There are places that you make elaborate plans to visit and then end up visiting. And then there are places you rarely think about but destiny takes you there, and you can’t help but thank your stars for the random decisions and the twists and turns. Well, Kutla was one such place where we ended up on a rainy afternoon in Parvati valley. Even though the trail to Kutla passed through touristy Tosh; yet it felt a world away from the crowds.

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

On the way from Tosh to Kutla : The very cool looking Stoned Age Café.

It was a fine afternoon that was being spoilt by the constant fumes and dust on the side of the road in Kasol. We’d left in the morning from the pretty village of Grahan and had reached Kasol around 1 in the afternoon. Internet accessibility for a digital nomad and professional travel blogger (aka me!) meant we spent time on social media updates before deciding to head to Kutla. We hopped onto the next bus to Barshaini and reached Tosh first.

Tosh to Kutla
This is visible at the start of the trail from Tosh to Kutla.

I’ve never been fond of Tosh; and while blogs on the internet and other social media might wax eloquent about the town – the concrete character of Tosh has deteriorated further making it seem like a ‘hotel’ infested village. Local homes are hardly seen and more often than not, every local of the village seems to be in the tourism business. There were at least 100 DL numbered vehicles parked near Barshaini and it wasn’t a pretty sight at all. Parvati Valley has for long been a popular tourist place, but this was too much even for me.

Tosh to Kutla
These campsites lie on the way from Tosh to Kutla… The trail to the waterfall café and campsites is on the right.

The Never Ending ’10 Minute’ Walk to Kutla

The struggles of our journey to Kutla amidst rainy skies, heavy backpacks and steep ascending hikes is another epic story altogether. After staying in the beautiful village of Grahan, our expectations from the valley had reached another level. With no destination on our mind, we had started our downward trek to Kasol. After having a quick lunch, we decided to catch the next bus to Barshiani and try our luck to reach Kutla. While it didn’t take long for the bus to come, it waited at Manikaran Gurudwara for around one hour- leaving us with limited time for the hike to find our way to Kutla.

We met some Gaddi shepherds with their herd of sheep. If you cross the place on the right, then you are on the correct trail to Kutla. 

It was around 3:30 by the time we reached Barshaini. Quickly, a taxi was hailed for Tosh since we were in no mood to waste time. We crossed the commercial establishments to find the less travelled path to Kutla. There were no signboards, and no fellow travellers- nothing which could help us set foot on the right path. As we crossed Tosh village, we kept asking the locals and shop owners for the path to Kutla and they said keep walking straight after the village.

Gaddi shepherd bhaiya asked us to come and ‘chai, chui’ piyo… in typical Himachali style!

Trusting our instincts and as directed, we kept walking. Once or twice, the locals would pass by and everytime we would ask them – ‘Kutla ka raasta Bhaiji?’. They would point to the path we were already on. When asked ‘kitna door hai’ – the standard reply would be – ten more minutes. While that would lift our spirits up, those ten minutes were the longest ten minutes of our lives as we walked for around an hour before hearing another ‘bas dus aur minute’ – ‘just ten more minutes!’ from more locals we would meet on the way.

Also read : Tranquility in the hippie land of Kasol

This signals that you have reached Kutla; but the relentless climb to get to this point can be strenous!

The ‘ten more minutes’ scene went on for quite some time. And the trail itself wasn’t a leisurely walk. After crossing Tosh, the trail is a level walk for some time and after crossing a small stream, a non-stop ascent begins. There are a few campsites and stone structures that were visible along the way. It was around 6 pm, we stopped at one of them to reconfirm whether we were indeed on the trail to Kutla.

These ladies were returning to Tosh from Kutla… They had gone to collect ‘jadibooti’ or herbs from the high altitude mountains.

In the meantime, it had started raining and we were starting to doubt our choices when we saw a couple of youngsters trying to make their way to Kutla but unlike us, they were accompanied with a local guide. Someone instructed us that it was only ten more minutes from there, to which my friend exclaimed in jest about our situation of the never ending 10 minutes!

Look who’s here : Gaddi uncle has come to say hi to Raja, the owner of the guest house in Kutla.

We heaved a sign of relief upon knowing that there was someone who knew the way and followed the guide blindly thereafter. It is a confusing route with multiple diversions and the best tip which I always give is – keep asking the locals and make sure there is sufficient daylight when you begin the hike. If you can’t find a local and are really really lost – Remember to ask for directions near the campsites that come close to the waterfall place near Tosh. You can also keep taking the trails going to your left and use your instincts to continue.

