One of the days at the homestay in Kalga, when it was nice and sunny we decided to walk to the nearby villages of Pulga and Tulga. The distance was hardly 30 minutes away and the path was mostly downhill. Before reaching Pulga, we came across a small bridge from where we joined the main road from Barshaini. To avoid confusion, someone had scribbled Pulga Village on a rock with a direction pointing straight.
On the way, we met a few locals who were going to Barshaini to attend some function. The lady was dressed in a traditional garment and was sporting the well known Himachali shawl. After a bit of an uphill climb, we saw a few signboards indicating homestays in Pulga village and there was also a pulley supported to a tree. Another small bridge was crossed and we had reached the market square of Pulga.
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Pulga; like Kalga also appeared to be a traditional Himachali village. There were 3-4 general stores in the village square and it gave the feel of being a sizeable community. An old woman with lots of piercings sat at one shop and I asked her if I could click a picture of her. She happily obliged, I tried to speak more to her but the language barrier meant I could not. A few naughty kids ran around and tried asking for toffees; it immediately made me feel that Pulga has seen a lot of tourist traffic over the years.
There was also a café cum restaurant in Pulga, in addition to two basic chai places. We drank chai at one of those and were told that there are many different entry points to reach Pulga.
How to reach Pulga village? One way is to reach directly from Barshaini. Another one is before Barshaini, the road goes down to the dam and the road at this place, from there the walk to Pulga begins across a bridge. One, of course is the walk from Kalga – that we had taken and had crossed many bridges to reach Pulga.
There were paths leading to all the directions from the village square. We started walking in one of the directions and were pleasantly surprised to see the greenery reappear; swaying wheat crop interspersed with guest houses. We went up to one of them to check out the scene and were quite surprised to see a properly commercial setup. The guest house had dj speakers and it wasn’t a very pleasing sight in the tranquil environment of Pulga village. Even the price quoted was in four figures which was unheard of in these regions!
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Different moods and landscapes of Pulga in Parvati Valley, Himachal Pradesh.
And when I spotted beer bottles, I decided to get out of there and not get more disappointed. There was another homestay that was being built, but it was closed for that moment and we were back in the village square. It was time to head in the other direction. We crossed a colossal structure to our left that looked like the village temple. As with so many other places in Himachal Pradesh, I was aware that entry for outsiders may not even be allowed inside the temple and therefore I didn’t even bother with the keys although it looked like a really old building.
We continued on the uphill path and were pleased to see some prettily built homestays. I’ve always had a preference for the local wood and stone homes because thats what sustainable and responsible tourism is all about. It simply means continuing the lifestyle of the locals and incorporating it to provide enriching tourism experiences so that the traveller also appreciates the local lifestyle.
There was a path going to a hidden homestay that indicated ‘follow yellow arrows’ and it seemed so mystical! Another rock had the words ‘fairy forest’ scribbled on it; I had seen the same while walking to Pulga from Kalga and had immediately grown curious to find it. Towards the left after the nice wooden homestay; there was a monstrous concrete building howling out even with a lovely snow capped mountain was in the background. I decided to do some research and went up to the ‘hotel’ in Pulga village!
The manager showed us the rooms on the first floor and said that the prices range between 600-1500 on the different floors. I was quite surprised to notice that there was hardly anyone staying at that time in all the guest houses of Pulga village – even though this was the month of May. Another realisation came to mind that while Kalga village had the comfort of homestays; Pulga definitely looked more commercial with more guest houses strewn around.
Kalga was located at an higher altitude and felt like it was in a closed valley; whereas Pulga has an expansive feel to the village. Snowy peaks were always omnipresent in the far distance when we walked in Pulga village. The lower altitude and abundant sunshine meant that the crops were golden already. After walking for a few more minutes; we came across an old house that was being colourfully painted by someone.
Slideshow of the Houses of Pulga Village : Traditionally built wooden structures
We went closer to notice the cool looking graffiti and paintings; and decided that the person should not be disturbed and started walking to Kalga. On the way back, I noticed a few homes that were tucked away from the world and we located on top of secluded mountain sides. I wondered if any of them had been turned into homestays because they would make for a great offbeat place to stay in Parvati Valley!
I also wondered where the village Tulga had been left behind. There had been many diversions on our path to Kalga and going by the names – Kalga, Tulga, Pulga – it must be somewhere in between. This time when we were going back; we took a different route and came across gorgeous looking guest houses and homestays in Kalga that we hadn’t seem while going. It reiterated the fact that I’d just lost my heart to Kalga and even though Pulga was so close-by and had largely the same setting it was just not the same.
Have you been to these two villages located in the far end of Parvati Valley? Which one do you prefer among the two? I’d love to know.