Kasol, a small village in Himachal Pradesh has shot to limelight over the past decade. Till the early 2000s, Kasol was a little known hamlet which passers-by would take a halt at before they reach the holy shrines of Manikaran, 4km away. However, Kasol has become a hub for many Indian and international tourists due to its proximity to Malana – the village popularly known for marijuana plantation and for some of the best quality hashish.
The awareness around this formerly hidden hamlet in the Parvati Valley is increasing, thanks to social media. With the boom in social media, Kasol tourism too, is booming. While ‘scoring’ hash is one of the top motives that many people come to Kasol for, there’s more to the city than just that. Here’s a look at Kasol beyond Hashish: How to spend a weekend in Kasol.
How To Reach Kasol
- The best way to reach Kasol is via buses.
- Assuming that you board a bus from Delhi, you’ll need to get off at Bhuntar, which is an hour and a half away from Kasol.
- There are many bus operators that can drop you off to Bhuntar, but in my opinion, Swagatam Holidays offers one of the best services. Their volvo bus takes 12 hours to reach Bhuntar from Delhi and costs around Rs. 1400 (As of 2017). If you’re looking for a cheaper option, many state-run buses too operate on the route and charge much less. However these buses are not recommended for those who are not frequent travelers to the hills.
- From Bhuntar, you can easily find buses that take you to Kasol. These buses are frequent and run every 30 minutes. A journey from Bhuntar to Kasol costs around Rs. 50.
Alternatively, you can take a flight from Delhi to Bhuntar too. Flights cost about Rs. 4500-6000 (one-way).
Is Road Travel to Kasol Safe?
This was a question that was bothering me for many days. I had been planning to take a trip to Kasol for about 3 years but this was the question that always used to haunt me. However, after having taken my first trip to Kasol, I now know that the roads are very safe and you won’t feel a thing especially if you travel in a multi-axle Volvo bus.
If you’ve traveled on the serpentine roads of Mussoorie, you’ll find the roads to Kasol a child’s play. However it is strongly recommended to take a bus or have an experienced driver drive you if you’re planning to take your own vehicle as these roads are not meant for those who haven’t driven on hills before. The road is beautiful and you get to see the Beas and Parvati Rivers flowing all the way.
Best Time to Visit Kasol
- The best time to visit Kasol is March – June: However, it will be peak season so expect a lot of tourists in Kasol, which is becoming more and more ‘commercial’ with every passing day.
- For those looking forward towards visiting it in an ‘off season’, check out early November to Mid December when Kasol is usually empty, just before the Christmas tourists begin to infest the town. However, expect freezing cold weather, with temperature usually in single digits to below zero. Early January to Mid February too, is off-season.
- The rainy season is not recommended due to the hilly roads being prone to landslides. July and August are a risky time to visit. Though there haven’t been many instances of landslides near Kasol, it is still unadvised to visit.
Where to Stay in Kasol
- For those willing to spend the least amount of money, check out the hostels. There are two major hostels here – The Hosteller and Nomads Hostel, both of which offer very affordable beds at as low as Rs. 270 per night.
- Some riverside guesthouses are there for those who prefer a little more privacy. Right opposite the Moondance cafe you can find Alpine Guest House, Sunrise Guest House, Park View Guest House, Raj Palace, etc, all of which offer decent rooms at affordable prices (around Rs. 1000 to 1500 per night)
- There are many high-end options too, such as The Himalayan Village, Hotel Sandhya, Parvati Kuteer among others.
- There are also many camping options, you can either stay at a riverside camp place where you get pre-set camps, or rent camping equipment and find your own spot.
What To Do In Kasol
Keep in mind that Kasol is a very small place. It can be explored by foot in a couple of hours.
- Kasol is home to a number of cafes offering various international cuisines. It is strongly recommended to try out Israeli food here. Evergreen Cafe is a must-visit.
- Kasol is a trekker’s paradise. If you love to trek, you can walk to Chalal, or head over to Barshaini and explore Kalga and Pulga villages nearby. Then there’s also Tosh, which you can reach via Barshaini, about 40 minutes bus ride from Kasol. Here’s where all your party scene is at.
- It is also possible to trek to Malana from Kasol. Between Malana and Kasol, the village of Rasol too, has been getting many trekkers’ attention these days.
- If you’re the religious types, check out Gurudwara Manikaran Sahib in Manikaran, where you can take a dip in the hot water pool which has naturally hot water from hot springs. There’s also a ‘hot cave’ inside the Gurudwara which is said to have mythical healing properties.
- The Kheer-Ganga trek is perhaps the most popular trek near Kasol. Not experienced for beginners, this Trek takes you through a beautiful path and takes you to a different world altogether.
- The Kasol riverside is a good place to kill endless hours. The bridge that connects Kasol with Chalal has many small ridges where you can walk down and sit near the riverside, doing nothing, looking at the stream all day long.
What NOT To Do in Kasol
Though it is the bitter truth that it is this hashish driven narco-economy that brings most tourists to this place.If you’re standing around the city alone, you’re bound to be approached by peddlers every now and then. These can be shady looking locals who’d have a variety of substances ranging from hashish to acid, or saffron clad babas offering you sell ‘dum’. Often, police would stop your cars and buses and check your stuff before letting you pass while on your way back.Say no to drugs.