As seen at the beginning of Kutla. Lovely place for aimless walks and meandering around nature. 

We were really tired after the day’s downhill (from Grahan) and uphill journey and were frantically praying for the ‘ten minutes’ to end soon. After another turn, we spotted a solitary signboard of a campsite which was an indication that we aren’t too far from Kutla. The last few meters of the final hike was absolutely backbreaking; and with the heavy backpacks felt even more so!

Also read : Kalga Village – 21st Century Shangri-La

Our homestay/guest house in Kutla. Surely the prettiest structure in the tiny hamlet!!

It had started pouring and we had no intentions to get wet. I was already under the weather and was praying for the village to appear from somewhere. And that’s how it actually happened- we climbed one steep trail and there it was – the pristine village/hamlet/camping ground of Kutla. There was a colourful cloth as an offering to the Gods that signalled the start of Kutla.

Sitting with a glass of chai in hand; gazing at this surreal view in Parvati Valley.
Kutla Homestay
The cozy wooden room at the guest house in Kutla – bathed in morning sunshine.

It seemed to be a makeshift village that was not a permanent settlement and was set in the middle of nowhere. The landscape is blissfully pretty and incredibly serene. With a handful of homestays and campsites, Kutla is set in a deliriously green ‘Kashmir like landscape’ overlooking the apple orchards and flanked by snowcapped mountains in the distance.

The toilet is located outside the homestay building. A small water pipe has been left there and that serves the purpose.

One doesn’t need any other comfort to feel at ease in this tiny hamlet. Travellers who have seen enough of the commercial Kasol and Tosh and want to get away to the pristine corners of the valley make their way to Kutla. Away from the hustle bustle, Kutla is the place for self-contemplation and to appreciate nature’s beauty. The sound of the pleasing breeze blends perfectly well with the quietude of the distant snow clad peaks rising over expansively green forested slopes, making it a perfect landscape for meditative stays.

Transfixed view from the sit-out in Kutla.

No sooner had we reached Kutla, we saw the first homestay to our left. The old Himachali uncle quoted a higher price and wasn’t ready to tell us a price inclusive of food; and thus we moved on to the second homestay that was only a a mere two minute walk away. We fixed a price of around 400 per person including chai, breakfast and dinner and put our bags in two wooden rooms. The rooms were pretty basic but the structure was a three storey wooden building and the person managing it was nice to talk to!

The Gaddis look very similar to the nomadic Rajasthanis… I really hope to one day unravel the mystery behind the connection. P.S : I am a Rajasthani.

It was quite cold with the dark clouds and stormy weather. After the drizzle had stopped, we quickly wore our jackets and sat in the open. The view in front of our eyes was nothing short of incredible and we asked for some masala chai to go along with it. Raja (owner of the homestay) asked us if we would like to have pakoras with chai and we said yes! Although they were quite expensive, but in this remote setting it was really tasty and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Speechless with the beauty of Kutla in Parvati Valley.

Daily life in Kutla is mostly about taking long walks in the unexplored lush greens, chatting with the locals while they are busy tending to their cattle, eating simple food of dall, rajmah and rice, drinking the local alcohol ‘grappa’ if you end up finding a good host and sitting and staring at the mountains while thinking about life in general. Doesn’t seem like a bad way to live, not at all.

 Food with a view : Eh… Views that fill your heart! 

Nobody seemed be there in Kutla village and we felt at ease in the company of no one else and just us. As it got colder when it was almost dark; without any further ado, we shifted ourselves to the mountain facing box size wooden cabin that was much warmer than outside.

Posing like a shepherd : A top fashion designer from Delhi loving the Himachal life in Parvati.

We were famished after the hectic day and if I am given one word to describe how I felt sitting on those wooden logs, soaking in the rain-washed scenic beauty, I would say ‘this is what heaven feels like’. There was a small gurgling stream that flowed beside our ‘hangout’ in Kutla and that really provided much needed music to complete the magical setting.

My favourite frame from Kutla : The lush green grass proves to be excellent as fodder for the cattle.

After being done with chai and pakoras, it started raining again. We shifted base to the cozy sitting room with a tandoor. At that moment, we were at a stage of full satisfaction. We were joined by fellow travellers from different parts of the country.

