Banana Pancake Trail – The Most Popular 7 Stops in India
Routine can get too boring at times. And when it does, you must just pack a few essentials and set out to explore! This is what the hippies did in the 1950s and 1960s and travelled on a path that many ended up vagabonding on in the future. That path came to be known as the ‘Hippie Trail’. Subsequently, the Gringo trail followed in Latin America and now the ‘Banana Pancake Trail’ is the modern rendition of the same.
Banana Pancake trail is more of a fuzzy idea in the head of the travellers than an official route. It is particularly popular routes the backpackers end up visiting. The aim of these wanderers is to explore the local culture, traditions, meet new people, enjoy the local music & food, get adventurous, all on a budget. Travelers don’t follow the same route, but most of them end up meeting each other at some place or the other.
Why the name Banana Pancake Trail?
Tourism reign in the places frequented by foreigners. The local entrepreneurs were smart to sense the demand and started offering what the nomads were looking for – i.e. clean affordable bedding, local themed cafes, and good breakfast. Sensing banana pancakes was a popular breakfast in the west, local hotels and streetside vendors started offering Banana Pancakes to cater to the travellers. Hence the name came to be!
Bangkok’s Khao San Road, Kuta in Bali, and Chiang Mai in Thailand were three of the earliest and the most popular stops on the trail. Back then when there was no internet, word of mouth was the only way that tourists could gather info on places of their interests. Right then, Lonely Planet published two books Across Asia on the Cheap (1973) and Southeast Asia on a Shoestring (1975) and both became classics. The stops mentioned in these books became a part of the trail. Since then the trail has grown wider due to the Internet, and travellers keep adding and talking about their newly discovered stops.
Let’s read on to find some of the places in India on the ‘Banana Pancake Trail’. Most of these spots are also on the ‘Hummus Trail’, which is a popular trail that Israelis follow post their military service.
Malana is an ancient village to the north-east of Kullu valley. Malana has stayed secluded for many years, due to its geographic location. It is a formidable task to reach the location in the winters due to snow, slush, rock falls, and loose boulders. It is not a secret that it grows the finest quality of weed in India, and is insanely popular for ‘Malana cream’ which is the most expensive hashish in an Amsterdam Cafe Menu. Tourists flock here for the Kath Kuni buildings, temples, and a hip-hop vibe.
Explore Malana Village Trek
2. Old Manali
Just across the Manalsu river, starts Old Manali. It is a charming and laid-back place with lots of themed cafes, apple orchards, beautiful mountain trails, and tons of backpackers seeking tranquility.
Explore Scenic Treks in Manali
A hill station near Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, it is popular for its scenic views, lush greenery, Tibetan culture, British-era structures, and Dalai Lama monastery. The place has a spiritual feel to it, which makes it all the more charming. The trek to Triund is very popular here and offers majestic landscape views.
Explore Popular Treks in Dharamshala
Also known as Mini Israel, Kasol is a hamlet in the Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh. Also commonly known as ‘the Amsterdam of India’, this quaint little village is based on the banks of Parvati River has the best of views to offer. It is a popular destination for backpackers, nature lovers and trekkers.
Explore Kasol to Kheerganga Trek
Did you know that the Beatles spent the late 1960’s writing 48 songs, mostly on the White Album in Rishikesh? Rishikesh has two parts, one which is flocked with families and couples who come here with a spiritual motive, and the other which is a hippie land. Both the sections are on either side of Laksham Jhula. Travellers immerse themselves here in meditation, yoga, good food & music, and lots of self-pampering which include crystal therapy, reflexology, light-healing therapy, and massages.
Explore River Rafting in Rishikesh
One of the most popular stops for vagabonds. At the end of the 60th century, tourists from the west started visiting Goa and stayed on the beaches of Anjuna, vagator & baga. Goa is the ultimate party haven for fun lovers. It offers a mix of noise & serenity/tranquility. Arambol is one of the most popular stops on the Banana Pancake Trail.
7. Kalga, Tulga & Pulga
Probably not as commercialized as Kasol or other similar places, the trio village Kalga, Tulga & Pulga lie in the Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh. The houses here are small & old, giving the place a charming ancient look. Nomads visit here to explore the Himalachi themed cafes, gigantic pine trees in the Fairy Forest, charming waterfalls & the warm localites.
While some argue that the original culture is lost on the trail as the entrepreneurs have adapted too much to suit the western traveller’s comforts, some say that it is a safe way to meet new people in a new country, and visit places that have been vetted and approved of by numerous other nomads.
As the internet grows and so does tourism, these travellers do help the economy of these places by generating revenue but the entire process also results in culture mutation. Whatever your stance, you must give the Banana Pancake Trail a shot to know for yourself!