Malana village, a tiny little hamlet in Himachal that needs no introduction. Separated bypasses on all sides; this mountain-top village is known to be one of the oldest human settlements while being isolated. While the beauty is extreme, Malana is famous (infamous?) for its bounty of Hashish – the Malana cream.
The main source of income for the Malanese folk is exporting of Malana Cream. An extremely orthodox community with a rich history, rituals, and customs – it is an experience to learn of a place so secluded. Malana is a magical place overlooking the Deotibba and Chandrakhani Peaks.
A trip to Parvati Valley is incomplete if you have not visited Malana village. Let us look at this comprehensive travel guide which will help you plan a memorable Malana trip.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Mixed histories of Malana
Malana folks will be quick to tell you that they are the true descendants of Greeks – particularly, Alexander the Great.
Another tale depicts that Malanese folk had descended from the Aryans, when Emperor Akbar, after the Mughal Reign’s end, stumbled upon Malana. Wanting to get rid of some ailment – he was happy to have found cures here. He ensured that his people were free of the tax system and governmental interference.
However, Malana also is believed to have its history deeply rooted in Hinduism. The true foundation of its democracy dates back to the Puranas, fully equipped with even a Parliamentary system. The God of the Malana region is Jamlu Rishi. Apart from the ethereal faith in Shivji, their traditions are unique!
Also, it is believed that the Rishi comes into the body of the Gur (spokesperson) to make important decisions for the community. Hence, people of Malana avoid interacting with the outside public, for fear of losing out on their roots and diluting their culture.
Trip Suggestion: Don’t forget to check our detailed travel guide on planning a trip to Tosh Village.
Customs & History of Malana
Malana is a land protected by customs. And it is only wise to respect the way of life of the villagers, especially if you want a peaceful visit. Here are some customs and history of the region.
- This one is no secret – Malana is home to the best Hashish in the world. Malana Cream has won awards internationally! It is no wonder that people from across the world come here to experience the cream in its natural habitat.
- In case of conflict – law and order are practiced differently. Two lambs are assigned to each party – making a deep cut in the foreleg to insert poison in the body. The party whose lamb dies earlier is believed to have lost the case.
Fun Fact – Malana Cream is the most expensive item you will find on most Amsterdam menus.
Rules for Tourists in Malana
- Don’t get in physical contact with the villagers in Malana. While people are friendly, outsiders are not allowed to touch people here, without permission. So much so, the shopkeepers will ask you to keep the money on the counter, so refrain from physical contact.
- Keeping in line with the above – if you are photographing villagers – it is best to seek permission. Well, you should seek it anywhere in the world.
- Visitors are not allowed to use the local dialect – Kanashi. Further, visiting temples is also strictly prohibited. This prohibition may be to maintain the secrecy around their practices.
- Police Intervention is not allowed. If you seek the help of the police – you’ll be fined.
- Hunting of wild animals is not allowed without permission from the village council. Wood burning is also prohibited. Fixing nails on trees is banned as well. In short – respect mother nature.
Other Travel Idea: Also, check our article on the easy treks in Himachal Pradesh, if you want to explore some parts of Himachal on foot.
Fairs & Festivals in Malana
People in Malana village celebrates two major festivals. Malana Fagli is celebrated in the middle of February, while Malana Shaun is celebrated on 15th August. You can keep these dates in mind to keep a tab on Malana upcoming events.
Also known as the Harlala mask dance, this festival is celebrated in February. During this festival, the villagers take a bath in the intense cold. Also, certain people will wear masks, perform a ceremonial dance to ward off evil similar to the festivals of the Spiti Valley.
However, the difference in practices arises as villagers here wear nothing but cannabis leaves. Also, the performers will partake in spreading cow-dung across houses, to provide insulation from the cold. Another fascinating feature is the parade for Emperor Akbar.
Shaun Jach Festival
Villagers celebrate it on 15th August as a yearly festival in Malana. A procession is taken out by the villagers with a lot of pomp and circumstance – everyone dresses up for the event. Fair like activities is also quite common with the villagers enjoying the customs. In recent years, there has been a steady increase in tourists visiting Malana, especially for the festival.
When is the best time to visit Malana?
The best time to visit Malana village is either the summer months (May to July) or the post-monsoon months (September to November). However, the valley is gorgeous no matter when you visit in the year.
A word of caution that the connectivity will be minimal or even non-existent in the harsh winter months due to the presence of snow. Hence, plan your trip to Malana accordingly.
