That excitement when you see a long weekend marked on your calendar, has a special feeling of its own. The planning of what the long holiday will be put to use for is the best part about the upcoming holiday for me.
But being the well-organized, well planned bum that I am, the above is not applicable to me 🙂
I already had my upcoming 4-day holiday planned four months in advance. It just had to be the hills and that too Kasol, a cute little town in Himachal Pradesh not too far from Manali.
While we (my husband and I) just had 4 days with us in all, we were insistent on going to Kasol, also called as the mini Israel of India. The reason being that I had been to Kasol almost 4 years back with a group of girl friends, but I was unable to explore to my hearts content because of the weather which was cold to the power infinity. Plus we had heard from a lot of friends who had visited before about the natural beauty of this place in summers and monsoon time was unbelievable. Thankfully Kasol is not too crowded like Shimla, Manali etc as not many people knew about it(yet).
The total distance between Delhi and Kasol is around 500 kms and would easily take around 12 hours by car (on a good day, and can even stretch to 15 hrs depending on road and traffic situations). Which is why, we decided to break our journey on the first day and halt mid-way to Kasol.
We started around 7 am from Delhi, and thankfully the roads were empty. We also had our dog along with us for this trip and hence I had to do a pre-research on where we could halt for the night as unfortunately not many hotels/guesthouses in India are pet friendly.
We had a nice, comfortable journey with a good number of breaks in between and finally by around 2 PM, we reached our destination for the day. I had chosen a property called Prakrati Farms in Roopnagar which is around 30 minutes ahead of Chandigarh.
While this property did not have many reviews online (was a new listing), I went by my guts basis the images uploaded on their website and my conversations with the owner- Mr. Nethar.
Mr. Nethar had been kind enough to give us detailed directions on how to reach the landmark closest to the farms, and once we arrived there, we found him waiting for us in his car to lead us to the farm house.
We had been lucky to have not got stuck anywhere because of the rains, which could have been a major challenge. Mr Nethar mentioned that it had been raining pretty heavily since morning and it was only half an hour back that the skies had cleared up.
Once we started following Mr. Nethar’s car towards the farmhouse, we realized how thankful we were that he had come to get us as we would have never found the farm house otherwise. Nestled right in the middle of the dense trees, we crossed a number of muddy, narrow lanes, before we finally arrived at our halt for the evening.
All this car maneuvering effort, was so worth it when we finally entered the gates of Prakrati Farms.
What a huge piece of land, full of lush greenery it was and I was so glad that there was so much space for our dog-Leo to run around in. The only thing was that the property had 5 big, ferocious dogs to guard it; however, we were told that the dogs were usually in a different secured area and were let loose only at night. Which worked perfectly for us.
After unloading our luggage, we were taken around the property and led to our room for the night. The rooms did not disappoint us as well. They were so warm and cozy (well air conditioned as it was super-hot and humid) and it was evident that they were set up with love and passion, just like the rest of the farm house was.
We decided to rest a bit, freshen up and then later would head down to the in-house restaurant for some drinks and snacks followed by a light dinner.
Since we had to start early tomorrow in order to reach Kasol well in time to enjoy our short stay there, we were going light today. No plans, just relaxing, playing few games of cards and some wine to accompany the vibe..
I still remember and smile at the warm hospitality shown by the staff and Mr Nethar himself. We were spoilt to the core with everything at our beck and corner. Even Leo was super happy as he had no restrictions of not being allowed anywhere in the property and was also given a very hearty meal by the chef and even though we insisted on paying for his meal, the owner simply refused to charge us for it.
I can’t wait to go back and spend another weekend at that amazing property with my friends and family.
After a nice home cooked meal, we were off to bed by 10 pm and happily dozed off as soon as we lay down.
Next morning, we were up by 6.30 am, played with Leo outside for a bit and then after a cup of tea, were all packed and ready to commence our journey of another 6-7 hours to Kasol. We decided to stop for breakfast en route as it was important to get a lead when the traffic was still lean.
After saying our goodbyes to Prakrati farm and the warm staff, we were on our way zipping towards Kasol.
Again, we were very lucky with the traffic and rain situation and zoomed across the hills with no issues at all.
By 2 PM, we reached our destination- Kasol and our resort- Parvati Kuteer was around a kilometer short of the town market.
Partvati Kuteer is one of the more popular resorts in Kasol along with the Himalayan Village and thus needs to be booked atleast 2 months in advance. I had done just that and had booked us a cottage with a secluded garden space for Leo to chill in.
Once we entered the resort, we realized that all the guests in the resort also seem to have had got their pets along. The whole garden was full of dogs laying around, soaking the sun. It was definitely a warm welcome, however not so much for Leo. While he is super human-friendly, but that isn’t the case with him for other dogs. Being an Akita, it is in his blood to be territorial. Also the other dogs were quite territorial as well and hence we had to literally sneak him from the back roads into our cottage space. Pheww..That was quite an effort.
But again once we entered our cottage, we were delighted. The room while much smaller, had a warm hut in the woods kinda feeling. Well equipped with all essentials, we were very comfortable in there and knew our next two days would go in peace especially considering the pleasant sound of the gushing water of the Parvati river which was right below our cottage area. Nature in full bloom.
