Himachal Diaries – Manali

Backtracking is not what I usually do when I am explaining anything, but then I prefer to tread upon those paths first in my journey up to the North which amaze me the most. It had ended with Dharamshala and how the little city amazed me with its atmosphere accompanied by the homeliness as well as the friendliness on the part of the people.

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Manali
View from my cottage in Manali

Backtracking is not what I usually do when I am explaining anything, but then I prefer to tread upon those paths first in my journey up to the North which amaze me the most. It had ended with Dharamshala and how the little city amazed me with its atmosphere accompanied by the homeliness as well as the friendliness on the part of the people.

Manali was what happened before Dharamshala in our trip to the North. I can clearly affirm that our holiday was defined by our stay at Manali and the luxury of the place which clearly defined why we had chosen it to be our primary destination on the trip.

We had a physically tiring journey from Delhi to Manali by bus which was supposed to be 15 hours which in itself was a lot ended up going to 18 hours. It was the journey from Kullu to the Manali Bus stand which seemed to be never-ending and by that time the frustration of the travelers too was evident as all our backs had become stiff from sitting for so long, the stops on the way didn’t serve our purpose of relieving ourselves of the uncomfortable journey in any way too.

After the tiring ordeal, we were really looking out for our hotel which had impressed us on the Internet while we were doing our bookings, but wanted to see it in real to believe it and right enough it didn’t disappoint us at all. It was situated on a hilltop and once we reached our cottage it was nothing less than scenic beauty for me personally because I had never seen something like it in real and if I did, it was only in paintings.

After selecting our spots in the house for the soon approaching first cozy night in Manali, we went to our terraces, not one but three of them to feel the cold winter air of the chilly town. We were welcomed by our two cooks, who would be cooking for us for the rest of our stay. We, not wanting to have the usual chicken which was a group favorite decided to go for the Indian favorite on any day with Dal and Rice, I know it may sound boring, but believe me after tasting some disappointing Dhaba food in Chicken Biryani, we decided why not go for simple yet tasty food for the hungry like us. After relishing the food, some took to the chairs which were placed in the balcony overlooking the Shivalik Ranges and snow-capped mountains. The rest retired for the day in their cozy beds and taking in the ambiance of the cottage with the lighting which made it feel very warm compared to the surroundings.

Waking up the next day to excitement and haughty breakfast we decided to travel to the all famous Rohtang Pass of Manali. Unluckily for us, the Rohtang Pass had been closed because of the roads being blocked by ice all the way to the top and was open only to the Army and not people. So we could go only till the base known as Snow Point. We booked a vehicle for easy travel which was Rs 400 for one person seemed quite reasonable for a day’s trip around town.

We travelled to Snow Point amidst a beautiful and scenic environment, it was a first for me seeing snow and my happiness knew no bounds and the same eagerness was felt by my friends too in childish ways of playing in the snow and making footprints in it along the way. I was surprised to see traffic at such a high altitude, but then given that it was a tourist spot, crowd was expected at all times according to our driver. We reached Snow Point after a few delays on the way. If I could use one common adjective or word among Indians I would call it a smaller Maha Kumbh Mela! Why? the crowd spanned every inch that was walkable on snow in that area, right from saree-clad newly-weds along with their husbands, climbing the hill on foot accompanied by sticks for support to children from 3-12 years playing mischief among themselves in the snow and taking pride in aiming snow balls correctly at their targets handpicked by them.

Hungry as we always are everywhere we go, eating the famous Maggi (accompanied by vegetables and the cook’s spices) at Snow Point in Manali, summed up our afternoon there. But not before going for tyre rides downhill and ended up getting greeted by hairy yaks and their riders to go yak riding along the stretch. Our wish of going paragliding took surface when we saw miniature birds flying on artificial wings in the skies and thankfully at the same time we saw a tanned native approaching us and asking if we would like to go paragliding. We literally grabbed the opportunity with both hands and priced on the higher side at Rs 1500, it seemed little for us given that we were on holiday and wanted to do everything that we could to enjoy our stay in Manali.

With this ended our second day in Manali on an enjoyable note. We reached home and freshened up to resign for the day in partying the rest of the night till we dropped dead tired. Not knowing what to expect the next day we drifted off into deep slumber.

