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Top 3 Destinations for Women Backpackers Travelling Solo in India (Part I)

Updated on July 3, 2015

Part I includes North India

Travelling solo is one of the most profound experiences for an individual. It adds more perspective to one’s life and makes one adaptable. More than anything else, it gives a person the kind of exposure that one can get only and only by experience, not by books or by hearsay. Being on your own has a special quality about it, not experienced otherwise. I am somebody who loves to travel. As a child, my parents made sure to take both my brother and me on regular excursions and trips. A family holiday was a must annually. Back then, I didn't really realize what they were investing in but now I feel extremely grateful for each and every experience. I traveled as a child and now it’s an inseparable part of my esistence. Travel refined me.

Since I am such a huge fan of exploration, I want to share my experience with all the people who want to travel solo, especially women. I insist, everybody should take at least one solo trip in their lifetime. It’ll transform you. Or let me put it this way – It’ll make you a little more of who you are and who you were meant to be. On the internet, I find a lot of people who want to travel alone and explore the Orient. This post is specially written for those people. A tourist coming from another land to my country might be petrified since a lot is constantly said about India in the context of crime. Women who want to travel alone have an even harder time visiting India. All thanks to the crime against women that is on the rise in some places. As an Indian woman myself, I can vouch for the fact that travelling alone in India isn't that unsafe. I say this from my own experience. Sure there are places that I will not recommend but with the same logic there are places that one must definitely visit on a solo trip. Places that make you feel delightful. Places that will stay in your memory forever. Places that you would surely want to visit again. Places that are safe. If you want to be all by yourself just with a backpack and a travel journal, even if your’e a single woman, these are the destinations that you MUST visit –


The Himalayas
The Himalayas
The billboard at Magnetic Hill
The billboard at Magnetic Hill

1. LEH - LADAKH

Ladakh is a place beyond words. It is essentially a high altitude cold desert standing at almost 9000 to 25170 feet above sea level. The entire landscape is surreal. It redefines the notion of natural beauty.The terrain is mostly rugged. The land is bounded by two majestic mountain ranges - The Himalayas and the Karakoram range. The province of Ladakh lies in the picturesque North Indian state of Jammu&Kashmir. .The entire region comprises of breathtaking scenic views, ancient but well preserved monasteries,snow clad mountain peaks, striking glaciers, chilly winds, adventurous and sometimes dangerous treks, Buddhist monks. it is because of all the things i mentioned here that Ladakh is known as the ,"Land of Endless Discoveries." Leh is a major town in Ladakh, is the former capital and has now been made into a district. One can reach Leh by flights throughout the year but the accessibility through road via Srinagar or Manali is only for a few months. If travelling by road, do not travel continuously. Take frequent halts, maybe even stay in Kargil for a night and then continue your journey in the morning. Try taking a different route in case you wish to return after your trip via road. That means if you entered Ladakh via the Srinagar Highway, leave via the Manali, Highway so that you don't miss out on the dreamy and amazing landscape. If you want to enjoy your road trip, take different routes and make it worth it. On the Leh-Kargil-Baltic National Highway, one encounters what is called , the Magnetic Hill. A billboard has been put up here by the authorities so that the tourists recognize the Magnetic Hill. This specific place has a layout where the surrounding land produces the optical illusion that a very slight downhill slope appears to be an uphill slope. Thus, a vehicle left out of gear will appear to be rolling uphill. Hence the name -magnetic hill. The vehicles appear to be moving uphill without starting their engines. In actuality, it is just an optical illusion since the slope is downhill.




Keep in Mind

Being at such a high altitude, it takes time for tourists to acclimatize with the climate and the with the lower levels of Oxygen. So, it is recommended that every tourist takes a day or two off, takes proper rest and then starts exploring the region. One should also remember to keep one hydrated at all times. Drink lots of water and ginger tea.

The Lakes

Pangong Tso Lake: This is a gorgeous lake and it's waters are shared by both India and China. Infact the Line of Control between India and China passes through it. It lies at a distance of around 150 Kms from Leh and takes around 4 hours to reach there. The 4 hour journey will be memorable. Commencing from Thiksey village which is filled with beautiful monasteries through the Changla Pass, a traveler can enjoy every moment gazing at the splendid view. Not only is the Pangong Tso Lake a tourist's paradise, it is also important geologically. It is fast becoming a centre for Geo-tourism. Different varieties of birds flock the lake frequently. The lake appears to be an artist's creation with different shades of blue present in its serene waters with a backdrop of brown barren mountains. One can plan an overnight stay at the lake. Various tent resorts are available. The temperatures drop at night.

