Kalga is a fairly discrete and peaceful village in Parvati valley. Unlike the nearby hotspots like Tosh and Kasol, the village does not get as much attention by the average urban tourist looking for a quick score and getaway. This, along with the mildly rough terrain leading up to the village results in a sense of isolation that you get when you finally arrive.
You can stay in the Holy Cow Café located pretty much at the end of this small settlement, a cozy café with lodging facilities. It is probably one of the best among all the homestays in the region.
The structure, made out of bricks and wood has stood rigidly for many years and served as a pleasant retreat for many tourists who are bound to return after visiting it once.
Kalga is not just a destination, but it is an experience, an experience to be one with nature, to explore the beauty of Himalayas and most importantly, to explore oneself. With lodges and homestays providing minimal electric amenities, just a single light bulb and a socket for charging electronic device, there is an ample amount of opportunity to disconnect yourself with the routine life and enjoy nature in its cleanest and purest form. From sprawling meadows full of greenery to dense, serene woods, the backyard of Kalga shows the best that Himalayan destinations have to offer.
Unlike many other remote villages in India, the people of Kalga take great pride and responsibility towards waste management. Despite the presence of multiple places for tourists to stay, it is almost impossible to find a stray water bottle or plastic bag even if one was to go looking for it. Despite being not so well connected to the bustling towns, the residents of the village do not burn their trash but instead go the extra mile, literally, in order to dispose it to the nearest dump. Not only does this result in a cleaner environment but it also serves as a reminder to many of us about how easy it is to preserve and maintain our mountain jewels, many of which have sadly fallen prey to the carnage of civilization.
One key distinction that the Holy Cow Café holds is the fact that it remains open even in the harsh winter during the months of December and January. Temperatures dip as low as -5°C and snowfall slows down life even further. However, braving the cold and visiting Kalga in the winter is far more rewarding than it is challenging, for what once felt like a spring retreat now feels like a winter wonderland, the green meadows look like an untouched glacier and the woody trails feel like something out of a bollywood movie set. The view from the deck of the café in the afternoon is so divine that it can probably make an atheist feel one with god!
Exploring these untouched, remote settlements is not only integral for us to find peace, but to learn and realize their importance so we can protect and preserve them before it is too late.
How to get there: Reaching Kalga is not exactly as easy as reaching other frequently visited destinations in the Parvati valley which is the reason behind its exclusivity and tranquility. If one is to set out for the village from the bustling town of Bhuntar in Himachal Pradesh, they would have to first take a 2 hour bus or taxi ride to Barshaini through the narrow and treacherous roads of the Himalayas passing by Kasol and Manikaran on the way.
Barshaini is as far as the road goes in this region and it is a 30 minute hike from here to the village through a very scenic lush and mountainous landscape.