Parvati Valley on the first glimpse seems like a sleepy little place with lots of greens all around. However, the deeper you go into the woods, the more mystery is revealed to you. With gushing waterfalls, dense pine and deodar trees, hot springs sprinkled around the valley, and the cultivation of charas (hashish) that grows abundantly, Parvati Valley has the perfect recipe for unexplainable peace to those who seek.
This Parvati Valley Travel Guide will take you through the major attractions of the region.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
About Parvati Valley
Parvati Valley in Himachal is situated along with the flow of Parvati River, which flows into Beas and originates from the Man Talai Glacier, below the Pin Parvati Pass. Moving westwards from the glaciers near the Spiti Valley, the Parvati river graces several Himachal hamlets along the way and provides a source of life for its residents and visitors alike.
With sharp sided valleys through the mountains, Parvati Valley is as green as it gets, especially in the lower altitudes. However, the higher up you go, the scarcity of vegetation becomes apparent.
Parvati valley is unabashedly the epicenter of beautiful landscapes, and with such a beautiful aura, great folklore and mythology surround it. Parvati Valley truly is synonymous with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the places to see and explore.
Hence, it is no shocker that often, you’ll encounter long term visitors that stay in the region for months on end. The charm of Parvati Valley is such that it beckons you to stay and connect with your inner peace, match the pace of nature, and just reflect on the beauty within and outside!
Did you check our mention of Parvati Valley and its nearby villages in my article on offbeat places to travel in Himachal Pradesh?
Location / Geography
Lying in the Greater Himalayan Range, eastwards from the confluence of Parvati River and Beas. Parvati Valley height is about 5,000 meters above sea level. The valley is symbolized by many tributaries joining into the Parvati River, along with many gushing waterfalls to delight you at every turn.
Up till Tunda Bhuj, the valley is essentially cutting a gorge through mountains. After this, as the height increases, especially near the Basuki Nal tributary, the forests make way for meadows and boulders. The sheer expanse of Himalayan diversity in the region is starkly beautiful. And, hence, Parvati is famous for its many treks.
Visitors or Tourists
If ever there was a group that was more heterogeneous than the one visiting Parvati Valley, I am not aware. Travelers to the region are as diverse as it gets. On the one end of the spectrum, you’ll run into hippies in search of peace and tranquillity.
This group is majorly defined by Western Hippies (read – predominantly Israelis), although Indian tourism has also picked up on the vibes of the region. The other end of the spectrum is Sikh Pilgrims bound for the Manikaran Gurudwara, also in search of tranquillity.
Parvati Valley Weather or Climate
Parvati Valley enjoys a mild climate in the summers, making it a perfect spot for getting out into the wild and enjoying the hills. And, the winter season is a beautiful carpet of snow, waiting for you to explore as well. Major seasons of the region include –
Beginning from April end/May till the onset of Monsoon in July, Parvati Valley is at its lushest and the most beckoning. The aura is palpable, and the region is brimming with excitement. Tourists and travelers alike flock to the place to enjoy some peace and tranquillity.
In the summer months, the temperature in the lower Parvati region hovers around 25 °C (max) and 10 °C (min), while the upper trenches are cooler at about 20 °C. This time is a suitable time to head to the valley as a first timer as there would be a lot of commotion to enjoy!
Parvati Valley in Monsoon
This is a tricky period in the hills. With the construction of a hydro dam in the Parvati Valley, as well as the development of road (and other infrastructure) along with the fragile nature of the hills, the region (and the route leading up to it) is prone to landslides. Much like Kinnaur Valley in monsoon, I will be cautious of traveling to Parvati Valley in this m=period.
Even though the hills are at their greenest and the flora is unparalleled. During this time, it is best avoidable to head out at this point. However, if you are aware of the dangers and take necessary steps to mitigate the risk, then, by all means, head out and enjoy the rains! In the monsoon months, precipitation, especially in the lower regions, is extreme, averaging a max of 324 mm in July.