Tso Moriri Lake: A tranquil lake which lies amidst high mountain peaks, the Tso Moriri Lake is serenity personified. The lake is now a wetland reserve and has different wild life species in and around it including great-crested grebe, brown-headed gull and the bear headed goose. The place is ideal for spending some time by oneself in solitude. The lake is far from Leh so start early and an overnight trip is recommended, maybe even for 2 nights.The drive fom Leh to the Tso Moriri Lake is hard to define.It is so beautiful that one doesn't feel tired on the journey at all. The Indus river flows by the side of the road for a good part of the journey. This place is a must visit so if you ever land in Leh, explore the magnificence of this high altitude lake. Personally, i prefer it over the Pangong Lake.

Tsokar Lake: A rarely visited lake, located around 160 Kms south of Leh, the Tsokar lake is untouched. Not many tourists visit here. This is actually a good thing because it makes the experience to the lake more personal. Also one can explore more.The lake is visible from the airplane , in case your'e travelling to Leh via flight. One can see the sulphur mines on the way to the Lake.The lake isn't very large but it is beautiful. It is connected by an inlet stream to a smaller lake - the Startsapuk Tso. It has quite a large marshy area around it. The black Necked crane is spotted here but it is a privileged sighting owing to less number of cranes in the entire world .The kiang is often seen here. Tent accommodations are available for an overnight stay.

Pangong Tso Lake
Pangong Tso Lake
Tso Moriri Lake
Tso Moriri Lake
Tsokar Lake
Tsokar Lake
One has to cross the Indus river many times on the Markha Valley Trek
One has to cross the Indus river many times on the Markha Valley Trek
Camping in the Markha Valley trek
Camping in the Markha Valley trek
From Yurutse follow path along the mountain side, then cross a small valley and follow zig zag steep path. There after cross Ganda La pass (4380m
From Yurutse follow path along the mountain side, then cross a small valley and follow zig zag steep path. There after cross Ganda La pass (4380m
The sightings on the Markha Valley Trek are refreshing
The sightings on the Markha Valley Trek are refreshing
Markha Valley  Route Map
Markha Valley Route Map
The confluence of the Indus and Zanskar river at Nimoo
The confluence of the Indus and Zanskar river at Nimoo
Base camp at Tilat Sumdo
Base camp at Tilat Sumdo
Frozen water falls along the Chadar trek
Frozen water falls along the Chadar trek
Wooden Bridge in Nerak
Wooden Bridge in Nerak
The return journey from Nerak can be challenging
The return journey from Nerak can be challenging
Chadar Trek Route Map
Chadar Trek Route Map

TREKKING IN LADAKH

Ladakh is an excellent place to trek. The trails can be challenging but worth it. A lot of people rely on travel agencies to plan the trek for them but one can go independently as well. Cicerone's "Trekking in Ladakh" is a good resource for independent trekking. It covers a good variety of trails. Other books are also available in Leh giving out vital information for trekkers and covering different regions. The only thing recommended here for a solo traveler is a trek guide especially if you're first timer.

Markha Valley Trek

It's a six day trek through the Markha Valley. A guide and crew (chef, 2 kitchen helpers, pony man) can be availed. Also, the courtesy that is extended by locals is unimaginable The Markha valley comprises many beautiful villages overshadowed by spectacular peaks. The trekking route crosses the high and wild pass of Kongmaru La.The ubiquitous chorten and Tibetan prayer flags mark the top of the pass, where one may see Blue sheep, Marmots and Arghali roaming the hills around. This is the highest point on the trek at 5150 meters. One can also visit the Hemis National Park.This reserve is for the protection of the Snow Leopard. The entire trek offers an abundance of natural beauty,serenity of the mountain, and stunning gorges. The trek starts at Spituk, which is a 1 hour drive from Leh. One can visit the Spituk Gompa here.The trek is commenced by crossing a bridge and finally reaching the Zinchen village where one needs to stay overnight at a camp. From Zinchen , the next day a one goes to Rumbak and finally the village of Yurutse, filled with fields of barley and potatoes.Here one can stay overnight in tents. From Yurutse follow path along the mountain side, then cross a small valley and follow zig zag steep path. There after cross Ganda La pass (4380m). After staying overnight , one has to head next morning to Skiu. The climb is steep and challenging. From Skiu one moves to Markha village.the village has a deserted fort. After an overnight stay, one heads ahead.In the next section of the trek one has to cross the Indus river several times. There are no bridges.From Markha one has to go to Thochuntse and finally Nimaling to Shang Sumdo and drive to Leh. Overnight stays in tents are advised at Thochuntse, Markha and Nimaling.

