Kasol – The Unappetizing Smoker’s Hub of Parvati Valley

Kasol: An overhyped, but a connected town of Parvati Valley

I found many Kasol travel blogs that describe Kasol as a heaven or a tiny hamlet in the middle of Parvati Valley, Himachal Pradesh. Until I traveled to Kasol, I also fantasized Kasol as a misty village where you start your day with mushroom thukpas and end it with an apple tea.

While you can still have your thukpas and tea, let me tell you that Kasol is not a dreamy hamlet, at least not anymore.

One thing you should know while planning a Kasol trip is that you would be in a commercialized small town that has over-utilized its presence in the mountains, therefore, taking out the essence of the hills altogether.

Whether you are on a solo trip to Kasol or you are with a group, your experience will depend on what you plan to do in Kasol and how many days you spent there.

In this Kasol travel article, we will talk about how Kasol is and the logistics that you need to plan a solo or group trip to Kasol. Knowing how to move around Kasol is important as Kasol is the entrance to the gorgeous Parvati valley, and to experience Parvati you have to head to Kasol first.

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You saw the beautiful feature image but now see this filthy Parvati riverside in Kasol.

 

Suggested Read: Kalga Village, Parvati – Kalga still remains a peaceful haven

On my first time in Parvati this June, I took a bus from Bhuntar to Kasol. I have already described my journey to Kasol or the mishaps that happened on the way to Parvati valley in my guide to Shilha village so I won’t go into details again.

But the events of my first day in Kasol turned up in a way that I ended up staying at Moustache hostel in Kasol on the banks of Parvati river. Even though the Mustache hostel’s dorm wasn’t my first choice given it was a really loud, party place, I am glad to have found a bed for I had already been traveling for a long time from Dharamshala that had left me exhausted.

When I walked around in Kasol the first day, I couldn’t make much sense of the things around me.

If its your first Kasol travel trip, you would feel overwhelmed by the roaring Parvati that will constantly keep you company, the signboards stuck to the windows of tour companies inviting you to the many treks around Kasol, the hippies rushing about in the rain, the various cafes in Kasol that blast electronic noise pollution, and the souvenir shops that seem to offer the world from a distance but can only give so much.

So take your time and shield yourself from the chaos of Kasol by staying at peaceful homestays, eating local Himachal food, and thinking about the places to visit in Kasol.

While you are walking around Kasol wondering what the rush is all about, I would suggest you go towards the riverside and walk along the shore.

You would find many cafes, camps, and restaurants at the river bank. I went to one such camping site and took a table right next to the river after contemplating for a while as I could see groups of Indian men drinking in the restaurant there. With a loudspeaker at the top of the table, these groups seemed to have a good time.

Whatever I might say, a cup of chai along with the frothy Parvati that crushed the unwanted music was one of the best choices I made that day.

You might have a similar experience. If not, cross the bridge and walk to Chalal. My nirvana on my first days in Kasol was a walk to the Chalal village that sits on the opposite side on the Parvati banks. The walk goes through pine forests, and while stepping onto the dry pine leaves, you would feel as if you have time traveled.

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While walking over to Chalal village, Parvati river, Kasol.

 

Unless the rain starts beating down hard on you, and everybody rushes towards a shade. While returning half-way from the Chalal walk, I decided to go back to the hostel for I needed to crash.

When I arrived in Moustache for the night, I realized that Kasol is like a wanna be Hauz Khas village in Delhi. Rave parties in Kasol were more popular than the deodar and pine forests. Loud music, smoking, drinking amongst other things goes unhindered until the sun rises on the horizon again. So forget about getting a goodnight’s sleep in this tiny Himalayan village, Kasol.

And you cannot ask people to be quiet for Kasol is famous for a chilled trip amongst the youth — implications alcohol, party, deafening music, and repeat. I thoroughly enjoy this idea, but while never making my fun someone else’s nightmare. loud

Though Delhites and Punjabis are blamed for the chaotic elements of Kasol, you will find many Israelis, amongst other nationalities, backpacking Kasol and adding exponentially to the noise pollution. It is only for a reason that Kasol is known as the Mini Israel of India.

