It was a bright sunny morning when we started our journey to manali. We had to catch a flight to Delhi and from there we had booked an volvo to manali. We had our flight scheduled to Delhi at 10:50 a.m.
The flight was on time and i was excited for 2 main reasons, one as this was my first long distance tour and secondly because i was traveling by flight for the first time. I wished for the window seat.When we got into the flight, as luck would have it, there was this 20 something guy sitting by the window listening to his iPod. My wish for the window seat was crushed, i cursed that guy and sat down on my seat at the corner mainly because he was covering the view outside.The flight started to take off and i could get few glances of the devanalli airport from the top. It looked beautiful.
We reached Delhi at around 2.30 p.m.The cabin crew announced the temperature there as 39 degrees.As we stepped out of the flight, we could feel the hot air. It felt as if i will get burned if i stood there for more than 10-15min.Compared to bangalore it was very hot.We decided to stay in the airport for some more time as the bus was at 5:45 p.m.
We left the airport at around 3.30 p.m and booked a taxi for janpath road.The roads in delhi are very large and well kept.There was no road half dug, as this was an usual sight in bangalore.The taxi driver asked us the location for the stop and we informed him that it was janpath road but he told us that it was a huge road and needed the exact location for the stop so he called up A1 tours (our travel booking) to find out the exact location for the bus and found out that it was near imperial building on janpath road. We passed the IndiaGate and few hotels to reach our busstop.It was around 4 p.m and we still had time for the bus to arrive. We decided to have lunch in one of the hotels and we choose swagath in LeMeridian as it was the closest.We had south Indian and it was quite good. By the time we finished and came out it was raining heavily outside, we reached the bus stop and took shelter under a tree and waited for our bus. The bus was on time and it had stopped raining as well.
I sat at the window seat as it has always been my favorite.The bus started moving and i could see that the roads looked familiar, i mean they were dug here and there and not closed properly.There were slums by the otherside of the road. There were many parks and all the parks were filled with kids, may be because it was evening time.
There was a dinner break at 9pm but i decided not to eat anything as i didnt like the hotel ambience.We bought some chips packets and got into the bus.There were a few foreigners
discussing manali and indian trip in general.It seemed like they had visited the place earlier.
The bus started after the break and we went back to sleep. we were provided with warm blankets and water bottles from the travels. I thought it was a nice gesture from there side.
It was around 8 am in the morning when we reached manali.We had our next breakfast break and the bus halted.I was very hungry and cursed myself for not having dinner the previous night.I felt the puking sensation and could not even think of eating anything.I got down the bus and washed my face with water.I felt better but not very well.
We reached the private bus stand at 10 am and took a cab to Royal Orchard Hotel where we had a reservation for the next 5 days of our stay there.The cab driver was quite friendly and explained to us the places as we passed them.He told us about the mall road market place and then the Hadimba temple that was close by.We reached the hotel, The hotel itself was a beautiful place.The ambience was great and the staff were very friendly. There was a garden spread out in the front of the hotel where there were many types of flowers and 2 apple trees which bore small green apples with a hint of pink as though they were blushing :).I had all intention of plucking them but could not.There were 2 swings on the lawn which i loved.
We completed the hotel formalities and went into our room.It had a balcony which opened into a huge garden and behind it was green mountains full of pine trees.It was perfect place to sit and have evening coffee.Anyone could sit there for hours just staring at the the beauty of the place doing nothing.The room was a comfortable one and looked nice.We were very tired to travel anywhere on the same day so we decided to stay in the room and take rest for sometime.Later in the evening we went to mall road market place where we did some shopping. In the evening we had a surprise in store.The lawn was beautifully arranged for the dinner and there was light music arranged for the guests.It was very cold in the night and i used the shawl i had purchased the same day in mall road.The dinner was good but because of the cold weather we could not sit in the lawn for long.
The next day we started early in the morning at around 6 am to Rohtang pass with our very own local guide Mohan sharma in the hotel cab.Mohanji was a 45 something man who had a wierd accent which i found difficult to follow but he was a localite and new all the places very well. He explained to us about all the places we passed by.We were planning for skiing there so we had to buy the snow uniform.There were like n number of shops that provided them for rent.We stopped at one of them, which mohanji suggested as being the cheapest, the shop owner told us that it will cost us 1500/- along with a trainer for the whole day.We agreed as we had no other options though we felt that it was a little too much as we had already shelled out 1500/- for the cab to take us to Rohtang pass. I started putting on the uniform, a scorpio crawled out of it and i got so scared but the shopkeeper told that it was common there.I put on the uniform as i didnt have a choice.Then we got the skiing stuff and placed it in the cab and continued our journey.The locations were beautiful, there were so many small falls on the way but Rahla falls was the one which caught our attention. It was a perfect falls, not very thin, not very huge. After this there was one more falls that caught our attention, it was as it the mountains had decided to break open and pour out water it looked perfect.Mohanji told us that it was a artificial falls, in the sense it was the water used for hydroelectric power generation.