ZANSKAR/CHADAR TREK

The Zanskar trek popularly known as the Chadar trek is one of the most challemging trails in the region. The trek is unique because one hikes on frozen ice sheets which is otherwise a flowing river - the Zanskar river. Hence the name Chadar (Sheet or blanket in English).This frozen blanket or ‘Chadar’ is the only way in and out for the natives in winter, when the road is closed due to heavy snowfall. It has been their traditional trade route in winter for Centuries.The trek can be taken only in the months of January-March when the river is frozen. It takes around 8-9 days to finish the trek. The trek is challenging but an experience that will last in one's memory for a lifetime. The trek begins at Chilling, 64 kms away from Leh. The entire drive is amazing because one can see the beautiful Zanskar river flowing along.Then the Zanskar river meets the river Indus at a place called Nimoo. The road ends at Chilling.To reach till the first camp site, one has to start walking on the frozen Zanskar river. Don't freak out if you slip because initially you will , even several times until you balance your weight on the frozen river to reach the camp at Tilat Sumdo which takes about an hour. This is a good elevated camping site. Light a campfire to save yourself from the cold. The next destination is a site called Shingra Koma, almost 10kms away from Tilat Sumdo. It will take you around 7 hours to get there. You should stop during noon to cook something and eat it. Packed food is not a good idea because it will freeze. Sometimes pug marks can be spotted on the frozen river owing to the snow leopard in the region. Don't worry it is not elusive to the human eye , plus it is more threatened of humans than humans are threatened of it. Once you reach the camp site just go to sleep in your tent. The next trek is between Shingra Koma and Tibb.One of the longest trails of the trek but also the most beautiful. Many waterfalls are frozen here to form ice walls. Finally one can see a massive waterfall which is revered by the locals so they place some unique flags there. Moss is present under rocks here. This is the only vegetation on the trek.On reaching Tibb, one can stay either in tents or even in caves.After Tibb , the next spot is Nerak , where a much hyped and beautiful frozen waterfall exists.The trek is 12 kms.The Nerak pul or bridge lies just ahead of the waterfall. The bridge is an old wooden bridge but can still take the weight of 4 to 5 people at once. Nerak is a village located about 2000m above the river bed.The Chadar trekkers camp not at the village but at the camping ground 200 ft higher than the river. The return journey starts from Nerak. It isn't easy just because you feel you have to retrace the path. The Zanskar River reacts to the slightest change of temperature, and constantly keeps repackaging itself. The Chadar would have assumed a completely new form, and will it will almost be impossible to say whether you have been here before. Just keep moving carefully and immerse yourself in the memory that will last a lifetime. The whole experience is just breath taking.



The best time for the Markha is from March to June. For the Zanskar trek, the best time to vist is Mid-January to March. On the Zanskar trek , a guide (a professional trek leader) is highly recommended. Also, one must acclimatize to the weather conditions before taking the long hike. One should be mentally prepared to sleep in caves at night, if the need be. Also an optimum level of fitness is expected of the trekkers. Wear gum boots.Do not loiter on the way. Book at least 2 months in advance.

Chemre Gompa Monastery
Chemre Gompa Monastery

MONASTERIES

On the way to the Pangong Tso Lake lies the ancient and well preserved Chemre Gompa Monastery. It is a Buddhist Monastery and has mustard seed fields around it which act a yellow hue to the otherwise brownish-white landscape. Resting on top of a hill, this monastery consists of a museum with ancient Buddhist artifacts. Everything is labelled in the English language for the convenience of the visitors. Take out time for climbing this fascinating place.

Situated on the Kargil-Leh Road,lies the peaceful Lamayuru Monastery. The sound of the chanting monks is a delight to the ears. The places is filled with positivity. This is one place where one wants to sit and meditate. If your'e lucky enough to catch the first ray of sun here, you'll experience pure bliss. The monastery is atleast five hundred years old.

At an altitude of around 12000 ft. above sea level lies a twelve storey complex - the Thiksey Gompa. It is a storehouse of Buddhist art consisting of paintings, scuptures, stupas and even swords. The Gompa contains the Maitreya temple which has the highest statue of Buddha in the region. The temple was constructed to commemorate the visit of his holiness - The Dalai Lama.




Fried Veg Momos at Chopstic Noodles Bar
Fried Veg Momos at Chopstic Noodles Bar
Traditional Tibetian Thupka
Traditional Tibetian Thupka
Open Hand Cafe, Leh
Open Hand Cafe, Leh

GRAB A BITE

The food of Leh-Ladakh is just as simple as it's people. Since a lot of the natives practice agriculture and farming, they instill their produce in simple but lovely dishes.The staple food of the natives, which is also available to the tourists is - Skyu and Thukpa , and Khambir . Mutton and chicken also form an important part in the staple diet. Personally, i liked the local cuisine. Thupka is a kind of Noodle soup and finds its origin in Tibet. Khambir is the local bread. Skyu is something like dumplings or momos. It is mostly served with the morning tea at breakfast. Locally made jams are also available for tourists. Homemade beer called Chang is also available. If your'e one of those people who gets a chance to stay at the native's place, you can try an even large variety of beverages.Trying the local flavour against a terrain so beautiful is once in a lifetime kind of feeling.