People also plan a trip to Malana to enjoy snow/snowfall near Delhi in Himachal.
Weather in Malana is mostly pleasant all year round except the winter months.
Can I plan a trip to Malana in August?
Late July and August are the months of monsoon in Northern India. It rains heavily in Himachal during these months. Hence, it is better to avoid traveling in the monsoon season. The rivers are in a spare with high water levels, and landslides are common. So, I will not recommend a trip to Malana in August.
Summers are calm and enjoyable with March to July having a maximum temperature in Malana of 21 ⁰C and a cool seven ⁰C at night. While the cold winter months of December to February observe a temperature of 5 ⁰C and the lowest at -5 ⁰C.
How to reach Malana from Delhi?
Malana Village is connected by three mountain passes. The choices to reach Malana include routes through Rashol and Chanderkhani Passes in Parvati Valley. The Rashol Pass trek will take you around 10 hours from Manikaran and the beautiful Chaderkhani Pass trek is a 2-day journey. Both are extremely gorgeous routes to be considered.
However, the most efficient way to reach Malana from Delhi is from Jari Village (23 Km). You can hire a cab from Jari to reach the end of the road. Then trek the 4 km trail to Malana village from the endpoint.
While reaching Parvati Valley is a long journey, it is sprayed with beautiful views throughout! Assuming a starting point of Delhi, let’s break down how to get into how you can reach Jari from Delhi.
Reaching Jari Village by Air – (Kullu to Malana)
The nearest airport to Jari is the Kullu Manali Airport in Bhuntar about 59 km away. The flights to Bhuntar are pretty limited. Apart from the frequency, the reliability of flights can be up for a toss as well. Here, taxis and buses are available for your onward journey. The next (safer, reliable) option is the Mohali Airport (Chandigarh), approximately 270 KMs away.
Hence, you need to reach Bhuntar airport to travel from Kullu to Malana via the Jari village route.
Reaching Jari by Train
The nearest railway station to Parvati Valley is Joginder Nagar railway station, 135 km away. Cabs are available at the station for private hire as well as shared movement. The journey will take you approximately 5 hours.
Also, another option is to take the early morning Shatabdi from Delhi to Chandigarh (12011), which will cost you around INR 700 and will get you to Chandigarh before 11 AM. From Chandigarh to Parvati Valley, you can make arrangements by taxi/bus/self-drive to reach Kasol.
Reaching Malana / Jari by Road
The total driving distance from Delhi to Jari Village or Malana is 517 km. It will take you a driving time of 12-13 hours. After crossing Chandigarh and entering the hills, you’ll be driving next to Beas river for a dominant part of your journey. It is a sight to behold as it is the same journey you take for a Delhi – Manali trip for the most part.
While the roads are in decent conditions for the most part – there is extensive tunneling work going on and the roads near Sundernagar and Mandi are quite bad (as in 2020).
Traveling from Manali to Malana
You can also club the Malana trip on your visit to Manali as well. To travel from Manali to Malana, you can take the route towards Kasol either via Bhuntar or Naggar. Then you can travel from Kasol to Malana via Jari village. Jari Village comes about 9 km before Kasol when traveling from Manali to Kasol.
Traveling by Own Car or Self Drive
You can take your car or rent a self-drive car which is a great option for driving on your own to Parvati Valley. I have used few self-drive rental car services from Delhi/ Chandigarh and loved each experience.
It gives you the freedom to chill and be your boss. However, keep in mind that the car won’t be able to go directly till Malana, and you will need to park somewhere – so it might be an unnecessary headache.
Don’t forget to check our comprehensive must-have list of things to carry on a self-drive trip to the Himalayas.
Bike trip to Malana
You can plan a bike trip to Malana from Delhi or Manali or Chandigarh as well. There are many bike rental services in Delhi, Chandigarh, and Manali, which can rent bikes for a trip to Himachal. The route remains the same for reach Jari village and then traveling further to Malana from Jari.
You can also plan Malana to Kasol trip using the bike rented in Kasol as well. You will need to park the bike at the base of the trek. So, please confirm the arrangements first with the bike rental guy.
Planning trip to Malana by bus or public transport
Many public transport buses leave ISBT, Delhi, for an overnight journey to Bhuntar. Volvo/Mercedes buses will be available starting INR 1500. An HRTC bus from Chandigarh will take you around 8-9 hours to reach Bhuntar, from where you can catch the next bus to your destination. A lot of bus movement happens, thanks to Manikaran being an important religious place. You will need to get off at Jari village.
