Parvati Valley, the Indian Himalayas

The trip to Tosh was probably one of the worst we have done in India in terms of transport. This time we took a conventional bus for a 650 kilometers (400 miles) trip from Delhi to Bhuntar. We departed at night and sleeping wasn’t easy, even for us who slept under any condition, tight seats, curvy roads, cold, traffic, constant stops, chai sellers and horns, which were creatively customized for every bus, but used all the time can become a nightmare.


see on Google maps

After the sleepless night we had a breakfast in one of the several stops in a village. We ate aloo pareta and a chai with parle-g (the best selling biscuit in the world). We couldn’t sleep anymore, but we noticed the landscape was very different from Delhi or the Rajasthan. The north is colder and greener, with big lakes and mountains. People also had more Chinese features and instead of light coats and turbans now they wore colored jackets and hats. Stopping at Bhuntar we took a taxi, a mini-van shared with an Italian guy we met on the way to Manikaran. We went by a road with beautiful landscapes of pine trees and mountains all the way up the mountain. We took roughly 1:30 pm to arrive there.title parvati

Manikaran and the Hot Pools

Manikaran is a town in the Himalayas with natural hot pools between Beas and Parvati rivers. It is a center for Hindu and Sikh pilgrimage. Hindus believe that Manu has created the human being in Manikaran after a flooding so it became a sacred place with many temples. We were there for the afternoon only, so we toured the city and went straight to the hot pools to relax a little after traveling for so long. There you can have public or private pools, as we wanted a bit of privacy for the girls (women can’t wear bikinis on the public ones), we got a private pool for 1h. These were like a room with a mini pool of about 1.5 m depth with hot and relaxing water. After cooking for a while in the pool, we got dressed, packed our stuff and ate at an Italian restaurant (yes, they’re everywhere) before leaving. The idea was to get the local bus to Pulga and then climb the mountain to Tosh, our next destination, but we missed the bus and the next would be in an hour. It was getting late so we preferred to look for a cab to take us there. After much negotiation we got one.

Manikaran hot pools

Tosh, a village in the mountains

As Tosh doesn’t even exist on google maps you can imagine how is the access to get there. The road virtually ends in a small mountain village called Pulga. The taxi driver wanted to end the ride right there, but Duda insisted on a trail near there he could use. After much discussion we convinced the driver to take us to the end of the trail, he had every reason to not want to go, it was a bumpy and narrow one-way gravel road on the edge of a super high cliff.

After swearing and smoking all the time, he left us on the bridge leading to the village and from there walking was the only way. Definitely not the kind of place for those who like suitcases with wheels :D . After a 10 minute walk we arrived at the “centre” of Tosh, a small village at the footsteps of the Himalayas at 3000 meters (9.8k feet) high with ~200 people. Duda had been there many times and he knew a few locals, who helped us to with accommodation. We rented a small bedroom in a house, something very common in these villages that don’t have any type of accommodation like hotel or anything. To rent these units you have to ask the locals and they will indicate you the landlord. The room was small, unfurnished, the only things we had were some old mattresses on the floor and a tandoori in the middle of the room, ideal to heat the room and baking chapati, something like an Indian pizza. We slept on these mattresses, lined with large cloths common in India well into our sleeping bags. It was almost like camping but with a little more comfort :) .

The bathroom was outside, it was just a mini-wooden house and a hole on the ground. Of course you do not use toilet paper here, imagine the environmental disaster that would be 2 billion people using toilet paper with no sanitation. We used water and the left hand, for that reason never shake hands or pay someone with your left hand in India, they will be very offended.

On our first night we had a special dinner, one of the locals had just killed a mutton and invited us to eat a very good stew. During dinner we learned that life at the Himalayas was very different from the desert. The positive side of living there is the abundant access to clean water from the rivers coming from the iced cap mountains. The downside is the cold. Icy winters can cover the villages with snow for weeks, without heaters, insulation, or heating and inconsistent supply of electric power. The villagers work hard chopping wood to keep houses warm and taking care of the livestock made of sheep and yaks.

livestock

The animals also supplied a diet richer in protein and fat, leather and thermal insulation of houses. The stables are just below the houses, animals are confined in small spaces in the cold nights to keep them warm, the heat rises and warms the floors of homes that in some cases are very well insulated by the thick stone walls. Not our case though, our room was on the second floor of a wooden house with some big gaps on the walls. To keep the house warm we cut our firewood or bought from villagers at relatively expensive prices, which is fair if you consider they spend the whole autumn to build a good stock for winter.

restaurant

On our second day we walked around the village. We could see that unlike the big cities of India, people usually had a relatively decent life here. Everyone had shelter, food and water so you do not see people begging or in a pitiful state of misery. Of course it is a very simple life dedicated to work. While we complain to carry a hi-tech backpack of 20 kilos, we saw them carrying a 3x greater volume with ropes and rags waving at us with a big smile. Even the little boy who lived near the house we were, who didn’t have an arm, happily helped us carrying firewood. Living with them for these few day was one of the richest experiences we had, even with less access to the facilities we have they’re always smiling and genuinely happy with the simple life they had. Wherever we went they joined hands and greeted – Namaste. Coming from places where people are materially rich (Brazil and New Zealand – have per capita incomes above the overall average of $6k per year), they can consume what they want, and still complain about life, made us totally change our concept of wealth and happiness.

