If you are a restless roaming spirit that does not allow remaining at home for long just like me then, of course, you look out for a place to escape and explore. Awaken your mind, body, and soul by escaping into nature, undisturbed. So, next time if you have such feeling, simply pack your bags and leave for Himachal Pradesh. Although Himachal Pradesh remains one of the top-notch destinations for tourists especially during the summertime due to its natural beauty, there are many unseen places. One such place I came across known as ‘Pulga’.
However, not many people are aware of Pulga, which is located in Himachal Pradesh at an average height of 9498 feet above sea level. This small village in Parvati Valley has an amazing view of lofty mountains, forests, tea plantations and wooden houses that will create a magical ambiance for you. Pulga, popularly known as Fairy Forest, is quite secluded from the rest of the state and is still untouched by modern facilities making it a perfect setting to spend some cozy time trying to reconnect with oneself in solitude. Sun rays cast a magical spell on the small village of Pulga, located in the lap of nature, surrounded by hills. One would not be mistaken in believing Mother Nature had adopted the tiny village and nurtured its natural beauty.
I along with a friend took HRTC bus from Chandigarh (Sector 43 ISBT) the bus started at 9 am from here and we reached Bhuntar at around 6 pm. Usually, it takes 7-8 hours but due to monsoon rain, it took a bit longer than expected. Once you reach Bhuntar, I believe you might be hungry and would want to sit in some restaurant and have breakfast. I suggest you save your appetite for Kasol. So grab the next local bus from Bhuntar to Kasol (30km, 1hr approx.), and sit and treat yourself with good food and music at Café’s in Kasol. Kasol gets to see a lot of tourists; it has become more like a commercial hub in past few years. The reason being it is on the way as you tread towards Manikaran, a holy place for Sikhs best known for its hot water springs and also because Kasol abounds with Israeli travelers. Such is their presence that locals and restaurateurs have embraced their food, language, and culture like their own. You get to see shakshukas, zatar naan, msabbha, falafal and tahina, hummus, patande, nutrella pancakes, Lafa, and eggplants with mayonnaise practically on every menu. While taking a stroll in the local market you’ll find a lot of handmade woolen PJs, sweatshirts, headbands, chillum, and all kind of hippie stuff!
After munching on some yummy Falafel from The Evergreen Café, we later munched on Caramel Milk Chocolate Crepe from a café known as Little Italy. We were tired but happy by then so we planned to take a room in a small village in Kasol itself known as Choch. The biggest reason for getting an accommodation there was because of low rates and away from hustle bustle. Also, some illegal hotels and guest houses were shutdowns in Kasol so the legal one’s prices were soaring high. The next morning we grabbed a local bus from Kasol to Barshaini (12km, 30mins). Barshaini is a small town with a few staying options and has basic dhabas, a taxi stand, and a wine shop. If you have to buy any supplies, it is recommended that you buy them from here. A small road from here diverges to go to Tosh village, which is around 3 km from Barshaini. The drive from Kasol to Barshaini, which is the last stop on the bus route to Tosh, is fairly smooth, but from then on, the path is treacherous. The last few kilometers to a destination are often the most exciting as its beauty comes into view. It’s also possible to trek to Tosh from Barshaini in about 45 minutes. As we wanted to put up in Tosh for a day so we landed there otherwise one can take a bus from Barshaini to Kalga/Pulga directly.
Somehow just like Kasol, Tosh has too lost its enthrall with truck heaps of Indian vacationers, contemporary popular individuals investigated particular choices in the pursuit of sheer isolation, although it wasn’t like that a year back due to shut down in Kasol everyone rushed to Tosh. Finally, we decided to travel to Pulga and dropped the plan of staying in Tosh. From Barshaini after crossing the dam we started our tiny trek to Pulga (30-40 mins). You can choose to stay at either Kalga or Pulga, with a local family for Rs. 100-500/- a room, food extra (bare minimum cost) or pitch your own tent. I stayed at Pulga. Both Kalga and Pulga are traditional Himachali villages, with ethereal viewpoints, lovely locals, good vibes and serenity amidst apple orchards.
Pulga is famed worldwide amongst travelers for its famed ‘fairy forest’ – a dense deodar jungle located right next to the village. It’s a beautiful trek across mountains and offers excellent views of near and distant snow-covered peaks. It is also extremely quiet and free of tourists. During my trek around fairy forest for close to 3 hours, I just came across only two humans. Throughout the trek, I was all alone in the forest with some local dogs for company. It is a truly rejuvenating experience for city folks who usually tend to miss their rightful ‘me time’.
The valley resonates to rapturous “music”: the river Beas gushing down the white rocks, the cool wind blowing from the snow-peaked mountains cutting through the hilly edges, and the call of the cuckoos – what more would one need to connect with nature! Though the hypnotic beauty of the place might compel you to linger, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to visit some nearby villages like Kalga and Tulga.
Now it was time for us to check into a decent place, after checking out a few places, I decided to check into a Cafe & Home Stay. Like most other houses in the villages, it was constructed of wood in traditional Himachal architectural style. The place seemed cozy compared to most other places in the village and we immediately booked a room for ourselves at the place. There were, however, no attached baths. From what I could gather during my stay, there are probably no home-stay rooms in Pulga with attached baths. So, if you wish to stay in Pulga you need to make do with common restrooms.
The trek to Pulga is a fearless voyage into the universe of nature’s wonderfulness and quietness. It’s much the same as taking off to a substitute world. The viewpoint of the nightfall and trekking through the ways are a vast experience.