KASOL – MALANA

malana

 Malana-The land where outsiders are untouchables. 

Kasol – An open secret!

Kasol is a small village in district Kullu of Himachal Pradesh, it can be reached via flight (Bhuntar Airport located near Kullu is the nearest airport to the village), by bus or taxis or one can drive all the way up to Kasol too. It takes roughly 13-14 hours (600kms) to reach Kasol from Delhi depending on the conditions of the road.  

A small guest house in Pandoh (by the banks of river Beas) was our first pitstop on way to Kasol. All through the night we could hear the river Beas gushing its way through, and slicing the calmness in the air. With daybreak, we left from Pandoh to Kasol (approx 75kms). 

Kasol is thronged by backpackers across the world for the infamous cannabis plant. (Note-Marijuana is a banned substance and its possession is a punishable offence in India). Situated on the banks of Parvati River, it is also famous for the enormous numbers of Israeli people living there to explore the hippie way of life. 

It’s better to book a hotel in advance while planning to travel to Kasol as it is visited by tourists throughout the year. We stayed at Alpine guest house for our trip duration, the guest house is situated right on the banks of River Parvati, offering an amazing view of the beautiful landscape. 

From quaint cafes offering Israeli food to German bakeries and the flea market selling dreamcatchers, trinkets, Marley t-shirts; Kasol has plenty to offer. After gorging on the scrumptious food offered by German bakery, we strolled down to the river, and lied down on one of the smooth boulders by the river. As dusk creeped in from the horizon we laid under the orange skies watching the towering pine trees, lining the noisy and rampaging River Parvati, downing the sound of the trance music that engulfs the valley.

Our tea break site- on way to Pandoh

Room view from guest house in Pandoh

Rampaging River Parvati

Malana-The land where outsiders are untouchables. 

Approximately 25 kilometers from Kasol is a mystic village by the name of Malana. It’s a solitary village isolated from the rest of the world at the height of 8701 ft. Most of the distance to the village can be covered by a car, one can easily find a local driver willing to drive up to the plateau for about Rs. 600 per person. The remaining few kilometers need to be covered on foot. The trekking trail to the village is quite steep and is lined by massive fields of cannabis plant. Even when on route to Malana and on reaching the village, one thing that will noticeably stand out is how the locals visibly try to keep distance from any outsider. The behavior did take us by surprise and we even had my apprehensions of approaching the locals there. 

Roaming around confused, we were spotted by 2 local young boys who offered us tea. Not to let go of this opportunity, we all agreed. All it needed was a cup of tea to break inhibitions from both the sides. Even the tea offered to us was kept on the counter and the money in exchange to be kept on the counter, with no physical contact. Speaking to those boys opened a whole new social system to us cleared our mistrust.

By then it was clear to us why the Malanese people avoid physical contact from outsiders. The entire village is laid with signboards of not to touch the walls or any belongings of the natives or else a fine will be imposed. The natives consider it to be the oldest standing democracies in the world and believe in their Devta, Jamlu Rishi. They even have their own council system that settles all the disputes internally. The decision of the council is considered to be the decision from their “Devta”.

Malanese people believe in a very strong caste system and consider every outsider as untouchables or from lower caste.  An alternative theory suggests that the Malanese people are descendants of Alexander and belong to the Aryan race and hence consider themselves from a superior caste every outsider as of lower caste or the “untouchables”. The language spoken is ‘Kanashi’ understood only in the bounds of the village.

Malanese people excel in the art of cannabis rubbing. Since, the cannabis plant grows wild in the entire valley, it has become quite a proficient source of income for the natives. It is illegal to possess the banned plant and yet the place is only famous for the infamous Malana Cream, the most expensive hashish on Amsterdam cannabis menus.

Malanese home – ground floor called as Khudang (for cattle), first floor called Gaying (for storage purpose) and the top floor Pati (the living place)

 

Afternoon siesta

Refreshed after the quick nap

Lazying around. 

Malanese home

Malanese temple

Malanese woman

Trail 

Malana-The mystical land!

River Parvati

It would take us days to wrap our heads around this strange democracy. No wonder it’s known as the land of mystics. With the sun going down, it was time for us to head back and cross the bridge that connects this secluded land to the rest of the world.

Until next time.

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Balasundari Shreedhar
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That was quite intriguing extremely beautiful

Rikhil Shah
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Rikhil Shah

Great pics. Liked the information regarding people and culture of Malana

Paramjit Singh
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Paramjit Singh

very well written