“A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander.”
― Roman Payne,
It was 15th December I had my final exam of 3rd year but like others I didn’t had any clue that what will I do in future. Everyone was busy in their future career planning but i was planning for something greater, something that will give me confidence and a lifelong experience. I was planning for a solo trip to kasol, the stoner’s paradise. My friends were against my trip as according to them it was nothing but waste of time to travel alone to such a place but I didn’t listen to them because I wanted to do this journey for me. On that evening I told my parents that I need some fresh air and wants to stay away from so many people around me, to find the solution of my problems, so they agreed to send me alone. On 17th December I took a HRTC bus from ISBT kashmiri gate at 8:00 pm
I was not able to take a nap in the bus due to the excitement of this journey and around 9:00 am in the morning I was at bhuntar bus stop from where I took a local bus which took about 2hours to reach Kasol
During this journey to kasol I met a young girl from Egypt, like me she was also travelling alone we talked in entire journey during which she told me that her friend’s are waiting for her in Kalga( a place above kasol). Finally I was there I can feel the tranquility and serenity in these mountains.
As December is off season so there are only few people during this part of year, most of the café’s are closed and I can find smilling himachali people sitting in sun and taking a sun bath :P. The first person who met me there was a himachali man of about 26years, he came to me and ask me “bhai stuff lega” after saying no to him I went ahead for my hotel hunt . After seeing many hotels I finally chose one it was charging me 200rs per night, the room was decent with attach bathroom but most important part is that he is providing me with 5 quilts and 3 rugs. I found these as most important because at night the temperature of kasol drops to about -9oc. After keeping my stuff I went outside to take a round of these mountains. Kasol is actually a valley between 2 mountains so sun just remain there till 2:00 pm after that it passes the valley. During that time I went to challal, it was also a small village which has many hotels and cafes that are cheaper than kasol but to my luck most of the things are closed their due to off season. So after taking a meal I came back to my hotel room. I was feeling bored as there was no one and only the local people who were busy in there housework’s. After some time I came out of my room and found that there is bonfire at a tea stall near my hotel and people are sitting there, so to warm up my body I went there. There I ordered a tea, a nepali couple was the owner of the place they had 2 daughters.
At there I met many people there was a guy from my college Louis who was doing mtch from my college , a Manipuri guy Robert Laishram who was from delhi and staying in kasol from 1 month the main thing was that he was the person who was living in my hotel in room next to me ( my hotel actually had 2 rooms only :p) I met many other guys some locals and then the night start with smoke of the herb that was provided to humans by the god. During that time every other person was telling his stories with the puff of the joint and to my surprise drizzling started it was so beautiful it looked like clouds are just moving beside me. At 9:00 pm entire kasol was pitch black every person went to their places, the temperature was dropping, we can easily feel that drop. Robert and I went to our hotel. He invited me to his room where he had a bottle of Old monk. After talking to my mom and telling her that I am absolutely fine we both started our party with the music, joints and old monk. At 1:00 pm we both finished the bottle but till now we didn’t feel high as the temperature was so low that we both were feeling cold and our body was not able to absorb that rum. So to get some I went to my room to take a sleep. After taking all the quilts and rugs I summarize the entire day that after coming back from challal to hotel I never felt alone in spite of being in the company of total strangers.
Around 8:00 I wake up , it was so cold that I was not able to take my hand out of the quilt, at the moment that pile of quilts are feeling like my fortress of solitude but by collecting courage I came out of my fortress and found that due to cold my phone screen was totally covered with water. I wiped my phone and came out of my room and found that Robert was sitting in sunshine and taking a joint I took a puff from him and ask what are his plan, he told me that he has to meet some friends at challal so I asked him about the place that I can visit today, he told me about another small village TOSH, which is a trek of 1.5 hr from Barshaini. I just took my bag and took some important things like water and biscuits and took the bus to Bashaini. Barshaini is the last village till which buses can go in parvati valley, during my this journey I befriend a group of 3 people, these guys are from Israel and are coming here to chill after there 4 years of compulsory military training. They were also going to tosh to get red ice a variety of hash which grows after the snowfall. After doing the trek from barshaini we reached to tosh around 12:30 it was drizzling at that time so we went to a cafe, where I met few other people around 2:00 when I came out of that café I was awestruck the entire village was covered in snow. After seeing this I wanted to stay there for night but due to shortage of time I left the place and in evening I reach to kasol. Again went to the tea stall to make me feel warm with another round of stories and joints. After this me and Robert went to his room drank and smoke entire night and then slept.
