We’ve all heard of the magnificent beauty of Himachal Pradesh’s Kasol, but have you heard of this little town right next to Kasol, hidden away in the hills? It’s called Malana – a ‘democracy’, famous for the world’s best hashish and the Malana trek!
Malana: One of the Oldest Democracies in the World
The enigmatic settlement of Malana, located in the Parvati Valley and surrounded by towering mountains, has a captivating secret. With its distinct appeal rooted in the concept that its people are sprung from Alexander the Great’s powerful troops, the town is unlike any other place on Earth. With its historic village administration—possibly the oldest republic in history—the community has a unique lifestyle and social structure.
The Malanis are renowned for being reluctant to accept strangers yet ardent guardians of their rich culture. Having physical contact with individuals or their properties is strictly banned, contributing to the village’s aura of exclusivity. Malana’s unspoiled status, which defies pollution and urbanisation and is unwavering in maintaining its unique cultural and ecological character, really sets it apart.
It seems like a universe apart from the mayhem and filth of metropolitan India, nestled among the immaculate rivers and valleys. Its distinct way of life is resilient, adding to the charm of the area and its stunning scenery. The undiscovered treasure’s economy is closely linked to tourism, as visitors look for comfort in Malana’s unspoiled beauty and mysterious culture.
Malana Trek Starting Point
Malana trek is one of the most sought-after treks in Himachal Pradesh and is popular among those who visit Kasol. There are two routes for finishing this trek – one easy and one difficult. You can choose a route that goes best with your fitness level. The easier route is popular among tourists, while the difficult one is not as frequented by many.
First things first, to do this trek, you’ll have to reach Zari first. From Zari, you can get a shared taxi that will drop you off at one of the starting points of the trek. If you do not specify to the driver which point you need to be dropped off, they will drop you off at the most popular starting point – the beginning of the easier route. You must have seen pictures of this point all over the internet.
The cab will cost you around Rs. 300 to reach the Malana trek starting point of a higher difficulty level, while a cab to the easier starting point will cost you around Rs. 500.
In terms of time taken, the easier route will take about an hour or two, while the difficult route will take around 3 to 4 hours. The difficult route is steep and full of streams and difficult climbs. Ensure you have enough water bottles if you go this route.
Malana Trek Distance
The distance of the trek is about 4 kilometres from both the routes.
Malana Trek Accommodation
A few places to stay in the village include Eagle Cafe & Guest House, Rudra Cafe, and Dragon House Cafe. Basic amenities are offered in each room for a minimal fee of Rs. 500, shared by two people. In addition, a campground is located in the village’s back area. Malana Magic Camping is a fantastic campground where you can set up a tent and take in the surrounding beauty; located around 5 miles towards the back of the settlement. You can camp close to the village even if you cannot obtain lodging there.
The Perfect Malana Trek Itinerary
Read along to find out the best itinerary for the trek. The route we’ve taken is the shorter one, which is the highly recommended route. The difficult one is not suitable for everyone, and you can encounter many hurdles while climbing that one.
Day 1: Delhi to Kasol
· Reach Kasol from Delhi via Bhuntar. You can find many buses going towards Kasol that will drop you at your Bhuntar, from where you can take another bus or cab to Kasol.
· It is advisable to traverse this journey overnight – if you are visiting this region only for the Malana trek, overnight travel is the best option. If you plan to stay in Kasol first and then move on to the trek, you can also travel in the daytime.
Day 2: Kasol to Malana
· In the morning, take a shared taxi from Zari, 10 kilometres from Kasol. You can also find a bus going along the Zari route, and you can choose to hitchhike.
· From Zari, you will find many taxis that will drop you at one of the starting points of the trek for a minimal amount. You can ascend the easier route and return from the difficult or vice versa. You can also descend the same route you climbed up from.
· From the start, you must climb a few steep stairs and then cross a stream. Enjoy the scenic view of the Parvati Valley from here.
· A few tea stalls also sell maggi, biscuits and tea. You can take water bottles from here as well.
