From the Sun-Kissed Balcony of Kalga Village, Himachal Pradesh
Almost deaf from the loud music blasting from the speakers of travelers who visit Kasol to escape the Delhi heat, I ran out of Kasol after a night. A steep uphill walk took me to the village of Shilha, a tiny apple village pasted onto the slopes of a beautiful green hill. But I didn’t know that the speaker lovers from Delhi had discovered Shilha and were smoking away in its few guesthouses. On one starry night, I also gave up and joined the groups of Indian boys around a bonfire.
Stubborn about staying away from people who couldn’t appreciate the silence of Parvati valley, I strapped on my bag and walked towards Kalga in the morning.
Update 2022: As of now (mid-April), Himachal Pradesh (HP) doesn’t have any specific travel restrictions. Travelers don’t need to carry a negative RTPCR test but everyone is still supposed to wear a mask in public spaces. Read more regulations here on the HP government’s website.
After a long walk crossing water streams running over the road unabashedly, I arrived at the staircase leading to the village of Kalgha. Under the thundering clouds, I climbed up the muddy stairs (almost stumbling down a few times).
The sun was hidden behind one of the loud clouds, and the power was gone. I entered a faintly-visible Kalga.
Suddenly the entire landscape changed. I was not in a village. I was in an apple orchard.
Umbrella-like apple trees bowed down under the weight of water and the blossoming apples. Sodden lanes in the village were perfectly slippery to make you fall on your face. Empty restaurants and cafes stood silent.
Shuttling between the crackling wooden guesthouses of Kalgha village that seemed to be from prehistoric times, I decided to stay in the first guest house at the beginning of Kalga.
For the next few days the rain clouds went crazy, and I stayed confined inside the room with a window. Oh, I might have hiked into the pine and deodar studded jungle behind Kalga only to come back running in my slippers under the bountiful rain showers. Let’s say I didn’t fall.
why do I travel even when I keep falling.
I also went out to eat a few times. The young boys running the guest house prepared lunch at dinner and dinner was served in the morning. If I had said something they would have smoked my complain away. So instead of requesting timely meals, I discovered new places to eat every evening.
On one rainy night, I arrived at Guru’s cafe and sat outside in the drizzle. I wanted to avoid the Parvati travelers that (I assumed) must have huddled in the restaurant.
But destiny had planned it otherwise. Soon I found myself inside to avoid getting soaked. Gorging upon the dry okra and chapati while soaking in the warmth from the stove, I relaxed for the first time in Parvati. Music wasn’t blasting, and nobody talked about playing any.
Following the orders of an empty stomach, I walked back to Guru cafe for breakfast. As Kalga hadn’t been able to enchant me yet, I carried my small backpack contemplating if I should leave after breakfast. I was even thinking of getting out of Parvati and making my way to another valley (perhaps Spiti) or giving up on Himachal and flying to Bangalore.
While serving me another plate of okra and crispy chapati under a clear sky, the house lady said she had an empty room. Did I want to see? A starving stomach can make you do some nasty stuff, but a satiated stomach is even more blinding.
I climbed up the creaky wooden stairs of Guru’s cafe to find a room which took me many centuries back. The only furniture in the room was a wooden bed in the middle of the room. Two velvety blankets were spread on the bed. No fan.
A wide window opened above blossoming apple trees. Snowy Himalayan peaks shined at a distance. Cottony bundles of clouds rolled around in the azure blue sky. Neon-green corn and pea fields rolled over to meet the mountains. Abandoned wooden homes kept a considerable distance from each other.
I didn’t have much to think about.
Also Read: Living slow and practicing yoga in Dharamshala
That side of Kalgha turned out to be different from the entire Parvati valley. Smokers still roamed around, but fewer in numbers. Loud music wasn’t allowed in Kalga. As Guru’s cafe was run by a family, food was available on time.
To top it all, clouds parted to expose a bright inky sky for at least some parts of the day.
Starting my mornings with black coffee and aloo paratha, I sat in the balcony for the first few early hours switching between reading and doing nothing. Masala chai accompanied me as I watched the sun play hide and seek from behind the clouds.
