Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Where to Stay in Kasol, Parvati Valley, Himachal Pradesh

KASOL is a trekker's paradise. The town is a different story though!

1. Kasol town is getting too crowded and is headed for the same sad destiny as that of Manali and Simla. There are issues with parking, with garbage disposal and such like matters. Even though the town retains its charm because of its natural beauty and a vibrant crowd, you may not really like to stay inside the town for long. Room rents have also gone up because of an ever tilting demand-supply ratios over past two years. A better option, therefore, would be to stay 'around' Kasol and walk around the area, including Kasol town, instead of plonking yourself inside the town. In any case, after departmental raids by Green Tribunal, Tourism Department and others during December 2017, many well known hotels and restaurants have been sealed for various offences and are not available as on date (April 2018). Please check status before you book.

2. When we look at the options 'around' Kasol, there are some distinct segments.

(a) Ahead of Kasol (towards Manikaran)..... there is virtually nothing once you leave the town and travel for half a Km or so towards Manikaran. The only place that offers guesthouse accommodation and basic camps is the Village Choj that is across the river. You will have to get down at NHPC complex, around a Km after Kasol, walk over the footbridge to reach the place. Rs 1000-1500 per head per room (800 for longer stays) is the rate now in 2018. And some basic facilities are available. BUT the village itself is notorious for drug mafia activities (Unfortunately, marijuana, as we all know, is one of the USPs of Parvati Valley). So, the place is best avoided unless your only aim to visit is for tripping.

(b) Short of Kasol, along the road and this side of the river, most of the accommodations, like Himalayan Village (high end) and Parvati Kuteer are expensive for budget travellers. Colonel's Woods Cottage Dacha has a variety of rooms from 500 per head to 5000 (double to quad occupancy per night). They also have bonfires and offer basic home cooked food (around 150 per head per major meal). Contact persons are Ajeet (982110469)  and Anshul 9899171787/9805767073). Then there are Parvati Woods Camp (Anshul (9805767073 and Prakul (999092220) ..., Brick and Stone Resort and Camp Kabeela. There is also a hotel, Hotel Anupam, on the main road. All these properties look good and have good ambience.

(c) Across the river, there is no motorable road that runs over Parvati River in and around Kasol and that is why the area on the other side is peaceful and serene. The area across can be divided into two parts - first is area of Village Chalal (bang opposite Kasol). Himalayan Camp is run by Om Negi (9805716616 ) there. The tented camp offers basic food and basic accommodation but the location is too good. One has to walk for a Km or so reach the place. Charges range from 800 to 1000 per head per day for accommodation but he allows as many people in one tent as possible.  There are other properties like Chalal Cafe, Shiva Cafe, Shanti Cafe, Greenpark Cafe, Maya Cafe and Guru Cafe. All these are cafe patronised by Israelis and accommodation is very basic. Stress is on 'Shiva's Regal' rather than Chivas Regal and associated brands. Many of these places also involve long walks though area is beautiful to walk through. A call can be taken by you in this regard.
The second chunk of area, and the one that we would rate higher than Chalal, is to the West, ie, across the river but short of Kasol. It is roughly opposite Parvati Kuteer. The area is called Katagla. The access is through a footbridge over the river. The drop off point is Temple at Jai Nallah (all bus guys know it). From there, you get down to the river, cross it to reach Katagla area (though actual Katagla Village is slightly ahead). Musik Cafe is to your left as you step on terra firma across the bridge while there are few good places to the right of the bridge..... White House is the biggest of all in the area and has a concrete building as also wood huts (recommended), is patronised by Israelis and their attempts to create a pool inside the property has run into a legal hassle. Ahead of it used to exist a hidden treasure called Katagla Forest Retreat  - a traditionally constructed property of wood and slates with its own restaurant. Unfortunately, now it is shut and owners are re-doing the whole place with some new constructions.
The bridge near Jai Nallah

(d) For those seeking adventure and some real backpacking, Tosh - a village ahead of Barshaini and Manikaran- offers some good options. Anshul and Prakul have a property (Tosh Rooms) there too. The area is frequented by foreigners more than their Indian counterparts though.

Kasol is a place that is one of the trendiest niches in HP today. Because of road issues, the area remains beautiful and less cluttered, barring Kasol town, ie. If you are heading for any of the properties listed above, please make sure to book in advance. BTW, all these properties remain open even during winters! That is another incentive to re-visit such places once you have been there during summers.

BUT remember, these places offer you peace and tranquility to unwind and break free from the stress at least for a while. There is a personal touch of hospitality and guys will take you out on treks if you so desire. If, however, you are looking for luxury or hotel like services or even if you are a TV addict, you may look-see somewhere else. This point needs to be absorbed before you pick up your phone to dial a number!