I feel I am getting more immersed and intense at my ‘do nothing’ philosophy of holidaying. I have started to hate too much activity in my holidays, and settle in someplace where I can lounge in the tranquility, soak myself with the local lifestyle, and breathe in the moments. The holidaying period would only include long, casual walks with no fixed agenda other than capturing the unfettered beauty of the place and taking detours to find some unsettled, and uncaptured corners. And in search of these elements, I set off to Tosh, a small Himachali village set in the Parvati valley. This was my second visit to Tosh, coming after a gap of eight years. And in the depths of my mind remained a shred of doubt that Tosh would have by now become unrecognizable, and perhaps not as unadulterated as I had wanted to imagine it.
Tosh lies at the far end of the Parvati valley, a four kilometers walk uphill from Barshaini (an hour from Kasol), quite well connected, and not a quaint, offbeat, and seemingly less explored village as I knew it to be. I had some faint memories of the place from my first visit. This recent visit, more than helping me to refresh my old memories, helped gauge how tourism, and modernity, and economic prosperity brought with it, had changed that old, sleepy, and quintessential Himachali village.
Like last time I walked uphill from Barshaini, a tiring walk but packed with enough moments and turns to stop and capture the heart-stopping charm of the place. I could feel the change as I reached the village parking area. There was a queue of vehicles negotiating for space, and a horde of travelers to spend their weekend. The village was dotted with cafes and homestays. The quaint village I had visited eight years back had transformed into a bustling tourist village. And it isn’t surprising. The bright blue skies, luscious green hills, majestic waterfalls, and snowy mountain peaks — Tosh has it all.
Tosh is at a height of 7,874 feet. It is a land blessed by Shiva, they say, and the local priest asserts to visions of the lord with his consort Parvati when snowfalls. One could also trek from Barshaini to Tosh –45 minutes of trail through the patches of cannabis undergrowth, which has come to define the village more than anything else. But Tosh has grown from a hippy-trippy village overwhelmed by a whiff of marijuana into something more industrious. Tourism is serious business here now. The old places like the Pinky didi dhaba which was once a comfortable place to lie down, and breathe in the scents of the village, are now an artistically designed inn. And every ten meters there is a comfortable café dishing in some international cuisines excelling mostly in Israeli and German cuisines with a dash of Chinese and oriental. I guess you shouldn’t be surprised if in some years you come across some chic Sushi corner. But then places and people are meant to evolve.
I took a basic homestay and set on exploring the village. Some things never change – one of that is the Himachali hospitality. And perhaps the major reason that these picturesque hamlets have turned into touristy villages is the openness of the villagers to embrace the travelers and accept their culture. You will be met with happy and inquisitive faces, smiles spreading across the faces, someone ready to initiate a conversation with you, and always willing to guide you.
The village infrastructure has improved from what it used to be. You get a decent internet connection, patchy at times but quite manageable. The café culture has picked up, the parties are more vibrant, hostels and resorts have come up in the village to cater to the two ends of the travelers, and village infrastructure has geared up to accommodate the burgeoning population of travelers.
But in all of this, I had to find my desolate corners where the poetic imaginations in my bubbling mind could be lulled. And even when Tosh is a hubbub of activities, at its heart it is the same old resting place for weary minds. And then the scenic views of the snow-capped, mighty hills standing as guards to the Tosh nestled in the lap of these mountains. The layer of the Himalayas opening up in front of you with the valley just evolving is a mesmerizing experience. The views of the glacier of Papasura, White Sail, Angduri, Pinnacle, and Devachan, along with the Tosh glacier (which gives its name to the village) with their snow-capped peaks and lush green landscapes, is stunning and equally enigmatic. And on a cloudy day, the village appears to have been tightly hugged by the floating clouds.
And in all its naturally gifted pulchritude, Tosh has evolved as a melting pot of cultures, with quiet corners that have enticed many. The village has a liberating vibe to it. You won’t take minutes to realize that it’s easy to enjoy the simplicity of life here. There is a restart button to live available here – come realize, rewind, and restart your cluttered life. And then there’s always easily available hashish – and its liberating charm and vivacity. There’s quite a reverence attached to it in Tosh.
One thing that I adore about Tosh is that no matter how much it has changed, its Pahadi culture is intact. And pack that with mesmerizing views, beautiful landscape, fantastic weather, and of course, a chance to chance upon some of the most exhilarating hash in any small, almost forgotten corners. Tosh’s immaculate beauty, cultural life, and hospitality can cure any sort of fatigue or grogginess.
To reach: The main stop to reach Tosh is Kasol. From Kasol take a bus or a rented can to Barshaini. Tosh is four kilometers uphill from Barshaini. One can walk uphill or take a cab which takes INR 300.