Postcard perfect landscapes in Kutla : Prices of foodstuffs are expensive here as they are to be bought on horses all the way from Tosh/Barshaini.

Everyone shared their stories and allowed their hearts to wander in this pristine nature. The pitter patter of mountain rain, the murmur of the nearby brook, the soothing symphony of country music with conversations and the unparalleled joy in the heart set the perfect ambience for trying out some grappa, the local liquor of Kutla!

Check : A Walk to Pulga Village, Parvati Valley

Our Guest House / Homestay in Kutla. Very rustic, nice and cosy. There are no hotels here, and I like it that way!!

The rain had stopped by the time we finished our dinner, which made the occasion perfect for some star gazing. After a tranquil night, we had the most blissful sleep and woke up to a beautiful sunny morning. Sweet melody of guitar was floating and the tune perfectly blended with the dazzling morning sunlight. The meditative silence at that vary moment still echoes in my heart; and chai was called for.

We sat still, soaking ourselves in the sunshine and basking in the beauty of the blissful skies. After a hearty breakfast of paranthas and chai, we set out to take a walk in the upper region of Kutla that leads to Budhaban Glacier and explore the multiple camp sights in the areas, most of which were run by the locals to serve the day tourists.

View from the window of the room where I stayed in Kutla : Surely one of the best rooms with a view that I’ve stayed at.

Kutla in Parvati Valley : Practical Details 

Kutla is located at a comfortable altitude of 2650 Mtrs. The weather can get cold even during the summers when the temperatures drop to around 5-7 degrees in May-June, in case of bad weather. The village has intermittent mobile and internet connectivity (airtel and bsnl). The trail to Kutla starts getting steep after crossing the stream once you begin the trail from Tosh and can be strenuous if you are walking with your heavy backpacks like us.

Meditation and peace. Apt spot near the pristine stream with that view of the snowy Himalaya.

The next stop after Kutla is Buddhaban Glacier where there is a fabulous campsite (located at approx. 1 hour trek from Kutla). Beyond this, a full day hike can be made to some lakes and waterfall (As per the locals).

There’s a small shop in Kutla where one can buy basic necessities; it also doubles up as a café and restaurant.

Some of us felt so warm in the sunshine that the water from the nearby stream proved to be very inviting for a quick bath. The homestay also had a toilet and bathrooms for the same purpose. Someone told us about a small café near Kutla that had a fabulous location, a well stocked library and was run by friendly people. We tried to find it on the walk but didn’t have any idea of where to go!

When we went wandering in the morning : View of the campsites in upper region of Kutla.

Its taken me a lot of pondering to actually decide if I should make this comprehensive blog post cum travel guide to Kutla (one of the most offbeat places to explore in Parvati Valley). Regular readers of travelshoebum would remember that I have described classical dilemmas about sharing secret villages in the Himalayas. As always, only time shall tell. Maybe what I do now doesn’t even have a bearing. Or maybe it does.

Another traditional hut also functioning as a homestay… Look at that insanely pretty view that is a trademark of Kutla.

I wish I will be able to speak about Kutla in the same breath as I do today. Please practise responsible travel if you go on these lesser trodden paths; no littering and no plastic. Please carry your waste back and keep the surrounding landscapes clean. Thanks.

Check : The Dilemma of Responsible Travel : Secret Villages in the Himalayas

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39 responses to “Going Offbeat : Kutla in Parvati Valley”

  1. Ajay Parasrampuria Avatar
    Ajay Parasrampuria

    Good narrative. Lekin Meri photo nahi dalee 😅

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      Hahahah, aapki portrait photo nahi hai.. Edit kiya par achi nahi aayi… Jigar the badmaash ki daali hai 😀

  2. Mayuri Patel Avatar

    This is such dreamy village with breathtaking views.You are bringing something new every time shubam 🙂 I envy you sometimes!!

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      Haha thanks Mayuri :))

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      Thanks man

  3. Niranjan Avatar

    Glad to know about this lovely place. Gorgeous frames!

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      Many thanks Niranjan! So glad you liked the post 🙂

  4. Anshul Sharma Avatar

    Wow! loved your blog and the article. Pictures were amazing, high res. Thanks!

  5. Lakshmi Radhakrishnan Avatar

    Hi there,
    Such breathtaking pictures. Wish i could pack my bags right now. Thanks a lot for sharing this.

