There are few experiences in life that leave you at a loss of words and just genuinely happy to be at the particular place at that specific moment. The naked and clear night sky at Tosh, where one can see the milky way galaxy is one of those rare moments in life where your whole life can change. These are the moments one strives and lives for. Sometimes a sight like that can invigorate a thousand emotions in you.
I just graduated from my master’s program at JNU and after one hectic semester of dissertation writing, political activism and poorly dealing with existential crisis, my friends and I decided that we deserved a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of the polluted city that New Delhi is and find retreat in the Himalayas. All of us decided to save some money and go backpacking. Now, bear in mind, my friends and I are stereotypicaly urban upper middle class kids with no experience in, and I say this with shame, booking hotels and transportation requirements. Here I would like to mention two very efficient friends of mine, Diptanshu and Rohit for their diligent behavior in taking care of our tickets and booking whilst I gave my semester exams without an ounce of worry.
Come May 9th, the day of the trip, we all packed our bags and headed towards the bus stop, stomachs churning in excitement. After almost missing our bus and a very long bus ride we reached Manali to this view.
The first place in our sojourn was Manali, the most family friendly place on the trip. The city, unlike other hippie places in Himachal is densely populated with tourists, mostly from Delhi. When I visited the city almost three years ago, it was not as populated as it seemed this time, or so my nostalgia would tell me. Manali still harbors the sense of a small hill town. The people are sweet, the food is amazing and the view- what view!
We stayed at Earth Lodge. The accomodation has private cottages which sits on the banks of the river Beas. Without a doubt, the stay was fantastic. The people who run the lodge were kind enough to oblige us with a bonfire after dinner. Altogether, our trip had a great start.
The next place on our trip was Kasol. We hired a taxi from Manali for our trip to Kasol which took 3.5 hours to reach. Kasol is smaller than Manali, in size and is hippie central. It is located in Parvati valley, so the river here changes to Parvati, which is a tributary of Chambal river. Since it was evening by the time we reached Kasol, we helped ourselves to dinner at the newly opened restaurant/cafe called Sunshine Cafe.
The next day, Diptanshu and I woke up early and decided to go on a hike. We had heard about the bridge that is so popular in Kasol and decided to go across it and explore the woods.
Next on our trip was a trek to Tosh, a hilltop village in Parvati Valley. The tiny village can be accessed by road, but we chose to be more adventurous and trek there from Barsaini. Our driver, a local, warned us that even though the trek was short, it would be a tricky one. We accepted the challenge and kicked our heels, all in the spirit of being adventurous naively unaware of what awaited us. Within the first 10 minutes, we were left panting for breath. Within the next 30 minutes we realised, an it struck us like an epiphany, how ill-equipped and untrained we were. As we sat there, it was almost funny how donkeys with hooves were better mountain climbers than we were. Us, city kids with all our GPS, our tools and our Nikes were pathetically failing at this. And as I was having this moment of realisation, I see three locals elegantly and swiftly climbing down the hills. That sight was enough to get us off our bums and move along.
I have to say, trekking to Tosh was a good decision, because we would come across scenes like this.
One fall, two cuts and fifty breaks later, we had reached Tosh by 7 pm and crashed at the first guest house we found (which actually proved to be a good investment), Hotel Maya Shiva Shakti. You won’t find it on Google. In fact you won’t find any accommodation in Tosh on Google. It is a backpacker’s dream. But even with a big group as ours, we found shelter from the storm (literally, it was dark and raining when we reached).
Without getting into more stories, here are pictures of Tosh taken the next day.
The picture above is the moment I talk about in the beginning of this post. It was taken by a very talented friend Diptanshu (Here are links to his Instagram and Vimeo; you are welcome). Seeing as it was the last day of our trip, which honestly felt like a lifetime, we just sat out in the chilly evening listening to Frank Sinatra and gazing at the clear Himalayan sky and falling in love with life once again.
I definitely recommend backpacking in the Himalayan region, I know I will be back for more. It is true when they say that there is something magical and pure in the Himalayas, maybe it has to do with the sound of water rippling in the Chambal, or the swish-swoosh of the tree…it could even be the sound of the bells around the horses neck when they graze the land, or the stunning variety of birds that make up the region. If you want to experience mother nature, at its rawest, you should definitely go backpacking.