Besides the local cuisine which is readily available, there are a lot of good quality restaurants but mostly in Leh. The eating places are not very close to each other so feed yourself in advance till the next eating joint comes up. If you like eating Chinese food, then Chopsticks Noodle Bar, Leh is one restaurant you should visit.The fried mutton momos were something i really liked there.The outside arrangement of seats is really nice. Also in Leh, there is also an eating joint known as Open Hand Cafe. It might come across to some as a little expensive but it is worth it. The coffee and cake are exceptionally good. One can also purchase souvenirs here.A German Bakery close to the Tibetian Refugees market is also a good place to eat, in case you have a sweet tooth. I liked the cookies and the pie there.

I suggest when a tourist visits Leh-Ladakh, one should stick to the local food and Tibetian food. It will save you a lot of trouble.

Important Information for tourists

BEST TIME TO VISIT: June to October

BEST WAY TO REACH: Flights are available from New Delhi to Leh. Also from Jammu to Leh.

INTERNAL TRANSPORT: Bikes and cabs readily available.

ACCOMMODATION: Cheap and Moderate budget hotels available both in Leh and Ladakh. The tourists who want to trek can also stay in the native people's homes. The people are extremely hospitable.

The Christ Church on the Ridge
The Christ Church on the Ridge
The Mall at night
The Mall at night
Winters in Shimla
Winters in Shimla
Pine forest in Shimla
Pine forest in Shimla
Gaiety Theater
Gaiety Theater

2. SHIMLA

I feel so elated right now to write about the destination which happens to be my hometown. Shimla is the capital of the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. There's a dreamy quality about it.The quality found in Enid Blyton Novels. The place has a feel to it. They say the 3W's of Shimla should not be missed - Ways, Weather and Women. It holds true. Not only can a traveler wayfare the extremely beautiful terrain but also do it easily on foot. I always tell people that if you have to see Shimla for what it is , experience it on foot. Being a hill station, Shimla is not just safe for women travelers but also very hospitable. I can guarantee that if you come here once, you might start thinking of settling down here in the future. The people are very warm and affectionate, not to forget Innocent. So no individual , not even the shopkeepers are going to trick you for paying more money. The best part about Shimla is that it has excellent weather throughout the year. Summers are pleasant with a sweet comforting breeze blowing all the time. All thanks to the lush green pine forests throughout the place. Even the winters unlike other parts of the region are not harsh. Being a part of the temperate zone, Shimla experiences 4 seasons a year - Winters, Spring, Autumn and Monsoons and none of the seasons is discomforting. Every season has a new flavour to it.

Shimla was the Summer capital of India during the time the Britishers ruled India and therefore the British impact both in the culture as well as in the architecture of buildings is so prominent. The heart of the city is in The Mall Road, also known as just The Mall. People of the city as well as tourists like to take a stroll on it, especially during evenings. There are a lot of popular showrooms, local shops, good quality restaurants, fast food joints, bakeries as well as some really good handicraft emporiums on it. Also one can shop from the antique shop that sells Tibetan items. There's a spot on it which is known as the Scandal Point. The place derives it's name owing to the story of king of Patiala kidnapping the viceroy's daughter. A statue of the Indian leader and freedom fighter has been erected right in front of the Scandal Point. Associated with the Mall is The Ridge, which is a large open space and so is the hub of all the cultural activities of Shimla. If you visit Shimla during summers, don't forget to be a spectator at the Shimla Summer Festival. It's a week long event with various cultural activities by both local as well as national artists. Also, on the Ridge is one of the famous landmarks of Shimla - The Christ Church. It was built in 1857 and is an excellent example of the Elizabethan architecture. The silhouette of the Church is visible from even far off places.In fact on the way towards Shimla, right before entering it, the church is visible on a distant hill. The church has a clock on it which was placed on it while it was being constructed. The clock is working accurately even today. Another important landmark on the Ridge is the Gaiety Theater. The renowned English architect Henry Irwin designed this Gothic style theater. It is the only Gothic theater in Asia. This place is not to be missed. Not only can you watch a performance on stage in the form a play by extremely talented artists but also can see the art gallery. It will be a delight for the history buffs. The Gaiety Theater hosts the Shimla Film Festival every year. So there is a lot to catch up on The Mall. Best thing is no vehicles are allowed here. So the place is not crowded with honking drivers. It's peaceful with lots of space to walk.


Keep in Mind

Shimla is a Plastic free and Smoking free place. So make sure to NOT use plastic bags or to smoke. Else you will be fined up to Rs. 2500. The authorities are very strict in this regard. So behave like a good visitor.

GET AWED BY THESE PLACES

Viceregal Lodge , now known as Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, is one of the most eye-catching locations of Shimla. The building is built in Scottish baronial style with lush green lawns on all sides. It looks like a castle. Once home to the viceroy , then to the President of India , it is now an institute of higher learning and research, with research fellows coming from all over the world. Tourists are allowed to visit the place except some special spots in the building meant only for research scholars. The rest of the building is open to all. An entry ticket makes sure you get an inside tour where a learned guide explains everything. Also, the lawns (which are without a spec of garbage) are open to all. If your'e a lover of photography, this place has to be clicked. A cafe is present right at the entrance where along with good food, souvenirs, books and t-shirts can also be purchased.

