I heard mixed reviews about Kasol which is a tiny village in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. People would tell me all kinds of stories about Kasol some good others bad. But I was pretty much determined to visit this place. Since my husband is from Shimla which is also in Himachal, it was his idea basically to show me around in Himachal. We decided a day towards the end of July and next morning with our driver cum tour guide we headed towards Kullu (a part of Himachal) from Shimla at 8 in the morning. The peak season in Kasol gets over by the end of August. There are decent food joints on your way up there. As north India is famous for good food you will not have issues finding good food here. Wherever you choose to eat you will be served with delicious food. After taking few halts here and there for a snack or tea we reached Kullu district in around 8 hours thanks to our driver friend who drove us really fast there. Also, needless to mention this entire journey the Chainsmokers and Galantis gave us a real sweet ride with a different sort of high which is high on music.
When you reach Kullu, you will see a furious river Beas flowing with great force all the way up from the Himalayas to the way down where you can get a view of it along the sides of the road that you are onto on your way up to Kasol. This view is spectacular as you are moving up in the direction to Kasol and on your left is this river which is flowing all along with you as if it is accompanying you as your acquaintance. As you reach Kasol through the busy streets the river now on your left is Parvati which eventually meets Beas down there where you came from and merges into it. There we were finally reached to our destination Kasol.
The final destination
As we never planned where we were going to stay exactly and left that decision to our spontaneity we browsed around in our car and found a peaceful guest house with exotic views Alpine Guest House. Not to forget this is the only guest house there which is located right next to the Parvati river. So if you wanna visualize on one side of you is the guest house and the restaurant seating area and on the other is this ferocious river flowing with all its energy giving you the best view you can imagine. And not just the river but the lush green mountains which surround this river and the entire Kasol gives you the greatest of all views. We really loved this guest house. As soon as we reached not even we have started to settle down in our rooms we decided to take a walk near the restaurant area where there were few people sitting and ordering sumptuous food.
Moving on, my husband started a chat with a couple of friendly looking guys. People who belong here and those coming there as a visitor are all so friendly and amazing. There we sat next to the river and ordered food. After this rest, we decided to freshen up in our cozy river facing room for the night.
The evening stroll
As I get dressed in the most bohemian way which is my favorite style of clothing, my husband sat outside in our small river facing balcony chilling out. It was already around 9 pm. Soon we were on our way on to the road to wander a little in this little town which was lit up with small road sides shops meant to sell Israeli clothes and beautiful accessories. We stopped at one to take a look and decided to buy some the next morning in the broad day light. As we didn’t have much idea of what exactly to do we decided to take a stroll. As we were walking on the silent streets, we moved past a board pointing towards some Jim Morrison cafe.
Jim Morrison Cafe
As the name sounded tempting we soon were heading in the direction of it. The road to this cafe wasn’t exactly a road rather it was a small trek up on the hills. Everything was pitch dark and a bit scary as we couldn’t see proper way to move in a particular direction. We still kept our hopes high and followed a small group of crowd who were also headed into the same direction. We kept moving towards up on the trek and when we reached a little far from the ground we saw another board suggesting that the cafe was still 200 m away. When I say 200 m away do not think it is anywhere close as walking up on the hills nothing seems like 200 m on a plain ground. Anyway we reached on top and there were still no signs of the cafe. Even that small crowd whom we went past seemed to have already given up on this little adventure to the cafe. Finally we see a small meadow, a very scary small path leading us somewhere, showing us some direction to move onto. As we already came this far we decided to keep going. We kept walking onto the small path and out of nowhere we see a gigantic gate which at first we thought is a private house of someone local there. We were really scared to even walk any further as there was no way or path except for that huge gate. With some courage I knocked at the great door. Someone peeked out of it. We thought we really have landed into a private property and with a doubtful face I asked “Jim Morrison Cafe?”. To our great surprise the guy let us in.
Finally a sigh of relief. I signaled at the mysterious crowd who were still following our lead, to get inside the great door. As we entered inside was a strange and dim ambience but the best one in Kasol accompanied with a very amazing sound system and a projector screen on which they were broadcasting Johnny Depp’s Black Mass. What a movie it is! Everything was hallucinating at the moment and I felt for a second that nothing of this is real. Unlike an urban cafe which is full of crowd and noise, this place was quite with only sound of the movie on the projector. The sound of the movie was a mix of music and some dialogues. My eyes strolled around to find the prefect spot for us to sit and soon after we were seated on the low heights mattresses on the floor. A bit when we regained our senses was the moment when hunger strikes in . As my husband ordered the best pan cakes and pizza ever I observed what everyone else was busy at. There were some board games placed there which some of them were busy playing with while others smoked shisha (Hukkah). There were also some who came there all alone and were busy in their laptops or books while rest were engrossed in conversations.
