Kalga : Misty mountain where the spirits fly

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Kalga

Kalga is a small picturesque village in the hills of Parvati valley. Famous for apple orchids and the bohemian culture it is a paradise for people who love to get lost in nature. So if you have ever dreamed of staying in the Himalayas doing nothing but gazing at the mountains this place is for you.

Why Parvati valley

When you are broke and have no particular destination in mind, Himalayas is always a good option. Even though I have spent a lot of time in Sikkim, I can never get enough of the mountains. Puja holidays were on their way and we needed a break. We wanted to go somewhere non-touristy, in the midst of the mountains where we could chill, smoke some stuff and listen to some good music. Parvati valley seemed perfect with its breathtaking beauty and hippie culture.

Why Kalga

When I started my search for places to visit in Parvati valley I immediately came across Kasol. Also known as the mini Israel of India, it had lots to offer, from scenic beauty to Parvati River, from Israeli food joints to the hippie environment, it had all. But after a lot of research, I learned that Kasol has lost its glory to tourists and traffic. There are too many hotels and shops, too many cars and too much noise. It was a mess. I came across another village, Tosh, which promised the same but sadly it too seemed infested by tourists, loud music and too many cars. After a lot of research, we decided to go to Kalga, a small settlement near Barsheni in Parvati valley. This tiny village is off the beaten tourist trail full of scenic beauty and serenity.

A Local's house in Kalga
A traditional house in Kalga

Delhi to Kalga

Delhi – Bhuntar –Jari- Kasol- Manikaran – Barsheni – Kalga

Delhi to Bhuntar

The best option to reach Kalga from Delhi is to take a bus till Bhuntar and then take a bus till Barsheni, 25-30 min trek away from Kalga. We took a Delhi to Manali Volvo bus and got down at Bhuntar. Buses from Delhi goes up till Kasol (see, Kasol has bus stands too) but those buses charged around 1.3k to 1.5k. We booked the cheapest and very comfortable overnight Himalayan tour and travel bus at 747/- each.

Note: Do not take the front seats. You would not want to see treacherous road when you wake up in the middle of the night. Though they drive safely its very horrifying to look at.

Bhuntar to Barsheni

We reached Bhuntar at 7 in the morning, firstly went to find a public toilet and then take a bus to Barsheni. It was early morning so most of the shops were closed and we could not f ind any public toilet. Buses to Barsheni leave at regular intervals of 30 min. We took a Government bus at 91/- for men and 69 (women concession, a 25% discount) for women. The bus did not wait for the seat to fill up and left at the right time which is very rare in India. The bus halted only at the bus stops however it had long halts in Manikaran and Kasol.

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Barsheni to Kalga

We reached Barsheni at 10. Barsheni has a few food joints and staying options. The snow-clapped mountains were visible and the Kalga village could be seen too. After you walk past the police point there are two ways, the left road goes to Tosh and the other one to Kheerganga and Kalga. You need to cross the dam and trek a somewhat steep slope for 15 minutes to reach Kalga village.

Kalga

Day 1

We were awe-struck by its beauty as soon as we reached. After crossing a few guesthouses, we came across a very tranquil site surrounded by apple orchids all around with a small stream flowing through it, just the way you would have imagined a fairyland to be.

Somewhere in Kalga: In all our excitement we forgot to click any photo of the fairyland.

After spending some time there we decided to move ahead and find a room. Many of the guesthouses were closed as it was the month of October, winter had come and tourists were few. We booked a room at Peace cafe( I would recommend you to stay at a better guesthouse). It had a beautiful view of Tosh in the front and snow-clapped mountains in the back.

View from the Guesthouse

Rooms were basic with a shared bathroom at just 350/- bucks (the price of the rooms are cheap all over Parvati valley). The food was a bit high-priced but I think that’s how it works here, cheap rooms expensive food. In kalga, mostly old Himachali houses are turned into guesthouses. The guesthouses here are wooden structures having these old staircases, small wooden windows in the rooms and sitting area upstairs nicely arranged with carpets, board games, hammocks where you can spend the whole day watching the sunset behind the mountains.

A colorful guesthouse in Kalga
A colorful Guesthouse in Kalga

After having our breakfast and resting for a while we went to explore the village. This village does not have the hustle-bustle of other Himachali villages but is full of scenic beauty. Kalga is a place where you don’t do much, roam around the village, find a good spot and enjoy the moment. The village is small and has no roads, just hiking trails where you cross some old guesthouses, pass by apple orchids, wave hello to a guy sitting on the lawn smoking or chat with village women working in the fields.

