Kasol Calling

“See the mountains kiss high heaven..and the waves clasp one another..” The melodious quote of Percy Shelley and Hutchinson was haunting my mind as my gaze went towards the narrow gorge of the Parvati river dancing down the now visible spectacular valley. We were en-route for Kasol on a tourist cab hired from Bhuntar bus stand. Earlier in the morning when the day light had hardly touched the beautiful mountains of the Kullu District, our HPTDC Volvo had dropped us at the scheduled place at Bhuntar where the HPTDC cab was already waiting for our arrival.

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Mountains Calling: En-Route Parvati Valley

En-Route Kasol

We crossed the apparently shaky iron bridge over the turbulent Beas and took the right turn way up and deep in to the Parvati Valley. The apparently bare mountains around us were now taken over by lush green, lofty pine jungles.

Bhuntar-Kasol Map

Bhuntar – Kasol Route (Courtesy: Google Maps, 2019)

The Parvati river with our each climb around the bends was leaping up and down with ecstasy and youthfulness. The gentle murmur of its tiny waves and the early morning chirping of wild birds even surpassed the whining grumble of our cab. There was freshness everywhere. The first sunshine up from the eastern cone of the valley was soft, tender and it was hard to resist its delicate touch through the dashboard of the car.

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The Parvati River Near Bhuntar

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On our way to Kasol (Parvati River View)

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Approaching Kasol (Parvati River View)

The lovely hamlet Kasol is only 30.2 Km from Bhuntar and with hardly any traffic on the road early in the morning we were expected to reach within 1hr and 15 minutes. We reached Jari very soon and knew that we would reach our destination within the next 15 minutes.

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Nature View from Hotel Summer Hills

We had our booking at OYO Hotel Summer Hills and finding the hotel through Google map was not difficult. We had to take the Kasol Bazaar cross the nullah bridge and hardly after a few metres we had our cab parked right below the Hotel.

The Breakfast

As we had reached quite early and checking-in formalities were over very quickly we had an entire day out on cards. And with that the trip to Tosh Valley was always on our cards. Having a heavy breakfast with stuffed paranthas and fresh curd in a busy restaurant in Kasol market we moved towards the local Cab association office to book our ride to Tosh. One peculiar thing caught my attention was the restaurant. We had to enter in bare foot and sit on the floor heavily matted with soft carpets.

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Traditional Israeli Style Dining Hall

The entire dining hall was divided into rectangular compartments with a centre table, takiya-pillows for back support and the beautiful carpet flooring on which we were supposed to sit. Although the management of the restaurant was Indian, I could not resist myself from asking the guy at the billing counter about this strange culture of dining. The person hardly in his mid-twenties in soft broken English said that “long back people from Israel had migrated to the villages of Kasol and over the years many aspects of their culture had merged with the local culture.” Their dining culture is very popular not only in Kasol but you would find many new things if you visit our villages in and around Kasol. I wished if I could have had a lengthy talk with the guy, but with the trip to Tosh Valley on the cards, we had to rush.

Memorable Tosh

“If you want solitude,  if you want the bliss of mother nature you should be here”. That was my initial reaction when I got down at near the bridge leading to the Tosh Village.

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The Holy Shrine at Manikaran

About 20 Km away from Kasol via the Holy Mani Karan, Tosh is a picturesque small village far away from the cacophony of modern day city life. The valley is confluence of numerous adventure tracks to snow clad mountain tops and obviously the “Kheer Ganga Trek”. Nature is at its purest, virgin form.

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Kasol-Tosh Route (Courtesy: Google Maps, 2019)

The jungles look lush green with snow clad mountains and glaciers guarding the valley. The people live a very simple life with their nurturing their livestock, farming, innumerable apple orchards and homestay business. Their colorful festivals, songs, melodies, humble yet happy lives act as stress busters for people like us who rush to the mountains to replenish their stressed out minds.

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On our way to Tosh Valley

We hired a tourist cab from Kasol Taxi Association which agreed to take us back to the hotel in the evening. We reached Mani Karan in a whisker of a time leaving Kasol as the road was awesome and really well maintained. We crossed an iron bridge where the Parvati river crossed the track and went to our right. The sight of the distant mountains winked happiness and a sense of thrill as we started our up-hill climb leaving Mani Karan way behind us.

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Towards Tosh Valley

The river Parvati danced down from the beautiful valley ahead. Probably way up ahead somewhere were the tracks to the picturesque valley of “Kheer Ganga”. Well I have to admit here that in this short trip we didn’t have “Kheer Ganga” trek on our cards. We soon crossed the famous Durga Mandir and reached Brashaini.

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The beautiful Parvati River (En-Route Kheer Ganga Trek)

Barshaini is the place where one should get down for the much loved “Kheer Ganga Trek” where a narrow mountain track would take you down to the river basin and then climb up again higher and higher towards the amazing valley of “Kheer Ganga”.  We found many youngsters had already gathered there and gearing up for the trek down and up. Their high spirits, enthusiasm and cajoling with one another would definitely remind you of Ranbir Kapoor Deepika Padukone starer Bollywood Romcom flick “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani”.

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A Beautiful Waterfall (On the way to Tosh Valley)

After leaving Barshaini we turned left and started climbing up again. This part of the road was literally awful. It was hardly a wild track rather being a decent road. As the vehicle danced and bumped on its climb, we found a spectacular view of the union of two rivers – the river Tosh meeting Parvati river. Our gaze was obviously on the tracks leading to the amazing “Kheer Ganga”. It was so beautiful so beautiful words could hardly spell it out. We thought we had to stop it here for some time on our way back which we did and did with lot of fond memories.

