Under October Sky: Sweet Intoxication of Malana

Mysterious Village of Malana
                                        Mysterious Village of Malana
YET again Kasol fell in as my next destination, just to sit back and enjoy lively evenings.  In my previous blogs, I have already talked a lot about Hippie life of Parvati Valley. This time around, we were only interested to do a day hike to Malana.  We reached Kasol by evening and stayed at one of my friend’s hotel. Though it was the end of season but Israeli influence was still evident on the streets of Kasol. Parvati River looked much milder than it was during monsoon when I visited it last time. We strolled along the bank of Parvati which was mellowing under October Sky. In the evening we met Om who shared interesting legends of Malana. Om also invited us to come back in summers to join one of those restricted and exotic parties of Israelis. Om is also an expert explorer of mountains around Parvati and he shared some amazing trails those are not popular among modern-day trekkers. While hitting the hay, I was imagining wedding a local girl from Malana which I believe would be the most coveted thing for a traveler. Not just because people from Malana are highly protective about their customs but because they are irresistibly gorgeous.
Waterfalls on the way to Malana
                                            Waterfalls on the way to Malana
Next morning, we drove to Manikaran which is a highly revered Gurudwara. Manikaran was the reason travelers got to know about Parvati and its sweet temptations.  Along with Sikh followers, travelers from Beatles age also wended to Parvati and made it their summer home before heading to Goa or elsewhere. Now Parvati has many layers of life running parallel to each other like tracks of railways. …In a way lively… In a way distractive…  In a way soothing… In a way adventurous…. In a way secretive…  you just need to go there and adopt the one which suits you the most.. White washed Gurudwara lies on the bank of the river and also known for hot water spring where all the devotees take dip before offering prayers to the main shrine… The hanging bridge over the river was adorned with a fringe of prayer flags (seemingly different from Buddhist Prayer flags) and down below, Parvati was making its way through the bizarre positioning of stones. Heavy pilgrim’s visitation made Manikaran surprisingly dusty. Lanes were dirty with dung and even feces.
Horns of Sacrificed Animals on Temple walls
                                     Skulls of Sacrificed Animals on Temple walls
We had our breakfast in Kasol and headed to Jari (8 km from Kasol) from where we needed a permit to drive further towards Malana. By far, Malana is the most intriguing village of Parvati valley and luring curious souls from all over the world. Most of the traveler’s account generally circles around the interesting legends of the village or about terraced field of cannabis but very few people talk about the spectacular vista of the village and the route which you take to reach there.  The long shining pipe snaking through the mountain makes Jari easily noticeable. Jari has got a hydro power plant which I feel was an extension of Malana Hydro power plant. We registered the chevy at power plant’s entrance gate and then took the winding roads further uphill. Soon after leaving the humdrum of Jari, you will enter much striking hills adorned with occasional water falls those are high enough to get captured in single gaze.  Jari to Malana power plant is quite a ride on unpaved road which may get tarred in couple of years.  Road to Malana was quite different than rest of Parvati. It was closer to that landscapes I had seen in Kinnaur district. Jari to Malana (starting of trek) is some 20 km ride. Dense vegetation of Deodar on surroundings hills were reflecting on the waters of rivulets and were exposing a natural shade of green to the lesser mortals like us. Finally after stopping at several places for guessing the height of waterfalls or just for splashing water on the face, we touched down to the Malana trek entrance.  We were not aware of the shorter route so started our climb from that entrance itself.
Stone and Wood house in Malana
                                         Stone and Wood house in Malana

*** Well, well, well….. Now Malana village can be approached from 2 trails. One starts soon after the Power plant and another is much closer to the village. While driving to Malana from Jari, you will reach this sign board (see image) on left which is the longer trail and will take at least 90 minutes. If you keep driving further (Road is bad so only 4*4 vehicles are recommended beyond this point) on that dirt trail then you will reach at the bottom of Malana village and can do the remaining hike in 30 minutes ***

