In Kasol, I got a room by the river. One door overlooked the market from the first floor and if you opened it you could hear ‘Honey Singh’ songs from the cyber café downstairs. But if you opened the door on the balcony, the din of the river just drowned out everything else instantly, no matter what hour. I could’ve just stood there and watched the water go by for hours but I decided to engage with the town a little.
For the next day and a half we walked around town, ate at all the pretty little cafes, crossed over the bridge to eat lemon cake at the tiny bakery. (It has a nice map of the region and all the treks put up outside and a pair of delightful dogs who hang around there all the time). We had our meals surrounded by great vibes and music, then, came back to the ‘Honey Singh’ and then the river’s lullaby from the balcony.
Soon though, we had had enough and decided to answer the call of the river. We walked uphill along it as far as we could go till it was evening. We met villagers on the way who invited us to walk to their homes with them and stay a while, have some chai. There are some amazing places to stay a little uphill across the river if you want to be removed from the bustle (mild compared to let’s say Paharganj in New Delhi) of the Kasol market.
Kasol’s slowly burgeoning tourism is having some ill effects on the place but it’s extremely picturesque takes care of any speck of annoyance. It occupies the prestigious position of being the gateway to the beautiful beautiful Parvati Valley which is undisputed, of course!
One must go here and definitely go further. We definitely will, hope to see you join in our journey.
It was not just the ride but sheer change across the board that was more than a pleasant surprise for me. From Delhi to Bhuntar is a shift of realms so to speak; and this realization struck me as a reality at the chai shop in Bhunter shortly after I alighted from the bus.
As the old man with the typical wrinkles of Himachali mountain folk was telling me how to get to Kasol in his voice – the most calm and centered voice I had heard in a while – I was subconsciously comparing my surroundings to a chai shop at the New Delhi ISBT.
And they were not of the same world at all. Bhuntar was still a town, but it was quiet in the morning, cold in weather and warm in the heart. This bus stand has seen many travelers go by for many bygone eras. My presence here in April is just another speck in the sands of time but nevertheless it was important for the speck to be here.
From here, another local bus took us to Kasol. My first impression here was that of a touristy little town, with resorts on the outskirts and little cafes (like Free Tibet) with exceptional vegan grub on the inside. It’s pretty tiny, but a vast vast Himalayan landscape branches out from here, waiting to be explored.
Unknowingly we sat around thinking about places that we can visit and bring together an experience that shall be fitting to “UnCrushed Leaves”; we came across through some travelogues about a silent town hidden in mountains. In the picturesque terrain of Himachal, the northern state of India, lies a little hamlet – Kasol.
As the bus jumps along the breaking road, it jolts me awake and I look out. The valley has turned narrower. The river is more petite and more excited. The trees are getting taller and deeper green. The sights of Parvati (valley) have lifted the tiredness of the overnight bus from Delhi and everyone’s wide awake. For once, I’m glad to be up in the morning.
There’s a mist clinging on to the folds of the Parvati (river) as if trying to veil her beauty.
But I can hear her sing.
The joy in that gushing voice belies obscurity. The path draws closer to the waters; the sunbeams shoot through the clouds, part the veil and lay their golden fingers upon her. I witness this mesmerized, musing at this communion of water and fire, in such peace, in such allure. Or maybe I’m in a sleep deprived delirium!
Onwards we go! The yellow interiors of our lovingly named ‘Hadimba Coach’ (local bus) are joyously colorful, as are the people occupying its seats. Us the out-of-towners with our backpacks and city airs, the somber migrant workers who man the guesthouses and kitchens wrapped in woolens, the jovial elderly on their daily socialization ride, the office-working/teaching women ready to share an early morning smile. Looking out of the window of our bus, we are spell bound.