“The village is panorama of the charming scenes of nature.”
Someone has nicely articulated the excerpt depicting an impressive panorama of village. And the same probably best fit into the minuscule village of Malana. Situated at an elevation of around 276 meters above sea level, Malana is an inimitable village of Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh. The uniqueness of this 100 houses village is their indigenous system that does not follow any decree of India. Malana, a valley of around 1000 tribal dwellers have their own ministers, president and Constitution. One more interesting fact about this tiny unique village is the Malanese (local inhabitants), who claims to be the descendents of Alexander-The Great. With this conviction, the village has gained popularity as ‘Little Greece in Himachal Pradesh’. Additionally, Malana is also known for its top-notch cannabis (Charas).
An Overview of Malana
The primeval hamlet in Malana is isolated from rest of the sphere. Therefore, visitors find this village with lot many things to explore. The grandiose altitudes of Chandrakhani pass and self-declared conviction of the Malanese have distinguished this village as one of the most offbeat tourist destinations in India. One important thing that a visitor should make a count before travelling to Malana is the beliefs and sentiments of the local people associated with their belongings and memorials. You are not allowed to touch any of their belongings or walls of any of the temples in Malana. Doing this may panelise you by the Malanese. The inhabitants of this esoteric village do not appreciate any kind of involvements to their lifestyle by outsiders. They believe to be the follower of ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu i.e. Jamdagni Rishi. Another distinguishing part of Malanese is their local ‘Kanashi’ language, which can only be spoken by the inhabitants of this valley and not by any other adjoining villagers. The Malanese are also rigid about their nuptials ceremony. According to them the people of Malana are not allowed to marry someone who is not from the same valley.
The more you get to know about the culture and people of Malana, your inquisitiveness towards the village becomes wider. Being an orthodox follower of Jamdagni Rishi, Malanese will never accept any food cooked by anyone other than a Malani. However, under certain circumstances when Malanese are out of their valley, they may accept food from a non-Malani person. The people here are undoubtedly generous but regarding their culture and ethics they are quite unbending. As a visitor you will be served food by them only after practicing some rigid purification of the utensils. In Malana valley you will come across various prehistoric temples that are structured in Kathkuni style. In most of the temples you can see a unique blend of deer heads and wooden carving. Rukmini and Jamlu are two popular temples in Malana.
The village area of Malana is bounded by lush greeneries. The small township of the place is popular for growing fresh mushrooms, which is a sound means of earnings for the people of Malana. However, the prime occupation of the inhabitants of Malana is gardening.
The offbeat cultural aspects of Malanese are incessant. In the month of February, they celebrate a unique mask dance festival known as Harlala. Many visitors flock this place to witness the exclusivity of this eve. During Harlala festival, the people here take bath and make a group of people wearing merely cannabis leaves. Further, they undergo a dance performance around their houses spreading the cow dung. If you are lucky enough to visit here during Phalgun (at the time of festival), procession for Emperor Akbar will surely amaze your presence at Malana village.
The Climate of Malana
Situated at a high elevation of sea level and in the Himalayan region, Malana village experiences a soothing climate throughout the year. The best time to visit this place is between May to August when you can view the summer festival. During summer the maximum temperature reaches up to 27OC and at night it does down till 15OC or less. During winter, especially in the month of December the place gets maximum rainfall that further brings down the temperature up to -1 C°. At day time you can feel a maximum temperature of around 14OC.
Well, a place is worth visiting when you get to taste something unique over there. To be very explicit, one cannot expect to have lip-smacking cuisines here in Malana. But it doesn’t restrain you either from trying something delicious local foods.
Let’s have look into the taste of Malanese.
You will get to see different outdoor eateries and dhabas near the village region of Malana catering reviving tea and snacks. Many small stalls are here run by village women where you will get luscious daal, rice, roti and bread. Do not get surprised if any of the food stores serves you non-vegetable items here. If you are lucky enough to befriend a Malanese, do not miss the homemade meal at their residence.
Things to do in Malana
Having depicted the self-created autonomy of Malanese and their cultural beliefs, the astounding alpine valley is a paradise for trekkers. Therefore, one can expect lot many trekking activities around Malana. The following are various trekking activities catered by many tourist agencies that can be practiced here at particular time period:
#Malana Village Trekking
This trekking expedition mostly performed between September and October covering 6days and 5 nights. This trekking excursion takes you through the wondrous village areas of beautiful Malana. The supplier who arranges such trekking activities will also cater you transpiration, food and accommodation facilities. A trek to Chandrakhani Pass will amaze you with its electrifying environs and awe-inspiring climate.
From Delhi, the best way to be a part of this trekking activity is by reaching till Manali, which is around 12 hours journey by road. On the way to Manali you need to get down at Patlikuhal and from here take a car to reach till Rumsu base camp. During this trip you will also get a chance to explore some sparkling sites like the peaks of Ali Ratna, Gowrishankar temple, Roerich art gallery, Hanuman Tibba etc.
#A Trek to Malana in Kasol
This is one more exciting expedition allowing you to unveil the picturesque vista of neighbouring mountains. During this trekking jaunt you get to enjoy the soothing beauty of nature with a blend of luscious food and cuisines. The lush bush gives you an amazing trekking experience across the isolated valley of Malana.
#Trek to Weichin Valley
Weichin is an amazing village to visit, which is also popular as Magic Valley. This captivating meadow is situated merely 4Kms away from Malana. The best way to reach here is by taking a taxi from Bhuntar and get down at Malana Gate, which may charge you around Rs.1500 depending on the type of car you hire. From Malana Gate you need to travel further a distance of 2Kms to a dam. The trekking is initiated from this dam. During the trek you will come across a 1.5km long glacier and various animated cascades that will make your excursion more exciting. Many tourists stay in the camps here with amazing eatables. Staying in a camp may pocket you around Rs.700 to Rs.1400 per person. After dusk you can expect a magical panorama of Weichin valley.