Naldhera, located on the outskirts of Shimla is every nature lover's paradise. It's can be a perfect weekend get away in case you want to camp. Huts . lodges and even resorts are available. If you have a problem with walking, a pony can be hired too. The place has one of the most gorgeous golf courses. So if you want to try your hand at golf, here's the place to do it. A short excursion to Naldhera can be coupled with a visit to Kufri, where the top of the hill can be reached by means of either horses or yaks. The Green Valley, one of Asia's densest forests also lies on the way to Kufri. A zoo harbouring a lot of wild life is also present in Kufri. The best time to visit Kufri is winters because the place is covered with snow and one can go in for skiing.

Camp Potter's Hill is a set of tree houses wooden cottages, and tents in the midst of the forest. If you enjoy the occasional 'alone time' you should pay this place a visit. It is an excellent place to re-connect with your inner self. The place is filled with Pine trees and is blissful with no crowd. If your'e lucky you can also catch a glimpse of some local wildlife.If you need any assistance the staff at the camp is always available. The place is well maintained and is eco friendly.

Viceregal Lodge
Viceregal Lodge
Naldhera
Naldhera
Green Valley
Green Valley
Kufri in Winters
Kufri in Winters

THE HERITAGE RAILWAY

The Kalka- Shimla rail line which runs between Kalka and Shimla. it is now a world heritage site. The stretch is 96 Kilometers long and is more than a hundred years old. It's a narrow gauge track with 108 tunnels and around 800 bridges on it's way. For somebody visiting Shimla for the first time, this train journey is recommended. It does take longer than usual but it's worth it. If you don't have time, then shorten the train journey by taking the ticket just up to a few stations from Shimla. The entire track is filled with Pine forests, high peaks , cross over bridges and tunnels. The train passes over many a cliff on its way. It's breath taking. The train moves extremely slowly with stops in between so very good pictures can be clicked of the picturesque landscape. The whole journey is so fairy tale like that the trains on the route are some times referred to as 'Toy Trains.' One can travel in ordinary toy trains or luxury toy trains as well. One can also try the Rail Car , which is a single carriage train. Each carriage holds upto 25 passengers and reaches faster than the train because it halts only on very few stations. The entire journey is breath taking. So try experiencing one.

The Kalka-Shimla Heritage Railway
The Kalka-Shimla Heritage Railway
Rail Motor Car
Rail Motor Car
Grilled Chicken Salad served at Wake&Bake Cafe, Shimla
Grilled Chicken Salad served at Wake&Bake Cafe, Shimla
Cafe Sol, Shimla
Cafe Sol, Shimla
 A North Indian Thali at Baljee's Restaurant
A North Indian Thali at Baljee's Restaurant
Ashiana Restaurant, The Ridge
Ashiana Restaurant, The Ridge
Chocolate pastry at 'Just Baked'
Chocolate pastry at 'Just Baked'

GRAB A BITE

Shimla has a lot of eating joints and restaurants with immense variety in food. Various varieties of Indian , Chinese, Thai , Continental and even the local snacks are available from moderate to high prices. One should also try the Street Food in Shimla. It is very nominal , has a large variety and is hygienic. Shimla as a place is very clean and so is the food. The restaurants for Indian cuisine , which i'll personally suggest for a first-time tourist to this beautiful hill station include : Ashiana&Goofa , Cafe Sol, Baljee's , Alfa and Jashan. All of these are well established restaurants and are located in the heart of the city; The Mall. Out of these Ashiana serves some of the local dishes. For Continental food, visit - Cafe Sol and Shimla Times Cafe . My personal favourite is Shimla Times Cafe. Excellent food. Try the salads. For authentic Chinese food, visit the one and only Aunty's .It is the best place for trying Chinese. Extremely nominal, Aunty's is my personal favourite. It is a small eating joint with a Chinese woman as the owner and the food is to die for. Fast Food joints which serve a variety of snacks include Wake&Bake Cafe and Honey Hut. Wake&Bake is one place where the owner handpicks fresh fruits and vegetables every morning. As for Honey Hut, the place is peculiar in that it uses a pinch of honey in each of their recepies and it's yummy. One thing that just cannot be missed while one is in Shimla are the delicious pastries.Just Baked, Krishna Bakers, and Trishool Bakers are three such places which serve excellent pastries. You should try them. 'Just Baked' serves eggless pastries. So if your'e not a eggeterian, this is the right place. Besides all these you can also try some local cuisine in the form of a Himachali Thali which is available both for vegetarians as as well as non-vegetarians. It is essentially a four course meal. However this can be a little expensive since only the multi stared Oberoi Hotels serve it at 3 of their top hotels in and around Shimla - Clarkes, The Cecil and Wildflower Hall. A lot of these places have wi-fi. It is safe to conclude that Shimla is a 'foodie's delight.'

