Lonely Planet Writer

Famous weed tourism destination in India aims to preserve culture by limiting visitors

A village in India famous for its high quality hashish– or charas – may soon be harder for travellers to visit. Malana is located about 20 kilometres up a hillside in the Kullu valley in Himachal Pradesh. Malana cream, as the local product is often called, is a mainstay of the community’s economy and the major draw for tourists to travel to the remote village.

A view of Malana against the mountains.
Malana, India is known as a weed tourism destination. Image by Joshua Lewis / EyeEm / Getty Images

The village is located in remote mountain passages and has only seen a tourism boom in the last 40 years. Malana is unique in that it has its own dialect, system of democratic government, and residents, according to local legend, consider themselves descendants of deserters from Alexander the Great’s army. But, as the Hindustan Times reports, a village diety, Jamlu, has ordered the closure of guest houses and restaurants that have sprung up in the community in order to preserve the local culture. There are about a dozen guest houses in the village, which has a population of fewer than 5000 people.

Portrait of Indian Sadhu lighting a charas chillum near Malana in Himachal Pradesh India
Portrait of Indian Sadhu lighting a charas chillum near Malana. Image by myLoupe/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Hill Post reports that the guest houses are mostly being “run by outsiders” and some owners are opposed to the decision, however most villagers support it. Earlier this year, villagers decided to ban tourists from snapping pictures in the village, according to India Today.

The Indian village is not the only place adding new rules to stem the tides of tourists and preserve local culture. Venice has taken steps to curb excessive tourist numbers, including plans to ban new hotels from opening in the city centre. Barcelona is also hoping to create a more sustainable tourism model by ensuring an even spread of tourist accommodation throughout the city and stopping new spots from opening in historic central districts. Meanwhile, as states around the US begin to legalize weed, a number of spots are actively encouraging marijuana tourism with weed tours, retreats and more.