 

Distant view of Malana Dam
                                           Distant view of Malana Dam
Trail to malana is more or less shadowed with towering deodar and very well outlined. As we climbed further, we got much better views of the valley underneath and the Malana dam which were reflecting its GREEN. After hiking for a while I started to notice the significant difference in my stamina due to unhealthy life style I ran into this year. I was panting more frequently and taking more stops. Considering my previous experience in Himalayas, Malana should have been an easy walk of 45 minutes and so but it took more than an hour which disconcerted me to some extent. After hiking for a while I started to notice the significant difference in my stamina due to unhealthy life style I ran into this year. I was panting more frequently and taking more stops. Considering my previous experience in Himalayas, Malana should have been an easy walk of 45 minutes and so but it took more than an hour which disconcerted me to some extent. Malana was a delightful walk with fresh breeze gushing around our face, rejuvenating us, an endless tract of deodar forest in the backdrop of snow peaked mountains those were barren and waiting for fresh snow. Enroute we also encountered a half burnt stem of Deodar where many coins were engraved. It was a peculiar site and we could not resist ourselves to explore more around the stem. Out of random curiosity, I also engraved my visiting card in that stem. Thousands of superstitious legends go around Malana so it’s common to come across something bizarre. Assuming its relation with exorcism, my friends persuaded me to leave the place and continue hiking. October sky was perfect with mild sun shining the rocks and pebbles on the trail… Perfect weather for hiking in Himalayas and the best part was there were no tourists in Malana those days…
Terraced fields of Cannabis Malana
                                            Terraced fields of Cannabis Malana
As we reached closer to Malana village, we started to notice terraced plantation of hemp. It was for sure not wild cannabis.  These were like harvesting the cannabis just like any other crop and then we found many more such fields. It became very clear that they are growing hemp legally in this part and its usual business here. First Glimpse of Malana was soothing. Like other villages of Himachal, it has labyrinth of wooden houses on stone slabs. Surrounded by hills laden with high deodar, Malana is a picturesque hamlet and will definitely inspire awe. Last evening, we learnt a lot about Malana from Om so those preconceived images were getting their true shape. We stopped at the primary school and refilled our bottle because we knew none is going to offer anything to us in Malana.
Sacred platform in Malana
                                              Sacred platform in Malana
One of the world's oldest democracy, little Greece of Himalayas, Malana is a reclusive village tucked in the remote corner of Parvati valley at an elevation of 2650 meter. Malana came into attention of the travelers due to its inimitable customs, life style, social structure and nearly extinct dialect (Kanashi).village is tangled with myriad of legends. Inhabitants are fiercely protected about their customs which surged the curiosity among outsiders. Besides all its mysterious facades, Malana is also notorious for growing the best cannabis in the world and consequently encouraging drug trade. Malana is also featured in various documentaries which made inspired more people to travel and investigate the secretive side of this tiny hamlet.
Partially Burnt Temple in Malana
                                       Partially Burnt Temple in Malana
Before our visit, everyone told us not to talk to anyone… not to touch anything.. not to photograph anything or anyone… While in Malana… I have been to umpteen number of villages across Himachal Pradesh and stayed overnight with locals but Malana was a different experience all together.  We entered in the village where most of the houses were 2 storeys with ladies threshing the wheat/barley on second floor. In some households we also noticed corridors filled up with plucked leaves and plants of marijuana. They dry the leaves before transforming it further to the popular pot (Charas) of Malana. In the street of Malana, I was approached by couple of kids and ladies… All of them came closer and murmured…. Maal chhaiye?... Charas Chhaiye?...  Now most of the locals of Malana speak and understand Hindi very well. They also know that most of the outsiders come to Malana to smoke charas which locals sell at very nominal price.
Jamlu Rishi Temple Malana
                                              Jamlu Rishi Temple Malana
I am always tempted to Maal but not the maal which she referred at that time. Everyone in Malana smokes charas including all the ladies and even kids which I found quite disheartening. Finally we reached to some old wooden temples those were exquisitely carved on outer walls. There are sign boards in all the lanes of Malana warning visitors not to touch any house or temple of the village. Photography is also prohibited and there is hefty fine if you are found doing so. Restriction in the village does not allow you to do the exploration the way you might want to hence might leave you with frowning curiosity. Temples in Malana definitely occupy visitors for quite some time not because these are built in unique style but because you get to see panels decorated with horns, bones, skulls of the animals on the outer walls and doors of the temples. My guess is that these are from the animals those were once sacrificed on these temples. Jamlu Rishi Temple is the main temple of the village and Jamlu Rishi was the prime deity of the village. In January 2008, Malana suffered a devastating fire which destroyed many temples of the village. You can still see the remains of those temples while navigating through Malana.  While in Malana don’t get nervous if someone is staring you or following you. I also noticed that Men don’t do anything in Malana and Women are primarily taking care of everything. Most of the men in Malana were lazing around a big stone platform which is again out of bound for outsiders. I would like to be part of such society where ladies are taking lead role and allowing men to enjoy siesta. With recent shift of freedom, Girls in contemporary India should learn something from Malana and should take that extra responsibility…. No offence ..
Warning Sign at one of temple Walls
                                     Warning Sign at one of the temple's walls
I believe if you make something a taboo then it will definitely arise curiosity and subsequently illicit invasion because we humans are adventurous by nature. Taking chances into unknown had always exhilarated us and this is why Malana became a buzzword in Parvati Valley. After taking 2-3 circles around the village where we attracted lot of unwanted attention, we receded back to the primary school to refill our water bottles and later hiked uphill to find a shelter in one of those guest houses overlooking malana from a safe distance.
Starting of Malana Trek
                                             Starting of Malana Trek