Can I travel from Jari to Malana by bus?
No public buses ply from Jari to Malana. However, one can hire a private cab at Jari for the 23 km journey to the point where the road ends. Malana Power House is about 1.5 KMs from the journey, and foreign tourists have to register here at the police checkpost (Naka) before proceeding further.
The overall journey takes about 1.5 hours from Jari to the end of the road at the base of Malana village. After that, you will need to hike about 4 km. The hike is one of the easier treks of Himachal Pradesh, with laid out steps and should not be a concern at all.
Where to stay in Malana trip?
While most travelers tend to return to Jari or Kasol on the same day – there are a few basic guesthouses available at Malana. Among all Malana hotels, Dragon House Cafe and Eagle Cafe & Guest House are a couple of options worthy of exploring.
Another great option is camping near the village and overlooking some crazy beautiful night skies. Many campsites are available. However, the rules for this keep fluctuating. So it is best to check with the locals, in Jari village, preferably, before making any concrete plans for camping.
Fundamental food is available at Malana. You should keep in mind that these are extremely isolated locations, deep in the hills, and any expectation to have is too much. Whatever you get, you should happily consume as food is not a leisure item here, but sustenance.
You will find about half a dozen shacks splattered across the region, and the guesthouses also provide food. Near Jari, Hotel Negi’s Nest serves a widespread.
You should always carry your own water bottle and refill it as many times as you need water. It will not only keep you hydrated always, but you will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage. Remember, every tiny step counts and your step in this direction can help save the Himalayas too !! 🙂 🙂
Attractions or Things to do in Malana Trip
- Take a stroll through the village and enjoy the unique architecture
- There is a waterfall, roughly 5 km from Malana that has some breathtaking sites. If you keep moving further and enter the Waichen Valley – you will be mesmerized by the instance Himalayan views.
- Camping underneath the night skies is a given when in Malana.
- Even though it is prohibited to enter the Jamlu Devta Mandir – it is sure worth a visit to marvel at the intricate work and architecture.
- You can always plan a trip from Malana to Tosh when visiting Parvati Valley.
No wonder Malana comes under one of the offbeat places in Himachal Pradesh.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the frequently asked questions by tourists, travelers, and backpackers when planning a trip to Malana village.
- Can I purchase Hashish in Malana village?
Well, technically, yes, you may. However, it illegal substances in India and is not advisable. Also, you should not carry anything from the village as there are Police Nakas shortly after exiting the village.
- Can I stay in Malana village?
Yes, there are stay options available in Malana village. Among them, Dragon House Cafe, and Eagle Cafe & Guest House are a couple of options worthy of exploring.
- What is Malana famous for?
Malana is famous for its hashish known as Malana cream, a unique cultural heritage, and isolation from the world.
- What happens if I touch a villager in Malana accidentally?
Most likely the villager will be upset and goes to take a shower. Sometimes the village council might fine you INR 1000, though this is not a common practice.
- How many days should I spend in Malana village?
Most people tend to do a return trip from the village. However, ideally, 2-3 days is recommended to cover the village and nearby areas.
- What is the cost of a taxi from Jari to Malana trip?
There is a taxi union in Jari. For a small car, charges are Rs 800 (one way) and for SUVs, the charges are Rs 1300. These prices are based on the summer of 2019.
- Do I need a guide for Malana trek?
A guide is not required, though easily available at Jari. It can come in handy to have a guide especially if you’re unsure of how to follow the regulations of the land.
- Is traveling to Malana with children/family advisable?
Of course! Malana will be an even bigger shock for the kids to explore – it will only teach them how to treat different people and beliefs with respect.
- Can I include a trip to Malana to Kasol?
Yes, you can easily include a day or two for Kasol in your Malana trip itinerary. The route from Malana to Kasol is to get to Jari village first. Then you can travel the remaining 9 km distance from Jari to Kasol.
If ever there is a village with as much word-of-mouth marketing regarding its allure – it has to be Malana. Gaining popularity with Indian tourists as well, Malana is a gorgeous place where the views are insane, and the customs are different. Even though the construction of the Hydro Project is ruining the landscape, it is worth a visit.
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Please feel free to post any queries or doubts you might have in planning your trip. If you have been to Malana before, I would love to hear your thoughts and any other information you might feel will be worth sharing with other fellow travelers and prove helpful to them as comments.