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You have probably heard of hiking in the Himalayas in Nepal, but what about hiking in the Himalayas in India? We recently spent a month in India to kick off a longer year of travel. From our very first day in Delhi, we started hearing about the magic of hiking in the Indian Himalayas. As hikers and mountain lovers, it didn’t take too long to convince us to switch up our original plans of visiting the South and spend our final week in India in the mountains instead. This guide will cover what you need to know about hiking to one of the most beautiful, and most peaceful villages in India – Grahan Village. With only a few hundred residents, a handful of guesthouses, and a single shop, Grahan is easily one of the best places to visit in India.
Where is Grahan Village located?
Grahan Village is located in the Parvati valley in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. The village sits in the mountains at an altitude of 7,700 ft. The biggest nearby town is Kasol, the popular mountain hippie town, which is located 10 km from Grahan Village. However, once you leave Kasol, you’ll be leaving behind the parties and (most of the) loud techno music for the most peaceful mountain village.
How do you reach Grahan Village?
The only way to reach Grahan Village is by hiking, at least for some portion of the journey. It is this simple factor that makes a visit here so wonderful, as you’ll be able to escape the crowds and busy cities. Only people who are determined to reach this village make it here.
From Kasol to Grahan you will need to hike 10 km. Most of the estimates we found online suggested that this route would take us 4-5 hours, however we completed the hike in just 2.5 hours, even with me hiking slower than usual.
Despite what we had read online, we did not find that the trailhead was particularly well-marked. However, once you are on the trail there is a very clear path. You will cross the bridge and turn left to start your hike.
The trail starts relatively flat, with a slight incline, as you make your way through the woods. After a bit, you will come to a local dhaba selling water and snacks. From here you will have the choice of two trails. One trail is 2 km but it is straight up the entire way to the village. The other trail is 3 km, but you’ll find slightly flatter trails. We opted for the shorter, but steeper, route. The last portion of the trek has little to no protection from the sun. However, if you choose to hike the longer route there is still decent coverage from the sun.
You also have the option of taking a jeep for the first 6-7 km of the trek instead of hiking it. You should be able to find a ride easily at the trailhead. The flat rate is 1000 INR per jeep, and takes about 25-30 minutes. Just prepare yourself for a very bump ride if you hop in the back like we did on the way down.
Best time to visit Grahan y
The best time to visit Grahan is from late March to June. In April most of the snow has melted on the trails (although some passes will still be snowy). The evening will be cold, but the days will be hot and sunny , making for great hiking conditions.
Since Grahan Village is located in the mountains at an elevation of 7,700 ft, the season is opposite of the major cities in India. This is perfect if you are visiting India in the spring, as you’ll get to experience many parts of the country without the extreme heat.
Best things to do in Grahan
Grahan Village Treks
The best thing to do in Grahan is to hike. The village, located just a few miles from the busy Kasol, is surrounded by mountains – offering many amazing hikes. You’ll find day hikes, such as the popular, but not at all crowded, hike to the nearby waterfalls, and longer hikes, such as the famous Sar Pass Trek.
The waterfall hike is the most popular day hike, as it is just a short hike. The trail is well-marked and you can ask any locals along the way for directions. You may pass a few other locals on the trail, but when we visited in early April the trails were still very empty.
If you are combining a trip to Grahan Village, and the Parvati Valley in general, with a trip to other busy Indian cities, then you should use your time in Grahan to simply relax. While many people only stay in Grahan for one night, we stayed for four nights, including our night camping in Padri.
While there isn’t much “to do” in Grahan other than some day hikes, it is an absolutely amazing place to simply hang out. We used the time to drink chai in the sun, read, and catching up on some work.
Grab lunch at Samy’s
If you’re looking for a good meal in Grahan Village, then Samy’s is your spot. You’ll find a mix of Indian and Western dishes, with a ton of Israeli dishes on the menu. I recommend the Samy Special, which is a thali of fried rice, rajma, veg curry, curd, salad, and chapati. The israeli salad is also very good. There aren’t really addresses in Grahan, so just follow the handwritten “signs” on the road or ask any local to point you in the direction of Samy’s place.