 

How to reach Malana: From Delhi/Chandigarh, take any overnight bus to Kullu and get down at Bhuntar which is some 10 km before Kullu. Bhuntar is also known for Airport and road bifurcates to Parvati from Bhuntar. There are frequent buses to Kasol (Or Manikaran/Barshaini) from Manikaran circle at Bhuntar. Catch any of these buses and get down at Jari which can be easily identified from the hydro power plant.
Jari is some 24 km from Bhuntar and some 8 km before Kasol.

Beyond Jari, you won’t get any public transport to Malana so you will have to hire a private jeep (Scorpio sort of) for remaining journey to Malana. It may be difficult to get a taxi in Jari so I will recommend reaching Kasol first and then making the deal for the vehicle. Return trip from Kasol/Jari to Malana should cost 800-1000 INR. If you are driving on your own then all you need to register your vehicle at Jari entrance and then drive further to Malana.

Jari to Malana is some 20 odd km on partially unpaved road. Route is scenic in the back drop of snow-capped mountains, waterfalls and rivulets flowing underneath. After crossing Jari hydro power plant, you will reach Malana hydro power plant and road turns really treacherous beyond that. Few km after Malana power plant, you will reach a point where you will see a Gate stating “Trek to Malana Village” (See the image above for more information). Malana village is some 4 km hike from this point and can usually be done in 90 minutes. If you have a good vehicle then you can drive further from this point on the same road which reaches much closer to Malana village and in fact opens just opposite to Malana village. It is just 30 minutes trek to Malana from this point. In some years the same road will reach Malana and then there won’t be any need for trekking to reach Malana.

From/To Naggar via Chandrakhani pass:
During summers when Chandrakhani pass is open, Malana can also be reached via Chandrakhani pass (3660 meters). With better connectivity to Malana, this trek now can be done in 2 nights 3 days with overnight stay at Chiklani (Base of Chandrakhani pass) anad Malana. It’s a moderate trek through fabulous landscape and interesting villages. If you are novice to Hiking in Himalayas, Chandrakhani pass is one of the best pick to get an orientation of these majestic mountains without much strenuous effort.