I woke up and prepared myself for another adventure, last night I heard people talking about kalga and pulga which was also an hour trek from barshaini but in opposite direction to tosh. When I started my journey to pulga I was totally alone. That path was totally covered with snow after walking few kilometers I found the skull of a sheep and after seeing I can feel the fear in my spine.
I heard that there are tigers in this area but after seeing it, I trusted me senses and dropped the plan of pulga and then start moving toward Kalga. It was the most difficult part of my entire journey as kalga was present on top of a mountain and the path to it is totally covered with ice I slipped many times to my rescue there come a himachali boy who was a school student in 9th class he accompanied me to Kalga during that entire time he told me that it took 2.5 hours to him to reach his school by bus, after listening this I was shocked by seeing the determination of this boy to study. Kalga was another small village on a hill top. At this time even the inhabitants of that place are delocalized to some lower hills so that they can protect themselves from the cold. While moving through Kalga I was feeling like I was moving in a ghost town and suddenly I heard a voice “ arey ruko bhai” when I looked back I found a man of about 29 years, he asked me that whether I need an accommodation to which I politely said no .So he asked me that whether I came first time to this place to which I said yes .So he told me that right now most of the village is empty but he can give me a tour to this village, he took me to a resort and told me that this is his resort we went to its first floor he took two chairs out of his room and he sat there he told me that his name is vikas and he is from Meerut. He has a degree of B.tech in CS, did job for few years but he like freedom so he left the job and came to kalga took thishotel on lease for 3 years but it will take more than 8 months to complete . He took some hash from his pocket and filled it in beeddi he made 3 beeddis. I smoked beeddi for the first time.
During the entire conversation I never realized that we were sitting there for more than 3 hours. Then I said bye to him and gave my wishes for his hotel and trek back to barshaini but with another route .
As the main route is covered with snow so I took another route which was taken by the local people. But during that route I lost, but suddenly I found a dog. I followed him and I again found the stairs. This route took me to the opposite site of barshaini from where I had to just move with the dam to reach to barshaini. But as I trekked from kalga to opposite side of the barshaini I found myself in a place like beyond the wall (in game of thrones). That entire area was covered with snow even the river was frozen. I can feel the chill while standing on that side, I felt that I should become a wildling and remain on that side of the village. But with a heavy heart I left the place and reached barshaini. Bus was at the bus stop waiting for the passengers , when I enterd only a baba of about 50 years was sitting in it. On seeing me he asked me for some stuff but I told him that I don’t have stuff, during my back journey to kasol he told me that he came here every year since 1990. He told me many exciting stories about these mountains.During the bus journey from barshaini to kalga every bus halts at Manikaran sahib gurudwara for 20 mins. By taking the advantage of that time I went to see the gurudwara. This place has two parts a gurudwara and a shiv temple together. There I took langar of kaadi-chawal and drank tea, after this I came back to bus and reached kasol. During night there was a power cut at 9:15 when me and Robert come outside to look for a candle we were surprised that there was complete dark and not a single source of light and when we look toward the sky we both were mesmerized by the stars in sky. That moment was so beautiful that I don’t have words to tell anyone that how I felt after seeing that sky.
I woke up and met the people who helped me to make this trip memorable. After saying bye to everyone I took a bus to kullu from where I will take a bus back to Delhi. During coming back to Delhi, I can see my entire trip in front of my eyes. This trip taught me many things which I wouldn’t be able to learn by any other means. Before starting this journey I was another guy but after completing my journey I changed. I won’t be able to tell in words that what I learned or what I felt during that trip but the aroma of this trip will remain in my heart for long time.