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Confluence of Parvati & Tosh Rivers (Near Baishaini)

Well a normal 10 mins climb took us almost 20mins bumpy ride to reach our destination. On our way we were surrounded by thick woods which were amazing. The aura of the dark shades, the chilly winds could only be experienced can’t be expressed in words. Leaving a blind turn we could see the picturesque small Tosh village ahead of us. We had to leave our vehicle in front of an iron bridge leading to the village.

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Welcome to Tosh Village

A narrow muddy track took us through a beautiful apple orchard on our right. A villager was returning home early with his livestock. His son had collected a stack of wood that was piled on his back. Probably that would serve as the fuel for today’s dinner.

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Tosh Village

Although it was 2.30 pm, villagers preferred to reach home early and spend time with their loved ones which is rare for us even on holidays. This is where people living in this part of the world are different. They live a simple life, they love nature, and that love translates in their family with humble needs and expectations.

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Picturesque Tosh Village

The centre of the village had a Government Office and a primary school. As we went ahead we found that majority of the villagers had upgraded their cottages into home stays for tourists and small restaurants. The smell of freshly cooked momos and other dishes was too adorable when you pass through the lane.

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A Post Card from Tosh

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We were at the edge of the Tosh Village

 

We now were on the track leading us to one of the extreme corners of the village which we thought would give us the most spectacular view of the entire valley and yes indeed it was. As we headed further we found a bungalow surrounded by woods. But the backdrop view was simply amazing.

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Tosh Valley View

There were snow clad mountain tops way above us. You turn right there you find a towering cliff. You turn left you find that lovely glacier running down into the Tosh Valley. This is the beauty of a mountain. You look above your find the blue sky you have hardly seen in your ghastly city life.

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And there’s that lonely Kite hovering way above us

And there..and there is that lonely kite hovering way above your head shrieking, sailing near those snow clad cliffs. This is the beauty of the mountains. This is our Himalayas. You travel 1000 kms far from home to enjoy this spectacle.

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The distant Glaciers

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The lovely snow clad cliffs

Our trance ended in a second when our son reminded us that we needed to have our lunch which we had long skipped. As we were about to turn back he pulled us back and pleaded us towards that bungalow. We could not understand why the hell he was dragging us there. To our surprise the bungalow which was in full view ahead, was a hotel and it did have a little restaurant. Our son put in “Hey! I had seen it through my binoculars. Why were you both turning back?”

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We moved towards the Bungalow

The name of the restaurant cum hotel was really cute “The Last Resort – Café 360” and that too written on a slice of a tree trunk. There were hardly any tourists. We had to shout at the billing counter.

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The Last Resort – Cafe 360 (Also known as Pinky Didi Cafe)

A Young guy in his early 20s welcomed us in. We found a lone tourist probably somewhere from South East Asia deeply engrossed in an English paperback. He had a warm smile seeing us in. The guy was seated on the floor on a soft, well cushioned gaddi (Indian mattress) with a round glass table mounted over a bus or truck tyre. Infact there were no conventional chairs and tables visible anywhere. We immediately understood that it was once again the typical “Israeli” dining culture that was popular here.

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At the dining hall, Cafe 360, Tosh

The restaurant was really comfortable with the room heaters going one in full swing. We were offered hot drinking water immediately. As we browsed through the menu card and ordered our North Indian Thali lunch, my gaze turned around the wonderful artistic taste that made this room so adorable. There were some lovely Tibetain artifacts and paintings on display and the overall glass and wooden décor made it more special and adorable.

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Aura inside the Dining Hall, Cafe 360, Tosh

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The Peculiar Glass Table

Smell of freshly cooked traditional Indian food literally tickled our taste buds. As we finished our meal, the guy who received us outside the café asked us to visit the roof to have the 360 view of the entire valley, which infact would have been a great loss if we would have missed.

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Roof Top View of the cliffs, Tosh

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This is why mountains make us humble

Biting gush of cold breeze welcomed us on the roof. It was 3.30pm and the evening was drawing close. We hardly could sit on the lovely armchairs placed here. The sun was ready on its way down in the far west. The shades on the mountains were looming large. There was a growing aura of silence around us which made us shiver. The lovely woods below the snow caps were looking mysterious and dark. It was a spell. It was an aura. We loved so much.

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Evening in Tosh

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Shadows looming fast at Tosh

I suddenly found my mobile ringing. It was the call from our driver. “Sir Ji come down. It would get dark soon after 4pm and the roads are very bad as you all had seen.” We could not ignore his call but something was pulling us back, was it the spirits of these beautiful mountains. Was it the solitude, canopy of the growing shades? The answer was nowhere. We bid farewell to the lone tourist who was now busy taking shots of the fast approaching twilight. He would be staying a night here before joining his friends tomorrow travelling from Manali at Barshaini for the Kheerganga Trek.

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Adieu Tosh, We will come again

It was already too dark and the village lights were on. We found Singh Ji our driver waiting with worried expressions near the village bridge. Another 10 mins, he would have gone into village looking for us.

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Confluence of River Parvati & Tosh

On our way towards Barshaini, we dropped down at the much loved spot – way above the confluence of the two rivers Tosh & Parvati. It was evening. The entire valley was being captivated under the spell of looming shades. Some had shades of grey, some were shades of green, and some were icy silver. Yet in this gloom the gushing rivers were unstoppable. They were unstoppable since the dawn of civilization.


 

Photography: (C) Indranil Mutsuddi (All Rights Reserved)

Best Season of Visit: March-April, Oct-November, December-January (Snow Trek)

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