New bus: Kullu to Malana (till the base), Daily bus at 3 PM

 

Household of Malana Village
                                                 Household of Malana Village

 

Where to stay in Malana: Overnight stay in the vicinity of Malana was not allowed till last year but now there are 2 guest houses in Malana. These guest houses are another 500 meter hike from the village and tucked beautiful amid deodar grove. Small kitchens are also attached with these guest houses to fulfill your appetite. During summers, these guest houses are mostly occupied by horde of Israelis high on Malana-grown Charas. If you love isolation then Malana is one of the recluse villages of Parvati perhaps due to its geographical location.

 

My Malana Love
                                                 My Malana Love

What to do in Malana: Besides strolling along the narrow lanes of the village, getting a glimpse of temples those are out of bound, engaging into conversation around trading charas, secretively contemplating  about the mystery of Malana, there is nothing much to do. In coming years, Malana will soon be just another village of Himachal and definitely loose the charm for which it was known once.

Hi Vishnu, Thanks for very

Hi Vishnu,

Thanks for very informative blog.

It would be nice if u would share the contact of the frnd(OM) of urs in kasol.

 

I want to stay in kasol and visit to Manikaran gurudwara for Day 1 and second  day i want to trek to Malana village and stay there for another day.

Any camps that u can suggest?

 

 

Sure. I will send you the

Sure. I will send you the contact details. There are riverside camps in Kasol. Om also has one.

I have 3 full days. Do you

I have 3 full days. Do you think Kasol, Malana and Tosh is doable? Also how do you commute in between these three places? And should i station myself in Kasol and then visit these places or should i spend a day and night at each..

Please do suggest.

Thanks,

Neha

Yes, it is possible to visit

Yes, it is possible to visit these places in 3 days. I would recommend to first go to Tosh (stay overnight) and then next day kasol and last day at Malana..

you say you are disheartened

you say you are disheartened at the kids smoking!! id say i am disheartened at you and so many more travel bloggers like you who give out so much unnecessary information about the village without once thinking of the impact. you clearly dont know what the village has to deal with just because of your choice of words...which are sometime not even thought off. you know so much about Malna bhaijii tell me the last time the village was burnt...also tell me why?? if you knew the answer to this why you'd probably not be mentioning a few details that you have slipped in. its very pleasant to share a great travel itinerary...its great i repeat..but do you mention the details of your intimacy with your woman in those wooden houses??? no na..coz you are responsible towards her (if at all there is any) ...then why speak of whats going on in that villager's life and mess it up for him..like it already isn't a task living there..please be  a little more responsible about any place you visit..it boils my blood at the moment to even think that the openness with which you speak of the "on goings" in the village, you wouldn't ever speak/write a fraction of this if this was the story of your own house. its sad we are getting tourists like you (and dont worry..you are not alone..)

don't ever call yourself a traveler..you are a tourist my friend.  

and then most of you wonder "why are we not welcomed in malana" because when we welcome you, this is what we get.... our stories out, in an irresponsible way, just for a few followers and a couple of likes.. so heartbreaking. 

I agree that the travelogue

I agree that the travelogue could have been more engaging or written more beautifully, but then you are judging his writing. He may not have written like the best of travel writers but it was a good read and information for the person who is going to Malana for the first time. I really would like to know, what intimate details did he share that could boil your blood! And him saying that it was disheartening to see kids smoking weed, was as resonsible a statement as it could be. Had he been a native of Malana, his kids or nieces or nephews smoking weed would have been just a normal thing, but because he came from the household and had the upbringing where smoking, drinking is a habit that is not considered good for anyone, be it man, kid or a woman. 

I really am inquisitiev to know what in this article is hurtful, or is that invades the privacy of people fo Malana or demeans them? If you feel that providing information about the vilaage to the world is his fault, then my dear, I am afraid, Malana is not a private property of people living there, for the sole reason that it was not explored till now. This Earth belongs to every living being. Yes, what you should be concerned about is the fact that tourism or travellers do not litter, pollute the place with coke cans, chips packets, etc. 

