Parvati valley always gave me the chills whenever I thought of going there alone, search on Google and you will find numerous unsolved cases of mysterious disappearances in the valley, mostly foreigners. I used to get a bit nervous whenever the thought of going there alone crossed my mind.
A few months ago I was travelling to Manali in an HRTC bus, sitting next to me was a 68 years old Italian man who was going to Parvati valley all alone, upon learning more about his fascination with the valley, he told me that he is travelling to Parvati valley since 1975, that’s 14 years before I was even born, you can’t beat that for a motivation.
I decided to put my fear aside and go there, I mean c’mon I have done solo treks before, however, my plan was to avoid the popular and crowded places like Kasol, kheerganga etc so I decided to go to a secluded village located near the end of Parvati valley, it’s called Tosh village, I wanted to spend two days amidst thick pine forests, mountains, and solitude, like always, I was short in time and had only three days to explore the valley.
How to reach Tosh:
If you are going there by road, you need to take a bus till Bhuntar, or Manali and deboard at Bhuntar, in my case I was coming from Delhi so I took the Delhi – Manali HRTC bus. You can also reach there through a flight, there’s an airport in Bhuntar.
You need to reach Barsheni from Bhuntar and there is a frequent ordinary-bus service going to Barsheni in every 15 minutes, these buses belong to KTC (Kullu transport corporation) and Parvati valley transport corporation.
Here’s your distance and cab/bus charges (as of 2018):
The route will be…
Bhuntar – Kasol – Manikaran – Barsheni – Tosh
Bhuntar to Barsheni – 44.6 Kilometres, takes around 3-4 hours to reach by bus with Rs 75/- fare. Taxi Charges are high, something around Rs 2000/-
Bhuntar to Kasol – 31.4 Kilometres, takes around 1 & 1/2 hour by bus, Rs 50/- fare and Rs 900/- by Taxi
Kasol to Tosh via Manikaran – 20.1 Kilometres, takes around an hour or more, bus charges Rs 25/-, taxi charges Rs 900/-
Barsheni to Tosh – A taxi for Rs 300/- or a 1 hour trek.
Day 1 – Friday, Bhuntar to Tosh
I reached Bhuntar at around 10:00 AM and boarded a local KTC bus, upon asking the helper I was told that It will reach Barsheni by 1:30 PM.
The bus started moving, it will take you through mountain roads with the beautiful Parvati river flowing on one side with its milky white rapids which are the reason why it’s called Kheerganga (Kheer being a white sweet Indian pudding made of milk), the view of the river is divine and it will be your companion throughout, the road is bumpy at some points but overall its not a big of an issue, after around 1 & 1/2 hour, we crossed Kasol and arrived at Manikaran.
The bus took a halt for half an hour at Manikarnan where some groups of foreigners and Desi backpackers boarded the bus and then we resumed the journey to Barsheni, the bus reached there at around 2:00 PM, that’s the last point up to which the bus goes, I had some breakfast in a nearby restaurant and booked a cab for Rs 300/- till Tosh village.
You can trek up to Tosh village from Barsheni if you want, it will take you around 1 hour to reach Tosh from there but I was too tired that day.
Tosh is a very small village on a mountain, the area is very quiet and secluded, when I entered the village it felt like the village was empty as I barely saw any villagers there.
As soon as you enter the village you will find some shops, restaurants, and guest houses, I went up till the end of the village and booked a hotel room there for Rs 700/- per day, my plan was to stay in the village for two days.
I slept well for about an hour in my room and went out to see the village after the nap, still I couldn’t see many locals there, the houses were mostly made of woods with slate rock roofs and were quite old, there are some fancy cafes and restaurants where you can chill and have some good food.
Tourists usually don’t stay at Tosh as there’s not much to do, they stay in Kasol and just visit Tosh as a day hike and return back to Kasol, the place is for people who are looking for some solitude, peace, and stargazing. Its the last village. I ate some Chapatis and Dal fry in a restaurant, it was good except the Chapatis were made of Maida (White flour).
After coming back to my hotel, I just sat and relaxed on an elevated roof-like platform outside the hotel from where the view of the mountains was amazing, there I met two girls from Delhi, Salonie and Himanshi, both of them were also on a solo trip. Actually, I gave a lift to Himanshi on my way up to Tosh from Barsheni. We just sat there for a while enjoying the nature and all we could hear was the sound of a distant waterfall ahead of Tosh which acts as a feeder to the Parvati river.
