Introducing Jari & Malana
About halfway along the Parvati Valley, Jari consists of two parts: a bustling highway bazaar and the peaceful hillside hamlet of Mateura Jari above it, which is where most travellers head for, despite the steep 15-minute uphill hike to get there.
Jari is the starting point for the trip to the traditional mountain village of Malana. Malana was once an isolated collection of traditional wood and stone houses, but about half of them burned in a fire in 2008 and some have been replaced by cinderblock boxes. The villagers have their own unique caste system and, while Hindu, each February they perform a Muslim ritual, slaughtering and eating a sheep.
Visitors no longer need to wait on the outskirts of the village to be invited in, but once inside you must obey a litany of esoteric rules or face minimum fines of ₹1000. For example, it’s forbidden to touch any of the villagers or their belongings, including homes, temples or buildings – they want nothing soiled by the spiritually impure hands of low-caste or non-Hindus. To get the most out of the cultural experience and avoid breaking any rules, it’s worthwhile to visit with a knowledgeable guide.
There are a half-dozen guesthouses above the village proper, run by outsiders, where foreigners are welcome to stay overnight for around ₹200. A taxi (₹1000 one-way from Jari) can take you to the end of the road at Nerang, from where it’s a one-hour walk up to the village. Carry your passport as you must show it to security at the hydroelectric plant. Adventurers can continue from Malana over the Rashol Pass to Kasol (17km), staying overnight in a homestay in Rashol en route. Trekkers with camping equipment can hike from Naggar over the Chandrakani Pass in two days.
For guide services to Malana or for trekking anywhere in the Parvati Valley, contact Negi’s Himalayan Adventure in Jari. Owner Chhape Negi is head of the area’s mountain rescue team, so he’s as reliable as it gets. He also runs a free private museum at his house in the village of Chowki, across the river from Jari, and also offers midrange accommodation there at the excellent Negi's Nest.