It has been a couple of years since I realized there is really no need for me to fly to Switzerland for the mountains or to Florida for the beaches.India is a country that has everything! From sweet breakfasts to spicy dinners, from white snowfall in the peaks to brown deserts and from forests to wide open fields. But what surprised me the most was when my friends told me about this ‘Mini Israel’ in India called Kasol. ‘Googling’ about this place only increased my curiosity and the next long weekend, we took off.
Kasol is in Himachal Pradesh, a state where you can have the best view of the naked nature. It’s an 8 hour journey from Chandigarh through the narrow roads on the hills which I spent sleeping as I get very extremely car sick :P. For stay, there are plenty of really cheap rooms/hotels that the backpackers and hippies choose, but we got lucky when the ‘Himalayan Village’ resort opened up an option of staying in a tree house with the great view of Parvaty valley and the Himalayas. (I rated this hotel 5 star in Trip Advisor and honestly, I cannot find any fault with this place).
This village is hardly 4 km long and it is dotted with places like ‘authentic Israeli food’, ‘Taste of Israel’ etc. To my great excitement, almost every hoarding and banners were written in Hebrew. They even had a small Hebrew church where they conduct their religious ceremonies. Tucked away right opposite to the church is a must visit place called’ Evergreen café’. They have these nice outside seating with candle light from where you can just stare straight into the stars and see the outline of the huge snow-clad mountains. Sure, there are these people right behind you rolling and listening to ‘Ohm Rama Krishna’ chants, but what the hell, after a while, you just join in.
Make sure that you do take a walk in the mountain forests with a local guide to find out all about the medicinal plants that ‘youngster’s take for enjoyment’ (sorry, I am not fluent in drugs). Our guide told us stories about how the locals take mushroom’s for extra power during the winter and ‘grass’ when people are tired. He showed us leaves that can create an itching sensation for days and the root to eat to cease that, from the female apple trees where the apples are never eaten and the male apple trees that give green apples with less nutrition, from the leaves that helps avoid heart attacks to fruits you eat that will make you sleep for months. These locals have adopted nature as their doctor, their guru and their companion. The local school is a small house and most of them did their schooling till about 8th grade from there but the information they have about the human body and the solutions to make life simple is just quite shocking.
Now I know why the first Israeli came to Kasol and how he decided to just settle there cooking ‘home made middle eastern food’. They have this bigger and a much yummier version of shawarma; the recipe of which I will post sometime. Kasol is also the base for several treks to Chail, Rasol etc. During the trek to Chail, you will come across several posters stuck on the rocks announcing rave parties such as ‘ Summer Heat’ and ‘ Summer Blast’ which are held deep inside the woods. They have a clearing with tents near the valley, away from civilization where the people spend hours without knowing if it’s the sunset or the sun rise. I did not quite enjoy the trek as the paths were messy with plastic wrappers and bottles. I guess my next trip there would be with a big garbage bag for a cleaning up trip like how we did for the Triund Trek. Clean treks bring you much closer to nature when you see the big rocks and mountains and the clean water flowing in all its glory.
Sometimes, nature intimidates me, especially these huge mountains staring right at your foot and I come back thinking how insignificant we are in this world. Waking up every day with the view of the long trees and the water gargling and the simple people walking on the road getting on with their lives, made me understand fighting with your neighbor for a parking spot is so not worth it. Sigh!
Take a look at this link! The Kasol pictures are just beautiful! Some of them I have posted up so that you can see this guy’s talent!