Kasol is a village situated on the banks of Parvati River, at a height of 1,640m. It offers good weather almost throughout the year, a scenic view of the valley and untouched hills. It is also a base for many treks nearby and has earned itself the moniker of Himachal Pradesh’s ‘mini-Israel’, as many Israelis come here every year on vacation after their mandatory military training. Proof of this point can be found in the fact that almost all signage in Kasol is in Hindi as well as Hebrew.

Alamy / Indiapicture
A mountain stream flows through the scenic Parvati Valley
A mountain stream flows through the scenic Parvati Valley

Things to See & Do

Kasol is the laid-back base from which several close-by sites can be visited. What begins as a two-day weekend may just end up being a relaxing long week spent here; such is the charm of this tiny hamlet.

Manikaran

Located 5km away from Kasol, this lovely village offers a maze of small streets, lined with wooden houses and colourful façades. It is a pilgrimage centre for both Hindus and Sikhs and the hot spring inside the Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara is considered auspicious. The gurudwara itself is a huge, impressive structure located on the bank of the river, with colourful flags everywhere and a constant crowd. The structure was built to commemmorate Guru Nanak Dev’s visit to Manikaran.

The aforementioned hot spring is claimed by residents of the village (with some pride) to have curative powers and is hot enough for one to cook rice in it! Also in town are shrines dedicated to Krishna, Rama and Vishnu.

Alamy / Indiapicture
Prayer flags add a splash of colour around the Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara
Prayer flags add a splash of colour around the Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara

Sar Pass Trek

This trek starts from Kasol and goes through six villages: Grahan, Padri, Ratapani, Nagaru, Biskeri and Bhandak Thatch. The path leads through a lush green forest, with beautiful waterfalls on the way. Various birds can also be heard.

Khir Ganga

To start this hike, you first need to take a local bus or a motorcycle till Barshaini. From there, it is an 11-km walk till Khir Ganga, a trek that is at once physically challenging and refreshing. After the climb, you are rewarded with the opportunity to bathe in the hot spring, which is accessible from the end of April to the end of October every year. You can also camp here. It is advisable to carry a torch, as there is no electricity in Khir Ganga.

Tosh

Tosh is a village of much scenic beauty, and is ideal for meditation, peace and solitude. The locals are mostly farmers who cultivate apples and hashish, the main source of income here. The temple of Jamdagni Rishi at the centre of the village is on the banks of Tosh Nallah. From Barshaini, you can go through Kalga, a steep uphill climb lasting about 20 minutes, or Pulga (30–40 minutes). It takes 1.5 hours from Pulga to Tosh.

Where to Stay & Eat

In Kasol

One of the best hotels here, Hotel Sandhya Kasol (Tel: 01902-273745, Cell: 09218525695, 09418281903; Tariff: 3,700–6,200) is a clean, luxurious property with a restaurant, bar, coffee shop and Wi-Fi. Parvati Kuteer (Cell: 09654455361; Tariff: 3,500) has clean, comfortable cottages. The food is freshly cooked and the views are amazing. Hotel Green Valley (Tel: 273869, Cell: 09816078989; Tariff: 2,500–5,500) has a nice atmosphere and large bedrooms. The cheapest ones have shared bathrooms. Alpine Guest House (Tel: 273710, Cell: 09816271067; Tariff: 1,200–2,500) has spacious rooms and serves multicuisine meals. Hotel Krishna Palace (Tel: 273011-12, Cell: 09857083001; Tariff: 1,200–4,800), near the bus stand, has a restaurant. Hotel Devlok International (Tel: 273028, Cell: 08894280028; Tariff: 3,100–5,100, tents 3,000) has a restaurant. Closeby, in Dhoonkhara village, lies the beautiful Himalayan Village (Tel: 276266, Cell: 09805072712; Tariff: 7,200–10,400) by the Parvati River with six cottages and two machans. They have a restaurant, bar, spa and organise adventure activities too.

In Grahan

Krishna Guesthouse is a wooden house with a view on the snow peaks and offers three bedrooms. In addition, Krishna’s wife cooks amazing food.

In Manikaran

Located by the Parvati River, Hotel Royal Palace (Cell: 09817373033, 09418135951; Tariff: 3,500–7,500) is perhaps the best place to stay. The hotel has clean, spacious rooms, parking and a multi-cuisine restaurant serving delectable Continental, Indian, Chinese and local cusiine. Also by the riverside is Hotel Sun ‘N’ Wind (Cell: 09805148303, 09817415303; Tariff: 2,000–3,800), with similar facilities. Sharma Sadan Guesthouse (Tel: 01902-273703, Cell: 09816073703; Tariff: 400–1,000) offers clean rooms and bathrooms with hot water. Fateh Paying Guesthouse (Cell: 09816894968; Tariff: 300), with five rooms, is more like a family retreat. Shivalik Hotel (Tel: 273817, Cell: 09418135951; Tariff: 2,400–4,800) is another option.

In Khir Ganga

The place has only two or three basic hotels, but it does offer a large choice of campsites and a couple of restaurants.

In Tosh

Hotel Hilltop (Cell: 09816380515; Tariff: 700–1,000) is a budget hotel. It has cosy rooms and serves international cuisine. Some rooms have a television.

The Information

When to Go:  End-April to end-October. In the other months, stay at Kasol is possible, but the snow and temperature will make it tough to trek and camp

Tourist Offices

  • HPTDC Dhalpur, Kullu Tel: 01902-222349
  • Himachal Tourism Tourist Information Centre, Dhalpur, Kullu Tel: 224605 himachaltourism.gov.in, hptdc.nic.in

Getting There

Air Nearest airport: Bhuntar (30km/ 1hr). Taxi costs 3,000 approx

Rail Nearest railhead: Kalka (310km/7hrs). Taxi costs 5,500–6,500 approx. Kalka is serviced by Howrah-Delhi Kalka Mail and Shatabdi Express from Delhi

Road From Delhi, drive to Chandigarh via Ambala. Catch NH21A to Bhuntar via Bilaspur, Mandi, Pandoh and Aut. From Bhuntar (before Kullu), take the right turn to Kasol via Jari. Hire a taxi from the Manali Taxi Stand (Tel: 01902-252450/120) Bus HRTC and HPTDC run buses from Delhi to Manali. Get off at Bhuntar and take a bus (every 30mins) to Kasol. An HPTDC Volvo AC bus leaves Delhi’s ISBT Kashmere Gate at 7.00pm. Buses for Manali can be booked via W hrtc.gov. in or hptdc.nic.in