Nothing could be as rousing as crossing the miles of Malana village by Jeep Safari. This will add more adventure to your voyage here. The organiser of such adventurous activities pickup the visitors from their nearby hotels/resorts and drop them to the safari spot. Jeep Safari is a complete day excursion that will allow you to get a close view of the mesmerising Malana. Fresh breeze against the direction of your Jeep will give you a wondrous experience as a tourist.
In addition to the lively trekking activities, you can also witness the following religious sites here:
Made of wood and stone, the Jamdagni Temple is the prime sacred structure for prayers. The locals of Malana are in the view that all outsiders are ‘untouchable’, and they are not allowed to touch the walls of this temple. Any outsiders caught touching the walls of this temple will be fined. Therefore, as an outsider you get to be very watchful.
#Shrine of Renuka Devi
Being one of the religiously rigid regions in the Himalayan Range, Malana has various tiny temples and shrines. One such eminent shrine situated in lower Malana is the Shrine of Renuka Devi. Onlookers flock here to view the wooden architectural brilliance of this shrine. You will also get to notice horns of animals in the shrine premises with colourful bangles of villagers.
Some interesting facts of Malana
For a traveller, knowing a destination in advance is always a plus. Therefore, before you make your next adventurous voyage to Malana, unveil some interesting facts about the place.
- Malana village is the world’s oldest democracy.
- The local language of Malana is ‘Kanashi’’, which is a blend of Sanskrit and Tibetan dialects. Only Malanese can make out this language. They do understand Hindi as well.
- Though in some of the areas photography is not allowed, but people here love to give pose for photography. However, videography is a sheer prohibition here.
- Malanese admires nature, and they won’t allow you practicing any hunting, burring and deforestation activities in the village area.
- The place is best known for its elite ‘Malana cream’ containing oil content and strong aroma. Malana cream (Charas) is the costliest cannabis in the Amsterdam menu.
- If you purchase anything from the shop here, you will be asked to keep the money on the counter. The shopkeepers will not get in any physical connection while taking the money from you, as they believe outsiders are untouchable.
- The children in Malana mostly spend time staying at home and playing. Some of the women go out to collect honey or involve in helping the men in hash fields.
- Due to intense snowfall in winter, people do not go out at the day time and spend at home for 5-6 months.
- The tiny two/three storied houses here have specific names. The people call the lower floor of these houses as ‘khudang’.
Malana is well-connected to some of its nearby places like Kullu, Manali and village Jari. From village Jari the distance is around 12 kms that can be crossed in six hours. You can also reach there from Parbati Valley or through Nagar crossing the Chanderkhani Pass. It will consume two trekking days of yours.
You will also get many frequent buses from Kashmiri Gate ISBT, Delhi towards Bhuntar. From here you will get bus till Jari by spending Rs.30-Rs.40. Once you reach Jari, hire a taxi or cab to reach Malana. Depending on the type of car you hire the charges may range between Rs.700 to Rs.1500. You can also get a bus till Narang from where Malana is merely 5Kms trekking distance.
If you are travelling by air, the nearest airport (97kms) is Gaggal Airport, which is also popular as Dharamshala/ Kangra Airport. On the other hand, from Jari the nearest Airport is Bhuntar, which is situated within a reach of 13 Kms.
For visitors who are travelling by train, they can travel till Delhi and from there several buses are available towards Bhuntar. Alternatively, various railways stations are also there in Himachal Pradesh like Ahju Railway Station, Chauntra Bhater Railway Station, Joginder Nagar Railway Station etc. However, no direct air or railway connectivity is here in Malana.
Places to Stay
You will get various suitable staying options near Malana. One such option is Dragon Guest House, which is situated at rear side of Malana Village. In addition, some other convenient nearby hotels are listed here for you:
Kasol,Kullu, 175105 Kasol, India
Charges: Rs.3,000 (approximately)
#Hotel Panchali Holiday Home 1-star hotel
VPO Kasol, Tehsil Bhunter, Kullu, 175105
Charges: Rs.2,000 (approximately)
#Pinetree Camps Kasol
Manikaran Road, 175105 Kasol, India
Charges: Rs.2,500 (approximately)
Apart from these, you can also stay in any of the following hotels/resorts within Rs.3,000 to Rs.5,000 range:
#Hotel Castle Naggar
Distt Kullu, Naggar, Manali Tehsil 175101, India
Left Bank Nagar Road, District Kullu,
Manali, Manali Tehsil 175131, India
#The Countryside Cottage Resort – Bharhka
Left Bank-Naggar-Manali Road,
Naggar, Manali Tehsil 175131, India
Here are few points that as a tourist you should count on:
- Do not hurt the sentiments of Malanese people.
- You can talk to them in Hindi but do not touch them or any of the shrines you visit.
- The place is ideal for trekking. But the heights and uneven pathways are quite difficult to cross.
- Do not forget to carry a supporting stick during your trek.
- Avoid carrying unwanted belongings and weight during trekking.
- Carry adequate warm cloths as the climate is quite chilling here.
- Carry a bag containing your essentials and medical amenities.
Having done with your day long trekking or exploration of entire Malana village and shrines, you can plan something more by visiting few nearby locations in Himachal Pradesh like Kufri, Chail, Kangra, Kullu, Manali etc.