Travel | Beyond Kasol, to forests and to Grahan

It is better to travel well than to arrive | Buddha

And so is the story of this trip. It is one of those travels taken for the travel rather than for the destination. Personally, one of the most beautiful things that I had seen to naturally exist. The village Grahan is beautiful, indeed – but the trek to the place is a tale in its own surreal taste. Went roaming on the trek thrice during my stay. Enjoyed significantly more every time I went back.

These are pictures shot during the trek to Grahan, Himachal Pradesh. The way to Grahan is a three to four hour trek – depending on your speed, persistence and antics with the camera – from Kasol, the nearest village accessible to the world outside. Walking on foot is the only way to get to the place – but it isn’t as bad as it may seem, for on the way you get to see these scenes.. and much more..

The way to Grahan starts right before the bridge that falls before the Kasol main-bus stand. One may not find people frequenting the road and almost no vehicles to suggest a track. However, after the first few strides in the direction and you find the way forking into a less-frequented way into the forest on the left; and towards Grahan on the right.

If you see a hut, carefully placed on a small bump of a land, with a visibily old fat tree next to it, you are on thr right track. Probably the last settlers between there and Grahan, the people will not disturb you and their dogs will bark only if you are walking through their fields. One of them may even decide to accompany you on your trek – and even on your way back! The dogs are harmless and more than often, path-correctors.

As you move through past the initial footprints of human construction, you will soon enter what had first reminded me of Rivendell from LOTR. The air is cool and clean, the trees are tall and sway along with the breeze and the mist – something one may have only read in poems. And yet, there it is – true to every word.

One may find an occassional waterfall on the facing hill across the river that keeps flowing along the way. Different seasons in the place have different exhibits – as if showing off every quarter’s new wardrobe collection. Flowers and fruits that one may have not even heard of, adorn the trees; while the birds keep talking amongst themselves – a rare thing to hear in the cities.

You might end up trekking for hours and not realise the width of time spanned. Although despite getting lost – both aesthetically and literally – it took me around four hours to finally hit the brink of Grahan. It may rain along the way – and as in my case, there were clouds inside the forest while it rained – the freshest rain I had ever touched. Misty frames all around you may tempt you to stop by for a halt – but make sure it remains a quick one. For there is more ahead.

 

After the misty forests, you begin to climb back down on the other side of the hill so far travelled. The ‘red’ lawn continued to spread beneath my feet even this far and woods had smelt of fresh pine oil. Trekking further, you will soon hit the series of tiny green bridges over surreal misty waters and waterfalls below. It is pointless to try and describe the experience. Trust me.

After the bridges, it should be an hour’s trek further up the slopes of the new hill crossed over to via the bridges, before you reach Grahan. I had planned on returning back the same day so my stay in Grahan was minimised to a brief aesthetic quickie. However, trekkers usually stay over for a day or two – thanks to the ever-welcoming villagers who you may even meet on the way, all of them inviting you for a stay in the village.

However, as the words have often been repeated, the woods were dark, lovely and deep…
Basically, if you are on the way back, make sure you do it fast enough before the light disappears. For later, it gets colder, darker and the dog might just run away!

 

Where | Grahan, Himachal Pradesh in India
From | Kasol – the nearest village
How long | Three to four hours – subjective, on average
How | On foot – with or without a stick for support
Take-alongs | Charge on the cellphone – for music; flashlight/torch; good shoes; raincoat (in case you dissolve in light rain); anything else you think may get you higher up close to nature
Terrain | Rocky at times; through deep forests and over tiny bridges that stand firm over growling waters
To see | Waterfalls, clouds (in case you’re in luck, they might just surround you), colourful forests and clearest blue skies – the wilder the better!
Definitely | Leave in the morning and get back before the light runs out – usually by 6. Do the time-math bang on!
Definitely NOT | Think you are more powerful than the river that runs along -STAY AWAY! Doing funny things while treking – it usually is a stupid step that kills a fool, said Karl Max. Remember that, even if he didn’t.
Note | There are no animals in the jungle – this isn’t a movie that you might have seen. As for the dogs you meet on the way are extremely friendly and almost beocme your guides on the trek. Chill out – they won’t gobble you up. Just spare some biscuits for them, if you may.

Happy trekking!
And yeah, don’t litter the place when you’re there. Somehow, plastic wrappers and disowned bottles don’t go well with lush green lawns and majestic mountains.

Camera | Canon EOS 60D

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