As we walked through the meadows followed by a mountain dog, we stumbled upon a mass of snow, gently melting down in the June heat.
“This is the glacier that he was talking about.”
We had woken up early and were ready to explore Tosh. Soon enough we crossed a brook and moved away from the semi-urbanised colony that Tosh now is. A few apple farms later, we were at a small waterfall that hid behind the pine trees and abundantly blooming Himalayan Iris.
But we had to go ahead. There were no other people here, only a few fat dogs. One of them joined us, maybe as a guide, but he just followed us. In half an hour, we were at Kutla.
This was a small space with a few wooden houses, some of which served as shops. We went to the one place that wasn’t a shop but a homestay. Two pairs of shoes lay outside a closed door; a purple hammock hung at the end of the gallery overlooking the valley and distant mountains, and a golden furball of a dog lay resting and grunting at the doorstep.
We had our breakfast at a small place that served bread omelette and Maggi. More dogs joined us for a treat.
“Aage Kya hai yahaan se”, we asked the shop-owner.
“Ek glacier hai aadhe ghante aage, nadi ke doosre side.”
We heard him and assumed that his glacier might have meant something else. But we continued ahead in the direction he had guided us.
Ahead of us was a gushing stream, thundering loud as it descended from an elevation. Two tree trunk lay parallel to each other joining the two banks of the stream. I walked on the logs looking at my feet and not the swiftly moving water below. Our dog abandoned us at this moment. We thought that he was scared of the stream.
A hillock awaited us here. We climbed atop it for a wide view of the valley. A peak behind us separated Pin-Parvati from Spiti valley; the meadows ahead of us had some horses grazing; no other people around!
The dog had returned. He, of course, knew of a more comfortable, non-life-threatening way to reach here.
As we got off the cliff and walked a few steps ahead, there it was – the glacier. A large sixty feet or longer snow block slowly melting away. A significant portion of the block had scooped from the centre and fallen off in the river or melted away. The glacier stood right at the descent of a river and was a few days away from melting away completely. We collected snow from it and drank it later.
We were joined by two girls from Bangalore who were being guided by a local. They had come from another direction, the one that we had ignored. The way was simple; it had a wooden bridge wide-enough to let three people cross it simultaneously. We laughed at ourselves and continued our walk back to Kutla.
We had our lunch at the same eatery. There were a few other locals there who invited us to smoke chillum. By late afternoon, we were back at the waterfall we had crossed early on our trail. Mildly high, we lay on the rocks near the waterfall, and only left when it was evening. Soon enough a German couple joined us, and we began talking about the valley. We spent a few hours there and started our journey back towards Tosh.
Closer to Tosh, we sat on a giant rock at the sunset and took pictures of the beautiful evening. Few Israeli folks came over and were happy to share the emotion of bliss with us.
As the night fell, we were back at our stay at Tosh, looking at the snow-capped mountains glowing in the moonlight.
Want to re-trace our journey in the beautiful Parvati Valley? This is how you can do it:
Take a flight or train to Chandigarh if you are coming from the southern states. From here take a bus to Manali and get down at Bhuntar.
If you are from the northern states, take a bus from Delhi or Chandigarh to Bhuntar on Delhi-Manali highway.
From Bhuntar find a bus to Barshaini which is the last bus stop in the valley. Take a cab or hitchhike to Tosh village from Barshaini. Ask for Kutla from the locals; it is a 4km easy hike from Tosh.
The glacier is about 3 km from Kutla village. You may or may not find the glacier depending on the season you are travelling. However, it can be expected to not have melted by May end.