At the end of that day we went to a mini restaurant, the only one opened in late autumn. The region is busy during summer with tourists escaping the heat of the lower cities. There we ate aloo gobi, a stew of cauliflower and potatoes and drank Coca-Cola, one of the few safe drinks there (yes even here they come :P ). The owner invited us to dinner later on. When we returned, we met a bunch of Israelis that had just arrived in the village, one of them had already visited Brazil and insisted on playing a few old axé musicsongs he had in his ipod. He played and started dancing uncoordinated, as we are not fans of axé we watched in silence. Drica did not contain herself and burst out: “Man, turn this thing off, this is the worst song ever …”. To not break the positive mood, I explained we were from the south of Brazil, and this wasn’t a popular genre there. He was a little disappointed, but ultimately it was a big laugh. After that we got back to our little room and we spent the rest of the night telling stories around the tandoori before bedtime.

Trekking in the Himalayas

On our third day we hiked up the mountains, the day was again sunny and pleasant. We walked for hours amongst pine trees, waterfalls and cliffs with snow covered mountains in the background. A landscape that resembles some amazing landscapes of New Zealand or Europe, but with a scale many many times greater. On our walk we had the company of two dogs from the village.

Downhill

In our fourth and final day we returned from Tosh to Pulga. This time we had to walk, after all there were no taxis available in the village. The 3 km trail was very narrow between trees and boulders, much more difficult with backpacks, it took us 1 hour to walk all the way down. I wouldn’t like to imagine what it would be with wheel suitcases in such a place (I promise is the last time I’ll bother the suitcase fans). Arriving in Pulga we stopped at the roadside and eat some momo with Coke :P again and waited for the bus to come.

We rode on the top of the bus (yep, on the ‘roof’), with the bags, enjoying the breathtaking landscape – and scary sometimes, since the road was on the edge of a very very high cliff. Always being careful with the power lines and tree branches after each corner all the way down to Manikaran. A truly unforgettable experience.

Manikaran

After four days without a shower (we had no courage to have a cold shower in freezing Tosh), we were filthy and again rented a pool and shower to clean up. Soon after we took a packed local bus from Manikaran to Bunthar, there we had dinner at a local restaurant and arranged our trip to Dharamsala, the stop for our next post.

More Photos

Prices

  • Local bus Tosh – Manikaran RP 15 (USD 0.30 )
  • Bus Manikaran – Buthar RP 35 (USD 0.75)
  • Hot pool RP 60 / h (USD 1.20)
  • House in Tosh RP 25 / person / day (USD 0.50)
  • Firewood for 1 night RP 50 (USD 1.00)

40 comments

Leave a comment
    • Pablo says:
    • 2 September, 2010 at 1:00 am

    Caramba, mais um post maneiro que vocês publicam. Vocês não cansam? :)

    Quando eu olho para o roteiro que vocês fizeram eu fico pensando “para que eu quero ver mais da mesmo na Europa?”. Estou ansioso para mudar para o outro lado do mundo logo e começar a viajar por essas bandas aí. :)

    Reply

      • Felipe says:
      • 2 September, 2010 at 7:44 pm

      Não querendo puxar a sardinha pro nosso lado (do planeta), mas a asia é simplesmente incrível e de uma diversidade que faz a europa toda parecer o mesmo país… bom depois e praticamente completar o meu passaporte (falta uma pagina ainda) é o meu lugar preferido sem dúvida… Se vc gosta de viagem tem que vir…

      Reply

      • Mayarani says:
      • 11 February, 2012 at 6:16 am

      September 20, 2011 Congrats on your run! What a wdnoerful accomplishment!Tracy @ Tracy’s Treats recently posted..