Important Information

BEST TIME TO VISIT: Throughout the year.

BEST WAY TO REACH: By Road (Volvo Buses are readily available from all the major cities ), Train( Kalka-Shimla Heritage trains)

INTERNAL TRANSPORT: Cabs and Bikes, although biking is only recommended for riders comfortable with the terrain.

ACCOMMODATION: Shimla has tourists throughout the year so accommodation is not a problem.What can be an issue are the expensive prices at peak season. So book early.

Parvati River in Kasol
Parvati River in Kasol
The Himalayan Village Resort
The Himalayan Village Resort

3. KASOL

Kasol is a small village in the beauteous state of Himachal Pradesh. It is located in the Parvati Valley along the Parvati River. Most people are not very familiar with it. Especially the ones who travel in a very conventional way. But being a traveler myself , i recommend this small but awe-inspiring place. It is the ideal place for a pack packer. I have always felt that the more untouched a place, the more gorgeous it is. Kasol is one of those places. Best part is it balances perfectly the modernity with the tradition, in terms of its culture. You visit Kasol once and you get addicted. It gives me immense pleasure to write so highly about two places in my own state. First Shimla and now Kasol. No wonder Himachal Pradesh is known in Hindi as 'Dev Bhoomi' which means the land of God. Kasol is an adventurous place for trekkers who want to feel the experience of the majestic Himalayas. It has a large amount of camping sites. It is the base for trekking towards Yanker Pass, Pin Parbati Pass etc. commence. The weather is pleasant for most of the time of the year. Winters can be harsh sometimes.

In the recent years , the place has seen a huge inflow of foreigners from abroad. This is a place that is hard to get over. Due to the increasing visitors, the small village has come up with excellent cafes and restaurants. Also the place is sometimes referred to as 'mini Israel' owing to a large number of travelers from Israel. The Himalayan Village Resort has come up between Kasol and another place called Jari. The resort provides facilities for mountain biking, rope climbing, river crossing, rock climbing and trekking. So a lot of visitors love staying here. The resort is so popular because it rests within the thick Pine forests , amidst wildlife and people of different etnicities but provides within its interiors spa and sauna facilities. It also has a Jacuzzi, aroma bath therapy, kero therapy, acupressure, and massaging for after the hectic day doing adventure sports.


Wild Cannabis growing on a cliff in Malana
Wild Cannabis growing on a cliff in Malana
The world famous 'Malana Cream' (hash)
The world famous 'Malana Cream' (hash)
The bridge betwwen Kasol and Tosh village
The bridge betwwen Kasol and Tosh village
A tourist consuming the local hash in Tosh Village
A tourist consuming the local hash in Tosh Village

Inseperable Parts of Kasol

MALANA: It is an ancient village in the lap of the majestic Himalayas. The peculiar and unique location of the village geographically has helped preserve the village's biodiversity. The most distinctive feature of Malana is that it has its own social structure and set of rules. It is one of the first democracies of the world and is believed to be the oldest republic in the world. The inhabitants are distant from the modern civilization and don't like their local customs and traditions changed. They intend to keep it that way. A native of Malana village can provide food to a visitor but never receives food from an outsider. That is their custom. The natives speak the Kanashi language which is nothing like the other local languages. it is kind of a secret language for the natives. Another interesting feature about Malana is that it is the hub for Cannibis plantation. The product from the Cannibis plant in Malana is called Malana’s creme (a special kind of marijuana) which is a stoner's delight across the world. Consuming weed is illegal in the region and there has been in the recent past regular police patrolling. The livelihood of the native people depend on Cannabis Cultivation. For them it's just a plant and not a potential source of a world famous drug. The easiest way to reach Malana is from Jari, which is around a 20 Km picturesque trek to Malana.

TOSH VILLAGE: It is an extremely serene village where one can sit for hours and hours staring at the picturesque view or just mediate without any disturbance from the outside world.The village is filled with scenic trails. One can only reach Tosh by foot from Kasol by crossing the suspended bridge that is over the free flowing Parvati river. One should take a moment there and listen to the gushing waters of the Parvati river. A large number of people sit near the river on huge rocks and just spend some time with themselves. Cafe's and guest houses are readily available so accommodation is not an issue here. Some natives are courteous enough to allow visitors to stay in their houses as well. Hashish or Hash , a drug is cultivated in the region so a lot of foreigners visit Tosh for this reason as well. Some visitors also throw regular psychedelic parties for enjoyment and making merry. These parties can go in for days.The major crowd puller for these parties are world class DJ’s who come all the way to this beautiful valley just to perform for the music festival. There is an entry fee for these parties which is not too affordable any more.


