Let me start my solo trip story by introducing myself. Hi, I’m Noopur and like a lot of Indian women, even I had my solo trip wishes which always felt like a far-fetched dream. I’d spent 20 years of my life just hoping that the dream would become a stunning reality but when my 21st birthday was around the corner, I decided to make my biggest wish come true.
I’ve never been a birthday person so a long weekend trip by the end of March seemed like a perfect escape. If you’re a 90s kid, you might relate to the strange sadness surrounding our birthdays and a solo trip amidst the mountains seemed like a perfect healing plan. I made up my mind and got my leaves approved. The next couple of nights went into planning and practicing for the next big step of making my solo trip dreams come true.
Neither the journey nor the mountains intimidated me as much as this step did. Being a woman is hard almost everywhere but it can be more challenging if you come from a middle-class Indian family. I always spoke about going on a solo trip and my parents would laugh it off so this time it was important for me to assure them and let them know that it was serious. I went home from my hostel and sat everyone down (Yes, my family needs that dramatic effect for important conversations) and this moment was my Everest.
I informed them about my wish and yes, they had the expected meltdowns. I gave them some time to process and used all of my convincing skills with a pinch of emotional blackmail. I showed them my thorough plan and told them it was the only birthday gift I needed. Assured them that I’ll be safe. Tears were shed, and words were exchanged but I was adamant, eventually, they came around.
I knew this trip would be a life-changing experience and here’s how it all went down.
My Monika Geller standard planning skills were waiting for this moment and found a purpose for this situation. I started by fixing a budget and planned things around that amount. The budget I had in mind was INR 9,000 for my entire trip. I was proud that I managed to keep things under that budget and it was all thanks to the internet, travel bloggers, and the research geek side of my personality. Knowing where you want to spend your money can really help your entire budget. I knew I wanted to explore and eat as much as I can so kept my budget flexible in that area and instead found ways to save on my commute.
The travel bit was the one that took the most time to plan. Because there’s no direct and affordable transportation option from Jaipur (my starting point) to Kasol. So I decided to take the Jaipur-Chandigarh-Kasol route. You can also go through Delhi but as a first-time solo woman traveler, Chandigarh seemed like a better option.
I booked a direct bus from Jaipur to Chandigarh. Since the Himachal Pradesh local buses couldn't be pre-booked, I decided to see how the journey goes from Chandigarh to Kasol. I knew that the local buses run on decent frequency so it won’t be an issue. I also spoke to the hostel owners and they informed me that I can book the return tickets when I reach there. My week was free so I decided to just Carpe Diem!
This is where you need to be smart. Bookings through websites might seem convenient but they can get pretty expensive at times. If you’ve got the right skills, you should directly call the hostel and book through them. Check the verified hostels and reviews and go for the ones which are trusted by fellow women travelers.
I booked my hostel directly and got a very affordable deal. The room was spacious with separate beds and storage. Don’t hesitate to be vocal about your requirements, if you’re not okay with a mixed person sharing, let them know, and more often than not, they’ll accommodate your preference.
I boarded the private bus in the evening and reached Chandigarh on Saturday morning. I initially aimed to hop on a local bus but luckily I got to know about this shared cab that was going to Kasol. There were 3 travelers and one seat was vacant. For just 400 rupees, they took me in. The journey was comfortable and fun. The cab driver was from Kasol so he kept us entertained with all the trivia. He also stopped the car at some of the most stunning locations where we ate, sat, and clicked pictures. I had a great time learning the stories of fellow travelers and before I could realize I was in the beautiful town of Kasol.
My return journey was also a beautiful experience. This time, I had a friend in Delhi so I decided to take a direct bus from Kasol to Delhi. The journey was over 12 hours with needed stops and food breaks in beautiful locations. The bus was filled with fellow travelers my age so I had a lot of fun. The Himachal Pradesh local buses are well-maintained and fast, so you can hop on the one that’s convenient for you. There are also plenty of shared cab and minibus options so, do ask around.
My hostel was in Parvati valley in Kasol and it required me to hike for an hour. The property was surrounded by greenery, mountains, adorable cottages and you could hear the sound of the Parvati river flowing. During the span of my stay, I was sharing the dorm with one more solo woman traveler. My roommate and I developed a good bond, shared stories, and went to explore together as well.
The hosts were extremely nice and they also gave us access to the common lounge space where we all can sit, play games, paint, and listen to music while we interact with each other. There were adorable dogs, beautiful plants, and all the vibes you’ll expect from Kasol.
It rained for the most part of my stay so we stayed in, played games, and enjoyed the beauty. It stopped raining on Sunday and all the travelers decided to go to Manikaran Gurudwara. The hosts gave us the contact of a driver and just after a short 30-minute drive, we reached the soulful place. We roamed around while soaking in the beauty of this natural wonder where you can witness the hot springs. After experiencing the peace of the Gurudwara, we ate the delicious Langar, and simply sat down and prayed.
The sun was out the next day and we finally decided to go trek to Tosh village. I knew I wanted to witness my first snowfall and the locals told us that Tosh might be it. We went to the base of Tosh village with the same cab and hiked for over 3 hours to reach the peak. The road was covered with snow and as we crossed half the trail, it started to snow. Guys, I literally sat there and cried, that moment still gives me chills! Once we finally reached the peak, we all had the best tea and maggie at a small tea stall with the most breathtaking view of snow-covered mountains. We came back late, exhausted and happy, and called it a day.
This one trip gave me some of my best life moments and honestly I’d recommend a solo trip to everyone because it can do wonders for your self-esteem, confidence, and perspective. That entire week was my favorite memory but here are some special glimpses.
My Final Thoughts
Himachal Pradesh is pretty safe and has a lot to offer. If you’re planning your trip, first identify what kind of experience you’re looking at. I stayed there for 5 days and if you look at the numbers, I didn't really check a lot of to-do boxes because that wasn't my priority. I wanted slow travel where I can soak into every moment, and trust me it was worth it. All in all, this trip gave me some great memories so if you’re putting off your solo trip, don’t! I hope I’ve given you the inspiration to go ahead and take that shot!