Kasol is popular in India for all wrong reasons. Tourists from Delhi and Chandigarh come here to find relaxation from the extreme heat of their cities. Being 12 hour away from Delhi makes Kasol one of the most popular weekend getaway from both Delhi and Bangalore. I have felt that Kasol is more posh than Manali because of the number of SUVs which adorn the narrow pathway of the market.I have never seen so many rich people dressed like one of the characters from the music videos of Honey Singh and Badshah at one place.
Another reason why Kasol is so popular because of its famed plantations of Malana Cream. Travellers come here for their adventure and to have a gush to this fine verity of charas grown in Parvati Valley. For those who know how to spot their cream get the right thing most of the times, others who don’t know how to find Malana Cream in Kasol, often end up smoking dried cow dung with soil inside.
My journey to find the source of Malana Cream started during my backpacking journey in Himachal Pradesh. I was living in Jari, a small village near Kasol, at a small guest house, trying to finish my writing project as soon as possible. Finding this place was a matter of luck of me. For INR 200 per night, I had found the cheapest place to stay in Kasol. For 50 rs extra, they used to serve breakfast and dinner.
One morning, I was enjoying the summer sun when two tourists arrived on their bikes. They were looking for the son of my guest house’s owner. Somehow, looking at me they assumed that I am his son. They told me that we had spoken on the phone and they wanted to see the place where Malana Cream is grown. Upon explaining that I am not his son and that the guy they were looking for is way more stylish and handsome than than me or those dudes themselves, they realized their mistake and didn’t apologize.
Angad, the guy they were asking for arrived. After 15-20 minutes of discussion, he agreed to send someone to show them those farms. By the time their discussion ended (which I was evesdropping on) I became interested in seeing that place myself. I had always seen the plants of weed scattered in the area but never saw a farm in whole. I asked them if I could come with them and I don’t have any money to share for the expedition, they agreed. I think the guilt of comparing me to the guest house owner’s son was burdening them and they thought that it will help them find penance from the sin.
We started for Malana village at 6 AM in the morning. The gorgeous Parvati River flowed side by side as we walked towards the village. As we moved higher, the views started to get more scenic and the valley started to come forward. At one point we had to climb 200 stairs and that was the point I almost gave up.
If you look at Malana, you won’t believe that these guys call themselves the first Aryans. Heaps of plastic bottles lying all over the village, packets of lays flying from a corner to another free as a bird are the sights that you’d regularly see. Unless it is the winter season and you arrive here when the village is covered in snow, there is no chance that you’ll put Malana in the list of most beautiful and gorgeous villages in Himachal Pradesh. Malana is not even close in my list of top five villages in Parvati Valley, forget Himachal Pradesh. The last time I was in Malana (I trek here every 15 days with some tourist or another, don’t ask why) I even saw a used tissue paper flying in the air.
The Malana Cream plantations are located at a distance of another two km from the village. No government official goes around the village, police will only catch you with the charas if you are found in the lower regions with the cream. The two km trek almost took our 45 minute to climb. The route was filled with some steep climbs and one of the bikers almost fell.
The plantation area is small but the plants are in abundance. The Malana Cream is grown on terraced fields so that they receive the maximum sunlight during the day light. The farmers were harvesting cannabis like a regular farm product and an unusual stench ran in the air. This was something different from the regular stench of cow dung and badly made toilet pits around the Malana Village. This was the stench of fresh cannabis around me. I think I got a little high. A couple of Israelis were loitering around the fields as if they were locals. The Indian tourists are not supposed to touch the locals here but the Israelis are free to do anything. Such humor, such irony.
Apparently, my co-travelers were looking ways to team up with these farmers and export a part of their hemp for medicinal purposes. They had an NGO coming up who wanted to supposed local life in Himachal Pradesh by helping them setup small workshops teaching them how to make ropes and bags out of hemp. I think it is very interesting. I can smoke six feet of rope in a day instead of making a joint. It is such a tiring thing to do. I also found out that these guys didn’t have any permission for their expedition and if caught, they could have landed in jail and so would I.
I don’t know how the conversation ended, but we left for Kasol at 3 in the afternoon. Finally I was around the fresh aroma of Parvati Valley. It felt good to be back.