  6. Sharmistha Sinha Avatar
    Sharmistha Sinha

    This is where I want to be this is where I want to be this is where I want to be… for months and months… years…. but tell me, wandering boy, July end is a bad time to try to go to Kutla, right? I’m travelling alone. Looking for a room to rent for a month, somewhere where the fairies live, to forget all and find myself again. To write again. And have little money. So can you advice, little wandering boy, where I should go? Somewhere around these parts of Parvati valley?

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      Hahaha, what a lovely comment and question! I’m sure Kutla is magical during the rains. If the unavailability of network doesn’t bother you, then you can surely find yourself again in Kutla / nearby villages and rent a room for a month 🙂 Best wishes.

  7. […] a day in Parvati Valley. After having enjoyed solitude in Grahan, we had made our way to far away Kutla. The descent from Kutla and the subsequent arrival in Tosh, waiting in the rain in Barshaini and […]

  8. Travel Vigour Avatar

    Trust me I had an ear to ear smile on my face while reading this blog! 🙂 I recently visited Tosh and Chalal but couldn’t go to Kutla.. though I visited a waterfall nearby! It was heaven!
    You can check out my recently published blog! 🙂 Would love to receive your feedback.

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      Thanks! Glad you liked checking it out.

  9. Jay A Jhaveri Avatar
    Jay A Jhaveri

    Which village is a must visit, grahan or kutla ?

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      Thanks Jhavinder Thakur.

  10. Vaishali Avatar

    Is this trek possible at February ending?

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      Depending on the snow conditions, yes.

  11. Anubhav Raikar Avatar
    Anubhav Raikar

    “Parvati Valley has for long been a popular tourist place, but this was too much even for me” .. this is exactly why sometimes you should never post New places to Social Media..

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      Thanks for the suggestion Anubhav. Request you to also check the responsible tourism post on the blog.

  12. […] Read : Going Offbeat : Kutla in Parvati Valley […]

  13. Mohammad Adnan Avatar
    Mohammad Adnan

    Hey there I read your blog it is amazing.
    Can you tell me the name of the place in which you stayed ??

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      Hey! Thanks 🙂 Raja was the name of the guy where I stayed in Kutla.

  14. Arindam Das Avatar
    Arindam Das

    having a wish to visit kutla in my upcoming Ghnp trip with my fellow Himachali driver now my friend. Is it possible to park his car in Tosh parking place. which budget accommodation would you suggest at Tosh.

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      Thanks Arindam. There are many places to stay in Tosh and its better to go and finalise a place to stay.

  15. Not So Intellectual Avatar

    Hi Shubham. Passionate work, stunning captures and detailing is what is i find intriguing about your travel blogs. Belonging to Himachal myself…i appreciate your work and exploring capabilities. I need to talk to you regarding your travel stories. Pls contact asap. Thank you

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      Hi there! Thanks for the kind appreciation. Sure, go ahead and ask. Either here or email. 🙂

      1. Not So Intellectual Avatar

        We have a travel start up being launched very soon. Would you like to share your blogs or images?

      2. Not So Intellectual Avatar

        Would you like to share your blogs and images for our travel set up?

  16. Tabassum Avatar

    Huhhhhh, I had the same experience of saying that Kurla was just 10 minutes away. Anyway nice narration and clicks. I couldn’t understand if there was another way after reaching a certain points there was none to direct us.

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      Haha thats funny to know! 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  17. Bhavesh Avatar

    What are the chances man !! I was there last year with my friends and we stayed at that same guest house and same room. There was small stream a few steps away and the view in front was spectacular. Next day we did a hike to glacier and returned back to tosh.
    This brings a lot of memories back. Thanks for writing the article. Kutla is heaven on earth in monsoon season.

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      Wow! That brought a huge smile to my face, Bhavesh. Glad to read about your experience.

  18. Pritam Batabyal Avatar
    Pritam Batabyal

    Can u plz share the contact of the Homestay where u hv stayed

    1. shubhammansingka Avatar

      I can’t remember the exact name of the same.

  19. Neetole Mitra Avatar
    Neetole Mitra

    This looks so perfect but I think it might not be the best place for remotework that require steady internet and phone connectivity? Please suggest any offbeat village in Himachal Pradesh where one can live and work without finding too many tourists or concrete buildings. Thanks Shubham.

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