Malana – Little Greece in India

Malana is an ancient village in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, nestled in the Kullu valley at an elevation of 2652 metres. Malana village, located in the Malana Nala, a side valley of the Parvati valley, is cut off from the outside world. There are several theories as to how the village came to be. But a lesser-known fact is that the villagers believe they are direct descendants of “Alexander the Great,” which leads them to think “Aryan blood” flows through their veins. 

Malana - Little Greece in India

Numerous folk tales have sprung up around this legend, aided by the fact that the physiographic features of most Malana residents do not resemble those of any Indian community but rather those of Greeks. Their language is unique and only known to the villagers. They also adhere to a local system that is more Greek in both style and system than Indian. The Malana residents have also cut themselves off from the outside world, with little contact with anyone who is not a resident. The best way to witness this little Greece in India is by booking a cab from Kasol. Read on to know more about this mysterious little hamlet and the secrets it holds. 

The Descendants of Alexander the Great in India

Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great fighting a war

Some of Alexander the Great’s army is said to have sought refuge in this isolated village in 326 BC during a battle against Porus, a ruler in India’s Punjab region. Many people believe that Malani’s ancestors were among these soldiers. In the village, there are artefacts from that period, including a sword that is said to be housed inside the Malana temple. However, there are no genetic ties between the soldiers and the Malana people. The Malana people are widely believed to be descended from Alexander the Great’s army, but there is no solid evidence to support this claim.

Nevertheless, locals’ different physical features and language, unlike any other tribal group in the area, power these theories, but, no real theory or evidence is there to support this.

Malana’s democratic system

Malana - Little Greece in India

Malana’s unique democratic system is said to be among the oldest in the world and is structured similarly to the Ancient Greek system of democracy, with a lower and upper house. However, it has a distinct spiritual twist: ultimate decisions are made by the upper court, which consists of three crucial figures, one of whom is the representative of the local deity, Jamlu Devta. Lambs are used in the rulings, and when a decision to resolve a conflict is imminent, the right foreleg of each lamb is stuffed with poison and hand-sewn back. People who make poor decisions are implied to be the ones whose lambs die first.

Malana and the Mughal Emperor Akbar 

Emperor Akbar
Emperor Akbar

The Mughal Emperor Akbar is said to have shown disrespect to the village and Jamlu Devta in the 16th century. He may have even attempted to collect taxes. Leprosy struck the Emperor immediately. He then offered gifts and atonement to the deity. The Emperor was cured, and the Mughals have not collected tax from the village. This is commemorated each year in a procession during the village festival of Fagli. It is said that inside the Temple, there is a silver goat that Emperor Akbar gave to Jamlu Devta. Outsiders are not permitted inside the Temple, so this cannot be confirmed.

Kanashi, the sacred language of Malana

The language spoken here was prescribed in ancient times and is said to be that of the Rakshasas who lived here. Kanashi or Raksh is the name for it. This is distinct from any of the surrounding languages. Some say it’s a hybrid of Sanskrit and Tibetan dialects. It is a Tibetan-Burmese language rather than an Indo-European language. It’s a miracle it’s survived despite being surrounded by very different languages, possibly due to isolation. By the way, it appears to be similar to Greek.

Malana

The unconventional norms of Malana

People here are generally resistant to change, despite some signs of modernisation. Non-Malani are considered inferior and thus untouchable in Malana. When visiting Malana town, you must stay on the designated paths and not touch walls, houses, or people. As a result, you will be required to pay a forfeit to purify the impure item by sacrificing a lamb to cover the cost of sacrificial slaughter. Non-Malani’s are not permitted to cook for Malani’s unless they are outside the valley and their Devta cannot see them. Malani’s must go through a strict purification ritual before using utensils again.

Rules to remember in Malana

Malana is an exceptionally picturesque village; though there isn’t a lot to do in terms of sightseeing, the gorgeous panoramas of the verdant landscapes are enough to fill your heart with joy. However, it would be best if you abode by a few rules of this village:

  • Do not touch any person or thing while in Malana.
  • Video making is banned in Malana. Therefore, click pictures only.
  • It is forbidden for travellers to learn Kanashi – the local language of Malana.
  • Never fix nails on any tree in Malana.
  • Avoid burning wood in any forest in Malana.
  • Hunting animals in this region are forbidden.
  • Entry of cops is banned in Malana. Thus, do not ever take cops with you for any reason.
  • No traveller is allowed to marry any man or woman from Malana.

Things to do in Malana 

Malana - Little Greece in India
  • Camping at Magic Valley
  • Visit the Jamadagni Temple
  • Trek to the Chanderkheni
  • Explore the Great Himalayan National Park
  • Go for rafting, gliding, and trekking activities at Bhuntar near Malana and explore its beauty.
  • Bath in hot springs of Malana
  • Gorge into the delectable Malanese cuisine

Best time to visit

The best time to visit is from March to September. One can also visit the place during winter to enjoy the snow but the village has little amenities to offer as respite from snow. The place offers a very basic local guest house offering basic bed and breakfast. It does not have any restaurant or hotel. There are only basic accommodations run by local villagers.

How to Reach Malana Village

Malana and Kullu are approximately 50 kilometres apart by road and 3 kilometres apart on foot. Parvati Valley is the easiest way to reach Malana. Book a cab from Kullu to Parvati Valley to travel in comfort. You can also reach Malana by taxi from Jari, a place about 23 km away from Malana. Malana can only be reached by public transportation. Those visiting from abroad must register at the Jari powerhouse.      

Places to visit near Malana

Kasol
Kasol
  • Kasol – Kasol is pretty much the heart of Parvati Valley. It is most commonly called as mini Israel of India; and the prime reason for this is the presence of too many Israelis in the region.
  • Chalal – If you are someone who loves quiet places, then this is a perfect getaway for you. Chalal can be reached only on foot through and takes about 1 hour from Malana.
  • Tosh – This is the second most popular place in Parvati Valley, after Kasol. If you want to witness impeccably scenic winter landscapes then this is the place to be at. 
  • Kutla – Hiding amidst the mountains, the less treaded, Kulta is an offbeat village where you could enjoy the thriving raw nature hidden amongst the mountains.

Now that you know all about the mysterious village, why wait? Plan your trip! Soak in the glory by booking a car rental to take you to all these places with a local driver. Install the Savaari cab booking app for offers and discounts on outstation rentals.   

About the author

Full-time writer. Part-time dreamer.

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