Post monsoon, the hills begin to hibernate, the tourists are lesser, and there is a calm setting in. With the hills preparing for the winter season, life enjoys a slower pace. Weather post-monsoon faces a dip in temperatures, hovering around 8-10 degrees, depending upon the altitude. This window is another great season to visit, even though commercial activity might be lesser. The hills will be louder with life.
October to February is marked by the onset of cold and subsequent beauty of Parvati being engulfed in snow. The winds are heavy, the snowfall is frequent and often inhospitable, and the dry cold makes it difficult to venture out. However, for those that are seeking adventure and unmatchable solace, it is a great (albeit difficult) journey to embark.
Parvati Valley temperature often falls into the negative, especially in the upper region of the Parvati Valley, while the lower valley experiences a max of 0-7 °C. January is the coldest month of the year. I have friends who wanted to celebrate New Year in the region and reached on the eve, only to return the first thing in the morning – because the cold was that harsh.
We do have mentioned in Parvati Valley villages when looking for places to see snow or snowfall in Himachal nearby Delhi.
On another note, I also know people who have moved to the valley and have been living there for months on end.
In short, you pick your own comfort.
So, what is the best time to visit Parvati valley?
For me, the best time to plan a trip to Parvati valley is either the summer months or the post-monsoon (slightly cold) months. However, the valley is gorgeous, no matter when you visit. However, a word of caution that certain parts might be out of bounds and inaccessible due to heavy rainfall or snowfall.
How to reach Parvati Valley
While the journey might be longer, it is not that difficult to head into the aura of Parvati Valley. In this section, we will assume a starting point of Delhi. The trip can be taken through many options, all leading to the same beautiful journey.
Reaching Parvati Valley by Air
The nearest airport to Parvati Valley is the Kullu Manali Airport in Bhuntar. The flights to Bhuntar are pretty limited and apart from the frequency, the reliability 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 300+ KMs away (dependent upon your destination in the valley itself)
Reaching Parvati Valley by Rail
The nearest railway station to Parvati Valley is Joginder Nagar railway station You can hire a cab from here as well, and this will take you about 4 hours to reach the entry of Parvati Valley.
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 Parvati Valley by Road
This is, OBVIOUSLY, the best way to plan a Parvati Valley Trip. The total driving distance from Delhi to the beginning of Parvati Valley is 540 km and will take you driving time of 12 hours.
Once you cross Chandigarh and enter the hills, the magic of greenery and the sound of music from the accompanying river will keep you refreshed. For the most part, you’ll experience decent roads for your journey. However, due to recent ongoing work of multiple tunnel construction projects, roads might be intermittently bad. As of summer 2019 – the stretch post Sundernagar and Mandi were in bad condition.
Parvati Valley Map
I am attaching below a map of Parvati Valley to give you an idea of villages that exist in it and how to travel to these villages.
Own Car/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 in Delhi and loved each experience. It gives you the freedom to chill and be your boss. (#notanad) There are other options available as well – do your browsing to get the best deals!
Bus / Public Transport
Many public transport buses leave ISBT, Delhi, for an overnight journey to Bhuntar. Volvo/Mercedes buses will be available starting INR 1500. A bus from Chandigarh will take you around 8 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’re out in nature and thus, the best way (oftentimes the only way) to travel is on foot. Trek those mountains and climb up the hills to be one with nature. You won’t ever regret these experiences.
These are all great options for how to travel when in Parvati Valley. Nearby areas require you to trek (even though the roads might be available, it is still highly recommended to walk your way
Please note that you should not get lost in the woods as there are numerous people who have been lost up there. Hence, take care when hiking or trekking alone.
Do not forget to check our checklist about list of things to carry on trekking or hiking in the Himalayas.
Stories of Parvati Valley
With a place so serene and gorgeous, it is incomprehensible that such beauty can actually exist. When humans are faced with such a challenge on how a place can encapsulate such beauty, it is only logical that we need more of an explanation. Thus, there is a TONNE of stories and folklore associated with Parvati Valley.
I strongly urge you to go out and explore the region and talk to the locals to get a flavor of the deep history. Here are some of the famous stories and tales of the region.