No matter wherever I went in Parvati or Himachal, in general, I found smokers who had a special affinity for ear-crushing loudspeakers. As I have spoken in detail about how this combination could be a big turn-off in my Shila village travel post, I will only say that Kasol wasn’t a pleasant experience.

 

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Smokers say we smoke because Shiva smokes. So you will find photos, paintings, and idols of Shiva throughout Parvati valley.

After managing a night’s sleep while watching the full moon from my dorm’s window, I tried to rush out of Kasol the same day. But as I was traveling in Kasol in June, the rain gods didn’t let the grounds dry out forbidding me from going on a long trek or change villages.

That is when I thought of completing my Chalal trek. But this time instead of taking the regular trail from Kasol to Chalal, I found a trail which only locals use. On your walk to Chalal,  climb up when you see the signboard for Star View Family house. Soon you would be on a beautiful curvy path that goes through the coniferous pine and deodar forests, and you would see the lush valley from above.

Through this path, you would come out near the Parvati river in Chalal. Though Chalal village is close to Kasol, it has a laid-back vibe as the village is spread in a sparse forest.

While in Chalal, some couples smoked and played comparatively less-loud speakers, I could read peacefully. Even though I walked to the villages that lay even further beyond Chalal in later parts of my Parvati valley trip, that day I returned to Kasol after spending a few quiet hours.

The guests of the homestay I was staying at that day(of course I had changed places) also played a stereo system right next to my room while a guy repeatedly asked me to join him for beer even though I had almost fallen asleep in the dorm (the only available bed that night).

Sleep dodged me, but I was even clearer about leaving Kasol the next day. 

So I woke up early morning, packed a lighter travel bag, kept the rest of my luggage with the homestay lady, and walked onto Shila.

And then I switched villages in Parvati until I found the one that I liked.

Must Read: My guide to traveling in Parvati valley

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Though such scenes were common in Kasol, I wish a picture could speak for itself.

Though Himachal is one of the most gorgeous states of India, the tourism culture there is truly questionable. To each its own, but please not at the expense of others’ vacation.

My request to everyone who visits Himachal is that please be respectful towards other travelers and locals. Keep the music to yourself for your sense of fun music might ruin nature’s day. 

Also Read: 30 life lessons from my twenties – Things that we realize later

 

For now, let us move onto the logistics.

Where is Kasol in India?

Kasol is a village located in the Kullu district of Parvati Valley, Himachal Pradesh. Kasol is about 75 km away from Manali.

How to reach Kasol, Kullu district?

If you are exploring Manali, you can easily travel to Kasol from there. Distance between Manali and Kasol is about 75 km, and the journey by bus would take 2-3 hours given you might even have to change buses.

But Manali-Kasol is a frequent route so even if you don’t get a direct bus to Kasol, you would get a connecting bus via Manali-Kullu-Bhuntar-Kasol. Kullu to Kasol distance is about 40 km. Hop onto any bus that is on the way to Kasol, and you should be good.

Chandigarh to Kasol is also a popular route and takes about 8-9 hours of travel time by road.

If you are traveling to Parvati valley from Dharamshala, you would arrive at Bhuntar. You can then take a local bus to Kasol from Bhuntar. As Bhuntar to Kasol distance is only about 30 km you would take about an hour or a little more to reach.

Manikaran to Kasol is even less than an hour if you are in Manikaran by any chance or got down there while coming on a direct Manali-Manikaran bus which is frequent. 

How to reach Kasol from Delhi?

Distance between Delhi to Kasol is about 520 km. You can find an overnight bus to Kasol from Delhi on Redbus here.

How to reach Kasol by train?

Nearest railway station to Kasol is Joginder Nagar which is about 145 km away from Kasol. From there you would have to either take a taxi or another local bus.

What is the best season to visit Kasol?

Best time to visit Kasol is the summer season from April to July/August. Kasol temperature ranges from 10/15 degree celsius up to 30/33 in summers. In December, Kasol would be too cold but maybe more peaceful.

I was traveling in Parvati Valley in June. At that time, Kasol was warm and received frequent light and heavy rain showers. When it rained, the temperature dropped. 

The best month to visit Kasol is May if you want a moderate climate but monsoon strikes Parvati by then.

Where to stay in Kasol, Parvati Valley?