And by the way, I am a Himachali.

Hi,   Me and my friends are

Hi,

 

Me and my friends are visting Kasol, malana, Tosh on 19-24th March. Any idea about weather conditions... Wanted to know if we can trek to Kheerganga. Also if you could provide any pointers for travel/accomodation, that would be great. Please get back to me at manu4u.88@gmail.com

 

Thanks,

Vivek

Sorry for the late response,

Sorry for the late response, I hope you enjoyed your trip.

Hi Vishnu,   I am travelling

Hi Vishnu,

 

I am travelling Solo in 1st weel of April and want some info about stay and visitng Malana, Kasol and Tosh. Can you share contact details of Om for local help?

 

Regards,

Pratik

Sure. I will send you the

Sure. I will send you the number

Hi Vishnu! Very informative

Hi Vishnu!

Very informative article!Smile
I'll be travelling to Malana, Tosh, Kasol and Kheerganga this July! Would really appreciate if you could suggest any place for stay in any of these places! Thanks in advance.

 

Ayush

I will send you an email

I will send you an email which might be useful in arranging accommodation.

I am visiting malana between

I am visiting malana between february 22-24,2017 ,would you pls suggest me some contacts in kasol/malana so that i could complete my trip with friends without no worries plz ping me to ny watsapp number :@ 9866901790.

Thank you

Sorry for the late response.

Sorry for the late response. I hope you had great time.

hi vishnu,can you please tell

hi vishnu,
can you please tell me that is it possible to trek malana in 25jan-29jan and find accomodation there ?

 

 

Sorry for the late response.

Sorry for the late response. i hope you enjoyed.

Hey, Me and my friends

Hey,

Me and my friends are planning to go to Parvati Valley on New Years .
Can you suggest a good place to stay in kasol?
And is it a good time to visit?

Yes, new year is not bad

Yes, new year is not bad time. it will be little too cold but rest is fine.

IS Chadrakhani trek possible

IS Chadrakhani trek possible in december end?

If not, what else we can do in parvati valley?

Would kheerganga be acessible?

All in all 

IS it worth?

Chandrakhani will be

Chandrakhani will be difficult to do in december. lot of snow and no proper trail. Kheerganga is possible but getting accommodation near Kheerganga is tricky.

me and my friend are planning

me and my friend are planning for a trip to Kasol between Jan5- Jan 10. Also we are planning for a trip to Malana, Kheerganga and Tosh. I wan to know if these places would be accesible during these days, as there might be snow? 

Malana and Tosh are very much

Malana and Tosh are very much accessible through out the year. Kheerganga will depend on snow situation.

Want a place for

Want a place for accommodation in kasol
Any suggestions?

I will send you a number

I will send you a number which will be useful in getting accommodation in Kasol.

Hi I am planning to trek to

Hi
I am planning to trek to tosh Malana and kheerganga. Will I be able to manage accommodation on the spot.
We are a group of 6 and will be travelling from 25-1 this new year
Please do let us know

Sorry for the late response.

Sorry for the late response. I hope you managed to get the accommodation and enjoyed your time in Parvati valley.

Hi Vishnu, We are 6 people,

Hi Vishnu,

We are 6 people, planning to trek kheerganda trek on 25th Nov -26th Nov. Is kheerrgana remains open in these days  if yes then will I get accommodation options at the top? Please assist.

Thank you - Sumit

Kheerganga remains open

Kheerganga remains open throught out the year the only problem is accommodation which is not available during winters.

Hi Vishnu,  Thanks for the

Hi Vishnu, 

Thanks for the inisght. It is very helpful. 

Please let me know if we can visit malana in the month of february or March. Are options of stay avialable in Malana during these months.

Also how far are the homestays from the village and if you are aware of the budgets for these homestays.