So, if you are a girl who is a bit skeptical about visiting the place alone, don’t worry, you will be fine, the locals are indifferent to the tourists anyway, whether you a girl or a boy, they just don’t give a damn.
I spend the first night sitting outside on that platform with Salonie, all we did was chit-chatting and clicking some pictures of the beautiful starry night sky and the milky way galaxy.
Day 2 – Saturday, Tosh
My initial plan was to stay at Tosh for two days and visit Kutla (which is around an hour hike away) but I learned that there was not much to do at Tosh so I decided to spend the other night in Kasol, however, I wanted to go near the ginormous waterfall which I could see from the hotel. At around 8:00 AM I started walking in the direction of that waterfall which was also the way for Kutla village.
As I approached the waterfall, I found myself walking through a thick Pine forest with plantations of cannabis everywhere, yes, that’s the main occupation of the people living in Parvati valley. There was no one except me on that area at that time, I just kept moving towards the waterfall to take a good picture.
I crossed a ridge and saw the waterfall in front of me at a distance, it appeared like a ruthless monster growling at me, the sound of that waterfall was intimidating – it was dominating the whole forest. I tried moving closer to get a good picture and reached near an edge but there was no angle to take a picture from that point and it was scary, I just got a glimpse of the water flowing in an unforgiving way down the valley.
I immediately backed off, my plan was to go to Kutla from there but I got nervous because there was no one else in that forest except me, I read that brown and black Himalayan bears are occasionally seen in that area. I checked my bag and came to know that I had left my Bear spray in my hotel room.
Despite having done a few solo treks in the past, I was never this nervous before, that place has a different spooky vibe or maybe it was because I feel more comfortable in the areas above the treeline as compared to forests, I decided not to move ahead and return to the hotel.
I decided to spent the other day at Kasol and left Tosh at around 11:00 AM with those two girls I met the previous day, we booked a cab for Rs 900/- and decided to visit Manikaran on our way to Kasol.
I got a room for Rs 1500/- at Kasol, the place is costlier than Tosh, Himanshi and I were staying in the same hotel and I was jealous with Salonie because she had a pre-booked cute little Airbnb cabin just next to Parvati river at a dreamy location, outside of main Kasol and the owner had some sweet-sweet hooch too. We all took some rest and went out in the evening where we just sat beside the Parvati river and ate some Maggie, Chole-kulche etc.
People come to Kasol mainly for the world famous Malana cream, you will find many locals coming towards you asking if you want some of the stuff, the local food stall guys also had it.
One popular trek in Parvati valley is the Kheerganga trek which is a beautiful easy level trek which starts from Barsheni, you can also go to Malana village which is around an hour ride away from Kasol, it’s the weed center of Parvati valley.
That evening we just sat beside the Parvati river and pointlessly roamed around Kasol, it a small place with mostly foreigners roaming around.
I don’t smoke weed but I needed a beer so bad that day and I bought me one and went to my hotel room, that night… I slept like a baby.
Day 3 – Sunday, Kasol
Himanshi and I booked an evening bus to Delhi from Bhuntar and we decided to leave Kasol at 5:00 PM, that means we still had a day to spend in Kasol. After having breakfast and checking out from my hotel I decided to go to Challal, which is just an easy, half an hour hike from Kasol.
Kasol is 1500 meters from the sea level and it was a hot and humid day, Challal seems like to be a good option to cool off.
The way to challal goes alongside Parvati river and the cool breeze from the river will brush your face continually, there are many spots where you can just sit under the shadows of the pleasing pine trees on the river banks, relax and see the milky river. I sat there for a few hours at different points near the banks of the river and threw stones across the river.
While sitting there and watching other groups of young people going close to the river, I realised that it could be one of the reasons for the disappearances of people in the valley, many of them go near the river intoxicated and high, and if they fell, there is no chance to trace them because the current of the river is too strong and unforgiving.
I also noticed the liquor bottles, cigarettes buds and plastic strewn all over the place, especially near the banks of the river, c’mon guys… respect nature and stop littering in the mountains already!
At 5:00 PM we took off to Bhuntar to catch our bus to Delhi, Salonie left early as her bus timings were different than ours. We enquired about the taxi service and they were asking for Rs 1000/- for Bhuntar, we decided to go by bus.
It was a long journey for us and took around 1 & 1/2 hour to reach Bhuntar, we were tired.
There are many Volvo buses of Kullu Transport Corporation going to Delhi from Bhuntar and you can book them through an app like Redbus, the boarding point is Bhuntar bypass. I reached Delhi at 9:00 AM Monday morning.