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Kirat S Jul 19 2013

What is the legend of Malana?

Kasturi Saikia Jul 19 2013
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Over the years, Malana has become a legend. The hard-to-access village in the Parvati Valley is a collection of castle-like stone and timber houses in a hillside of brooding beauty, with an ancient temple. The villagers consider outsiders to be impure and don’t allow them to touch their temple, houses or themselves. (They are said to be descendants of soldiers who deserted Alexander’s army and settled here). They place absolute faith in their deity, Jamlu Devta. The police hardly enters the area; disputes are resolved by a gur — something like an oracle —who delivers the judgement of the god, or by a complex system of village councils which some say is the oldest form of democracy in the world.



Malana’s cannabis, aficionados call it ‘cream’, is said to be the best. Purists say the best way to see the area is to incorporate Malana into a trek from Naggar to Manikaran. This takes you over the spectacular 11,808 ft Chandrakhani Pass, and ideally takes three days.


But trekkers also do the famous 1-day Naggar- Malana trek like a 10-hr pilgrimage. Protected by the sawtooth mountains that surround it, it seemed Malana would survive unchanged — an anthropological oddity or fascinating piece of local history and culture, as you prefer to see it. But a fire in 2008 burnt many of those old houses and a road has been built to service the Malana Power Project near Jari, reducing walking time to Malana to just 2 hrs (drive 11 km from the project and trek 5-km/ 2-hr to Malana). Changes in the village culture seem inevitable.

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