 

Regards

Arijit 

Yes, you can visit Malana in

Yes, you can visit Malana in the month of March or February. Yes, accommodation in the form of homestays or guest houses will be available. I do not know what is the rent of these homestays.

Hi I want to know is there

Hi
I want to know is there any place near malana or kasol named YChing
If yes how can i visit it and are there place for accommodation
Thanks

No idea about this place.

No idea about this place. hearing it for the first time.

Hey Vishnu,   Wonderful

Hey Vishnu,

 

Wonderful article! I am planning to visit Kheerganga-Tosh-Malana-Challal-Manali along with few of my friends in last week of December. Let us know what challenges we can face. Will we be able to enjoy the Kheerganga trek concious of the fact that it will be freezing cold? Let us know what other options we can explore, we have around 6 days to spend

Thanks for your help

Bhargav

Hi Bhargav, Yes, Kheerganga

Hi Bhargav,

Yes, Kheerganga would be tricky in December as you might not find any accommodation. Tosh, Malana, Challal and Manali are doable. Given 6 days i would suggest to stick to these 4 places.

Hey Vishnu,   Wonderful

Hey Vishnu,

 

Wonderful article! I am planning to visit Kheerganga-Tosh-Malana-Challal-Manali along with few of my friends in last week of December. Let us know what challenges we can face. Will we be able to enjoy the Kheerganga trek concious of the fact that it will be freezing cold? Let us know what other options we can explore, we have around 6 days to spend

Thanks for your help

Bhargav

Yes, it will be really cold.

Yes, it will be really cold. I hope you had good time in Parvati valley.

Hey Vishnu, is it possible to

Hey Vishnu, is it possible to go to grahan from Malana?Any idea?

Yes. it is possible. You

Yes. it is possible. You should get down from Malana to Kasol and then hike to Grahan. you can also take Malana-Rasol-Kasol.

Its a great tranelogue. It

Its a great tranelogue.

It would be nice if u would share the contact of the frnd of urs in kasol

I think it would b using for planning malana /tosh trekking

Sure.. will inbox you.

Sure.. will inbox you.

Hi Vishnu, Thanks for the

Hi Vishnu,

Thanks for the nice article. Well i am planing to visit Malana with my GF. Is it safe ? and we will reach bunter by 4 or 5 Pm on 13th Oct.. So any suggestions brother. I also heard we can travel to *Chandrakhani  from Malana village. i have 3days for the trip. Please share you experience,m sure that will help me to plan my trip.

Whats app 9650306302

yes. you can visit

yes. you can visit Chandrakhani from Manala and get down at Rumsu village. Malana and surroundings are safe.

Is there an option of renting

Is there an option of renting tents in Malala or one should carry them along. Something in budget.

If you want to rent tents

If you want to rent tents then Kasol is better place. Malana however has many homestays.

Hi can you send me contact

Hi can you send me contact number of person called Bhushan Razdan, i wanted visit that place. some suggested that he is good guy to contact

I am not from Kasol or

I am not from Kasol or Parvati. Sorry i do not have number of everyone.

Hi Vishnu,  The article was

Hi Vishnu, 

The article was great!! 

I went to Malana last time on Oct will DEC Starting Will be a good time to trek and I would also like to visit to tosh and Chalal if possible Kheer ganga. 

 

please let me know if you can help me with this. 

 

Thanks,

Mukund

yes. December is not bad.

yes. December is not bad. Kheerganga might be tricky but rest every place you can visit. What kind of help are you looking for ?

Hello , I just want to know

Hello ,

I just want to know is it safe for my 4 friends to do trekking in November start from naggar to Malana village. There will be 1 girl also, is it safe for all of us to do trekking in that place. Hope to get a reply soon.

 

 

Thankss 

There is no concern with

There is no concern with respect to safety. For chandrakhani pass (Naggar to Malana), i would recommend to hire a guide. you may need porter and tents in case you are planning to stay overnight between.

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