The Name – Parvati Valley
Shivji was meditating at the Pin Parvati Pass for many thousand years. He sat in the mystical valley in the form of a Nag-Sadhu (ash smeared sanyasi). Seasons came and went, but Shivji continued his vigil, all thanks to the beauty and serenity of the region. One fine day when he observed the valley and its perfect landscape and untouched beauty, he named the valley after his consort – Parvati.
Kheerganga is an important place both from Hindu as well as a Sikh perspective.
Parvati and Kartikeya
It is believed that Shivji’s son Kartikeya was meditating near the region when Parvati and Shivji decided to visit him. Overcome with love and motherly emotion, Parvati wanted to cook something for Kartikeya. Thanks to the presence of hot water springs in the region, legends have it that Parvati would cook Kheer (rice pudding) in the water itself. Hence, the greyish color and the milkfish complexion of the river is because of this!
Gurunanak Ji visiting Kheerganga
Sikh folktale would tell you that during Udasi, Guru Nanak Singh Ji came to Kheerganga to visit his staunch disciple – Bhai Mardana. At the time, Mardana was hungry but had no food available. This time is when Guru Nanak Ji sent Bhai Mardana to collect Aata (flour) from the Langar. But, there was no fire nearby to cook the chapatis.
This was when Guru Nanakji asked Mardana to remove a giant stone – and this is where a hot spring appeared. When Mardana dipped the Rotis into the spring, the Rotis sank. Upon the advice of Guru Nanak Ji, Mardana prayed to God for the Rotis to float back up, and when this happened, he pays it forward to feed other people as well. The Rotis did float back on to the surface, fully baked.
Thus, whoever donates in the name of God, with good intentions, will always have meaningful karma follow him as well.
People from Malana will happily tell you that they’re the true descendants of Alexander the Great. However, there are some traces in deep Hindu mythology as well. The God of the Malana region is Jamlu rishi. The history of the place can be traced back to the Puranas, where the true foundation of democracy was laid – fully equipped with even a Parliamentary system.
Because of all these rules in place, the people of Malana avoid interacting with the outside public, for the fear of losing out on their roots and diluting their culture. In fact, it is a huge no-no to touch or be in contact with outsiders for the villagers of Malana.
Apart from the ethereal faith in Shivji, their traditions are unique! As a way of solving the conflict – it is believed that the Rishi decides the faith. Hence, each party is assigned a lamb whose foot is cut deep, and poison is inserted. The keeper of the lamb that dies first is assumed to be guilty.
Also, it is believed that the Rishi comes into the body of the Gur (spokesperson) to make important decisions for the community.
It is believed that Shivji and Parvati spent a long time in the region, thanks to its immense beauty and serenity. During their life here, Parvati lost an earring in the river (mani) and was upset by this. She asked Shivji to retrieve the earring but to no avail. He was upset and angry, and this led to him opening his third eye.
As the Destructor of the World, this was considered extremely inconspicuous. Hence, people appealed to Sesh-Nag to pacify Shivji, giving rise to boiling water. This water helped in the emergence of precious stones, similar to what Parvati had lost.
Best places to visit in Parvati Valley
The most popular place in the region is Kasol. Thanks to its hippie fame amongst tourists as well as the recent popularity amongst the Indian crowd. It is THE place to come and chill – hence, often known as the Indian Amsterdam.
With abundant beauty and lots of commercialization – Kasol holds a lot of weight when it comes to parties and raves. The place holds a special place in the hearts of trekkers as this is where you first come to embark on your upcoming journeys.
Jari is essentially one of the first villages in the Parvati Valley and, thus, is often ignored for better pastures ahead. However, having camped here –the views are insane, and the folks are nice – the climb is tough, there is not a lot of commercialization and tonnes to explore.
Although, near the river, you might be disappointed as the Alana Hydro Project is a sore spot and completely distorts the view. The climb over to the hill of Mateura Jari is only a KM from the road – but, man oh man – the is the climb steep! The rural Himachal will tug at your heartstrings; I can promise you that.
IF you want the most wonderful walking experience out in the woods (This would not classify as a trek, let me assure you), then you need to head to Chalal. This deeply spiritual experience will take you about 25 minutes’ walk to reach the village, and you’ve escaped all commercial life as you know tithe solitude in Chalal village is addictive.
