Saturday, April 26, 2014

Kasol – A Sleepy Paradise

Driving along river Parvati and passing through lush green pine forest and lovely villages we reached Kasol.

DAY ONE – Exploring relaxed village and lazy market
We could feel the relaxed fresh air as soon as we stepped out of the car after crossing a small wooden bridge in the middle of a market. The market was quiet with only a very few shops open preparing for the day when we reached. After settling down in a family run guest house "Rainbow", we decided to be the first customer of a dhaba just outside the guest house. Butter toast with omelette was enough to charge me for my first few hours at Kasol.

We spent some time absorbing the calm of the place sitting on huge boulders at the banks of the river and then exploring the village. Kasol at the height of 1640 meters is a quiet peaceful village situated 6 kms short of Manikaran in the Parvati valley and is surrounded by mountain ranges.

The market area has a few guest houses and not more than 100 shops within 2 kms area. The village has traditional wooden houses having slanted roofs of black slates.
There's a great variety of food to munch on in this little town. Right from Israeli cuisine to Italian, Indian and Chinese, you can find it all. There are cafes with nice ambience to spend hours at serving best coffee, sandwiches and some awesome bakery.

As soon as we finished our lunch it started drizzling. Light rain and fog enhanced the beauty of the place.  We started walking along the riverside after crossing the bridge connecting Kasol to Chhalal. Nothing but pine trees dotted the entire landscape as the rhythmic sound of gurgling Parvati accompanied us. We stopped regularly to admire and capture the beauty of colorful flowers, lovely birds or just the entire scenery. While returning, a few village ladies washing clothes in the stream caught our attention. A narrow slippery path took us down to them. I was surprised to see a small pond with two entry points - from one natural boiling hot water was coming in and the other was bringing in cold water and an exit. The arrangement was such that the temperature of water in the small pool was just perfect. And this is where the village ladies were washing.  They did not take time to mingle. Looking at my curiosity about their attire one of them offered me to teach how to drape the shawl in peculiar Himachali way. I, like an excited little child, readily agreed.

The evening was spent chilling out in cool cafes, roaming around in the market, shopping hand-knitted woolens and eating to our heart’s content.

DAY TWO – Tete-a-tete with nature
Morning bought with it chilly winds from North. As I stepped out to the balcony of my room I could see the peaks covered with fresh snow that urged me to leave the room and go out for a walk in the woods. Walking on wet ground through narrow lanes and crossing slippery boulders, I reached a vast green open space bordering the river overlooking snow clad peaks, an ideal place for a person like me, a metro-city dweller to unwind. Tall trees wanting to kiss the cotton clouds, cold stream of flowing water eager to reach its beloved, big round boulders enjoying the gentle touch of water, cool breeze trying to whisper a message it has bought from far-away lands and deep blue sky smiling at this romantic setting of nature...  I was lost in the wonderland for quite some time.

When I regained my senses it was a bright sunny day already, so I immediately went back to wake my friends up and start our journey to Tosh. We drove till Tosh via Barshaini. Kasol is also a base for Himalayan trekking to SarPass, Yanker Pass, Pin Parbati Pass and Khiriganga. Tosh was a quaint little village on top of a hill surrounded by stunning snow covered peaks. Simple village people enjoying the small nothings of life made me wonder why we in cities have made our life so complicated.

We lost the track of time while sitting on a huge rock on top of the hill looking at gigantic mountains unmoved by the forces of nature, gushing Parvati River as if trying to tell stories and a small habitat of simple human beings enjoying their existence. 

We bade adieu to the tiny hamlet around evening and started our journey back.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014


In this genaration of solo-traveling, I feel proud to have travelled with Familiar strangers. I like to travel with strangers who connect to me for their love for travel and exploration. And in course of our journey, we not only explore the place but also make friends with some lovely people. FAMILIAR STRANGERS is what I call them. 

I get awestruck to look back and realize how many different familiar strangers I have made friends with in these couple of years. 
An ever-excited old retired scientist who never want to be called old, has lost his life partner when he needed her the most and now travels to steal some lively moments with co-travelers; a young loving couple who’s full of love and appreciation for each other and is traveling to understand life from each other’s perspective; a middle aged strong single lady who is self-dependent and living her life on her own terms for whom traveling is a part of life; an ambitious young man who draws inspiration from “himself-some-years-from-now” and is traveling as he finds a sense of accomplishment by ticking it off his must-visit list; a young chirpy independent girl who has perfectly learnt to hide her sorrow behind her smile and for whom travel is a good way of understanding herself a little more; an old adorable married couple who wants to explore together the maximum while they can. And stranger is the fact that I can relate to each one of them. Some remind me of my loneliness, some of my urge to be independent, some of my romantic self and some of my hunger to live life to the fullest. I wonder how similar we all are… going through similar emotions, sentiments and passion to live life in a best possible way in given conditions. We just need to connect and travel gives me that opportunity.

Thank you all familiar strangers… I’ve learnt many lessons of life through you.


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