      Reply

    • Oscar says:
    • 2 September, 2010 at 1:30 am

    Já estava começando a sentir saudades dos Posts por aqui!!
    Viajar pela India deve ser mesmo uma viagem antropologica hein?! O que mais impressiona é o fato de como as coisas são baratas… Mas principalmente ver que dinheiro nem sempre traz felicidade
    Adoro este espírito aventureiro de vocês..
    Até o Próximo Post :D

    Reply

      • Felipe says:
      • 2 September, 2010 at 7:57 pm

      com certeza é uma viagem pra botar todos os seus conceitos de cabeça pra baixo… e na questao de grana dá pra ver nítidamente que o ocidente é mais “rico”porque somos muito materialistas e a nossa vida gira em torno disso é um enorme contraste quando você vê alguém super pobre fazendo questão de dividir o prato de comida com você e ainda rejeitando qualquer forma de ajuda financeira.
      Quase de graça e ao mesmo tempo sem preço…

      Reply

    • Simone says:
    • 2 September, 2010 at 3:54 am

    Deve ter sido mesmo uma experiência e tanto se abrigarem desta maneira tão diferente dos padrões que estamos acostumados! Este tipo de “aventura”, assim como ver de perto estas pessoas que vivem com bem menos consumo e necessidades do que nós (e que são felizes), deve levar a uma reflexão de vida e pessoal bem legal. Só de ler a gente já pensa nisso, imagine passando pessoalmente por lá!
    Fotos muito bacanas, natureza deslumbrante!

    Reply

      • Felipe says:
      • 2 September, 2010 at 8:57 pm

      sem dúvida é pra realmente mudar os teus valores… tive mil e uma reflexões sobre o valor das coisas, certo e errado, bonito e feito, rico e pobre… tudo virado de ponta cabeça…
      Se as pessoas que controlam o “sistema” tivessem esse tipo de experiencia o mundo não ia ser tão injusto…

      Reply

    • Bê Castelan says:
    • 2 September, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Tosh: Tá aí mais um lugar no mundo que consta na minha lista “Jamais visitar”!Hahahahah.
    Adoro seus posts, amiga! Se cuida!

    Reply

    • Bê Castelan says:
    • 2 September, 2010 at 6:41 am

    Agora que ví que quem escreveu foi o Fê!
    Bom… Se cuida vc tbém! :D
    Beijos!

    Reply

      • Felipe says:
      • 2 September, 2010 at 9:12 pm

      será que a gente também tá nessa lista de jamais visitar? Estamos esperando!
      E pode até trazer a mala de rodinhas pink e a necessaire de oncinha
      Beijao pra vc o maridao e o filhote :)

      Reply

        • Bê Castelan says:
        • 3 September, 2010 at 11:19 am

        Fê!
        Nossa viagem a NZ está nos planos, sim! Nos aguarde!
        E tenha certeza que qdo for nos pegar no aeroporto, vc vai me ajudar a carregar minha necessáire de oncinha!
        Qdo vai ter mais posts???

        Reply

  1. Caramba, que fotos! Isto sim se pode chamar de aventura!
    beijos

    Reply

      • Felipe says:
      • 2 September, 2010 at 9:17 pm

      Valeu Patrícia, mas olhando pra trás eu acho que foi um momento bem relax. As cidades grandes da Índia são mais aventura acho heheh Bj

      Reply

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    • Du says:
    • 2 September, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Acho que eu, o De e a minha mãe não vamos chegar nessas bandas… é o problema da mala de rodinhas! hehehe

    Reply

      • Felipe says:
      • 2 September, 2010 at 9:24 pm

      Até Manikaran dá pra ir tranquilo… o problema é o busão com a buzina doida… hehehe

      Reply

    • Camila says:
    • 2 September, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Além dos ótimos textos, confesso que agora entro aqui só para ver o layout de cada post. Estão lindos! O NPLH é o único blog que eu faço questão de ler no site mesmo, nada de Google Reader! ;-)

    Reply

      • Felipe says:
      • 2 September, 2010 at 9:29 pm

      uauu!! Valeu pelo elogio.. espero que o texto também esteja legal :)

      Reply

    • Ana Rita says:
    • 2 September, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Como sempre, muito legal! Difícil guardar todos esses detalhes, né?
    Penso que esse foi o trecho de maior aventura pelo qual vcs passaram, mas também, com os “guias” que escolheram, só poderia ter sido esse “perrengue” todo. Eles adoram isso!!!
    Os valores ficam mesmo de pernas para o ar, não é mesmo?
    Viver feliz com tão pouco é estranho para nossa cultura,bom refletir sobre isso.
    As vezes penso que temos muito mais do que precisamos, nessa sociedade que incentiva cada vez mais o consumo. Tenho tentado me livrar de muita coisa que acaba sendo desnecessária, e adquirir cada vez menos.
    Já é uma tentativa, não?
    O dia em que puder conhecer a Índia, quem sabe faço ainda melhor. hehehe
    Bjs e parabéns mais uma vez.

