Kashmiri Charas

Here’s a very stoned photo of some Kashmiri garda charas c. 2008 – because seeds of a Kashmiri landrace are now available.

Kashmiri cannabis earned a legendary reputation among westerners during the heyday of the Hippie Trail, mostly for various forms of dry-sieved and hand-rubbed charas travellers encountered in then idyllic Kashmir Valley.

The best Kashmiri charas I’ve personally seen was hand-rubbed resin, but the garda in the photo was pretty nice, especially by the standards of what’s normally available in Varanasi (Banaras), where I found it at 400 Rupees per tola.

Historically, Kashmir was less a producer than an intermediary in the charas trade between Central Asia (Xinjiang) and northern India, each summer thousands of tonnes arriving over the high passes of the Karakorams via Ladakh before moving on to the plains through Srinagar and Kullu Valley, the charas caravans dutifully stopping at customs and excise posts along the way.

These days Kashmir remains a relatively minor player in cannabis production, but when you can find it, Kashmiri charas has a nice balance between the full rich flavour of Central Asian resin and the more uplifting euphoric effect for which many prize charas from the Himalaya.