“Abhi ek ghanta aur lagega”(It’s going to take another hour), said the driver, yet again, as we frantically enquired how far Manikaran is. The journey from Delhi to Tosh seemed ceaseless but the exhilaration of soaking in the crisp mountain air and the views of snow-clad mountains far outweighed the wait. Our bus unloaded at Kasol and it was just the two of us left, heading to Tosh. After an exhausting 16 hour journey we finally reached Manikaran from where we still had another hour journey left to Tosh. Oh that never-ending ‘another hour’. *sighs*
If you are planning a trip to Parvati Valley, chances are you've already considered visiting Kasol. But if you’re looking for a more eccentric experience we highly recommend adding Tosh to your list. It’s a small village located in Parvati Valley, about 20kms from Kasol and is a low-key tourist destination with little to do. We arrived here picturing a peaceful getaway and it surely didn’t disappoint. Over the next few days, we got accustomed to the beauty, people and the slow life of Tosh.
How To Reach
By Road: Tosh is 538 kms from Delhi. You can either self-drive to Tosh, the roads are motorable or you can take an HRTC bus from Kashmere Gate to Manikaran. From Manikaran you can either take a taxi directly to Tosh or board a local bus to Barsheni from where you’ll have to walk uphill for half an hour to reach Tosh. The taxi charges INR 800 whereas the bus ticket costs anywhere between INR 20-30.
By Air: If you’d like to cut short your travel time, you can take a flight to the Bhuntar airport from New Delhi. Bhuntar has a small airport with limited flights operating throughout the day. From there you can take a taxi to Tosh.
Where To Stay
Tosh is a tiny village with a few guesthouses and hostels but no proper hotels. We stayed in a private room at the Whoopers Hostel but did not refrain ourselves from exploring other options. There are a couple of homestays as well that will cost you anywhere between INR 400-500 per night and then there are slightly expensive guesthouses like Pinki Didi’s which cost INR 2000 for a night depending on the season, type of room etc. All the stays here are pretty basic and sparsely furnished but the warmth of the people surely makes up for it and this is what actually adds to the experience. If you’re feeling a little extravagant you should check out Stoned Age Inn. It is slightly away from the main area and falls on the way to Kutla but the property is beautiful and perfect if you’re looking for an off-beat experience. The attendant here mentioned that if you get in touch with the resort directly they do offer discounts.
Things to Do
Tosh is an enigmatic village bound to enchant any traveler. The first day we arrived in Tosh we realised there isn’t much to do. It seemed like a small world in itself, carved in a mighty mountain, untouched and at peace. While you can’t really make a to-do list but we’ve still got some suggestions for you.
Explore the village one step at a time
Tosh is a rather compact village with a handful of guest houses, a few cafes, a couple of grocery stores and many beautiful people who are welcoming. Not much happens here and that’s what makes it even more appealing. We used to leave our hostel early in the morning on a quest for finding the best chai around and watched the local men and women starting their day. Packing freshly plucked apples, taking the sheep out to graze, or just sitting outside their homes interacting with the neighbors was how an ideal morning in their lives looked like. “Good morning bhaiji” we greeted the local men as we picked up an apple for ourselves and made our way to a cafe. There is a small place of worship accessible only by the locals. A signboard placed outside warns the tourists with a fine of up to INR 5000 who enter. However, there is a temple located at the center of Tosh which can easily be accessed by the tourists. By the time it was evening and we headed back to our stay we could see similar faces, tourists and locals alike. Well, we told you, the village is small. You could walk from one end to another in about 20 minutes time.
Take in the views
The views from Tosh are spectacular. Huge snow mountains spread horizontally across the azure sky like a melting snowcone, they looked intimidating but highly captivating. We looked at them for hours feeling like they’re inviting us into their silence and wilderness. Even during the night when it used to be pitch dark, the snow glowed very visibly as the stars lit up the night sky and it felt like we’re on a different planet. You should walk towards the far end of the village to get the best view. Our mornings unfolded pretty much like this-- we stepped out into the balcony, took a long look at the views and colors all around, then took a deep breath and closed our eyes to etch them in our mind forever.
Eat till you’re full and then eat again
The food here turned out to be surprisingly the best food we have had during all our escapades in Himachal. While there are only a handful of cafes in Tosh, they all serve delicious food with a lot of diversity. The menu majorly offered Italian and Israeli and we were a little disappointed due to the dearth of authentic Himachali food. But nonetheless, all the restaurants served delectable hummus, shakshuka, pasta, and delicious breakfast platters. A must-try here is the peculiar Snickers or Milk Chocolate chapati, which is basically a wheat flatbread stuffed with chocolate and then deep-fried which gives it a distinctive flavor. Now, everyone in Tosh smokes cannabis openly, and it grows everywhere in wild abandon. So you are likely to flatter your taste buds with the amazing desserts at the German Bakery all made by a guy named Karma who works there(yes fancy name right?). We have tasted almost every single cake available there and we don’t regret the extra calories we loaded. Check out this post on our favorite cafes in Tosh here.
Hop on any of the Mountain Trails
A few treks originate from Tosh. You could head towards Kutla, Kheerganga or nearby villages of Kalga and Pulga. We decided to trek to Kutla and may we say it was absolutely alluring. It took us one and a half hour to reach Kutla but every minute we spent in the deep forests was bewitching. The air was filled with the fragrance of leaves and had a sweet smell just like the one after it rains. The only movement was the occasional bird, or a squirrel dashing up a nearby trunk. We could hear our own footsteps apart from the sound of running water in the river that had the same hypnotic quality as music. These hikes in the forest are like a trip out of our life where time stands still and you are lost in the wilderness. From Kutla you can trek further up to the Buddhaban Glacier or you could even spend a night in Kutla (we could spot just 3 homestays) and head to the glacier the next day.
Things Not To Do
Now that we have told you what all you can do in Tosh let us also guide you about things you must be cautious of. While some travelers come here drawn by the challenging treks and striking landscapes, many are here to seek pleasure by getting high on the easily available drugs. Various cases of missing tourists have been reported and speculations say that they were either robbed and killed or due to lack of knowledge about the topography and set out on treacherous trekking trails alone. A lot of foreign tourists settle down here, never contact their families back home and go missing on purpose, bringing a bad name to the state. Nevertheless, we suggest that you do take the following points into consideration:
Hire a local guide if you’re planning a trek, preferably an expert who has a well-established service for the same
Refrain from indulging in drugs especially with strangers or even dealing with people you do not feel right about. It’s best to use your common sense and intuition here.
Avoid venturing on trails during the night, it’s best to explore the valley during the daytime.
Avoid trekking solo if you’re under the influence of any substance
Do carry cash with you. There’s just one ATM and sometimes it’s out of cash, you don’t want to be the unlucky one.
We earnestly urge you not litter or destroy the surroundings. We were quite disturbed to see littered plastic, beer bottles, chocolate wraps all around the village.
Please be safe and act wisely. :)
What else to do in Tosh you ask? Well eat, explore the village, walk till you feel hungry again and then indulge in the best food around.