Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Kasol: Where Indians are not allowed

Stretched along the lovely Parvati River and with mountain views to the northeast, Kasol is the main traveller hang-out in the valley. It’s a small village, but almost overrun with reggae bars, bakeries and cheap guesthouses catering to a largely hippie/Israeli crowd.

It's also a summertime venue for trance parties transplanted from Goa, and at any time an easy base for exploring the forested valley or just chilling out. The village is divided into Old Kasol on the Bhuntar side of its bridge, and New Kasol on the Manikaran side.

For an easy 3.5km stroll, cross the footbridge over the Parvati River and walk downstream to Chalal and Katagla villages. Several rustic guesthouses and cafes along here, mostly foreign-run, are perfect for those who want to really 'turn on, tune in and drop out'.

With the rapidly increasing number of backpackers and explorers looking for relaxing getaways in north India, the popularity of Kasol – a picturesque village in Kullu has seen a sudden surge.  It’s on everybody’s checklist and the place hasn’t disappointed any of those who have planned Kasol trip.

The serene little village is 42 km away from the Bhuntar Airport offering a treat for the mind and the soul. It is on the way as you tread towards Manikaran, a holy place for Sikhs best known for its hot water springs. There are abundant treks and mini hikes that take you to tremendously beautiful villages.

Kasol is inhabited mostly by tourists from Israel which is why most of the hoardings are in Hebrew and the Israeli Shakshouka, a dish of poached eggs in tangy tomato gravy along with hummus and pita bread will definitely drown you in its’ rich flavours.

For years Israelis come here to explore the hippie way of life and to smoke hashish, which makes the Kasol area famous. In fact, Malana Cream is one of the best, they say, and the village, an uphill trek from here, is considered a special and blessed place in local mythology.

In this little town, the locals have adapted to their Israeli guests. Hummus and pita bread are staples. Falafel is almost religion. Tailors stitch lace and cut patterns into fabrics for raves. There are bonfires at night, and hypnotic music perfect for ravers. Even the small guest houses where rooms can be had for Rs.300 a night have music systems placed outside.

It is an ultimate haven for rave parties. Full-moon parties are common among lush misty mountains. It is an old hippie town with its sex and drugs, hedonism and "chill" time. They light bongs and chillums openly, recreating some kind of rebellious haven after the military straitjacket. 

Here, cannabis grows freely, hallucinogens are copious, and the wilderness is part of the experience.
Kasol offers multiple exploration options for casual walkers, trekkers.

Binge on Israeli Food here. If you have not tried Israeli cuisine, then this is the place to start. Go one dish at a time, and keep repeating the ones you like. Don’t forget the trout! And desserts are mind-blowing, we recommend Hello to the king and Hello to the queen at The Evergreen; and the fresh bakes from The German Bakery at Moon Dance.

While there are a few options, but try your luck at the Forest Department tents. Beautifully located beside the fiercely flowing Paravti, they offer one of most gorgeous morning and evening views in the valley. Also, the camps are quite comfortable and neatly maintained. Prices are as low as Rs 150 during the offseason and Rs 300 during the peak summer (May-June).

This ultimate place with resplendent scenic beauty in the backdrop will make your vacation a sure shot hit. 

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