Dreamy river views, cool festivals, funky apparels, stoned folks, mountains in the backdrop and a smoky ambience at the surreal cafes – these are some common visuals associated with Kasol. Stories from Kasol are as Satanic as the forbidden apple was for Adam and Eve – tough to resist! But, sadly most people fail to see that Kasol is a paradise we are losing.
This piece might not be the travel trigger we always intend to pull; but it is written with a noble intent. The objective is to cover the gap between expectations and reality for those planning to head to Kasol, and also to highlight how excessive tourism is harming this quaint hill station.
It is not a peaceful getaway any more!
If you are planning an escape, and Kasol is on your mind, plan better. The main town is not peaceful. It is picturesque nevertheless. Move a few kilometers here and there, and you’ll find solitary homestays echoing tranquility in its purest form. Chalal and Tosh are good options.
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Too much traffic for a hill station
Yes, you read that right. There is a lot of traffic on weekends, and a few other Sikh festivals. Devotees from nearby cities and towns of Himachal and Punjab head to the Manikaran gurudwara, which is only 11 km from the main town of Kasol. So if you are planning a long weekend getaway, keep it in mind, or plan at a better time.
This stoner’s paradise is no family place
Kasol has got quite a reputation among a generation of folks looking for trance. With the green grass being so commercially and conveniently available, this village has turned into an urban space so cool that people throng here to get high, stay stoned and then get high again. Now, if you happen to visit Kasol, for all the beauty and charm that it has, with your family, things can get quite awkward. Actually the way a lot of us have been brought up, a few of us could be as uncomfortable as our parents.
The cafes in Kasol have simply fenced a piece of land, with colorful clothes pinned to bamboo support with an utterly gloomy and dark interior. Fill that with loud electronic music and place some carpets on the ground with a plank of wood collected from the alpine forests up the hills. Enter them and you would find a gang or two in a corner pulling a bong or passing a joint – the smoke killing the hilly air and that loud electronic noise killing the music of a soulful river flowing by. Finding a family café here is a task, definitely not worth the effort.
With chillam, chillam cleaners, hukka, bong, and more being sold openly in shops, it is far from being a family destination.
The Israeli settlement in Kasol has its pros and cons. It offers employment and small business opportunities to the locals. Young boys work at the dark cafes, while families put up cozy and cheap homestays for tourists. But at the same time, a number of young boys are being exposed to hash and quick money too early. Many are also involved in illegal trading of Malana hash.
“Achchha nahin hai bhaai ji. Bachpan hi mar gaya hamara to. Tareeka aasaan hai lekin kya karein, aur koi rasta bhi to nahin hai. Do baar pakda bhi gaya, maal ke saath. Paisa bahut milta hai, abhi season hai na, achchha foreigner aata hai, le jaata hai, Amsterdam tak” – says Sethi, who has been into the trade.
Hash trade gave 16-year-old Sethi bread and butter after his father passed away six years ago, but took his childhood away–he is illiterate. The narco-tourism in the valley has killed the dreams way before a child could sleep. The culture has got such a back seat, generations have got entangled so bad that an alternative is a tough reality. May be legalization could help!
Kasol is a popular weekend destination for youngsters, but all things come as a package. And this one caters only to a certain set of tourists. This is an attempt to reach out to that set and make them realize how important it is to take care of the natural beauty Kasol has to offer.
Further Read: Kheer Ganga Trek: Whispers From The Parvati Valley
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