Places to stay in Kasol are of many kinds. You can find homestays, Airbnbs, hostels, hotels, camps, and more. Even though the Kasol accommodations might seem confusing at the beginning, try to find a place away from the Parvati river banks for that area is the most crowded.

The good guesthouses in Kasol might be booked in summers, so book yours beforehand.

I stayed at Memoir homestay in Kasol. The place was nice, I liked the owner Payal who runs the place, but Memoir also had the usual problem of crowd and music. She does have private rooms which are needed to be booked beforehand.

Find all different kinds of stay options and the budget hotels in Kasol here on Booking. You will find Memoir homestay on this list, too.

Rooms in Kasol cost anywhere from Rs 300/400 to 5000 or even more. In general, Kasol is more expensive than the rest of the valley.

What to eat in Kasol, Himachal Pradesh?

Two of my favorite places to eat were in front of the Kasol bus stand. The Himachali Dhaba upstairs and the momos shop downstairs. Both of them give an ample quantity of delicious food and great tea, too.

I went to the popular Sunshine cafe in Kasol but didn’t like the food much. 

Also, check out this LSD dosa stall in a tiny lane that you can find on your left when you walk beyond the Parvati river bridge after the Kasol bus stand.

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At the Dhaba upstairs.

 

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What are the places to see around Kasol?

If you are like me and already thinking about what to do in Kasol, then you might want to look at the places near Kasol.

Places to visit near Kasol range from villages to high hills and passes of Parvati valley. Kasol’s height is about 1500 meters which also provide many trekking options. 

Villages of Parvati Valley that I liked or would give another chance to:

  • Manikaran – Amongst the many villages, Kasol to Manikaran would make for a good day’s visit. In my Manikaran Sahib travel guide, you can see that Manikaran is a great place to relax, bathe in the natural hot springs, and hike up to the higher villages of Parvati.
  • Chalal – One of the must things to do in Kasol is the walk from Kasol to Chalal that I had already talked about.
  • Kalga – Make sure your Kasol trip itinerary has Kalga on its list. Read my Kalga guide to know all about this gorgeous apple orchard in the middle of Parvati.
  • Shilha – I have already spoken about the Shilha village, and you can read my travel blog to Shilha to know more about the place. Try and find a quiet stay there if you can. The village is absolutely jaw-dropping.

Everybody’s Kasol itinerary includes hiking to Kheerganga. I hiked to Khirganga via the offbeat route of Kalga to Bhunbhuni to Khirganga in which you will go through the open meadows of Bhunbhuni which still are unknown to the traveling crowd. Check out the guide and see if you like this offbeat route better. But you can only do the Bhunbhuni trek if you know a local or find a local guide or make a Himachali friend who knows the way. 

If you are planning to visit Dharamshala, here are my Dharamshala travel guides

Manali – My list of offbeat things to see in Manali would help you plan your Manali trip if you are planning to go there.

 

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These are the open meadows of Bhunbhuni. Only a few shepherds stay there every summer.

There are many more treks near Kasol such as Grahan, Sar Pass, Bhandak. Choose as per your interest and time. 

Kasol to Manali distance is only about 70 km which makes even Manali a day’s visit but that would be too rushed. So go to Manali and stay there for a while and visit Vashishth nearby.

 

How much does Kasol trip costs?

Total trip budget for Kasol would depend on you and where you are coming from.

Split the trip costs into travel, stay, food, and activities — these are the general expenses while planning any trip. 

Local HRTC buses within Parvati valley only cost 20-30-50 rupees per journey.

A price for a night in a Kasol guesthouse could be about 400-500 rupees. But this would be a shared room as Kasol is a bit more expensive than other places in Parvati: other villages are cheaper to stay.

Your Kasol trip budget can never increase if you eat local Himachali food at street joints. You can get a local tasty meal for even 80 rupees.   

Travel costs in Kasol can be as much as you want them to be. But isn’t that always the case?

 

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From the rooftop of a homestay in Kasol.

 

Do you like Kasol? If yes, then please let me know why. Maybe I find a reason to like it, too.

Don’t you think there is so much more to the Himalayas than loud music & smoking?

Note: This post contains affiliate links; if you choose to click through and make a booking or purchase a product, I will earn a little bit at no extra cost to you. It is entirely up to you if you decide to book or buy. Thank you.

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