Laden with a heavy backpack on my back and a full rucksack on my front I found myself walking uphill along the edge of a road, with a steep drop to my left down to a rumbling river. Miles from the destination we were meant to be at by now, almost certainly winging it. How did we get here?
We left Manali by public bus, squished into a seat with our bags around us we felt every single bump and pothole in the road. An open window gave some respite to the stuffy air, outside the landscape was verdant, lush green forest, a fierce river and a distinct lack of crowds. Eventually we reached Bhuntur, a dusty and busy hub of activity. As the bus stopped to take on new passengers I watched a man outside the window frying batter in a vat of oil, spinning each piece in turn carefully and efficiently. On we trundled, the bus was heading upwards and the road was getting narrower, traffic on the opposite side was heavy. We passed Kullu, a small town known as a backpacker hangout, perfect for parties apparently which wasn't our scene. Our end destination was a lot quieter and as far as a car could travel on this road. The bus slowed to a stop outside of Kullu, a police woman advised the bus driver that traffic up ahead and narrow roads meant we had to wait, but for how long no one seemed to know. We waited, the minutes ticked by. One by one passengers alighted the bus and began to walk up the road themselves. There was a curve in the road, how far away was the next town exactly? Reluctantly we decided to leave too. I jumped down from the bus, carrying everything I had been living on for months and walked, like a real nomad.
So there we were, walking uphill on that narrow road with the perilous drop and the heavy bags. After the curve the next village was revealed and it was within reach. We arrived and after a scramble up a hill caught a taxi to take us where we needed to go, to the last village at the top of the road. The taxi fare wasn't cheap, but with the bus stranded we had no choice if we wanted to make Tosh. Off we went, over a bridge and up the road, zig-zagging across the landscape, weaving in and out of cars on sharp bends despite the dangers. Tosh was much further away than we had anticipated and so the pricey fare actually seemed fair. We left the taxi at the village entrance, walked across a wooden bridge and onto the traffic-free pathways. The village consisted of houses and restaurants perched on stilts on the side of a hill, with maze-like muddy paths lined with cannabis plants connecting each place to the next. Around us were snowcapped mountains, sublime views that demanded all of your attention. We stopped at a couple of guesthouses, Tosh was inundated with them and they were all cheap. The one we had read about was at the top of a hill but was full so we checked in at another slightly lower down with the same commanding views.
We ended up staying in Tosh for five nights. The village was cut off, there was no phone signal, no wifi. We spent our time simply, looking out at the mountains, taking photographs, eating and going for walks. I wrote and drew with no distraction. After two nights in one guesthouse we moved to a different one, just slightly further down the hill with even better views as they were uninterrupted. Each day would start with an impressive full vegetarian breakfast, and end with dinner and a delicious 'hot milk nutella' a milk and nutella concoction. My only anxiety came from the fact that we had been off the grid for a few days and hadn't let anyone know where we were as we hadn't realised that there would be no internet. I was worried that family would have tried to contact us and panicked when we hadn't got in touch back.
After five peaceful nights in the mountains we left the village with Shimla in mind as our next destination and last stop in Himachal Pradesh.
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Have you been to Tosh? If so, what did you think? Maybe you're planning a trip? I've got tonnes of advice and tips I can share. Let me know in the comments below.
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