I blamed the blue whistling thrush for not letting me read. Often I found myself staring at the trees or jumping around the balcony to find the culprit that chirped around the guesthouse all day. Sometimes I wandered off into the green fields and forest behind the yellow-billed blue magpie that had been dodging me since Dharamshala. (Also read: A month in Bhagsu Nag village of Dharamshala)
Lunch meant freshly made chapati or rice with the goodness of garlic dal or aloo gobhi. If the garden had fresh spinach, I always got the steaming palak paneer. (Mindful and healthy living was on my mind.)
Afternoons were even more idyllic than the mornings. The noon sun spread a golden hue over the green carpet of Kalga making it impossible to take my eyes off the perfect Himalayan panorama. When it rained, I wrapped a blanket around me but didn’t leave my balcony seat. Clouds put up a show, the Himalayan bulbul sang, rainbows danced, and the trees showered until they couldn’t take anymore.
More rain meant cozying into the evening with more masala chai. And when the golden hour approached, I left my book aside, turned my chair towards the sun setting between the twin hills, and picked up my phone.
If one day the evening sky was orange, another day it was purple. From pink peach to golden mango to sindoori red, the sun setted into the horizon splashing more shades onto the sky than a naughty friend can throw at you on Holi.
While watching over from the balcony, the show of nature seemed surreal.
You might also like: Life is more than doing things of consequence, lessons inspired by The Little Prince.
Those sun-kissed evenings would give way to starry nights whose silence lulled me into a deep sleep. My earplugs lay unused next to my pillow.
Soon I would find myself running in the neon fields behind the magpie trying to trick her into letting me click a picture. She would then sit on my shoulder, and together we would fly into the horizon to meet the molten golden sun.
In the morning I looked for that picture only to realize it was all a dream.
Can you blame me for having such a weird dream while I was living a fairy tale that is Kalga village?
From apple trees to mango sunsets, Kalga has it all. I bet the picture-postcard landscape of Kalgha would trick you into staying for longer. And I sincerely hope you do.
Learn why you should let life take its course: Life lessons inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke, the poet.
What is the altitude of Kalga village?
Kalga is located at an elevation of about 2,300 meters or 8,400 ft.
How to reach Kalga Himachal?
Fly into Bhuntar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Pathankot, or Amritsar airport and then continue your journey to Parvati valley either by a bus or car.
The best way to reach Kalga is by getting to Barshaini village in Parvati and then walking to Kalga. The walk from the Barshaini dam uphill to Kalga would take about half an hour.
How to travel to Barshaini? You can take a bus from Delhi, Chandigarh, or Dharamshala to Bhuntar. From Bhuntar, you will get many local buses going to Barshaini. If you don’t get a direct bus, get down at Manikaran and take another bus to Barshaini, which is what we did most of the times.
If you are coming by train, you can only travel until Pathankot in Punjab, for that is the closest train station to Parvati valley. Get a bus from Pathankot to Bhuntar or come via Amritsar.
If you are traveling to Kasol first, read my travel guide to Kasol and travel to Kalga from Kasol.
Hitchhiking is also possible around Parvati valley.
Where to stay in Kalga?
Walk around to find a homestay in Kalga. Most guesthouses are wooden homes with a shared bathroom outside the house. Only New Brahma and one other guesthouse have attached bathrooms.
You can also find places to stay in Parvati valley on Booking. Also look at my guide to Indian home stays to understand how to find a good one for yourself and what to watch out for.
Kalga food is mostly organic or locally-grown. Most homestays and guesthouses provide food. Many restaurants are also tucked away in the orchards of Kalgha. Or cook if you have a kitchen.
What is the best time to visit Kalga, Himachal Pradesh?
Kalga weather is unpredictable. The best months to visit Kalga would be from April/May to June/July. I was in Kalga at the end of June. Even though it was pouring in June, these are the summer months of Kalga. Some days would be sunny, and some would be clouded.
Plan your Parvati valley trip around summer as Parvati gets too cold as winter approaches. In September the valley will appear red as that’s the apple harvest season.
Also see: A photo essay of Spiti Valley: photos that Instagram won’t let you see.
