In the small Indian hamlets that are popular with backpackers, the type of accommodation and food options (mostly Cafes) are different from the rest of the cities.
Parvati valley in India is one of the most popular backpacking destinations in India. That was place with which I began solo backpacking. It was unlike any other place I had ever been to.
There is a strong cafe culture in the region. It looked beautiful how the cafes lit up as the sun went down. People spent hours in the cafes- Talking to each-other, reading or working on their laptops. The atmosphere is very different from that in the big restaurants where people order food, have their meals and leave. Also, unlike cities and towns, backpacking destinations have more of homestays, guesthouses, camps and hostels rather than hotels.
It is easy to find a list of popular cafes at any place on the internet. However, there are certain cafes, food joints and homestays that are hidden gems. People often miss out on these places because they are not popular.
Here, I have made a list of such Cafes/Food stalls and Homestays that I came across during my one month stay in Parvati Valley.
Though the food in all the Cafes and Homestays listed below (and others in the area) is amazing, be ready to wait for your order. The service is good but slow at all the places! People like to take their time. You’re there to relax and so are they- It is a chilled out place! Don’t lose your patience and crib. Instead, carry a book to read or talk to others around you while you wait for your order. Once the food arrives, it’ll be worth the wait, trust me!
1) Mutton Momos at Didi’s (Kasol)
Right opposite to where the bus stops at Kasol, there is a small food joint. Go there, and have the best mutton momos there is! It is delicious and cheap. Didi is friendly and loves to serve food to the customers with a smile! Moreover, this place mostly has a very fast service (rare in the area).
2) The German Bakery (Kasol)
It is quite popular but not without reason. There are many German bakeries but I liked the pies of this one the best. Have a slice of their Pie and transport your taste buds straight to the food heaven! Most of all, I loved the cheese cake and american brownie there! Also, the banana cake and lemon cake are nice!
3) Thukpa at Yangling Tibet (Kasol)
I could not try the food there because I got to know of this place after my return. Next time I visit Kasol (Soon, I hope!!), I will definitely go and try the Thukpa there.
4) Woodland Cafe (Chalal)
This cafe is somewhere on the way to Chalal. You could either sit inside or outside on the tables facing the Parvati River! I loved the view there. Moreover, the food there was simple and tasty. I saw the owner pick some fresh herbs from his garden while cooking my pasta. Consequently, the flavour was pretty good! Go there for beautiful view, peaceful environment and fresh homely food. The family that runs the cafe lives there in a small house. I just loved the setting, it was fairy-tale like!
5) Greenpark Cafe (Chalal)
This is a guesthouse with rooms as well as tents. It is at an ambient location, far from the crowd and noise of the main Kasol market yet close enough to make it accessible on a daily basis. It is a 10 minute walk after crossing the bridge in Kasol. The guesthouse is run by a super friendly team from Nepal who keep the place very safe for female solo travellers like me! The food is tasty and the price is modest! This is where I stayed for a month.
Interestingly, this place had a lot of old visitors. Some people stay there every time they visit Kasol!
6) The Mysterious Homestay
There is a local’s house right behind the Green Park Cafe. They do rent out rooms in their house for a very nominal price. I saw some travellers staying there. I do not know if the house has a name but it looked very cosy and cute (Yeah, a cute house!). Do check it out. It would be fun to live in a Himachali Home!
7) SnowLine Cafe/Homestay (Kalga)
Kalga in itself is very beautiful. This homestay has cosy rooms at 150-300 Rupees per head per night. The food is fresh and tasty. Visit this place if you want a peaceful break and be pampered by nature in a beautiful, magical settlement. Expect a Himachali Village with very decent and peace-loving tourists. There is hardly any crowd there. It is one of the few “shanti-shanti” spots left in the Parvati Valley. Staying options are mostly homestays run by the generous local people there. It is at a short (10-15 minute) trek from Barshaini.
DO NOT GO THERE WITH A RETURN TICKET. YOU WILL WANT TO EXTENDED YOUR STAY THERE, FOR SURE!
8) Gurudwara Manikaran Sahib (Manikaran)
Have the langar there! It is delicious. Also, if you have time, do serve at the Gurudwara! I bought plums there and the vendor told me to keep the plums for free when he could not find change for a 100 Rupees note! People there have very big hearts! It is a place that’ll restore your faith in humanity. Since it is a religious town, it is certainly not a party place! Mostly, there are Indian tourists and it is crowded (not as much as Kasol, unless you are there during some Festival).
9) IL Forno (Manali)
IL Forno is located on the Hadimba Road in Manali. Do try the Lasagna and Sandwiches there! It is delicious. It has a beautiful setting of snow-capped mountains in the backdrop with lip smacking food!
10) Kutla (Beyond Tosh)
There is one word for this place- Surreal! I have not mentioned the name of the guesthouse because there are just two of them there! I will soon write a post about the Kutla Trek- the trail, the stay in Kutla, food and other details. This place needs a separate post, I cannot describe what I experienced there in a mere paragraph.
Other than the ones mentioned above, here is a list of some popular Cafes in the Parvati Valley:
- Mamas Cafe (Kasol)
- Evergreen Cafe (Kasol)
- Bhoj Cafe (Kasol)
- Stone Garden Cafe- 24*7 open (Kasol)
- Jim Morrison Cafe (Kasol)
- Freedom Cafe (Katagla)
- Pink Floyd Cafe (Tosh)
- Moon Dance Cafe (Old Manali)
Some Food Items that you must try in the Parvati Valley are:
- Himalayan Trout Fish
- Hummus Pita with Chips and Salad
- Freshly baked Pies
- Nutella-banana Pancake
- Momos/ dumplings
- Grappa (A local wine of the area)
- Apples of the season
- Dried apricots
- The six flavoured ice-cream swirl in New Manali
- Take home some Plum crush and the Apple cider vinegar
Well, I hope the information above helps you to explore Parvati Valley better. Feel free to suggest more such Cafes and Homestays in the comments below! Have a nice time in the Parvati Valley.
My experience there was Magical and I hope yours is too!