Keep in Mind

When visiting Malana , stick to your prescribed path.Do not touch the walls and belongings of the native people, else you will have to pay a fine. Also do not consume the Malana Creme (extracted from the Cannabis plantation which is cultivated vastly in the region) because smoking marijuana is illegal and you will be monitored by the cops.If found guilty, you can be subjected to a prison for 10 years. So if you feel like getting 'high', get high watching the majestic mountains.

Malana (Aerial view)
Malana (Aerial view)
Parvati Valley
Parvati Valley
View from Tosh Village
View from Tosh Village
Hummus and Falafel at Evergreen Cafe
Hummus and Falafel at Evergreen Cafe
Stone Garden Cafe
Stone Garden Cafe
Pasta at 'Little Italy'
Pasta at 'Little Italy'

GRAB A BITE

Owing to the large inflow of tourists , Kasol offers good food served at various cafes and restaurants. I will insist, try food at the Evergreen Cafe. Awesome food, awesome view , awesome music and awesome vibe. The quantity of food is good and the quality is nice. The menu is diverse. The overall ambiance is soothing to the senses. Best part is that the prices are nominal. You get served with food from Israel too. Try Hummus. Another place i'll recommend for grabbing a bite is Stone Garden Cafe. The atmosphere is extremely friendly here and the food nice. One can enjoy the music played by skilled musicians. The beats from the Guitar will bow you over.Also you can try a Hookah here. if you're a lover of Italian food, try eating at a restaurant by the name of Little Italy. The pizzas ( especially the Pepperoni pizza), pastas, breads and desserts are good. Having Italian food in a small town , which is nominal is a good deal for your pocket. This restaurant uses organic ingredients as much as possible and does everything to avoid artificial sweeteners in food and drinks so that is a nice thing.

Important Information

BEST TIME TO VISIT: March to June

BEST WAY TO REACH: Travelling by road is the best option here. Luxury buses are available from New Delhi , Chandigarh and Shimla. Flights are available too till Bhuntar airport but hey are not very frequent.

INTERNAL TRANSPORT: Through trekking.

ACCOMMODATION: Budget Hotels, Resorts, Guest Houses.

PLAN A TRIP

show route and directions
A markerLadakh -
Jammu and Kashmir
get directions

The place is surreal.It redefines the notion of natural beauty.

B markerShimla -
Himachal pradesh
get directions

The place enchants. It has a dreamy quality found only in Enid Blyton novels

C markerKasol -
Himachal Pradesh
get directions

The place is a traveler's delight.It's a perfect blend of luxury and tradition in the Himalayas.

Photo Credits: (https://images.google.com/)

Do you feel like visiting 'North India' after reading this post ?

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    • profile image

      Rohit Kumar Gond 24 months ago

      I will visit soon.. :) Exciting places.. Produces an eagerness and adrenaline rush within the body to visit and see the beauty of the nature so closely.. :)

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 24 months ago from Shimla, India

      Thanks for the comment :) You should take visit these places soon :)

    • profile image

      Rohit Kumar Gond 24 months ago

      You're welcome.. :)

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 24 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting information. I travelled Nainital in 1980's to attend an interview. There, I enjoyed very beautiful climate and natural scenery for whole 2 days. Shimla is similar to Nainital. You have described all the details here so beautifully with full information for the tourists.

      Voted up, interesting and beautiful.

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 24 months ago from Shimla, India

      Thank you Sir.

      Yes Nainital is good too but Shimla is a blend of a hill station and a city, being the capital of the state. Visit sometime :)

    • sandeep15r profile image

      Sandeep Rathore 24 months ago from New Delhi

      Akriti, you have presented all the information in so much beautiful manner that it has filled me with eagerness. Usually, I don't travel much. But I cannot forget the view I got when I was going to Rohtang Pass. It made me forget everything that moment. And I was spellbound seeing the beauty of mother nature.

      Indeed, it is a great hub. Thanks for writing.

      P.S. I like the topics you touch .

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 24 months ago from Shimla, India

      Hey thank you . I insist go on a solo trip soon.It'll transform you. Cheers :)

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 24 months ago from the wadi near the little river

      What a beautiful country!

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 24 months ago from Shimla, India

      Thanks :)

      Come visit.

    • profile image

      Kanika Sud 24 months ago

      Super Good. :)

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 24 months ago from Shimla, India

      Thank u :)

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 24 months ago

      I doubt I will do so again any time soon but during my twenties I did quite a bit of my travelling alone. I agree it is a very different experience than with friends and family or with a tour. Very interesting and beautiful hub with good information for solo travelers! Voted up.

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 24 months ago from Shimla, India

      Thank you.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 24 months ago from Minnesota

      This is a beautiful and interesting hub, and votes up.

      Breath-taking!

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 24 months ago from Shimla, India

      Thank you.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 24 months ago from Massachusetts

      Great hub Akriti. What a beautiful country you have. I had no idea that India was so scenic, other than obviously the Himalayas. These areas I was not familiar with so thank you for sharing the with us.

