Malana: Cannabis Kingdom on the edge

Harikrishna Katragadda

2009 - 2013

Malana - this hill top village in the Himalayan ranges in India is famous for its export quality “Malana Cream”, a local hashish with high oil content.

Malana was inaccessible until recently because of its forbidding terrain and a belief system that prohibited interaction with outsiders, who are considered impure. Their form of self governance traditionally resisted any interference from the Indian government. Smoking marijuana has always been a part of their culture and for the last three decades, cannabis cultivation has become their main source of


With new power projects and roads coming near this village, their ancient traditions and way of life is fast disappearing. My project documents people of this vanishing culture.

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  • Catcher in the rye.

  • Cannabis leaves are rubbed to extract its maximum oil content. After a thick layer of oil settles on the palm it is creamed off to form balls of hashish.

  • Though electricity, cable television and cellphones have made in roads, Malana still has an ancient look.

  • Hemraj lights up hashish joint next to his son. His wife was arrested and convicted a few years ago for drug trafficking.

  • A boy brings down a bird with his catapult.

  • Malana girls.

  • A ritual sacrifice to appease the village deity, who symbolically presides over Malana's governance.

  • Young girls eagerly anticipate for the wedding ceremony.

  • Early morning activities.

  • Boys playing on the rooftops.

  • September-October is the harvest season of cannabis during which women and children leave home to join men in the farms to make hashish.

  • A bride getting ready for her wedding.

  • Eight year old Neha prepares to go to school.

  • Marriages outside Malana were prohibited, though of late, people have started flouting the village's strict nuptial laws, which do not recognise marriages that take place outside the village. A bride is ceremoniously accompanied by a fire torch to accept gifts and blessings from the villagers.

  • Early morning in Malana.

  • Children get ready to go to school.

  • Boys gather around a fire for an evening meal on a hill side.

  • A woman wears sheep wool to sun dry it. Malana traditionally was a sheep rearing community until the lucrative business of cannabis farming overtook it three decades ago.

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