The determination to fulfill the promise we made to the mighty Himalayas to return soon and our fascination for the hippies have drawn us once again to the mountains. And we have chosen this time a place which is considered as the hippie’s paradise – The Magical Parvati Valley. Valley is dominated by river Parvati, which originates from Mantalai glacier near Pin Parvati pass and flows into river Beas at Bhuntar. The valley has a well deserved reputation for its wild and cultivated crops of charas, a wide range of breathteking treks, remote charming villages, delicious Israeli food and its slow pace life miles away from usual hustle bustle of a city.
There are many villages in the valley accessible by small pleasant hikes originating from the motor road that runs parallel to the river Parvati. These picturesque villages have transformed themselves into backpackers’ hangouts and offer a variety of theme based cafes, cheap accommodation and most importantly – charas. One can stay in Rasol, Chalal, Malana, Tosh, Kalga or Pulga villages, according to their convenience. We picked Kalga, being the ideal village to break the journey to KheerGanga, which is a day trek’s away from here.
To reach kalga from Delhi or Chandigarh, one needs to get down at Bhuntar. Then get a bus to Barshaini, last village in the valley accessible by road. Buses usually take 3 to 4 hours from Bhuntar to Barshaini. About half an hour hike from Barshaini after crossing the newly built dam over river Parvati lands you in Kalga.
Kalga is an untypical Himalayan hamlet as most of the houses here are abandoned and rest are run as guest houses. The secluded pretty village with abundant alpine beauty and multitude of apple trees, calms down your soul as soon as you enter in it. Almost all the guest houses here look similar – an enviable wooden house with small glass windows and open landings and a cosy cafe. We were offered charas as soon as we entered a guest house garden. Smoking this feels like heaven at the place where it belongs. One can enjoy the timelessness of this place simply by sitting at a wooden bench in the garden, soaking up the sunlight, having a conversation with friendly guest house people and looking at the the wild snow clad mountains. You can also take a pleasant walk to Tulga and Pulga villages that are hardly an hour away from here.
Kheerganga, about 13 kms trek from Kalga, is a spiritual site where lord shiva is believed to have meditated. It has a natural hot spring and has turned itself into a hidden hang out for travel hungry hippies. You can take either of the two trails from Barshaini to Kheerganga, running on both sides, parallel to the river. The right side trail via Kalga is prettier, wilder and cleaner. The other trial goes through Nakthan village and Rudra Nag waterfall. After a 6 hour moderate trek from Kalga, we reached this Himalayan secret and got awestruck by it’s attractive cafes, trance music and pristine beauty. However, there’s nothing that feels better here than a hot spring bath after a 13 kms hike with snow capped mountains around. Accommodation and food is rarely a problem as there are many decent tents and wooden guest houses available for a pocket friendly price. Cafes in Kheerganga display the cultural coolness of this place. Group of hippies smoking charas in Chilam, playing guitars, high souls busy in deep conversations is a usual sight inside a cafe. We stayed here overnight and the next morning, after taking the addictive hot bath in Parvati Kund, we started the trek down to Barshaini.
Treks in Parvati Valley
Parvati valley is a trekkers paradise as it offers wide range of treks, from fairly easy to enormously strenuous. For easy treks, one can hike to villages of Chalal and Rasol from the town of Kasol. Malana village can be reached by trek from Jari village. Moderate treks include Chanderkhani pass trek and Kheerganga. Another trek, the Pin Parvati pass trek is one of the most enthralling and challenging trekking trails in India that starts from Barshaini and goes to Pin valley via Kheerganga and Mantalai.