Kasol & Manikaran



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I meant for Kasol to be a jumpoff point to other neighboring villages that I wanted to see, but fate was to be otherwise. My first night in town, I ate some chicken that gave me the stomach flu. I spent the next three days sick as a dog, my body weak, and my appetite very low. When I finally recovered, I spent two days relaxing in the town. The Parvati Valley is very narrow compared to the valley where Manali lies.  I felt I could have thrown a rock and touched the other side.

Kasol is nice, but just as the guidebook said, it’s overrun with Israelis. It seems odd to me that so many people choose the same country to travel to and most with the same idea; they go to India, stay in Israeli-friendly hotels, eat Israeli food and smoke charras. Some buy a Royal Enfield and road trip around the country. Many Enfields were for sale but all the signs were in Hebrew (and without a price… weird). Come to think of it, many of the signs in the whole town were in Hebrew.

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I went one afternoon to Manikaran, a town just a few kilometers upstream from Kasol. There I visited the Shiva temple that is a pilgrimage site for many young Sikh men. They drive in by twos on their motorbikes decorated with flags of all colors. The temple sits on a natural thermal hot springs source. You can go there and bath in the 100 degree plus water that is loaded with sulfur and other minerals. It’s supposed to be very good for your health. I didn’t bathe the first time I went, but I later returned with and Israeli and an American and we stayed for about an hour in the baths. I felt energized yet calm afterwards. I believe there is something to the healing properties of those thermal baths. I spent some time that day sitting by the river in Manikaran. As with many rivers in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh, it was a raging, roaring river. I felt mesmerized watching the rushing, churning water run swiftly underneath my feet as I stood on the bridge. So much energy, so much power.

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