Kalga, a place of seclusion.

Kalga is a small village in Parvati valley. It is not a very popular tourist destination. To reach Kalga one has to trek 2 km uphill from the main road crossing the barrage on Parvati river near Barsiani. When I went to Kalga in 2019 March I heard that the local authority was planning to make a motorable road to reach the village. I went to Kalga from Tosh. I took a porter from the barrage because the road was slippery due to ice, and it was risky for me to walk alone on the steep hilly path with a heavy luggage on my back.

Reaching Kalga the porter took me to a hotel which was closed. In the month of March hotels remain mostly closed because tourists’ season starts from April. There was a home-stay near that hotel, it was quite cheap but not suitable for me, young trekkers were there who came for Kheerganga trek. Their leader was an experienced man who asked my budget and called another home stay owner on mobile who took me to his home stay which was half a kilometer away from that place inside the village. No path could be seen, the whole area was covered with thick layer of snow, the man took me to his home-stay holding my hand. Still I fell down thrice. The home stay was run by the owner and his family. As the owner’s wife was not at home then, his mother was also away to see his sister and I was feeling hungry, he allowed me to cook my lunch using their kitchen.

It was an extraordinary experience to sit in their balcony. As far as I could see all around there was snow. The village was surrounded by snow covered mountain ranges. I wished to walk around but did not get the courage to move in the ice. So I kept on watching the nature sitting on the balcony till dusk. It became very cold as soon as the sun set. I felt comfortable to sit by the fireplace in their living room. The wife of the home-stay owner made roti sabzi at night. The taste of the sabzi was different from other places of Himachal and delicious also. The beauty of Kalga is still very pristine because of it’s remoteness. If the road is made that will bring economic development for the locals, but may not prove beneficial for the travelers like us who seek solitude and natural beauty.

My experiences of Tosh

Himachal Pradesh

Tosh is a village in Parvati Valley. It is famous for its natural beauty. I reached Parvati Valley from Kasol via Manikaran. In this trip the weather was mostly cloudy or drizzling. It had been raining since previous afternoon when I reached Kasol. In the morning I was a bit hestatnt whether I should leave the hotel. I thought it would be better not to waste a day in Kasol but keep on proceeding. So after breakfast I boarded a bus for Manikaran from the front of the hotel. When I reached Manikaran there was only one jeep at jeep stand. I asked him whether he would go. he agreed to go up to Barsiani. But when we started we got few other people for Barsiani and two of then had some work at Tosh. So the jeep driver agreed to go up to Tosh on sharing basis.

When I reached Tosh it was raining with small particles of ice. I managed a room in a hotel very near to the taxi stand for the night halt. The room was good as per my expectation in such a remote place. I kept my luggage there. I could not stay in the room as there was nothing to do except lying on the bed and I did not want to sleep during daytime. There was no electricity too. I was offered by the hotel manager to sit beside the fireplace of the dining hall as I was partly drenched and was shivering with cold.

A man was sitting there, he did look neither elegant nor rich anyway, but I came to know that he owned the hotel and few other hotels also at very strategic points like this one. He and his manager were taking marijuana from a hush pipe ( chillum ) from time to time. Initially I could not realize what they were smoking, but later on I found whoever was coming taking a puff or two from the pipe in turn. I thought that it was too cold and probably it was necessary to take something for stimulation to bear such cold. Few boys came back after trekking and asked for a browny which looked like a small chocolate pastry. I became quite surprised when I knew each costs 500 rupees.

As it was raining continuously and there was no electricity so I could neither go outside for a walk nor lie in my room for rest. The whole day I sat idle beside the fire watching people having hush or marijuana in different forms or ways. All the boys, came there, were mostly from 20 to 35 years old. They were from Delhi or Chadigarh or Kerala. All of them were sober and very well behaved. I talked with them the whole day. During lunch a group of people came trekking from Barsaini. But they did not stay at Tosh, they had their lunch, and went back again wearing rain coats. Everyone considered it unnatural to come in the rain taking so much risk and hassle and not enjoying the surreal beauty of Tosh staying one night there.

It started snowing heavily at around 6 o’clock. It was a magical experience. In the evening electricity was restored. I ordered my dinner. After dinner, while bidding good night to all, I told the boys in jest that whatever fresh air of Himalayas I had taken from the places before coming to Tosh all became futile after having so much passive smoking. They all laughed in amusement. Next morning was absolutely sunny and warm.

N.B. An appeal : A home stay owner of Parvati Valley expressed his deep regret about the spread and sell of illegal narcotics in this valley which is not only destroying the culture of the natives but also destroying the life of the youth of that area. They are becoming greedy as well as violent day by day and some of them are getting so much addicted to these that they are losing their mental balance. So I humbly request all Himalaya lovers not to promote or encourage this . Go to Parvati valley to enjoy its natural beauty and get addicted to it.

Intoxicating Tosh

Tosh is a small village in the interior of Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh. It was snowing, more like sleet actually, when I reached Tosh from Kasol taking a shared jeep from Manikaran. I got down from the taxi and tried to open my umbrella in a hurry as I was preventing myself from icy cold rain and in this process a spike of the umbrella broke. I put the rucksack on my back and walked forward in search of a shelter. The taxi stand is in front of a bridge on a small stream which is the gateway of Tosh.

I entered carefully because of ice and slush. Just after crossing the bridge I found a hotel. I inquired whether accommodation was available. They informed that they didn’t have attached bathroom. The next hotel on the way was closed. Proceeding forward I found a hotel upward where there were guests taking selfies on the balcony. There was ice and the path was very slippery. I could not reach there. I shouted for help. A person came and helped me to reach the hotel. He was the manager of the hotel.

It was very cold and I was shivering, so the manager told me to sit by the fireplace in their dining hall, and take a cup of tea and then to see the hotel room and complete all other formalities. It was a nice cozy room. I sat there snugly beside the fireplace. There were few people around the fire. Some were guests, some were employees who from time to time came to get the warmth. I saw my room. It was work-ably good. I kept my luggage there, closed the room and sat again beside the fire. There was no electricity.

It rained whole day. People kept on coming and going to have shelter or lunch. Food was tasty, and Israeli cuisine was also available there. I had lunch, afternoon coffee and a tasty early dinner sitting all day there. In the evening it started snowing heavily. Electricity came back luckily. There was nothing much to do. Time to time I went to the top floor to get mobile network and to contact my son and watched the beauty of the snow covered village.

Temple of Jamdagni

In the early morning when I woke up it seemed that the whole valley was shrouded with a thick white sheet of ice. I went out from the room to take a stroll in the village. I tried to roam around. I broke my folding stick in this effort. There was a temple of Jamdagni ( the great sage and father of the warrior monk Parshuram) in the center of the village, I went there, but outsiders are not allowed to enter. With the rise of the temperature the snow on the roofs started melting and fell with thuds. I came back to my hotel with difficulty. After breakfast I left Tosh at 10-30 AM.