Friday, October 16, 2015

Manali Trip- Day 2

Next morning I woke up little early to catch some early morning images. I managed to capture some beautiful images of the nature around. The first light on mountains and trees felt like inner bliss. Had to climb an unstable stair to capture good images.

Our taxi was right on time to pick us. It was a neat cab and not to forget the friendly driver. We started sharp at 8:30 am to avoid traffic later. The road towards Rohtang was narrow and controlled by the Indian Army. I also realized as we ascended the hills, the oxygen level also depleted. After a ride of more than 2 hours we reached our destination. It was almost deserted! This was because of the adventure activity ban and also because we reached early. I had to face a huge disappointment as there was no snow. The only white land we could spot was very high.

We trekked up the vertical hills, stumbling on the rocky path and struggling with low oxygen. I tried to push my limits but it had become impossible. I was on a verge of collapsing! I am not fat but not fit either for this kind of situation. I did manage to climb a good height but not enough to touch the snow.  I then decided to descend as it was going beyond my stamina.

 The good part was the beautiful mountain, playful clouds and scenic beauty! I captured few good images there.

We drove to Solang Valley from Rohtang. We stopped for lunch at Marhi village, the last village before Rohtang. A small Buddhist temple decorated with colorful flags opposite to the eating spot attracted us and we entered the premises. Along the road was a herd mountain sheep with their owners.  There was also a small stack of stones which seemed like an offering to the GOD’s of the valley. Every click was beautiful. Lest I should have missed those moments. We also experienced clouds blocking our road and that was the 1st time I experienced something like that. It was magical to see clouds such close! I could not take many pictures because moisture from clouds would damage my cam lenses.

We arrived in Solang Valley after 45 minutes.  As expected, there wasn’t much rush because of the ban on snow activities. The only attraction left there is the rope way trolley to ferry you to a hill top. The 10 minute ride was costly-  Rs.500 each. It was my 1st experience in a ropeway so didn’t want to miss that.  

The ride was great and soon we reached the top. We spent some time with a cup of tea amid the raw nature. Initially we thought the only way to reach there was the rope way but soon we discovered horse foot marks and dung. So there was a different way in.

We spent almost an hour and then again turned back to the ropeway down.  I click some more pics and we returned to our hotel.

 We also got a chance to Visit Manu Temple. This is only temple of Manu Rishi, legend says that he is the creator of human race in India.
 From the very beginning of this trip I was trying to locate a small forest (as seen on google map) with some birds but unable to locate it as the locals said that there was no forest. The only one is situated on the highway which is far. But something I saw all the time on our way to hotel was a small building with visitors all the time. Since our bus was scheduled for departure at 4:30pm, we had ample time post1pm.  So we thought to spent rest of our time on Mall Road. Again while crossing the same building I thought to have a look and “bingo” it was actually a small forest. A dream came true as I was entered the forest cum bird zoo. A peaceful and mesmerizing place it was! The forest was not big but still very beautiful and full of trees. We enjoyed our walk in the forest. As we entered little deep inside we spotted some cages with Himalyan birds. They are Himalayan Monal with peacock like neck and duck shaped body. The exuberant colors of the Monal were beautiful.

That was the end to our Manali trip. I hope to help some backpackers with this blog.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Manali Trip-Day 1

If you plan for a short trip to escape the city hustle, then make it to a hill station away from traffic pollution and noise. Keeping this philosophy in mind my wife and I planned for a trip to Manali in September 2015.

The first step is to book an economical hotel as most of the time we venture out and the only time spent in a hotel room is at night while sleeping or getting ready in morning. So spending on a luxury room makes no sense. A colleague at my wife’s office suggested a budget hotel “Rohtang Mansuli” located near to circuit house. In the first glance at the pictures online I fell in love with the surroundings of the hotel with a big garden with beautiful flowers. The hotel is partially covered with plants which gives a very nice tree house look. We booked our hotel tickets from Chandralok building. A piece of advice- to book tickets of Govt operated Volvos as they are punctual and trusted. Also they don’t have odd pick up points. We headed to Himachal Tourism Bhawan (Mandi House, Delhi) for Volvo tickets. Yes I know we can book online but we wanted to keep it safe because last minute surprises are always bad.

We had planned for a 3 day trip as 1 full day is good enough for Rohtang Pass and Solang Valley until you indulgence in adventure sports. Post a 13 hour tiring Volvo ride, we made it to Manali bus stand by 11am.  The walk towards our hotel which was not even 2 km was an endurance task because the roads are inclined upwards. With each step we lost our energy and oxygen considering the heavy travel bags on our back.

Rohtang Manalsu’s rooms were decent with basic facilities and a non-working television in one corner. Post a quick lunch and nap, we were back in shape and ready for our first sightseeing. Half day was already gone so we toured Hidimba Devi temple and Mall road, as they were within a radius of 2 Km from our hotel.

The way towards Hidimba Devi Temple is full of Deodar trees. Picturesque and serene, the walk was mesmerizing with sunshine playing in the cover of leaves and clouds posing for the shutterbugs. The temple premises is located amid huge trees and greenery. At a first look it seemed more of an old Japanese house. The outer walls was decorated with skulls of wild animals mostly deer and mountain sheep. The best part was due to its location most tourists avoid visiting the temple or miss it assuming it to be a usual Hindu temple. But the surrounding is marvelous. As we entered the small temple, the lovely fragrance of scented sticks greeted our senses. The temple is peaceful and quiet.
The small forest surrounding the temple is also something what I couldn’t miss. The forest premises was absolutely peaceful inside the lush green forest. The sound of water from nearby river just added to the beauty of the place.

Ladies with mountain rabbits thronged the place lending the animals for pictures at rupees twenty to pose for pictures; don’t understand how they are doing it because it is not permitted under the wildlife protection act. We also encountered a foreigner sitting with a snake and renting it for picture. Imagine a lady like her giving us tips for good luck who looked like she lost all of her money in drugs! People will also try to sell local sex boosters like shilajit and herbs for hair growth. Ttrust me they will also give you 100% guarantee for the result.

We reached Mall road after 20 minute walk from Hidimba Devi Temple. Mall road is small and full of local shops mostly selling foods and souvenirs. One can also pick local clothes like the famous Himachali cap.

We heard about the worth visiting Tibetan Monastery on Mall Road. My excitement knew no bounds since it was my first experience. The place is very beautiful and calm. The main entrance of the temple was “guarded” with very friendly dogs. My wife was like n heaven as those dogs were super cute and cuddly. I also experienced turning the prayer wheel chanting the mantra which my wife taught me. She even clicked a selfie with one of the dogs.



On our way back we went to the office of Himachal taxi union to book a taxi to Rohtang pass and Solang valley. We found a very honest driver and he broke a shocking piece of news to us. All activities in Rohtang and Solang were terminated by the National Green Tribunal court and the only activity left was the ropeway in Solang Valley. He agreed to ferry us to both the places in Rs.1500. Due to the restrictions, tourism has dropped in Manali and hence the huge discount on fares. He even told us about AAP campaign by the name of “Himachal Bachao” to help the local taxi drivers. We planned the itenary for the next day and agreed to leave from hotel at 8:30 am next morning.

I felt something different when I returned to the hotel room. There was complete silence. We city residents are not used to such silence so it was little strange for me. But honestly it was very relaxing.
Next morning I woke up little early to catch some early morning images. I managed to capture some beautiful images of hills, trees and also the hotel garden. The first light of the Sun on mountains and trees felt like inner bliss.

Day two of the trip coming soon...