Yogesh says:

    Hey Vikas,

    Impressive writing, once I started reading this all my memories of Kasol came to life. If u want to enzoy more of this do visit during festivals (like Beyond Spirit festival 2013) you will be amazed. Fun, peace, nature at best. Just Incredible ……

  • Sum Mat says:

    Anything about where I can find trance parties over there???

  • A well-written article which actually inspired us to visit the place of Kasol. Keep up the good work and keep us informed about lovely places which are less traveled and are as beautiful as Kasol. We were in Kasol and trekked to Kheerganga last month and would love to share our experience with you all here http://www.indianjaunt.com/trek-to-kheerganga-and-a-trip-to-kasol-mini-israel/

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  • Rajat says:

    Sorry for being a lot late. Its a superb travelogue. I need your help. How to go from kalka to bhunter. Are there any buses or we’ll have to hire a cab

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