A hop ,skip and jump across a dangling bridge on the river Beas, sets the pace for a three hour trek to ‘Rasol’, a quaint village in Himachal Pradesh, India. Situated in the foothills of the Himalayas, Rasol overlooks the Parvati valley, a region where the grass is definitely greener in the eyes of every hashish lover. Often referred to as ‘India’s Amsterdam’, this region is filled with people from Israel. It is their paradise in summer and I decided to make it mine as well along with my friend Bhumika.
Exploring the Parvati Valley has always been an integral part of my bucket list. Besides the scenic landscapes, delicious food and peaceful demeanour, the Parvati Valley has a rich multicultural atmosphere. But as beautiful as it is, its commercial nature did not give us what we wanted to experience. We wanted to get away from people and experience the rush you get from the sound of silence. So we decided to trek up to the unknown land of Rasol.
Breathing in the air flavoured with a tinge of hashish and overpowered with the Himalayan scent, we started trekking towards Rasol. The trek was a steep one but the breath-taking view of the snow-capped peaks hiding the lush green Parvati Valley made us forget the steep ascent to Rasol. A very unique aspect about this trek was that there were no sign boards. The only signs one sees are “Magic Rasol”, engraved on rocks pointing towards the direction of the village. The magic signifies the view one gets from Rasol. If you miss the signs, following the trails of cattle dump is always the next best alternative! That is exactly what we did since we were too busy taking ‘selfies’ with trees and rocks and ended up getting lost 😀
The first pit stop of the trek was the village of Chalal. This place offers a serene atmosphere after passing through a very commercial Parvati Valley. With a lot of guest houses and a village school, Chalal was also very close to a rafting camp , which ignited the adrenaline junkie in me. But the fluctuating Himalayan weather did not let me get my high from nature that day and we continued our trek.
Climbing up from Chalal, was a blissful journey with the sound of the river Beas accompanying us throughout. Our panting faces were also greeted by old women carrying logs of wood on their back, proving to be a source of encouragement to us and preventing us from giving up midway.
After about one and a half hours of starting the trek, we got the first glance of the beautiful village (Yes we were a bit slow :p) . It was a view that will always remain etched in my mind. The slanting, colourful thatched roofs of the village houses seemed to blend with the flora of the region and the snow-capped mountains were a perfect backdrop to the already picturesque scene.
Entering Rasol, we first saw a Shiva temple, which is considered to be the most sacred spot of the region. Eager to explore every nook and corner of this beautiful region, we soon found ourselves being followed by a group of giggling children. Bullying them around I managed to negotiate a good deal with them- ‘One chocolate each if I was shown their favourite spots in the village.’ ( Yes my negotiation skills seem to work only with children). Thankfully this deal did not disappoint us one bit!
Strolling through the village with the children, we realised Rasol seemed like a separate country of its own. The people seemed oblivious to life in the big cities. Secluded and content in their little shell, they led simple lives. Most of the women were involved in weaving wool while the men were seen playing a game similar to chess once they were done with their daily work. It is common for them to ask you ‘Aap hash pethae ho?’ (Do you smoke hash?) as you pass by them . Yes though illegal, hash is grown in Rasol and is a way for these villagers to make some money. But they are simple and very helpful individuals and do not force you to buy it from them. Most of them have not ventured outside Rasol. What really touched my heart was the manner in which they got their daily supplies. In mountainous terrains like Rasol, climbing up and down everyday for basic vegetables and groceries is impossible. It is instead sent across a wire connecting two cliffs. A tough life indeed, but their approach towards such a life was beautiful making me realise that people in the mountains are the epitome of kind-hearted souls.
Enjoying every aspect of this village, we decided to spend the night with a family in the village. A lot of tourists do this to experience life in a Himalayan village. Enjoying piping hot rice and curry, the highlight of our stay was us grooving to Eminem with this family! Another tourist had left his audio player with them making us the lucky recipients to such entertainment :). Who would have thought that I would be listening to Slim Shady with a family from a secluded village in the Himalayas! That was definitely a cherishable moment. Another fun fact about my family was that they were named after vegetables like Aloo(potato) and Mooliya (raddish), making me enjoy their innocence and sense of creativity. Staying with a family in Rasol was a great decision, giving us the true sense of living in Himalayan village. However, with more tourists coming in, some enterprising villagers have opened a few guesthouses (just extensions to their homes) as well.
Rasol is the ideal getaway for anyone who enjoys being one amongst the mountains as well as for the backpacker searching for ‘magic hash’. But the best part about the village is the people. Their warm hearts make you appreciate humanity which is indeed a pot of gold in today’s world! I’m so glad we followed cattle dump and found our paradise 🙂