What are the other places to see around Kalga?
Places to visit in Parvati valley near Kalga are villages of Tosh, Manikaran, Pulga, Tulga, Chalal, Shilha, and many more. You can easily walk between the villages.
Guesthouses can be found in most of these villages on the same day.
Here are my corresponding guides:
Shilha, Parvati valley – A gorgeous apple village tucked up on a velvety hill.
slow in Manikran with hot water springs and chai.
Some of the beautiful treks from Kalga are Kheerganga trek, Bunbuni trek, Sar Pass, and a few more. You can go from Kalga to Kheerganga on your own, and the hike takes about four-five hours as per the walker’s speed. Bunbuni is an offbeat hike and requires a guide. But you can also descend to Kheerganga from Bunbuni — not many people walk this way, and the lack of human beings makes the hike pretty serene (and challenging).
Read my detailed guide for the Kheerganga trek from Kalga via Bunbuni pass to see how gorgeous this hike is.
The very popular Grahan trek to the Grahan village is not usually done from Kalga. Go to Shilha or Kasol to do that one.
Updated follow up reads for 2022:
Also, see my guide to traveling in Parvati valley on the offbeat trails.
If you have some more time in Himachal and want to visit Dharamshala, go through my guides to the hikes in Dharamshala and Dharamshala travel guide.
My travel guide to Spiti valley would help you plan your Spiti Valley trip.
Other Himachal guides and experiences,
Lessons on resilience and repetition from Himachal women
Shopping for shoes in Karsog, Mandi district: life of an itinerant writer
What happened to Tattapani hot springs, Mandi
The not-so-famous temples of Mashobra
Pangna village in Mandi also blew my mind
Braving Shikari Devi temple, Mandi: by ourselves
Living and writing in Mashobra village, Shimla
Why Fagu village isn’t worth your time
Picnic at Kanag Devi hill in Shimla district, Himachal
Venturing into a leopard-infested valley, Shimla
loitering around in Mehli, Shimla
What to bring on your Parvati Valley trip?
- Good hiking shoes for women and good hiking shoes for men – A must-have in the valley.
- Yoga/track pants for women and men – suitable for long travel and walking around.
- A hiking daypack – A daypack is essential on the many gorgeous one or two-day hikes. Bring snacks, water, and a jacket (at least).
- A woolen sweater
- Warm jackets for men and women – You might even need these on a rainy day in the summer.
- A rain jacket – A must-have for it pours crazy in Parvati.
- Warm shawl – Or buy a Kullu shawl from Himachal. Wrap yourself in a shawl against the chilly Himalayan winds and stay warm.
- Lifestraw water bottle – Comes with an inbuilt filter.
- Strong sunscreen – the Himalayas can be pretty sunny, and even a ten-minute walk can burn you.
- first-aid kit – Always carry one while traveling.
- Flashlight – Please don’t go without this one.
Would you love to visit Kalga? Tell me!
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25 thoughts on “Kalga Village – You Won’t Believe Until You See (Updated 2022)”
Enjoyed reading your blog(s). I’m a solo female traveller from delhi currently in Naggar and ‘struggling’ to find accommodation. And was thinking of heading towards the tosh/kalga/pulga belt. I’m wondering if you might have the time and patience to answer some of my questions (over a call, if possible please?)
Hi K, I’m sorry to hear you can’t find an accommodation. Could you please drop your questions here and I will reply. Feel free to head towards the Kalga side. There in Kalga it shouldn’t be that hard to find guesthouses (though I haven’t been there after the COVID and don’t know the situation right now). But last year I spent four months in Himachal in other areas and many guesthouses were functional, if not all. Try Guru’s guesthouse in Kalga.
Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes.
Beauty of Kalga Village, Himachal Pradesh ! Lovely pics , This article makes my bucket list full .. Thank you for this information and I hope keep posting more travel articles!
Hi. Am going to kalga for bunbuni pass trek , can u hv any porter no. Contact ,so he will company me on trail and yes budget homestay in kalga village ?
Hi I don’t have any porter no. Please ask at the guest house there. Most homestays there are budget homestays. Just walk around and find one.
