Kasol and Challal- Off beat Himachal, India


Travelled to : Kasol and Challal in April, 2016

This day was a day of relaxation, walking through the apple orchards, listening to the music of the Parvati river, having tea and adda ( chit chat) in a small Himalayan village surrounded by greenery. It was the perfect “chilling out” that I had heard so much about in Parvati valley. If you want to avoid touristy places in Himachal and spend some time in the lap of nature, this is the place to be.

Quick tips

Reach –  Take a bus ( ordinary/ deluxe/ a.c Volvo) from Delhi towards Manali and get off at Bhuntar ( 12 hours), before Kullu( cost arount Rs.100-Rs.1500). Take one of the frequent local buses/ cab from Bhuntar to Kasol ( 1.5 hours), fare- under Rs.100

Stay –  We stayed are Rainbow Café, near of the bridge to Challal , over Parvati river. We paid Rs.700 in April, 2016 for a double room with balcony and clean bathroom with hot water. There are many options to stay in Kasol in every budget range.

To reach Challal – Just cross the bridge and start walking left for about 30-40 mins straight ahead on the left.

Eat – Alpine guest house. Midrange restaurant costing Rs.150-Rs.400 on main dish.

I had reached the Kasol the night before and checked into a random guest house on a street right next to the German bakery, run by an Italian man who came to Kasol many years ago any never went back. I didn’t like the place as it lacked basic creature comforts like towels, soap, any place to hang your clothes or keep your stuff. Anyway, my friend Debangana from Bangalore joined me around 9 AM . I checked out and found a new place- Rainbow guest house which solved all these problems plus it had a nice view of the mountains and green fields from the balcony. It costed us only Rs.700/ night. It was clean and even had a tiny dressing area which I think is a steal for this price. It was great to see Debangana and we were really excited about our days ahead. We freshened up and headed for Alpine guest house for a lunch by the river Parvati. The main drag of Kasol is about a kilometer long and this place is on the right hand side, by the Parvati river , 200 meters inside from the road. You can ask anyone for directions.

View from Kasol town
Apple orchards on the way to Challal

The water of the river was clear and the river bed was visible. It gurgled and jostled making sweet music for the ears. The crowd at the restaurant was young, quite a few of them rolling happily. It was a very peaceful place. We had a long lunch and conversation at this spot. The pasta and continental chicken dishes we ordered were yummy, some of the best I have eaten in India. The owner and some of the staff turned out to be Bengalis and they were happy to see us here. The conversation that followed was in Bengali and they insisted that we come here some time in December to experience the snow and silence of the valley. We promised we would.

Crossing the bridge on the way to Challal

After having our late lunch, we decided to take a stroll to the neighboring Challal village. It was a walk of 40 mins. We crossed the river near our guest house and kept walking. It is pretty straight forward. The Parvati river gave us company for a good part of our journey.  We crossed apple orchards which had no apples as it was April, hence spring. Nonetheless, the green smoothened the eyes and seemed to have a calming effect on me.

On the way we met a group of guys from Jaipur who tried to strike up a conversation with us and offered us food. I gave an alarmed look at Debangana and knew we were on the same page. We politely refused the food and continued walking till found a tea shop in a beautiful setting, that we liked. Again we had tea and just relaxed there for an hour. At that point we saw no tourists and were surrounded by apple trees. I didn’t want to leave the place. If you come in a group, it may be a good idea to stay at one of the homestays/ guest houses in this village. As we were only two women, we didn’t want to explore that option, especially because accessibility to Kasol with no street lights may become an issue in the night.

In Challal

We came back at an equally leisurely pace to Kasol. In the evening we went to a street tea stall that sold good momos. It started raining in the evening and as a result we could not go out to eat. The restaurant at Rainbow café, even though relaxed in atmosphere, serves below average food.  We swore not to have any more meals at this place. There were a lot of people, both Indians and foreign tourists, smoking up, but then it is Kasol, so no complains. Everybody kept to themselves/ their groups. We washed down the day with a beer and went to sleep.

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