And when the colorful trees and chirpy birds keep you company, you know you’re in heaven. The food here is yum, and you will find many cafes that are just next to the free-flowing Parvati River. Moreover, this little hamlet is entirely safe to explore while also being wallet-friendly.
Situated deep in the Parvati Valley, Rasol village is truly a gem of a hamlet. Lying ahead of Chalal, towards Malana, overall, Rasol is 5 km from Kasol. Ten thousand feet above sea level, the area around Rasol, is simply mystical! The community is well protected, similar to the nearby village of Malana.
The main occupation here is agriculture as well as the spinning of wool. While an unimaginable beauty of green forests greets the visitors, the villagers are slightly wary of commercialization. It is best to respect their personal space and take considerable measures to show your respect for the customs, cultures, and surroundings.
Kalga, Pulga, Tulga
The three sister villages of Kalga, Pulga and Tosh are tea treasure chests with lots of stories to tell. Visit these villages to explore the beauty of lush green mountains and slow down the pace of life. For here, there are no raves ongoing, no parties for the hippies – just serene beauty to enjoy the company of nature.
Situated 20 km from the hippie town of Kasol, Tosh is a village where backpackers flock. The views are crazy, tourism is defined and even though the roads are in terrible conditions- you will have a great time hiking up.
From Jari, walk for 6 hours to reach the charas capital of the world. Malana needs no introduction. But, the beauty if often not spoken about when talking of Malana. The waterfalls, the streams, and the perfectly beautiful weather make for the most memorable treks.
Offbeat places in Parvati Valley
Let us also look at some offbeat places in Parvati Valley as well along with these tourist places.
Situated 15 Kms from Kheerganga, Tunda Bhuj provides a glimpse into the seduction power of the Parvati Valley. After completion of half of the trek – the view evolves. Flora and fauna are splattered around through meadows, and the valley essentially becomes a painted canvas. The only residents of this region are the local Gaddis (aka Shepherds). There’s a Babaji that lives ALONE in Tunda Bhuj, who is very helpful and will even cook for you!
Rudra Nag & Naktan Village
Have you experienced cuteness in nature? Well, if not, head on over to RudraNag – everything is adorable. The colors are cute, the people are sweet, and the views will make you experience the same feelings as that of falling in love. Lying halfway from Barshaini to KhirGanga, there are a couple of guesthouses in the villages, and pretty apple orchards line the way. Lots of waterfalls break the monotony of lush greenery (embarrassment of riches).
Pin Valley National Park
Actually situated in the Lahaul and Spiti District, the Pin Valley national park in Spiti Valley is steeped in Buddhist Tibetan culture. This is evident in the architecture and the food of the place. The region is highly unexplored, thanks to the extreme geography and climate.
The park also is home to many endangered species. When trekking the region, you will cross the roaring Pin and Parvati Rivers many times. Bhabha Pass, Parvati Parvat, Kara Lake Bhaba Valley, and the Mantalai lake all lie in the national park.
Pandupul Village, Thakur Kuan Village, Odi Thatch
In extreme depths of Parvati Valley lies this beautiful hamlet of PanduPul where Pandavas meditated. The bridge is formed by a huge boulder amidst the Parvati River and is a sight to behold. This trek is a full-on trek to reach the high altitude meadow. The path is beautiful, and often, people combine this trip usually with the Pin Parvati Trek.
Just 4 km from Malana, this is a hidden gem that no one knows. The dramatic landscapes and the wonderful hike will keep you entertained. The combination of adventure and peace is a hard balance to find, yet, here we are – Waichin provides the same thing.
So, why to visit Parvati Valley?
With all there is to offer, do I need to give you any more reasons? Parvati has something in store for everyone – whether you need some peace, whether you want to party and indulge in the natural herbs, whether you’re adventurous, and you want to be out in the wilderness – Parvati has you covered.
In the next post, we will be talking about all the treks from the region – so keep checking!
Also, are there any other places we might have missed in the post above? Do let us know. Share your favorite memories from Parvati – I would love to hear.