Camp in the mountains
One experience that we did not expect to have in India is camping in the mountains. But yet, that’s exactly where we found ourselves. After getting a bit lost trying to find the trails the day before, we started chatting with the owner at Samy’s. He told us that the best way to enjoy Padri would be to camp for the night. He offered to set us up with a guide (himself), some local porters, pack a tent, and provide dinner and breakfast in the mountains for around $10 a person.
The very next day us and two new Israeli friends were heading into the Himalayas with him for a beautiful night under the stars. We had a campfire, cooked rajma and rice on the fire while drinking hot chai, and even trekked further into the mountains to the snow line and touched some snow. I definitely didn’t come to India expecting to touch any snow! It was an incredible experience that I highly recommend. We went in mid April and were the only people camping there, although I hear it gets much more crowded as the season goes on.
Do you need a guide to hike in Grahan?
It is not required to have a guide to trek in Grahan, and throughout the Parvati Valley. For short hikes that are well marked, I wouldn’t recommend a guide. However, if you are attempting any of the passes or planning to camping, it can be super helpful (and safer). We hired a guide for our night of camping in Padri. While the hike itself wasn’t super technical, the route wasn’t marked at all, and we didn’t have our own cooking or camping equipment.
Where to stay in Grahan
There are a handful of guesthouses in Grahan. For most of these you are able to simply show up and ask for an available room and the nightly rate. However, if you might want to consider reaching out ahead of time just in case before you hike all the way to the village. You can text this number via Whatsapp: +91 9816572793.
We stayed at Ghanshyam’s Place and had a great experience. The nightly rate is 600 INR ($7.25) for a private room with an attached bathroom. It is important to note that the rooms are super basic by western standards. The hot water did not always work, power outages were common, and you’ll need to bring (or buy) your own toilet paper. In basic places like these where the cleanliness isn’t quite up to my standards, I simply use my sleeping bag liner from Sea to Summit (my favorite travel product) and my own pillowcase (I love this one from Blissy).
Things to know before visiting Grahan
- While you’ll find other recreational activities to be abundant, alcohol is strictly prohibited in the village. Not only does the village not sell any alcohol, but it is illegal to bring any in.
- You cannot bring a suitcase to the village (unless you plan on hiking with it). I recommend just bringing a small bag and leaving any bigger luggage in Kasol. You can either pay to leave it at a homestay/hostel or at a travel agency.
- The majority of tourists are either local or Israeli. For this reason you’ll find a lot of delicious Israeli dishes and (unfortunately) a lot of Israeli techno.
- The accommodations are super basic. All of the families are beyond welcoming, but there are certain comforts that you might be used to that aren’t available. For example, you will need to bring (or buy) your own toilet paper. Additionally, you may not be able to get hot water for a shower. It’s hit or miss!
- There are frequent power outages. Some homestays have generators, but it is good to have an extra battery pack, headlamp, etc.
What to pack
While this list is obviously not extensive, here are a few things that I definitely recommend packing if you are planning to visit Grahan Village:
- Small backpack – my 30L Deuter was perfect for 5 days in the mountains
- Proper hiking boots – for this trip I had my Merrell trekking shoes since they’re super lightweight
- Sunscreen – the sun is super strong in the mountains
- Layers – I had a rain jacket, a long sleeve tech shirt, and Patagonia Nano Air which were perfect layers for chilly nights
- A hat – I didn’t have a hat and my face got SO much color during this trip
- Sleeping Bag Liner – if you get a bit squeemish about sheets not being super clean, this will be your best friend – plus, it will keep you extra warm
- Pillow case – I always feel better sleeping with my own pillow case – this one from Blissy is my fave
- Reusable water bottle (this one is foldable) – there is a water fill up at Samy’s
- Kindle – it is the perfect place to read, and you probably don’t want to hike with any extra weight
- A camera – this is one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever been
- A battery pack – this will come in handy if you lose power
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