After having a so called French breakfast at the Rainbow Cafe in Kasol (which I did not enjoy by the way), we headed straight to Malana. Malana is the most famous land of herbs in Himachal Pradesh, India. Extensive Cannabis growth is the only occupation of the locals of the place and the Cannabis here is famous by the name of “Malana Cream.” This is not something new for the readers as most of the youngsters are aware of the same. Next time if you plan to halt at Malana, you may want to taste its Cream or maybe you already have. At least that is what most of the youth would say. However, I believe you can also explore Malana only for its serenity, uncommon culture and landscapes.
I would recommend you to stay at this place and interact with as many locals as you can if you enjoy story telling/hearing. It’s unique culture is what inspired me to explore. In case you are fond of writing, this can be one of the cheapest and perfect getaway to sit in peace and inspire oneself to write.
So we reached Malana by noon and headed to Cafe Hill Top. Cafe Hill Top is situated on the other end of Malana and has a decent view of the village and also the valley. Malana cannot be described in words. It can be felt though. If you ever plan a trip to Himachal and if you are a silent writer, you should definitely go to Malana to experience that inner peace and awakening. This is where I finally planned on uncovering the things I write. You can sit in peace and explore the unique cultures of Malana. You can land up in strange conversations with the locals to understand what they do and why they do it.
Here is what I researched on Malana before I took the trip– The locals of Malana consider themselves to be the descendants of Alexander, the ancient Greek King and hence consider themselves to be above others. This is why Malana is also known as the Little Greece of India. Malana is a no-government place. It is a free village. Thus the locals of Malana have their own laws and the ordinary laws of the land does not actually govern this free village. A foreigner is not allowed to touch their buildings or houses or even the people unless they are ready to pay the fine.
Here is what I discovered– Most of what I researched on Malana was true. Malana is really a no tax area and it really is called the Little Greece of India. However, I am still not sure whether a non resident of Malana is forbidden to touch the houses or the people. I did come across certain posters suggesting the existence of one such culture but they only pertained to the buildings. This does not suggest that the people of Malana are unfriendly. They are shy at first but they will not bite you. Go ahead and talk to them if you want to. An interesting thing to note was that there is no government body in Malana which actually suggests that Malana is a government free area.
Cannabis farming is the main and the only occupation of the people of Malana and hence the Cream here is considered to be extremely good and is expensive. Almost everyone is engaged essentially in the business of selling and making cream. Another trend which exists in the business culture here is the culture of cafes. Tourist and travelers can enjoy their food and long stays at such cafes at reasonable prices. All you need is to be good at your bargaining skills. You will also find almost everyone, involved in rubbing Cannabis. It is strange how I came across two children and had an amazing conversation with them.
The image given above are the two kids who were busy rubbing Cannabis all day. When I first observed them, I wondered if they even knew what they were doing which reminds me that the practice of selling and buying cannabis is illegal in India. The more I observed, the more I developed the curiosity to talk to them about it. They were a little scared at first but gradually the kids became comfortable so I asked:
Aprajita (me): “Tum kya kar rahe ho?” (What are you guys doing?)
Boy with a smile: “Hum maal bana rahe hai.” ( We are rubbing Cannabis)
And then he started teaching me the techniques of rubbing cannabis which I hardly understood. I was only curious to watch. I wondered if they knew that this practice is illegal in India. Ofcourse, they didn’t. However, Malana doesn’t care about it as it is a no-government village. They have their own laws of the land and this is what I understood during my stay.
By the end of the day, he came to tell me that his work was done. It took me by surprise to see how these people work day and night to preserve what they believe is their right. No wonder why their products are priced at high rates. Kudos to the people of Malana for the strength of their culture and their hard work to preserve the same.
If you go to Malana, you must visit the Dragon Cafe too. It is around a 30 minute(approx.) hike from Hill Top Cafe to Dragon Cafe. It is situated at a height and so you will have to trek but the destination is amazing.