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...
Day two of the trip coming soon...