After roaming for a while we found a beautiful spot overlooking the mountains, a big rock, to sit and relax. This spot was all to ourselves and believe me there was magic in the air. We sat there and watched the sky change its color. With the sunset came chilled breeze, it was time to head back to the guesthouse.

View from the rock
Enjoying the serenity

While returning back we went to this store named “Super Market”. You can find every necessary item there, from food to cosmetics, from pre-rolled joints to alcohol. Super Market is the best bet to buy your needs although the village also has one or two small shops. As the night fell the far away Tosh village looked like stars in the mountain.

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Day 2

It was a lazy winter morning. We sat upstairs ordered our breakfast, Mayo Sandwich and Allu Paratha, and indulged in some board games with a group of guys we met the other day. As the day passed by, the weather was getting chilly and the ambiance better. It was almost noon and everybody was quiet and still now. We were smoking joints listening to rock & roll and enjoying the beautiful scenery. The cold wind from the mountains brought the trees to life, the leaves were dawdling and the birds were singing.

Everything was perfect, everybody was lost in their world. We could have stayed there the whole day but it was already time for sunset and we had to go to the spot we found yesterday. We picked up some fallen apples and headed for the spot.

Apple orchid
Picking Apples

After spending some time looking at the tiny village and the sun hid behind the mountains we went to the small food joint nearby and ordered Maggie. Maggie took like forever to cook. I guess everything moves slowly here, even cooking Maggie. The night went well with bonfire, guitar and chatting with some other guys who had just reached from Malana.

Day 3

It was our last day in Kalga, we ordered breakfast and sat outside in the sun. While talking with the owner of the cafe he told us that Tosh had better views of the Mountains. As we had not booked tickets for Delhi we decided to visit Tosh and plan accordingly.

On the way down to Barsheni

After you reach Barsheni there are two ways to go Tosh. Either you can take a taxi to tosh for 300/- or else walk the same motorable road to reach Tosh (a half-hour walk). We hitchhiked a cab and reached Tosh. Tosh was just like the way we expected, touristy and too many DL registered cars. You need to cross a small steel bridge to reach tosh, cars do not go beyond the bridge. As soon as we entered the village I noticed a tourist and a porter carrying his 3 big trolley bags. Tosh was too much congested, all we could see was hotels, food joints and shops.

Tosh

We headed to Pinki Didi’s café- the last resort, a place about which we read so much online. It was a big cafe with 3 buildings, something you do not expect (want) in such places. Pinki Didi’s café had a sitting area which offered great views of the mountains (Yes, Tosh had a better view of the mountains).

View from Pinki Didi’s Cafe

After having the garlic cheese paratha for 140/- bucks we headed to explore the town. As we moved ahead all we could see were new hotels being built and trees being chopped down. We roamed around the village, visited the temple of the local deity (the temple should not be touched by anyone from outside the village) and met a few kids playing in the primary school.

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Temple of the local deity

As we moved ahead we could see a few locals and old traditional Himachali houses. Slowly the path became less crowded, filled with trees and a distinct smell of cannabis. We walked till a stream, sat there for a while and returned.

We did not like the idea of staying in Tosh for the night as it was not the type of place we had come for in Parvati Valley. If you want to spend a night you should definitely go Kutla instead, a one hour trek from Tosh Village.

On the way back to Tosh from the Stream
On the way back to Tosh from the Stream

We decided to return the same day, so booked two seats on a bus from Kasol as we would have not been able to catch the last Bhuntar to Delhi bus in time. The bus we booked was a Volvo Himalayan Nomads’ bus for 1.5k, and it was a horrible experience. The bus was 3 hours late, the handyman was unprofessional, there were no blankets, no water bottle, the plug points were not working and they would turn off the A.C. every now and then.

Total cost?

Bus fare one way – around 1000/- per person

Stay (double occupancy)– 200 -300/- for 2 person

Food and other expense per day– 1000/- for 2 person

Best time to visit?

The months from the end of March to mid-June and from September end to mid-Nov are the best months to visit Kalga as the weather is quite clear and suitable. The months of December, January and February experience extreme cold and the months of June to Aug experiences rainfall

Are there any stay options in Barsheni?

There are stay options in both Barsheni and Bhuntar

Total time of trekking and difficulty level?

A 30min trek from Barsheni. The difficulty level is easy(special trekking gears are not required).

How to get back to Bhuntar?

Government buses are available from Barsheni at regular intervals. You can also book private taxis for 800/- bucks from Barsheni

Do you need to book your stay online?

No, you do not need to book your stay online. You can easily find stay options once you reach Kalga. Moreover, the rooms which you can get for 250-300/- bucks are very overpriced online.

Do cars go up till kalga?

No, cars don’t go up till Kalga. Cars can go till the dam and then you have to trek uphill for 15-20 min.

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