“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain
Nestled high up in the lush green mountains of the Parvati valley is the tiny village of Malana. The gushing sounds of the Malana river flowing through the mountains breaks any silence in the valley and being home to the most expensive hash on the Amsterdam menu card , the smell of Cannabis hovers over the air like clouds.
With Malana being notoriously famous for its Cannabis hashish variant called ‘Malana cream’ one could only imagine what it means for the locals. Cannabis is like a religion for the people living there with it being the only crop which is cultivated there unlike other mountain villages. The stretch of fields in the Parvati valley is so immensely vast that it can be seeing growing in the wild pretty much everywhere making it a primary source of income as well a problem for the locals.
We took a car ride to get to Malana from Kasol for which the round trip cost us about 3ooo rupees. The journey took us about 2 hours for a distance of 21 kms which does not include the 1-2 hour trek to reach the village. The climb is relatively easy minus a few slippery points towards the end.
The origins of the people in Malana are unclear. Some say they are the direct descendants of ‘Alexander the great’. Legends say that when he was in India he was forced by the rough mountains to make a settlement there (Malana). When he decided to leave the place, many stayed back resulting in their ancient greek style court system. Another theory states that the people of Malana were descendants of the Aryans and they got their independence when Emperor Akbar was cured of a disease by the village people.
The Malani people have an interesting culture and language. They speak Kanashi which is unintelligible for outsiders from the Parvati valley. The locals feel themselves to be far superior from non-malani people hence considering it impure to make contact with or touch outsiders. They believe in the purity of blood lines so the malani people marry only within their tribes. Tourists are forbidden from touching their houses, temples or scared stones and fines are imposed on those who do it.
We also found that the locals follow a custom that can be called for lack of a better word “goat justice”. Pictured here are two men, who are accused of a crime! Justice is meted out by slitting the goats on one of their hind legs, then followed by filling it with poison and stitching up the wound! The owner of the goat which dies first is declared guilty! Interference from cops and outsiders is futile and discouraged and is in fact met with a heavy fine!
The basic commodities are relatively tough to acquire given the terrain conditions. The locals have to bring everything from water, wood and food from the lower areas either by foot or by using mules. Furthermore bouts of bad weather like avalanches and rain make accessing the lower terrains close to impossible, leaving the village completely cut off from the outside.
Considering the other Himalayan villages we had visited during our travels , we found that the sanitation and hygiene levels in Malana were quite low. They have a serious waste disposal problem and no proper drainage system. Most houses lack toilet facilities and people pretty much defecate in the open. Cow dung, human excreta and other waste materials can be seen scattered pretty much in all walk ways in the village. The government has built a hydro-electric power plant in the vicinity which slightly helped in improving the road infrastructure but sadly the sanitation situation remains deplorable with people facing serious health issues. Other issues like lack of educational facilities and alcohol/substance abuse does not help the cause of the people either with people turning violent in their inebriated states.
Like they say in Westworld “These violent delights have violent ends”
Inspite of the problems that this tiny Himalayan village faces, it is still located in an absolutely stunning place with breathtaking views. There was a bit of rain as we made our way up to the village, resulting in some fog filled valley views. As a heads up, dining in the village can be quite expensive but you can’t really crib about it considering most of the villagers have to obtain their goods on foot. So in case you are on a cash crunch packing a few sandwiches for the trip might not be a bad idea!
Overall the trip to Malana was certainly a memorable experience. We did get to witness a few of the things that we had read about making it a very one of a kind trip.
Like every other holiday, a group selfie is always a mandate post which we made our way down back to our ride to Kasol!