0091-8894084521 – Aakash
i go after reading it i must go!
I must congrate you for exploring such a beautiful place and explained all in details .
I am senior citizen from Rajasthan and planning to visit KULU and Manali with my wife,from 1st week of June for at least 2 weeks or may be more.
Already booked a Homestay in Kulu for a week.
Would love to stay in Kalga after reading your blog.Hopefully I will explore scenic surrounding and would get some comfortable place for stay over there.
Happy to hear. Do try researching Kalga homestays or similar words online and contact the guesthouses beforehand. Though most places take walk-in guests, maybe some would take advanced bookings. Perhaps just for a day should be enough. As you must have read in the post, there is a short uphill hike to Kalga. If it is raining, make sure you wear sturdy shoes that do not slip. Enjoy your time there 🙂
Hi Priyanka…very nicely written blog!!! I am a student from Bangalore and want to visit Kalga after reading your blog. Are there any dormitories that offer bed stay for 200 Rs per day? Or the lady with whom you stayed, would she be able to provide a budget place to stay?
Hi. People in Kalga provide rooms, dorms for even lesser. Especially for longer-term. Hope you have a nice stay there.
Have been in June 2016, stayed with a friend who owns a guesthouse there (separate rooms with bathroom in each room), right next to the forest.
Aakash undertakes hiking to valleys at additional cost.
For those interested here are the details:
Great blog Priyanka! Envy and admire your life decision to abandon corporate and take up this route! I myself am from himachal (sirmaur) but stay in bombay, and believe you me, haven’t explored it at all in the last 35 years of my life! It was only last year post lockdown, when frustrations were at their peak, did i decide to take a longish break and head to the hills. I spent most of my time in kasol and exploring nearby chhalal, malaana.
Now i am planning a month’s break back to the hills along with my family (wife and 5 yo daughter) to Jibhi, and then head to Kasol or better Kalga and explore nearby villages.
Can you throw some light on family friendly in kalga and whether there are suitable places to put up for 4-5 days there? Not looking for anything plush, but with certain basic requirements of hygiene, comfort and suitability for family. ofcourse we mean this trip to be a rustic one and closer to nature!
Hi Manik. Thanks for dropping by.
In Kalga, people rent out rooms. But there are tonnes of cottages. You can get an entire cottage with basic facilities. Sometimes the toilets are outside the cottages, at least that’s how it was in the rooms. I would suggest you carry a bag of basic utensils to be self-sufficient even in an empty cottage. I am sure people would be able to provide you with gas and stuff. The place has selected properties where a room has an attached bathroom. But such is village life. I would suggest go there with a day or two of booking and then explore around. Jibhi, where I might head myself soon, has many self-sufficient cottages suitable for families. No doubt. Have fun.
I visited this place in march-2021 .this place was amazing.i will visit again in August month to grap the apportunity eat so many ??.your writen so nicely,i appreciate…
this is just amazing, how to reach this beautiful village?
Incredible writing and a beautiful article had perfectly managed to describe the serene beauty of Kalga, i have been there many time and still want to go back.. Ps. I am also a speaker guys?
Thanks for presenting scenic view of Kalga Village in Parvati valley of Himachal Pradesh. Such a nice beautiful place to visit.
Very nicely written Priyanka !!! I am planning to visit Kalga in 1st week of Nov….looking forward to majestic Parvati valley.
Hi, amazing article. I was looking for something like this for a long time. I am planning to explore Kalga Pulga Tulga part of Parvati valley; self camping with wife and 3 y. O. kid. Do you know of some camp sites in the area.
Hi! This place seems beautiful, have been seen a lot of videos and then came across your article. Is it possible for us to reach Kalga by car or park it somewhere in Barshaini maybe?
Hey. Thanks. Yes, you can park it in Barshaini and then walk the rest of the way.
Ohh Woow. So pretty and gorgeous this village looks.Parvati valley has such hidden places and so beautiful.Reading your post make me wanted to visit mountains.
Thank you, Mayuri. Kalga is gorgeous. No doubt. Sorry about tempting you with mountains 😉