We finished the movie, we heard some awesome trance out there, we had the delicious food and conversations before we left for our guest house through the same way that we came from but this time with less fear as we already knew our way down.
Once we reached back to our hotel, all the shops on our way back were closed and number of people on the streets reduced to almost 0. At night the river looked dark and musical. Looking at deep rivers, I feel connected to them as if they are trying to tell me a story about where they belong and where they come from. As if they are the only ones who has seen the topmost edges of the Himalayas. If only one could imagine what it would be like sitting on the summit of a rocky mountain and seeing the whole world unwind right in front of you in a circle!! It was 3 am yet the sound of the river convinced me to sit there in silence. For a while I just wanted to stop once in life. take a deep breath and forget everything, forget that I ever have to return back and to see with my eyes wide awake what I am missing in my life. With our exhausted minds and bodies, we crashed into our hotel room.
Day 2 – Oh Magic View!
The next morning we sat in the same restaurant ordered some breakfast and were thinking for our next course of action. Our initial plan was to stay only for a day in Kasol as everyone told us there isn’t much to do there and head for Manikaran which is another good place. But we were in love with the place and didn’t want to leave as yet. From the restaurant we could see a half broken bridge crossing the river just minutes from our guest house. So we decided to explore the other side of he bridge. We couldn’t resist the temptation that we saw in that adventure. We decided to take a leap. We prepared our little trek backpack and got ready in comfy clothes and shoes and headed towards the bridge. On our way there we had to cross the same streets that we saw last night and we stopped to buy some really cool stuff from there. They didn’t only sell clothes and jewellery but also offered some cool hippie stuff like bongs, pipes and ashtrays that you can buy to gift someone. We bought an ashtray for our friends. We then got back onto our road towards the bridge. As we were onto the bridge, it was the most amazing experience to be over the middle of the river. The bridge was easily 1000+ years old 🙂 At least that’s what it looked like to me and was with a broken fence on one side. But I loved standing in the middle of it and inhaling the freshest air. As we crossed it was all trek and trek on the other end. It’s your choice if you wanna continue trekking or wanna take a halt and chill at some cafe along that way. We decided to walk towards a cafe Oh Magic View which was on a small trek towards up. As we reached there we were greeted with a friendly owner of the cafe who liked to call himself Chilluminati. We sat there relaxing intrigued by the view which boasted of the glorious mountains all around. This guy played some of the best trance and spent time with us along with some other friends of his sharing his funny stories.
Finally we bid them adieu and decided to move further. As we moved ahead more inside the dense foresty village we inquired with some people and found out that further ahead on the straight path was a small village called Chhalal. There were also other good places on top of the trek called as Tosh village, Rasol etc which we couldn’t cover this time but we promised ourselves to go there the next time whenever we come back. For now we headed for Chhalal. It was an interesting trek with some really great views on either sides. On one side was the same river which kept us the company again throughout. As this wasn’t a very peak season the crowd was really less and the cafes were either closed or had hardly any crowd in there. We stopped at another lonely cafe in the dense mountains of Chhalal after a few hours of trek. As we were so tired I slept on the small beds meant to sit there. In the mean time the cafe guy arrived with the world’s best freshly cooked white sauce Pasta and chicken sand wiches to satisfy our taste buds. We couldn’t thank him more and left from there to come back to our hotel. It was late at night and we spent some time sitting outside listening to the sounds of the river. We sit there this time in silence and this is how our day ends.
The next morning we decided to end our Kasol trip here with heavy hearts and head back onto our next destination Old Manali as we had very less time on hand which we had managed to steal from our busy hectic work lives back there in Singapore. We bid farewell to this beautiful calm place. But We are gonna come back. I will share my old Manali trip details in a separate blog entirely dedicated to it. This was all about Kasol.
Best way to reach – 1. Shimla to Kasol by car/taxi – 8 hours
2. Delhi to Kullu by Air, From Kullu airport to Kasol by taxi – 2 hours
Best place to stay – Alpine Guest House tariff 1500 INR
Things to do – Trekking, Fishing, Cycling
Attractions – Jim Morrison Cafe, Oh Magic View Cafe, German Bakery, Moon Dance Cafe