We spent the afternoon freshening up and resting, and then by 5 PM decided to head into the market. Had heard of great cafes with a lot of good bakery stuff and of course the Israeli food dishes to ravish.
Our first stop was Evergreen Café which is a must visit for everyone coming to Kasol. A cute little place at the end of the town, with both indoor and outdoor seating. For all those who didn’t know, Kasol is also very famous for Manila crème and other similar ‘stuff’. The policies earlier while very lenient, with people openly smoking up in cafes, were now much stricter. But yet one could always spot the rolling happening in one corner or the other.
We settled on the porch of the Café as we had Leo with us, and ordered a nice cup of coffee and some grilled cheese toast with barbeque fries. The food here is pretty good, though the service is superrrr slow. At one point I felt like going into the kitchen and telling them that they should let me cook it as I would definitely be faster :/
Anyways after the coffee break, we decided to go walk around the town a bit. Which turned out to be a tough task considering Leo was definitely the attention puller of every street dog in every corner of the market. These are the days I wish Leo was a pocket puppy and not this huge bear look alike so that we could take him everywhere without a worry in the world.
We decided to chuck the walking plan, and decided to take the car ahead to the next town for a drive. The next town is Manikaran, which happens to be a tourist spot because of a popular religious establishment there. Once we drove into this town, we realized we were so glad Kasol was not touristy yet, as the whole charm of a hill station is taken away when there are hordes of people walking on a narrow lane pushing everybody else.
Manikaran is just 5 kms away from Kasol market and hence our drive up and down back to the Kasol market was covered in less than an hour. That too because we had to withdraw some money from Manikaran town as the ONLY ATM in Kasol was not working.
I highly suggest that anyone going to Kasol, carries enough cash with them as the money withdrawal system is quite complicated because if the ATM is not working you have to go to an agent, swipe your card and get money in exchange of the swipe and pay a commission charged to the agent which could range anywhere from 5 to 15% additional.
Once back in Kasol, we decided to go get some Israeli delicacies for dinner. There are several other restaurants in market. We decided to try the Moon Dance Café as they were courteous to let Leo accompany come in and sit with us (not many restaurants agree to let pets in which is cruel).
Next two hours was spent eating, drinking and chilling while taking in the amazing vibe and weather in.
We headed back to our cottage by 9 PM and had a nice bonfire waiting for us (the small courtyard in front of our cottage had a built in space for the bonfire). The evening went by listening to music, playing chess and chatting with the really friendly owner of the resort.
Next day we were up bright and not so early and decided to go walk around the resort and explore the banks of the gushing Parvati river. The river was just 500 mtrs downhill walk from our cottage and we reached in less than 15 mins. We had to be a bit careful having Leo with us (the current of the water was really fast and furious), but the walk on the shores of the river was very pleasant and clean.
Sometimes city life makes you forget how wonderful it is to be around nature and when you finally find yourself amidst the natural beauty, you end up feeling as fresh as if you have been born again.
That hour long walk was amazing, and we were back in the resort all ready to order a nice big breakfast for ourselves.
We had the rest of the day with us and thought that we would trek around a bit. While there are several options around Kasol basis the distance you want to cover and your fitness levels, we decided to go easy(was a holiday after all ;)), and decided to go to Chalal.
For some other options for you to explore around, check this link: https://traveltriangle.com/blog/treks-near-kasol/
We were ready to start the trek by 12 PM (decided to leave Leo behind in the cottage as didn’t want to risk the face off with the mountain dogs who are supposed to be super ferocious).
Chalal trek is all of just 3 kms from Parvati Kuteer. Situated at an altitude of over 5300 feet and a 30-minute trek away from the tourist hub of Kasol, Chalal gives a feeling of being in a different era in a different country all together.
The trail begins after one crosses the suspended bridge over the magnificent Parvati river. Crossing this bridge can be a little daunting for those new to the area, but it is possible and is worth the heart-pounding feeling.
Once the bridge has been crossed, there is a trail that is used by the villagers and hikers to travel between the two villages. Follow the trail and stick to the narrow left path along the river that leads into the dense forest of towering pine trees, which open up to the entrance of this enchanting village. The whole route is gorgeous, with a great combination of the delightful Parvati river flowing against the backdrop of the magnificent pines that cover the spectacular mountains.
We spent a good 3-4 hours overall in the trek from the start till back. After the nice long walk, we were happy to get our afternoon nap before heading out in the evening again.
Now, this is life..Blisss…
After having a nice cup of tea, we drove into town. Considering there was no net coverage in the resort where we were staying, we had a lot of catching up and posting to do. So the next few hours we were on our phones together yet alone….Pros and Cons of the generation of technology 😉
Dinner was at Bhoj Café. A super funky place, a little dark but great music and vibe. There were people chilling, smoking and having a great time all around us.
Knowing tomorrow we had a long journey back home(we had decided not to break it and go all the 14 hours back as Leo missed his bed and so did we 🙂 )
Thanks Kasol for being so nice to us, thanks rain gods for ensuring our plans were not ruined and thanks to Himachal for never disappointing ever….
Keep reading folks. As there is a lots more for me to discover and experience and pen down for you all to enjoy.