    Reply

      • Felipe says:
      • 2 September, 2010 at 10:39 pm

      em termos de aventura foi bem tranquilo até… o povo é tranquilo e o duda e a Drica ajudaram bastante acho que a maior aventura foi no marrocos quando inventamos de ir pro deserto mas isso falaremos mais tarde. No Brasil o consumismo ainda é muito forte, tem gente que trabalha como maluco pra comprar o que não tem nem tempo pra usar e no tempinho que sobra vai pro shopping center…
      Mas acho que isso tá mudando devagar, aqui principalmente ja se fala muito em sustentabilidade, carbon neutral e outros conceitos que acabam fazendo a gente voltar ao básico da vida…

      Bom mas seria demais se vocês fossem pra índia, mas tem que ir de mente aberta. Certo e errado, bom e mal, rico e pobre, triste e alegre tudo é virado 180 graus. O que normalmente é bem chocante mas ao mesmo tempo incrível.

      Quem sabe não nos encontramos todos lá :)
      Bj

      Reply

    • Sarah Wu says:
    • 2 September, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    wow , these are some amazing photo collection. They’re ebautiful. I don’t know if I can be on a bus for 400 miles haha I’ll be really really tired. I especially love the children photo (girl holding a baby?). Great post.

    Reply

      • Felipe says:
      • 2 September, 2010 at 10:49 pm

      Hi Sarah,
      That bus specifically was really bad, also the windy and bumpy road… but there are buses with beds that are amazing, although nothing beats the beds on trains.
      Thanks for the compliments :)

      Reply

  3. Lindo!!! Parabénsss! Leitura gostosa!

    Reply

      • Felipe says:
      • 2 September, 2010 at 10:52 pm

      valeu Clarissa :)

      Reply

    • Rafa says:
    • 4 September, 2010 at 12:30 am

    Brothe!!! cada foto iraaaaaada!! nem comento mais dos posts q jah to sendo chato.. hahahaha!!
    show!!

    Reply

  4. Estou a cada post com mais vontade de conhecer a Índia!

    Reply

    • luciane says:
    • 21 March, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Oi, li com muita atenção e entusiasmo teu post…
    Em Abril irei para a India pela primeira vez: ‘New Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Manikaran, Karlo Kastle,Main Bazarre, Paraganj’…
    Esses foram os misteriosos lugares que meu amigo escreveu, e que irei visitar…)
    Nervosa, ansiosa e muito, muito feliz!

    Reply

  5. Pingback: Northern India special edition — No place like here

    • Natália says:
    • 1 February, 2012 at 12:10 am

    Vivendo aqui no norte da Índia (Punjab) viajar para as vilas geladas no meio do Himalaia já virou rotina. E cada vez que vou, ainda me surpreendo.Vou incluir estas vilas no meu roteiro também.

    Reply

    • himanshu says:
    • 21 May, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    really a helpful contribution and experience to share !!!

    Reply

    • rounak says:
    • 22 June, 2012 at 6:40 am

    found this in google, i went to manikaran last month but seems i missed these other places, it really looks amazing…how was the weather overall i mean the temperature ?

    Reply

    • radhey says:
    • 18 August, 2012 at 3:37 am

    ….i have been to this whole trip from chandigarh to tosh with a 15 day stay in ksaul attending two of my dream parties…..n marijuana affected my memories up there dat even my whole life’s experinces can’t come over to the memories i had lived dat fortnight…<3'''!!!

    Reply

    • Rick says:
    • 2 January, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Cool photos, dunno why but its reminds me of Lord of the Rings … :)

    Reply

      • Cris says:
      • 27 May, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      It does, right? Perhaps the mountains…

      Reply

    • siddhiJ says:
    • 30 May, 2013 at 4:48 am

    Thankyou so much for writing down such eccentric details about Tosh. We r planning to visit Tosh in first week of june . I ll surely post again once back..thankyou once again..!!

    Reply

      • Cris says:
      • 27 May, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      Cool, how did it go? :)

      Reply

    • rouge says:
    • 7 May, 2014 at 3:14 am

    thanks a lot for the information…me and my friends are planning a trip to tosh from delhi from a rented car in june…. this article will be of great help now..thanks:)

    Reply

      • Cris says:
      • 27 May, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      no worries, have fun!! driving up there will be quite an adventure. :)

      Reply

    • navdeep chandel says:
    • 26 July, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    I visit tosh 2times.. I had great experience….
    M damn sure for the silence and beauty of tosh would never be seen together in any other place in earth.. Boom shankhar.. Rasatafarian :) :) ^_^

    Reply

    • saurabh says:
    • 26 August, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Seems to be a gr8 place!!! i m planning to visit this weekend itself…. Cant wait… :D

    Reply

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