I had been in Kasol for 15 days then and was yet to accomplish the most basic feat- trekking to Kheerganga! Everybody who visited Kasol had either already trekked to Kheerganga before or come for the purpose. So, I left Kasol for three days. My plan was to stay in Tosh for a day, trek to Kheereganga and visit Manikaran on the return. I waited 2 hours for a bus to Barshaini! Traffic in Himachal is bad during the season time. The roads are narrower in comparison to the amount of vehicles. (Once, it took me 6 hours to reach Kasol from Manali because of the jams.)
VIEW FROM THE KASOL BUS STOP
I was extremely excited and while waiting for the bus, I had the tasty mutton momos from Didi’s (right across the bus stop). When the bus finally came, I was glad! I hopped on, found a seat and was ready to see Tosh! I got down at Barshaini which was the last stop for the state bus from Bhuntar.
There were four options for that day- Tosh, Pulga, Kalga and Tulga. I wasn’t sure where to spend the day. I began enquiring around, I asked the locals and the shopkeepers for the best option. While talking to one of the locals, I met Yamini (another female solo traveller!!). She too was asking around for suggestions. We knew that Tosh and Pulga were almost as crowded as Kasol. The locals told us that Kalga and Tulga were nice options for a quiet stay.
We decided to team up and head to Kalga (a light trek of twenty minutes from Barshaini). However, after about twenty minutes, we reached an end! We had taken a wrong turn somewhere and while we were finding the way, we met Subro. He too had lost his way to Kalga. He had met a person in his bus to Himachal who was headed to Kalga and had suggested the place to him. So, the three of us teamed up and after another fifteen minutes, we reached the beautiful Himachali village- Kalga! We stayed at the Snow White Homestay. It was very neat and basic! I could stay there forever!
It began raining when we reached the homestay. We spent the evening in the common area. It was very cosy with a furnace at the center. I ordered a lot of food- I was really hungry! The white sauce pasta there was delicious and had a lot of pepper.
At night, it was very silent and the sky was full of stars! I slept really well and woke up with a lot of energy in the morning.
ROOM AT THE HOMESTAY IN KALGA
I had decided that I would spend another day in Kalga, but I was really eager to see Tosh and Kheerganga. So, we decided to leave for Tosh that evening. We reached Tosh within an hour and a half of leaving Kalga. We walked along the road. One can also hire a taxi or request a lift from the base to Tosh.
WAY TO TOSH
Subro knew a person in Tosh as well. So, we spent the evening at his acquaintance’s hangout spot and then went looking around for something to eat. We ate at a cafe that was pretty close. We met two people there and spent some time talking about our trips. Then, being extremely tired from the trek, we left after and retired in a homestay.
The next morning, we woke up early, got ready and packed to finally leave for Kheerganga. We stopped on our way to buy some candies and chocolate bars from a grocery store. There, we met a guy who had hurt his palm. He was looking for ointments and the shops did not seem to have any. I had some. I offered him mine. He was really happy and asked us if we were planning to trek to Kheerganga. On hearing our plan, he suggested us to go to Kutla and the Glaciers instead. He had just returned from Kutla and showed us pictures of the trek- it looked beautiful. He added that Kheerganga would be way too crowded at that time. Moreover, the weather did not seem good for a long trek. That got us thinking. Consequently, we thanked him, turned and headed to Kutla.
On our way to Kutla, we met the two guys from the cafe last night. They had a bonfire on and invited us to join them. We decided to stay for a few minutes. However, as we sat, we saw the people we had met last night at the hangout place walking towards the trek trail. They were headed to Kutla as well. So, we all TEAMED UP!! It was a big group of around 10-12 people.
As the guy at the grocery store had predicted, it did rain and we had to halt for about half an hour on the way. Nevertheless, we continued after a short halt. Then, we stopped midway at a waterfall to rest. The next 200-300 metres were the most difficult part of the trek- and the rain made it even more so!
WAY TO KUTLA- IT WAS RAINING, SO WE HALTED FOR A WHILE
THE WATERFALL MIDWAY ON THE TRAIL TO KUTLA
There was fog on the entire way due to rain and it looked as if we were above the sky, walking in the kingdom of the clouds! Finally after an hour on the trail that had become extra slippery after the rain, we reached Kutla!
THE FOG ON THE WAY TO KUTLA
In Kutla, there were just two small structures that served as homestays for the people and nothing else around. There was no electricity!
The view was SURREAL! As the mist dispersed and the sun shone, there were snow capped mountains in front that glowed, greenery and wide stretch of meadows on either side and the glaciers at the back. It took me some time to believe that the place was real. Most of us rested for sometime while the others who were more used to trekking and not as dead tired from the trek as us, gathered wood to build a bonfire.
THE FOG BEGAN CLEARING UP AT KUTLA AND THE BONFIRE WAS READY!
In the evening, everybody sat around the bonfire and as it got darker, the stars began to come up. Soon, they covered the entire sky! Adding to the mystic beauty, the place was lit up with candles. It looked like a land of fairies. I was spell bound, mesmerised, delighted and in denial that I was actually present at a place so beautiful. Living in Delhi, I had never seen more than a few stars scattered around the sky. What I could see then was an anomaly!! It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen in my life.
Yamini suggested that we put some potatoes under the ground, near the bonfire. And, thanks to her, we had some hot baked potatoes. That completed the setting!
The next day, I was too tired to trek up to the glaciers. I found a place to take a shower and then, met a lady who was making the local rice wine- Grappa!
LADY MAKING GRAPPA- THE LOCAL RICE WINE
The trek back to Tosh was beautiful! Everything looked colourful and fresh after the rain..
VIEW WHILE TREKKING DOWNHILL BACK TO BARSHAINI FROM KUTLA
On the way back to Kasol, I stopped at Manikaran. I ate at the langar there- the food was tasty! People at Manikaran were really humble and big hearted. That sacred town in the Parvati Valley was very different from others in the area. It was very simple, religious and crowded. There are many temples that one can visit there..
After Manikaran, I returned back to Kasol (NOTE- The last state bus from Manikaran for Kasol/Bhuntar leaves by 6.10 p.m.). The three days had gone really well. Though, I could not trek to Kheerganga, I was glad that I went to Kutla! I hope the place remains as beautiful and peaceful as it was!
Well, this is where I’ll end the post.. Writing this brought back all the memories of the place! I hope you enjoyed the post!