Kasol – a small village in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India, which is stretched along the river Parvati, was always a part of my bucket list. In March 2016, I finally planned a trip to Kasol along with my husband and some friends. And it was not a spontaneous plan like most of our plans. We invested due time for packing stuff because we also planned to trek through Kheerganga.
BEST TIME TO VISIT KASOL
Although you can visit Kasol throughout the year but the best time to visit Kasol is during summers which is in the months of May and June. Now, there are some people who love to visit Kasol in the winters specially in November, December and January. The temperature might go as low as -10 during these months. We were travelling in the month of March which according to us was PERFECT.
ESSENTIALS TO PACK
- Warm stuff including a really warm Jacket
- Snow boots (if you are traveling in winters and plan to trek) and Warm Socks and Gloves
- Charger/Power Bank/Adaptors
- Backpack (70lts is preferable)
- Sleeping Bag
- First-Aid Kit
- Zip lock bags (essential)
- Trekking Poles
- Camera/Selfie Stick/Extra Memory Cards
- Iodine Pills
- Compression sack for sleeping bags
These are most of the things which we pack while on a trek and its advisable to travel light with a bag full of the essentials. We left home at 6 in the morning and picked up some friends on the way. We stopped by a store at the national highway to get some crisps and drinks for our road trip. I remember we also stopped by to arrange for a hookah and some coal and flavors. We took the National Highway 1 up to Chandigarh and thereafter took NH21 via Bilaspur, Sundernagar and Mandi. We filled up our tanks at Bhuntar. With no prior hotel bookings, yes one of the biggest mistakes, we were about to reach Kasol in about a couple of hours. Everyone other than my husband who was driving started browsing through websites like “makemytrip”, “goibibo”, “expedia” and “tripadvisor” and we finally managed to book our rooms, must admit, after a lot of struggle though! I urge all of you who are planning a trip to Kasol to make accommodation arrangements prior to the trip. If you read my last travel blog https://throughmymind.blog/2018/01/19/weekend-getaways-anyone/, you would know why am I saying this.
As darkness thickened, we didn’t find any street lights in the hills. The stillness and silence of the hills has always intimidated me. “KASOL 1km” – this was a sign of relief for all of us as we were so hungry and tired. We searched for the hotel which we had booked using Google Maps and to our surprise, we found it by the Parvati river. There is a row of hotels by the river with the most amazing view. We were too tired to step out of our rooms for dinner, so all of us gathered in one room and ordered some Israeli food. Someone was lying on the bed, someone was checking-in to their Facebook accounts and others were trying to set up the Hookah. It was extremely cold outside and we slept at 3 in the morning after replacing the Hookah coal for the 6th time in a row.
So, the main market in Kasol has a lot of travel agents who help you arrange for several treks which Kasol has to offer. There are some long and some short ones, depending on how you want to go about it. If you are a regular trekker, you might want to experience the trek to Kheerganga. We coordinated with one travel agent in the market and he said we can start our trek at around 12 noon with a group of 13 people. So, we packed the essentials in our backpacks and kept the rest the stuff in the car, had our breakfast at the nearby café and left for the Pulga from where the trek commences. This is a 14km long trek which generally takes around 6-8hours. There are camps and tents available up there at Kheerganga but I would suggest going with an agent who arranges for a camp for you, in case you are not carrying your own. The group generally walks together, headed by a couple of guides. Please remember to carry torches with you as you may need it after the sunset. Okay, so now we started our trek at around 1 in the afternoon, had a really light lunch, as is advisable. We made sure to fill our backpacks with sugar supplies, like a lot of chocolates. Guys, you will get eatables on the way as well, like Maggi, Chocolates, Crisps, Biscuits and some drinks including the Red Bull. But that will cost you triple the MRP so you may want to stock up a little bit before starting up. The trek can turn out to be treacherous if one is not cautious enough. We kept walking, made a lot of friends on the way and enjoyed the music on our way up. The trek included a few tricky paths as well. There were stops after every couple of kilometres and we stopped, had Maggi & Tea and proceeded further. Eating plain Maggi in the hills is something which I love. I am sure many of you would relate to me on this.
While we were 3 hours away from our destination, it started raining heavily. This made it all the way more difficult for us, we decided to stop by a nearby village, Nagthan. No restaurants, no hotels, no fancy markets. But serenity all around! We had homemade tea, walked around a little bit, freshened up, played around with the local kids, talked to the villagers and waited for the rain to stop. It was 6 by then and it was getting dark, we were now scared. The continuous rain had made the path very risky. To add to the trouble, one of our friends was down with fever. So, we decided to stay in the village for the night and complete the rest of the trek the following morning. It was an amazing experience, to stay in the village, staying with this beautiful family who offered us the home cooked food, we ended up playing cards, joking around and of course enjoying “The Hookah”.
The next morning, we started our trek to Kheerganga and there we were, on the top! Breath-taking! Mesmerising! I cannot possibly explain in words the feeling when we reached there. It was so beautiful. We decided to stay there for the day and camp in the night. It was freezing cold up there. We made a lot of friends on the way, we interacted, we played music, we bon-fired. During the day, the lunch and snacks had been arranged by the travel agents which we had booked. In fact, our camp was set up by them. At night, the temperature dropped to as low as -5, we were 3 people in one camp. To beat the cold, my friend opened the bottle of rum. He was bad drunk and you won’t believe what happened next. He dropped the bottle on our sleeping bag. Woooaaaaa!! Now, that was the last thing which we expected to happen and it was freeeeezing! Like literally! We did our best to dry the mats, but what can you expect when it’s -5 outside? We had no option but to sleep like this. Least did I know that it would be one of the biggest challenges for me. I was shivering and those were like uncontrollable shivers. When we decided to step out and burn some fire, to our unpleasant surprise, we found that we were short of woods. Now, it was no more fun, it was a nightmare, we prayed for the night to end soon! I think we slept for close to an hour and there it was. The sun! We were waiting so badly for the sun to rise. And guess what? It was worth it! This was the first time I had experienced a sun rise while in the hills. Here is the picture to justify my words.
After having our Maggi and tea, we started our trek back to where we started from. The way down was way more simpler and took us around 4 hours. We made a lot of plans on the way back which included coming to Kasol more often, like once every year or so. Tell me if you could connect with our experience too.
Guys, there are a lot of Israeli tourists, and hence, there are a lot of Israeli cafes around which serve authentic Israeli food and some trance music to go with it which makes the entire ambience completely psychedelic. The night before we planned to leave for Delhi, we heard some noise and as we walked up to the reception, we found this big group of travellers including Indians and non-Indians playing music, sitting by the side of fire. We joined them and made the last few hours of this trip even more memorable. Since we postponed our trip by a day, we called up our respective bosses to extend our leaves.
One of the reasons why I love to trek is because of the amazing life lessons it teaches. No matter how hard the path is, keep walking, take some breathers on the way but don’t give up. You should not give up at any point in time, because when you hold on, the destination keeps coming closer.