· After trekking for about 4 hours, reach the village and do some sightseeing. As you enter the village, you will find many vendors trying to sell you hashish. You can also go to one of the cannabis farms to see how this famous Malana Cream is produced.
· Recently, the town government signed the law of shutting down all hotels and guesthouses for tourists as their God became angry. You cannot stay the night at Malana anymore, but many places are outside town, including guesthouses, hostels, and camps.
Malana Trek Tips and Important Things to Note
· The town is one of the largest democracies in the world – they do not follow the rules and laws of the Indian government – they make their own.
· There is a myth that says that the people here are descendants of the Greek Alexandar the Great.
· Their local deity is Jamlu Rishi – he got angry with the town being portrayed as a cannabis hub in the rest of the world and shut down permission for tourists to stay the night.
· Take enough water bottles with you – if you climb the difficult route, you must stay hydrated.
· The nearby Winchin Valley offers tourists accommodation options like camps and guesthouses.
· Respect the local customs. Tourists are not allowed to touch the temples or talk to the women of Malana.
· Remember to pack light and wear comfortable trekking shoes.
· Do not litter. Respect the environment and travel sustainably.
· Do not take photographs of people or the temples without their consent.
Things to Do on Malana Trek
Trek to the Nearby Waterfall
A fascinating journey awaits those who hike to the waterfall behind the town. The roughly 5-kilometre route weaves through stunning terrain, providing stops along the way to take in the majesty of nature. The hike reveals a charming trail leading to the captivating waterfall, where the sound of the falling water creates a calm atmosphere ideal for a cool dip.
Camping at Malana Magic
The choice to camp in Malana Magic is a great one for anyone looking for an immersive experience. The campground, tucked away in the peace of the surroundings, provides a special chance to get in touch with nature. Alternatively, if you want a more customised camping experience, bringing your tent gives you the flexibility to select your location and make a makeshift refuge amidst the town’s breathtaking scenery.
Witness the Jamlu Devta Temple
Although admission to the Jamlu Devta Temple is prohibited, the trip to its environs offers a glimpse into local culture. Walk to the temple and see the beautiful small artwork adorning the doors and walls. This architectural artistry demonstrates the commitment to maintaining the historical and religious value of the buildings, providing a window into Malana’s rich cultural legacy.
Explore the Village
You’ll find little shops selling necessities and warm clothes as you go around the hamlet. These places offer a window into the everyday lives of the Malani people in addition to meeting the demands of tourists. While there, think about picking up necessities or keepsakes to remember your trip.
Buy Gumboots from the Local Stores
When you hike back from this beautiful town, the gumboots you can buy at the neighbourhood shops are a useful and considerate addition. These are handy, particularly if the terrain is difficult or you have unforeseen weather. It demonstrates the community’s ingenuity to ensure guests can access necessities for a cosy and pleasurable trekking trip.
Malana Trek Cost
The cost of your trip depends on the type of accommodation you choose and the transportation modes. Generally, the complete trek will cost you around Rs. 1500-2000 based on transportation to and from Zari and accommodation near the village for one night.
Best Time to Do the Malana Trek
The Malana Trek is open to visitors all year round. Summer, spring and winter are the best season to do this trek. Avoid the monsoons from July to September, as the tracks tend to get slippery, and there is a high chance of landslides and natural calamities.
How to Reach Malana
Malana is well connected to Kasol via Zari. You can reach Kasol by train, air, bus, or cab. From Kasol, shared cabs are easily available to Zari. From Zari, take a shared cab to the starting point of the Malana Trek.
The Malana trek is a beautiful journey to embark on. You can see the local life up close and experience a unique haven. The town does not follow the Indian government’s laws, and it’s unique to see how they operate. Development hasn’t touched the region yet, and it is quite lovely to see the hashish farming being done here by all – fun fact: Malana produces an average of 12,000 kilograms of cannabis each year!
Pack your backpack, don your trekking shoes, and explore one of India’s best treks!