Malana New 2

Malana Tourist Ban: What it Means, and What it Doesn’t

So, this is NOT a travelogue. If you want to read a travelogue you can read my Malana post from 2015 that also has other practical details about reaching the place. I am having to write this one due to certain interesting developments in Malana in the last few days, and also because I coincidentally happened to be around when this development was taking place.

What exactly has happened in Malana?

So, the news is that the “deity” of Malana is angry due to the excessive intrusion of the tourists. Many in the village are also suffering from various illnesses and such instances are being attributed to the impact of the outsiders. So, the deity no longer wants to host them and hence all the operating guest houses have been asked to close down. So, in short, you can no longer stay in that village at night.

What the Malana Ban actually means?

While we tend to exoticize the eccentric rituals of places such as Malana, I think the logic is simple. The village elders must be wary of the excessive tourism growth in the region because it is primarily driven by the lure of Malana Cream, and related byproducts of similar nature. I am sure assorted rave parties and loud music must have been found their way into the village too. So, they might have invoked the deity simply to make everyone comply because it is also going to affect the livelihood of those from the village who are involved in tourism.

So, can the tourists still visit Malana?

Yes, tourists can still visit Malana, like I did a couple of days ago. But what they can’t do is to stay overnight. So, you must start early, visit the village, and come back before it is dark. I am not sure if there is going to be a complete ban on visiting the village but as of now it is possible. Also, the restaurants were still functioning. So, one could visit and eat at the place but can’t stay.

Was this step necessary? What will be the repercussions?

I am not a fan of censorship or moral policing but I guess something was brewing in the region for a while. This has to do with the lack of sensitivity and common sense on part fo certain tourists, and also the greed of certain locals who benefitted from the tourist influx. Entire stretches of the Parvati Valley looks like a cacophonous carnival. Many great destinations in the area have been ruined by irresponsible tourism. Last year I was horrified to see the amount of littering at the Kheerganga Top. My recent visit to Tosh also failed to delight me. So, I think this step was indeed inevitable.

UPDATE: Stay atop Kheerganga has been banned too.

Malana New (1)

Tourism surely has brought economic prosperity to the region but a focus on sustainability has become necessary. Also, the sudden rise in tourism has made the youth go after easy money. Prices of accommodation and other services are also going up in most places. For example, a couple of years ago, we were quoted INR 500 for a taxi from Jari to Malana entry point (from where one must trek to reach the village). This time the union seems to have built a stronger hold and the fixed price now is INR 850 for that less than 20 KM stretch. On top of that, while returning, when someone tried to give us lift, one of the local drivers got very angry and tried to stop that guy from offering lift.

Considering such aspects, I guess for the time being the ban will prevail but there is going to be a generational conflict between the locals. After all, even during this trip came across many villagers offering to sell “cream” (for INR 3000-5000) openly. At least a couple of generations here have grown up learning how to make a living from this and one must understand that everyone wants to earn more and live a better life. So, I am not sure where this is going but it demands a more practical and sensitive handling.

Alternative stays near Malana Village

So, where does one stay near Malana? I can think of the following options…

  • The conventional thing is to do a day visit from Kasol or Jari. Just go early and come back before dark without staying. One way Taxi from Jari to starting point INR 850 (Strictly fixed by union), can’t bargain. But we got lift while returning.
  • There maybe some shops and shacks not inside the village but nearby, who can still house tourists. But I don’t expect too much.
  • Finally, nearby Waichin Valley has camps now. I have not stayed there but one guy, who apparently owned a camp, told me there are camps for INR 1000 per head (including food). It is a few KMs ahead of Malana.
Jitaditya Narzary

27 thoughts on “Malana Tourist Ban: What it Means, and What it Doesn’t”

  1. Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly is this “Malana Cream” that you mention? Since I am a sort of dinosaur, my last visit to the Parvati Valley was in 1996 when there was no talk of this Malana Cream. Do enlighten me, thanks!

  2. You are so right.. irresponsible tourism has disturbed the beauty and ecosystem of so many places.
    Now we have a 5 storeyed hotel in Sandakphu, one of the best treks in Bengal. Now they are planning to make a road all the way to Phalut! It is really disturbing.

  3. Please forgive my ignorance, but where is Malana? I’m guessing somewhere in India given your other posts, but it would be helpful to give some background for us travellers not familiar to this place. I think many developing places like Malana will start to experience this increase in tourism; how it’s handled depends on the town/city.

  4. thetravelleaf

    I’m not familiar with the place you’re talking about but the article is very interesting. There are always two sides to tourism. Sure, it brings money into remote regions, but at the same time it disturbs the local peace. It’s an interesting way howto solve this though, not letting tourists spend the night there.

  5. If tourism disturbs local people then it is very disturbing. Instead of banning they can introduce heavy fine system locally. Why this Malana cream so wanted or expensive? Never heard about this type of cream.

  6. This is information. It is always hard to find the balance when tourists over flood an area. On one hand it is great because people are learning and becoming more open, but on the other hand it does impact the community and changes their culture. A tough call

  7. Woah, i surely understand what you are talking about…tourism can disturb the locals…i hope people can understand and are carefull about the places they visit. Thanks for this info it was very useful.

  8. I think it is very good to be critical when travelling! And try to minimize the impact on the local ecosystem

  9. Pingback: Malana Trek, Kasol | The Travelling Slacker

  10. Wow, how sad that the town has had to resort to this. Its terrible how tourism has affected so many places in such a poor way. Hopefully they can find a happy medium for the town and the tourists. Very interesting read.

  11. If irresponsible tourism continues, the day is not far that some really beautiful places will be removed from tourist map. One needs to respect nature, spaces, people & culture…….. But unfortunately we don’t. Basic civic etiquettes are amiss. Not to forget greed…… Like you shared!!!

  12. I went to Malana few years back and wrote a story on how tourists have actually destroyed the social fabric of the place. I am actually glad this happened. Irresponsible tourism should be curbed.

  13. A very interesting article. I have never been to Malana. But in general it is a very difficult balance to strike between respecting a culture and allowing the world to experience it. Tourism can easily destroy beautiful places and cultures. But forbidding anyone to visit a place is just as dangerous. I hope the issue will be solved by regulating the amount of tourism but that the village will remain open to tourists.

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  15. Hi Jitaditya,

    Thanks for clearing the confusion about malana tourist man. We are planning to go there on october first week. We would like to visit Rasol as well. Heard it is a similar village to malana. So what is the best way to cover both the places. Can we trek from Rasol to Malana staying in Rasol. Is it possible. If so how long is the trek. Could you please give your inputs?


    1. Hi,
      I have not trekked from Rashol to Malana and in fact, I have never met anyone who has done that. It may be too much to and fro trekking for one day in case you do that anyway. You can, of course, do both the treks on two separate days. I’d suggest you get done with Malana on the first half a day and stay in Jari or Kasol and devote more time for other treks like Rashol or Grahan.

  16. Hi, we are planning a trip to kasol in november first wekk, i just wanted to confirm if tourists are still allowed to go and come back during the daytime as you mentioned?.

  17. Nice write-up.
    We have to understand one thing every thing has its pros and cons.
    And the same goes for tourism.

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