“Hurry up !! Get down fast !! The bus doesn’t stop for long in Bhuntar” !!!
And it really didn’t. The bus zoomed away.. leaving me behind..At a corner of the serpentine bend..With the towering peaks of the Parvati Valley stamping their bemoaning presence on the other side of the gushing Beas. The backpack properly strapped, the shoe laces tightly done..N off I went..towards those peaks..Into the realms of fantasy..To unravel the magic and splendor of the majestic Parvati valley.
It was an absolutely unplanned trip , given a shape only in the last minute. I had enrolled myself for the Hampta Pass trek, that commences from Manali. I had a few spare days prior to the trek, and since Bhuntar fell on the way, I straightaway knew where I would be heading for those few days !!
3 nights to be precise !! From whatever I read about the region, this was the itinerary I designed :
2 nights in Kasol (with a day trip to Malana on the second day) & 1 night in Tosh
I had earlier planned to catch a bus to Kasol, which I heard, runs every few hours from Kullu via Bhuntar. But since I wanted to fully utilize the short time at my disposal in Kasol, I did not waste much time in Bhuntar, and hopped on a cab instead. An hour of a stunningly scenic drive along the gushing Parvati river, and there I stood, smitten and enamored by the charms of Kasol.
A few friends had recommended me ‘The Alpine’ for a perfect stay at Kasol. But since I didn’t make any advance reservation, I had the freedom to roam around the small town, and choose my place of stay, comparing all the available choices (A highly recommended way particularly for a backpacking trip)!! But a walk around ‘The Alpine’ was enough to convince me to shun the idea of any further search. A river side location, great food menu, clean rooms, and only the last one remaining!! Would have been absolutely foolish of me not to enter my info in the booking register !!
‘The Alpine’ definitely provides you with the best breakfast location in the town !! Grilled Chicken Cheese Sandwiches, a roaring Parvati river right ahead, children from the nearby villages walking towards their schools on the other side..If you know of any better setting to gorge on a lip smacking palate, call me right away !!
I could have easily spent my entire day indulging in silent conversations with the cascading waters and the towering deodars, had it not been for the gradual movement of the two tiny sticks on my watch !! A few hours was all I had !! It was already noon, as I finally stepped out to explore the charms of Kasol.
The town has a backpacker feel written all over it !! Quaintness, only perturbed by some random Bob Marley tune coming out of a cafe; People lost in their own self musings, rather than being conscious over the way they look. Chappals and Ganjees had never looked so ‘IN’ !!
And yes of course, the bakeries of Kasol !! I bet you just can’t resist the temptation the moment you get a sight of any one of these ‘Sweet Spots’ tucked away at any corner. A bite of the apple at the humble German bakery, just adjacent to the Moon Dance Cafe, and I was sure I was returning to this place before leaving !!
Just a few minutes of a leisure stroll across the town, I noticed I was already on the outskirts. And there..I came across the sign !! ‘Jim Morrison Cafe’ was what I was searching for. It happened to be a short 10 minutes adventurous hike up the main road. And what a beauty I discovered !! A wooden cabin right in the middle of nowhere.
JMC turned out to be the place I had always craved to disappear in !! A quick bite turned out to be a two hour affair in the company of some grooving Reggae, wood fried Pizza and a game of carrom !!
While descending down to the main road, I suddenly recalled the bridge visible from ‘The Alpine’. And being an over inquisitive guy (especially in the hills), I decided to ditch the tried and tested path and explore what lied on the other side of the river.
“Take a left from the bridge and walk down to Rasol. It’s hardly a half an hour walk from the bridge”, replied a local guy upon my enquiry.
So there I was !! Right on the middle of the swinging bridge..Consciously putting forward my every step..Hoping not to wobble down and reach back Bhuntar, twisting and turning along with the freezing currents of the ferocious Parvati !! As if the constant drizzle was not enough to make the wood slippery, the naughty school children piled up my misery, embarking on a running competition across the bridge, as I firmly clutched the rope, waiting for their joke to get over !! Phew !!
Eventually, the walk turned out to be exactly what I wanted it to be. A foray right in the arms of a bewitching countryside boasting of charming apple orchards, dwindling paths disappearing into a canopy of towering deodars, and off course, the constant companionship of the gurgling Parvati on the left. And of course, the lonely walk was frequently perturbed by local gentlemen, taking me into a corner, and showing the crowning glory of this region.
You guessed it right !! The Marijuana was kept wrapped in a plastic pouch, with every one of the sellers boasting their ‘product’ to be the of best quality I will get in Kasol !!
Shrugging my mind off the stunning panorama all around me, I suddenly realized over an hour had passed and there was still no sign of Rasol !! And to make matters worse, there wasn’t even a sign of a human passing by for since the last few minutes. The twilight was around the corner now, and I seemed to have lost way in the middle of nowhere.
My anxiety was now turning into a scare, as I was unable to trace a way towards the bridge, that I was able to spot at a distance !! I desperately moved here and there, in a futile attempt to somehow find a way to that bridge, the bridge to civilization !! And then, out of nowhere, surely by the grace of God, a little boy appeared out of nowhere !!
“I live in that village”, murmured the boy, pointing towards the nearby cluster of houses. “I was returning back from school”, he further elaborated, grinning on my deep breaths, as he moved ahead swiftly, scampering through the thorny bushes.
I gathered momentum, so as not be left behind the tiny legs. Some steep descend, twist n turns,
and there the bridge lay ahead !! It was time for a deep breath and a round of thanksgiving to the little troubleshooter !!
It was only when I hiked up to the main road, that I realized that I had come some 4-5 kms outside of Kasol. Seemingly exhausted, I ditched the idea of waiting for don’t know how long for the bus, and managed to hop on a milk supplying veichle going towards the town !!
8 pm..And it was a gorgeous setting at the Blue Moon Cafe !! Smoke all around, lovely trance reverberating in the air, fire in the belly, gruelled further by the fragrance of hummus at every corner !!
The jubilation peaked..Albeit, for a short moment..
I got informed that there had been a landslide on the road leading to the village of Malana, my destination for the next day !! The road was closed for repair, and there was no way I could have proceeded to the mysterious village.
“O I so hate the last minute changes” !!
Since I got a feel of Kasol for the entire day, I decided to bid adieu, and step towards another gem of Parvati Valley..Tosh !!
For an extra day !!!!