The hillside hamlet of Kasol sits on the banks of the Parvati River in the wilderness of Himachal Pradesh, northern India. Flanked by forests, remote villages and the snow-capped Himalayas beyond, it’s a scenic hub that’s loved by backpackers. You can trek along nearby trails to discover clear mountain springs and gushing waterfalls, and spend your evening by a bonfire under the starry sky. This tranquil hideaway is also a party hotspot with legendary trance raves held deep in the woods near the village of Chalal.
All hostels in Kasol are surrounded by breathtaking scenery. You can stay in a Game Of Thrones-themed youth hostel that hugs the side of the river, or a cosy wooden house with mountain views from every room. Choose a place with outdoor tented beds to be even closer to nature. You’ll find most Kasol youth hostels have on-site cafés and restaurants and many have open porches or balconies for admiring the views while sipping a beer. The best hostels in Kasol also have fun extras like games, books, or a backyard – complete with fairy lights – for barbecues and music.
New Kasol is a compact main street with reggae bars and a flea market selling aromatic oils, Indian rugs and harem pants. Cross a swinging bridge over the Parvati River's bubbling waters to Old Kasol. Here you can walk by the river and eat delicious Israeli dishes or freshly caught trout from the cluster of colourful cafés and restaurant huts. Kasol is known as "Mini Israel" thanks to its rich Israeli cultural influence.
There are many magical villages to explore nearby. It's a short walk to peaceful Chalal and Katagla, or you can catch a bus to the quaint settlement of Tosh. From here you can visit Kalga, Tulga and Pulga with its pretty fairy forest. The spiritual town of Manikaran, a pilgrimage site for Sikhs and Hindus, is 6km from Kasol and packed with temples and hot springs. For serious trekkers, a 4-hour hike up steep, narrow trails will lead you to the Kheerganga peak in the clouds. Plunge into the geothermal bath and soak up views of the whole valley.
Most travellers reach Kasol from Bhuntar with a scenic 90-minute bus ride through the Indian valleys. To get to Bhuntar, a sleeper bus from Dehli takes 10-13 hours. Taxis also wait at Bhuntar's bus station, and you can share with other backpackers or solo travellers to save cash. In Kasol, walking is the main way to get around but taxis wait by the bridge to take you further afield.