We reached the snow point. It was a chain of mountains that were covered with snow. There were small ponds here and there.We reached a point where we could get going with our skiing practice.The trainer showed us how and we learnt it quickly.It was no rocket science and if there is someone to support u from falling, holding ur back, then its just a piece of cake.But one thing we felt was it was very tiring on the snow.We finished our skiing and roamed about a little and decided to return to the hotel at around 3pm.The road that led to the snow point was very narrow and there was a huge traffic jam while coming back. On the way we had to stop for 10-15 min sometimes so that the traffic gets cleared.There was paragliding going on and i watched in exitement and never felt like trying it, maybe i was too scared for that.Then we came down further and saw some enthusiasts in the hot air ballon.I wanted to try it but i was too tired for the day.
At night we had candle light dinner and soft music playing.For the next day we had planned for Manikaran which was famous for the hot water spring and more than that we wanted to go river rafting.We packed bag for seperate set of clothes.
We had breakfast and left for the days adventure at around 10 am. Today we travelled in a different path in the interior where we came aross many small villages. There were apple trees in front of every house i saw and flowers of many kinds kept in small pots.Mohanji explained that the prime source of income of the people there was apple cultivation apart from tourists.
SoniaGandhi was visiting Rohtang for some inaguration, due to security reasons many activities were closed for the day so was rafting.We reached a hotel from where mohanji used his contacts to find out where river rafting was being held.We had to shell out another 1500/- for rafting. It was 7km long path on river vyas.This was the river that flows all over manali.The location where we rafted was where river vyas and river parvathi joined.We could easily make out because parvathi was kind of muddy water whereas vyas was crystal clean. There was many small rocks in the river that made it ideal for rafting.
After changing we continued to manikaran, we stopped for lunch in hillview hotel which had nice garden and probably the best food we had there till then apart from Royal Orchard ofcourse.
Manikaran had a sikh temple and that explained all the sikh people lined up in the road to it. Road to it was very narrow and the traffic was huge.We thought we might get stuck while coming back and we came back half way itself. While returning it started raining and we fell asleep in the cab.We visited the vaishno temple on our way back to hotel.This temple was still under construction and internally had 11 temples of various Gods and Goddess like ram,hanuman,durga,kali,krishna etc.It resembled the ISKON with many shops inside for books,bangles etc...
At night we had the usual candle light dinner with soft music.Then we walked into the garden and sat on the swing fro sometime chatting.Mohanji had told us that he might not come the next day as he had been booked by other tourists.we spoke to him and asked him to come if at all he is free.we decided to have a local tour for ourselfs the next day.
Next day morning it was very hot and we decided to go out in the evening so we stayed back at our room in the morning after breakfast.In the evening we went to Hadimba temple about 2 km from our hotel, by walk.It was pretty crowded but we managed to go in.The temple had a brass mask of hadimba(Mother of Gatothkach).We moved down to the market place and had some chats.Then we visted the local museum which had antiques ranging from vessels, ornaments, daily articles, pictures, models of temples and houses etc stored. There was a Gatothkach tree nearby.Then we walked towards the club house which was located few kms from there.It was a shopping complex kind of place which had everything videogames, boating, hotels, shops etc..We decided on boating.We bought the entry ticket which cost us 100/- and we were allowed to peddle for 15 min across the tunel through which water was pumped artificially.
Then we went into a antique shop and bought a lamp and few more stuff and walked back to our Hotel.By this time it was around 8 and really cold but we enjoyed the walk.
This was the last day of our stay.We got up late, had breakfast and came down to the manager to discuss the billing.The Manager and his wife asked us to pose for the photograph and what came as a surprise was the managers wife brought down some traditional manali clothes and she even helped us put it on.We posed in front of my favorite apple trees.Then we got into the room and started to pack.By 2 pm we came down and finished all the billing formalities.The manager handed over the framed photo that was taken in the morning along with a kulu cap.we thanked him and bid goodbye.
On our flight back from Delhi to Bangalore luckily i got the window seat and i was all excited about it. when the flight started to take off,i could hear the lady behind me chanting some prayers.I liked the view outside.Once we were about 35000 feet above ground, i could see the clouds below us.It seemed as though we were in antartic region with icebergs covering us.
It was an experience for lifetime.