Each of the several villages in Parvati Valley offer stupendous views of the river, the rolling hills carpeted in meadows, and pine trees in every conceivable shade of green. A few, however, stand out for being tourist favourites. These are the ones that have developed affordable accommodation and chilled-out cafes scattered amidst charming local homes – Tosh is one such village.
The drive from Kasol to Tosh was picturesque, to say the least! The sheer drop into the valley on one side would undoubtedly send chills down the spine of an acrophobic. But the views were too gorgeous to think about anything other than imprinting those baby blue skies and Himalayan vistas to memory.
The nearest village and bus stop from Tosh and the surrounding villages of Kalga and Pulga, is Barshaini, 5 kms away. Many choose to simply trek to Tosh from Barshaini itself. For those who don’t want to trek, vehicles go up right to the base of the village, from where one needs to cross a little bridge and begin an uphill walk. Unlike in Kalga and Pulga, the walk here is on an entirely cemented road and not on a rocky mud path. However, parking a vehicle at the base of the village comes at a hefty cost of Rs. 300/- per night! Quite a good business for locals, considering tourists have no other option than to be fleeced, right at the entrance of the village.
There’s plenty to look at on your walks around Tosh, and if you sit somewhere for a while, you’ll find yourself immersed in the daily life of the locals. A woman draws water out of a hand-pump at the side of the road and vigorously washes a bucket of clothes. Little children fight and bully each other sometimes meting out a slap on younger ones, unbeknownst to the adults! Men walk up to the end of the village and back down again with sombre looking horses and mules that carry everything from sacks of cement to onions on their backs. I began to recognize a couple of horses by their faces and colours, and couldn’t help but feel sad when I counted the number of times I’d see them walking up and down the slope every day.
WHERE TO STAY IN TOSH
Finding accommodation in Tosh is an easy task. Rather than booking online, I suggest visiting Tosh and stepping into a few guesthouses to find one that suits your budget. Guesthouses are located one after the other on the entire stretch and many are pretty dingy and grimy. So it’s best to scan the room in person before you book. This is true for places that charge between Rs. 500-Rs. 1000 per night. Anything above that, and you can expect fairly good accommodation.
The place I stayed at, Olive Garden cost Rs. 800 per night. I wouldn’t have voluntarily spent another night there –the weird washroom and sheets having flecks of ‘charas’ stuck on wasn’t pleasant at all. The one opposite mine, Blue Diamond, looked like a palace compared to it.
WHERE TO EAT IN TOSH
Think of the most exotic food item or ingredient, and you’d find it here – in the middle of nowhere! Avocados, Olives, Nutella, Pringles..! Who would have thought that this teensy village at literally the end of the world would have it all! Understandably, the food in Tosh is quite expensive because of its location and the fact that donkeys and horses carry the produce up to every corner of the village, several times a day.
Tosh, like Kasol has a path running through it from start to end. Little pathways lead off into the forest, uphill and downhill… and there, hidden in some forested corner, will you find the best restaurants in Tosh as well as some hippie-styled cafes. The names of most of them will have a link to Lord Shiva, and right enough, you will find his image stuck somewhere on the walls – between a picture of Bob Marley and psychedelic, smiling mushrooms. The ones I tried were:
Olive Garden Restaurant – It is a part of Olive Garden guesthouse and was once famous for being the very last restaurant on the road, offering uninterrupted, mesmerizing views of the valleys and hills ahead. Now, you will find a number of places located in front of it, marring the beauty. And the food, quite honestly, is among the worst I’ve ever had in my life. Here is a picture of my charred Chicken Schnitzel. Not sharing a picture of the pasta – I don’t want you to lose your appetite.
Boom Shiva – While walking along aimlessly, I was joined by a mountain dog. Himachali dogs are known for appearing beside tourists, leading them somewhere and then disappearing again, like Godsends. This one was no different. He led me to Boom Shiva, a clean, cosy, well decorated restaurant and I spent at least 3 hours there. I watched a movie on their large screen TV, nibbled on mushroom-cheese toast and pizza and slurped an oreo shake.
No matter which restaurant you enter, you will find a unique dessert invention on the menu – Nutella Chapati. A chapati is rolled and stuffed with your choice of chocolate/s such as Twix, Milky Bar, Snickers etc, deep fried and then slathered with Nutella on top. It was a bit odd, but delicious nonetheless.
I’ve heard that Hill Top Café and Pink Floyd are popular restaurants in Tosh, but I couldn’t locate them to dine there, so I will leave you to form an opinion and perhaps let me know.
BUT ARE YOU REALLY WELCOME AT TOSH?
Probably the only structure or monument to see in Tosh is a beautiful stone-and-wood temple that unfortunately, you can’t even get too close to. In what could be a case of modern-day racism, visitors aren’t allowed to touch the temple and a sign board nearby indicates the fine that you will have to pay if you do.
I have made references to Goa in my Kasol post, but here in Tosh too, I found similarities to my state. Nowhere else, be it in Shimla, Manali or Kullu, did I feel such indifferent vibes from the locals – almost as if they didn’t want visitors there. It was only the businessmen and hotel owners who obviously wanted as many visitors as they could gather. The locals seemed almost tired of the ‘nuisance,’ just like most Goan locals look at tourists with distaste. The result of years of over-crowding, perhaps? Or maybe the way the town has rapidly developed from the hamlet it was, the noise or the litter? If you do happen to visit Tosh, I’d earnestly request you – be a responsible tourist! People who destroy don’t deserve places as beautiful as Tosh. Don’t be one of them.
Check out another tiny little village called Udvada in Gujarat and read about this small amazing homestay called Nantin Camp tucked between the hills in Nainital. You can also get in touch with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.