Life in Malana, In Photos

With centuries of history behind it, Malana certainly seemed intriguing. The initial look of the village hadn’t been inspiring at all, every home looked to be built in concrete and it felt like a dirty village. I have documented these experiences and more in Winds of change in Malana. I was quite keen on attending Malana Fagli that is held in February but was exploring some other regions of India and had to be content with the pictures sent by someone who actually saw the Akbar saga played out and the stories narrated.

Rumsu village is fascinating and hence I also chalked out plans for a solo trek across the Chanderkhani pass to reach Malana and explore it in a better manner. I say all this in a retrospective tone because just 2 days ago, a law has been passed in Malana. It is hereby forbidden for tourists to stay overnight in this ancient village. The village deity ‘Jamlu’ has spoken through the ‘Gur’ (official messenger of the God) saying tourists are spoiling the rich culture of Malana and corrupting the locals.

Check : Shangarh in Sainj Valley – Of Temples and Meadows

The village deity, ‘Jamlu Devta’ has forbidden all villagers from renting out their properties for running guest houses and hotels effectively making sure visitors can only come to Malana for a day trek hitherto. Apparently the Malana locals had also banned photography only a few months ago. It is to be noted that the main source of income for the locals in this remote village is through cultivation of marijuana. Malana cream (a variety of hashish) is known to be the costliest and top quality hashish in the world.

Read : Tranquility in the hippie land of Kasol

Malana can still be accessed only by a trek and usually the time taken to hike one way is around 3 hours.

With no clarity on my next visit, let me take this opportunity to share a few photographs from Malana. Who knows, if no more photography is allowed there – these few photo memories should not be kept inert in the hard disk. 

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Waterfall from a thundering height. Clicked somewhere on the hike to Malana.
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In my brief time spent in Malana, one thing that was visible was the incidence of marijuana smoking among the locals was very high.
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A psychedelic looking photograph keeping in mind the flavour…

Read : A Mixed Experience – Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh

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Doors that speak… Exquisite carvings at the forbidden Jamlu Devta Temple in Malana.
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Those lines on the forehead speak about the times of hardship that the Malana locals have gone through over the years. The road from Jari is a recent phenomena and was constructed for the Malana Hydro Power Project.
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The village and houses of Malana, as seen from the trek after reaching the last road head.

Check : Photo Story of Kheerganga Trek

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The origin of the people of Malana has been a mystery. Some believe that they are descendants of Alexander The Great’s Greek army.
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A traditional wooden structure in Malana. Architecture of Himachal Pradesh is so soothing to the eyes.
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Even though it is taboo for the locals to touch outsiders, a few guest houses and homestays had started operating in Malana to make money from the tourism boom.

Check : Doors of Varanasi : A Photo Story

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Pardon the shaky camera… one of the most beautiful doors I’ve ever seen. Adorning one of the entrances of the temples of Jamlu Devta in Malana.
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Development and riches are coming to Malana, and with it a speedy loss of culture too. Look at the headphones; as a ‘Jai Jamdagni Rishi’ sumo stands by.
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Language spoken by the inhabitants of Malana is not understood by other Himachalis. This lady sure seems to have different features.

Read : Unexpected friendships at Prashar Lake

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Looking at the new buildings, I wished if I could see Malana in its original form. Were the houses different? Increasing use of television and other modern amenities are aligning them with the rest of the world.
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To be honest, I didn’t feel like I was stepping into the oldest democracy in the world when I reached Malana… I think the only reason for this village to be popular is the charas… Specifically Malana Cream… but these days Rasol Magic is getting popular in Parvati Valley too.

Check : Nature’s delights, from a secret village in Parvati Valley

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Another one of those exquisite temple doors in Malana. As outsiders are prohibited from entering, I might never see what lies inside.

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. So fascinating! The pictures are quite striking. Since I gauge a place’s culture through its food, curious to know about the local cuisine. And are there good restaurants here?

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    1. Thanks, glad you liked the photographs. There used to be 2-3 homestays in Malana but all that was served was drab Indian food. As per my knowledge, ever since the road was built – access to outside vegetables and food has made it easier for the villagers to simply get assimilated in the Indian way of life and lose their tradition. Not really sure if there are any specific dishes in Malana.

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  2. Niranjan says:

    Lovely images from Malana.

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    1. Yay, big compliment coming from you Niranjan. I’m sure to be in Bangalore sometime this year. Will dm you for exchanging phone numbers. 😀

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  3. Amazing pictures!! And you dared to solo travel to this mysterious land-gutsy you!!

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    1. Thanks for the appreciation. To be honest, it wasn’t a difficult journey at all. Cheers

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  4. This reminds me of my recent trip to Malana.

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    1. I’m glad it does… Don’t know if life here will ever remain the same. Tourism has changed so many things so quickly. Thanks for checking Indrajit.

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  5. swamiupendra says:

    Malana is an enigma for all travelers. It has been more than 24 years since I was first there in times of film photography. Guest houses were out of question and there used to be a big list of do’s and don’ts in the village periphery. In those days, Malana still used to prosper on its opium fields. Roadhead was more distant and trek to Malana was thoroughly challenging. Lot seems to have changed now.

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    1. Wow, I can’t imagine how it must have been 24 years ago. Very few people would have actually made the trek up across the mountains. I’ve heard from old timers that before the road was built, it was a treacherous walk to reach Malana.

      Hope to meet you someday and listen to the stories.

      Liked by 1 person

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