Summer is here! People must be planning their vacations in some hill stations of their preference. I wanted to write my travel tale in a hill station today. With three names in my mind-Shimla, Musoorrie, and Manali, I chose the last hill station for today’s post. I love Shimla; it is home sweet home, Mussorie is fun, but Manali in my opinion, deserves the title of ‘Queen’ as it has a lot to offer to the visitors at one place. Ready for a virtual tour to Manali- The Queen of Himachal, with Oriental Afterglow!
Manali: The location
A gorgeous town located on both sides of river Beas in Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh. It is the end of the valley and if you want to go on the other side of the Pir Panjal Mountain Ranges, Rohtang pass has to be crossed.
Manali: The Winter Queen
My recent visit to Manali happened last year in 2018 and my first was, in 2009. I observed a lot of changes have taken place in this period but one thing that remains as alluring as it was back then is the enchanting ambiance. You can’t ignore it!
Manali: The journey
Our trip to Manali started from Shimla in private vehicle. We went nonstop except for brief halts at Pandoh dam and Hanogi mata temple. The drive to the town is pleasant along the river bank, unfolding the mystery of mountains with every curve. After Kullu, you can opt for either the left or right bank road; we turned right (which is actually the left bank) as out hotel was located in that lane. After a long journey, we were quite tired but still went to roam on the mall road and dine out.
Manali: When We Met
The Mall road in Manali is actually a mini-mall-road (oh…I ended up comparing it with Shimla). The first morning in Manali began with a splendid snow clad mountain view.
I got desperate to go explore the town.
Solang Valley: The Paragliders’ Paradise
The adventurer soul of ours boosted us to try our hands on paragliding. We did attempt tandems. Mr CoolHead went first.
The moment he took off, I realized the ground under my feet just slipped! My limbs went numb as if I was in a zero gravity zone. I could hear my heart beat as loud as the beat of a drum. And yes…I felt butterflies in my stomach too. Honestly, I thought of giving up but it was too late.
The trainer had already shouted “ruuuuun” after tying me to the glider! I had to. Thoughts like ‘What if’ got silenced the moment I was lifted up in air. Such a good feeling-to fly like a bird…I shouted aloud…not with fear but immense joy.
Those few moments in air were super liberating.
After the fantastic flight, we immediately proceeded towards the spiral road to Rohtang pass (13050 ft). The pass is 51 km from Manali connecting Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti. The moment we crossed Gulaba, everything came to a halt. A truck had broken its excel in the mid of the road and the traffic on both sides was frozen.
It took the JCB to reach and make a new passage full five hours. We waited! Though it was too late; we didn’t think even for a second, to go without touching the Rohtang La? Mr CoolHead rushed uphill. We reached the top at 5 pm and it was October!
Worried of not getting stranded in no man’s land, we hurriedly roamed around the area. It was freezing there but never had I ever seen such side of Nature before. The snowy glaciers in nooks of nude gray mountains of Lahaul appeared inviting.
I have felt that in mountains, once you conquer one, the yearning to go on the other, intensifies.
Without any food for whole day, we were starving! Intelligent I, don’t know why, bought a bread on our way up. Due to the fear of not staying on the pass in dark (the meaning of Rohatng is – ground of corpses, you see!), we did not stop anywhere to ask for tea ( well, there weren’t many options either except marhi).We satiated our hunger pangs with dry pieces of bread. Tell you the truth- Those white slices never tasted this sweet in life, ever.
Next day went to see the hot water springs in Vashistha, the Temple of Manu-the founder of Manali, and Hidimba temple in the mysterious cedar forest followed by Naggar castle and Roerich art Gallery.
While revisiting Manali in 2018 along with one kid, Rohtang pass was certainly on the top of our to do list. We wanted to bathe in its full glory. Hence, we started pretty early and stayed there to our hearts’s content. And in addition to the previous ones, we explored some new places like the falls near Marhi, Jogini falls, the Kais Monestry, Manikaran and Kasol.
It was a pleasure to visit Manali again and I don’t think I have had enough of it…yet.
That’s all for now.
Here is Oriental Afterglow’s Yesterday’s Travelling tale