I end this article with the first half of our four-day stay in Manali, do come back for the rest of my trip.

Pictures and videos of our activities will be out soon. Look out for this space till then 🙂

Dharamshala- A place hardly known but now fully explored!

This can be called a sequel of what is yet unwritten, but never the less I had to, because this place (Dharamshala) intrigued me so much, that I could not resist my temptation to write about it.

'The people of Dharamshala'
                                                             ‘The people of Dharamshala’

This can be called a sequel of what is yet unwritten, but never the less I had to, because this place (Dharamshala) intrigued me so much, that I could not resist my temptation to write about it.

Dharamshala has an amazing stadium, and that’s what I want to see I had told my friends. It looked so amazing from the television screen that I thought it must feel like heaven to actually be there. That was the ONLY reason for me wanting to visit the city on my trip to the North.

The city was part of my itinerary on my first holiday with friends and without family. It comprised of visiting some of the favorite tourist destinations in the North being Delhi, Manali and finally Dharamshala which we hardly expected anything of in terms of sight- seeing

And that is what amazed me at the end of a trip that I will never forget. It will be etched in my memory forever, titled ‘A Visit to the North’.

So it was after a 12 hour journey from Manali by a personal mini-van that we reached the city of Dharamshala in the dead of night. My eyes were all groggy and took some time to get accustomed to the sudden stream of dim light coming from the hotel entrance and a particular aura of the place which was also getting clearly evident to me.

While our luggage was being unloaded, our rooms were being sorted out and all we had to do is collapse on the beds which yearned our presence. I immediately slipped into a deep slumber, so much so i do not remember what my friends were talking about! I only to got up the next day to the disturbing yet warming  sunlight that flooded my room.  And definitely seemed to be happy after receiving the comfort of a bed which I had longed for since leaving the cold city of Manali.

Since breakfast was a part of our package and we were all yearning for some really good food to satiate our hunger. We went up to our dining area situated under sufficient shade to block the sun which was forcefully waking us up to get up and about the place.  We decided to order something particular of the land and immediately my eyes landed on the HimView breakfast which consisted of everything normal with Tibetan Bread which interested me all the more along with other accompaniments.  We finished in no time and went off exploring the small city.

Within two minutes of us looking around we stumbled upon a tattoo parlour which got all of us excited to get tattoos done for ourselves but not knowing which one to choose from the wide variety the owner had with him. Our inclination for music only helped our trained eyes to find a guitar in the owner possessed. It was not long before we found ourselves playing and singing some of our favorite songs. Sensing we had interrupted the owners lunch we decided we better show ourselves out before we might end up getting kicked from there!

It was easy to roam the city because there was only one road encircling it. And as we set foot out of our hotel, it was the Dharamshala market that caught our eye and which went on to leave me in awe of the place. Everything looked so vibrant and colourful with the people of Himachal Pradesh greeting you with a warm smile which made the experience all the more memorable because their faces simply radiated their warmth and homeliness in this small town that would eventually want to make me visit it again. And also seeing tourists from across the world roam around with a care-free attitude and the eagerness to explore unknown lands made me even more want to go by the same road everyday that I would be staying there. And I did end up going every single time to be amused with something new on the streets or in the shops.

These visits for the next few days to the market and the shops along the road helped us meet people from other countries in the world and talking to them itself was made my day. The visits also made us taste food specialties like Momo’s which were said to be famous from this part of the country. I made it a point that everyday I went exploring the place, I would pass through the market which had never failed to draw my attention towards it. And every time i visited I bought souvenirs for my loved ones and feeling happy about the aspect of doing it.

Our visit to this Northern land had many other highlights to it like visiting the Dalai Lama Temple, understanding Tibetan history better when we visited the museum there. History we hardly knew anything about till then. Not to forget performing live for the first time (in my case) for an audience in Seed Cafe that had people from all over the world coming to catch a bite and drink with friends that were a perfect audience while we sang and played for them.

It can definitely be said that Small things come in Big packages and Dharamshala was once such place!

Looking forward to visit the city once more in my lifetime.