After spending good 4 nights in Manali, we headed out to our next destination. Kasol, infamous for things that can help you to be ‘happy high’. It is just a 2.5-3 hour drive from Manali through the Kullu valley and Manikaran Road. Majority of this road was a single lane road where if any vehicle comes from the other side, you need to stop. The less aggressive driver (I took turns to show my aggressive side) reverses the car to find a wide piece of road, wide enough to let the other vehicle pass. If we were lucky, we would spot the Himachal local bus from a fair distance so that we have enough time to stop, reverse, shut our eyes and pray that the bus does not hit our car. The local bus drivers don’t usually know that there are three levels down below when you are driving a vehicle, they usually just stick to one while driving – the accelerator.
For our love for trekking, we chose one of the cafes/homestays, located a good 3 hour trek somewhere in a village called Gargi in Parvati hills, just a couple of kilometres ahead of Kasol. It is one of the best options for budget travellers who are willing to take some pain to experience what is out there in unexplored locations like these. The host was nice enough to walk down to the car parking and take us up to the cottage. The cottage dog ‘Koji’ also accompanied us in our trek. The trek was full of flowers and apple orchards which were frequently raided by the local monkeys. Our host and trek leader, Atul, pointed at the naked trees and mentioned that the apples are usually eaten by the monkeys and what is left over are these branches. After a strenuous 3 hour hike, we were there in our room. It was a place in the middle of the mountains with mild winds blowing. For the next two days, we were there in the cottage, did a couple of short hikes around while Teku ji, our caretaker helped us with sumptuous meals throughout.
The tranquility at this place forced us to just sit and read. Both of us enjoyed reading while we admired the beauty outside our window. The snow covered peak, which is called the Parvati mountain and the other smaller lush green peaks could be looked at for hours without getting tired. Our stay in Kasol, or rather, at Parvati valley, at the Gargi village was one to be remembered. Our trek down took us around 2 hours and this time we were accompanied by the other cottage dog ‘Jimmy’. Considering how scared Sidhi is of dogs, she made good friends with this one. In fact at times, she would look for Jimmy when he out-sped us while we picked up our pace to catch up.
Our next stop from Kasol was Jibhi. This drive was a rather exciting one. It is just a 3 hour from from Kasol to Jibhi via Bhuntar. The single lane road continues, and so continues the Himachali bus drivers. We might call them rash, but clearly they know what they are doing. Himachal road bus accidents are less frequent than in cities like Delhi, which definitely tells us something about their skill. We again chose an offbeat place to stay in Jibhi. The last two miles to the destination were rather complicated. It had just rained two days ago and since there was no road, the route had a few swamps. Our car got stuck and was pushed up with the help of 3 locals, of which one of them turned out to be the son of our host.
It was a small treehouse, literally, with the house resting on the tree and thick tree branches passing through the room. It had a nice balcony and all the facilities one could imagine in any modern condo. Another memorable, yet economical stay indeed.
1. When in Kasol or Jibhi, do not settle for the regular hotels or lodges. These are serene places and have some really offbeat places to stay.
2. The hosts go way beyond their call of duty to make you comfortable and arrange for anything you need, anything.
3. Be cautious while you are driving on these roads. They are not for the first time mountain drivers. My experience of driving in the Ladakh region definitely came in handy here.