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
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      Akriti Mattu 24 months ago from Shimla, India

      I'm glad you found my country scenic . Do visit some time :)

      P.S: I'll be writing about more destinations soon :)

    • profile image

      Nidhi Sharma 24 months ago

      Akriti that was an exhaustive coverage of the most beautiful and scenic places of North ...been to Simla kullu manakin Naldhera Kufri Rohtang pass in the past but looks like I missed out on some of the attractions .will definitely cover them during my next visit.

      Himachal Pradesh has me spellbound by its beauty everytime I visit every damn time

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 24 months ago from Shimla, India

      I've lived in Shimla my whole life.It still spell bounds me.Thank you so much for the wonderful comment :)

    • chasmac profile image

      chasmac 23 months ago from UK

      Great Hub - very well written and informative. I have been to Srinigar in Kashmir and that was amazing but didn't get to Ladakh - Maybe next time.

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 23 months ago from Shimla, India

      Yeah you should.

    • srsddn profile image

      srsddn 23 months ago from Dehra Dun, India

      Akriti, the pictures presented in the Hub mesmerised me and so did the descriptions. I am glad you covered these three destinations so nicely that tourists will be allured to touch one or all of these sooner than later. Thanks for sharing your amazing treasury. Voted up and awesome.

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 23 months ago from Shimla, India

      Thank you so much

    • profile image

      Keshav Sharma 23 months ago

      Nice one Akriti. Thanks for sharing such great details about these places. I would love to visit. And pictures are awesome :)

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 23 months ago from Shimla, India

      Hey thanks Keshav :)

    • jvhirniak profile image

      jvhirniak 23 months ago

      all very beautiful, esp. Shimla. Ladakh looks like Tibet.

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 23 months ago from Shimla, India

      Yep the terrain pf Tibet and Ladakh is the same. Shimla is more green.

    • loche profile image

      anshuman katoch 23 months ago from shimla

      hey akriti,

      That was a nicely written article.. I am from shimla too. I must say you've described our beautiful city in exhaustive detail, even I have not seen/been to some of the places you mentioned in shimla. I was reading about solo travelling when I found a link to this article on quora. I am about to embark upon my first first solo driving trip to sangla, kalpa and chitkul in the next few days. wish me luck :)

      anshuman katoch

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 23 months ago from Shimla, India

      Hey so good to meet a fellow Shimlaite here. I wish you all the best for your trip and i can vouch for the fact it'll be one hell of an experience :)

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 23 months ago from Europe

      Amazing beautiful Hub!

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 23 months ago from Shimla, India

      Thanks :)

      Did you read the second part ?

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 23 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      When I visit India, I most definitely will go to Northern India and to the great places which you have described in this hub. Voted up as interesting and very useful. Sharing with HP and Facebook followers.

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 23 months ago from Shimla, India

      Thank you Paul. I welcome you to my land :-)

      Read the second part as well for more destinations :)

    • dghbrh profile image

      deergha 23 months ago from ...... a place beyond now and beyond here !!!

      Very nicely written hub. It seems we share some common interest area. I am feeling like packing my bags and off I fly to the places you mentioned above. Your photographs are really awesome. Thanks for this wonderful share. Sharing and voted up ahead.

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 23 months ago from Shimla, India

      Yeah do visit whenever you feel like. Do read part -2 as well and then you can draw a comparison between north and south India :-)

      Thanks for the lovely feedback :)

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 23 months ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Good post. Keep on writing such informative piece to help travel folks in exploring our land. It's a good job and worth sharing.

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 23 months ago from Shimla, India

      Thanks :)

      i wrote on south India as well. If you feel like, read it and let me know if u like it.

    • profile image

      Vanessa 23 months ago

      Im impressed, I must say. Really harldy ever do I encounter a blog that's each educative and entertaining, and let me let you know, you have got hit the nail on the head. Your concept is excellent; the issue is one thing that not enough persons are talking intelligently about. I am very joyful that I stumbled across this in my search for something referring to this.

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 23 months ago from Shimla, India

      Hey thanks. You can read the second part as well :)

    • georgescifo profile image

      georgescifo 23 months ago from India

      Really a great and amazing hub for women travellers and the videos and images that you provided have given a real insight into the amazing beauty of these backpacking destinations of India.

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 23 months ago from Shimla, India

      Thanks :)

    • sujaya venkatesh profile image

      sujaya venkatesh 19 months ago

      a useful hub

    • Akriti Mattu profile image
      Author

      Akriti Mattu 19 months ago from Shimla, India

      Thanks

    • Sneha Sunny profile image

      Sneha Sunny 12 months ago from India

      Been to Shimla and Srinagar, and totally enjoyed being there. Srinagar is a must visit for anyone who loves to travel and love to be surrounded by scenic beauty. Unfortunately couldn't go to Ladakh when I went to Srinagar. I'd love to visit Ladakh next.

      Great hub!

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