Well this is not a travelogue of Europe, US or any foreign land, the fact that I have not been there, but an account of my trip to a paradise nestled in the mighty Himalayas, Manali. Yes, Manali…I am sure everyone has heard of this quaint, little yet famous town of Himachal Pradesh. The Bollywood movies have also contributed to its popularity. Many have been to this place, so find it dull, but the ethereal beauty of this place compelled me to put down my experiences on this wonderful platform, which had been stored in my mind for five years.
1st April, 2010…En route to Delhi aboard the Rajdhani Express, our small family- my dad, mom and I set off on our way to Himachal Pradesh with high anticipation. A 3-hour technical halt near Patna blew our minds; nevertheless we reached New Delhi the next day in the afternoon. After a visit to my relatives place, we returned to New Delhi station to board the Kalka Mail to Kalka around 10 pm.
2nd April….We reached Kalka at dawn. Two long train journeys in two days almost drained energy out of our body…still ready to move on…as if to accomplish an endeavor. We revitalized ourselves with a heavy breakfast in a highway dhaba and proceeded to Shimla on a taxi. After 3 hours, we reached the place. The weather was quite chilling, typical of a hill station. My mom had almost fainted out of tiredness; so we moved to our hotel room. An appetizing meal and slumber for 4 hours were enough for us to travel after an almost arduous journey. A local tour guide with his taxi was waiting outside the hotel to take us for a local tour of the place. We visited The Mall, Kufri, Chail Cricket Stadium, Green Valley, Sankat Mochan Temple etc. We returned to our hotel by 7:00 pm, had our dinner and went for a good sleep, as the very next morning, we had to visit our dream destination, Manali.
3rd April…. Around 8 am, we set off for Manali in a private taxi. It was a 230 km ride but the cool weather and the pristine beauty of the surroundings did not exhaust us. On our way we stopped at various tourist spots like Sundarnagar Lake, Pandoh Dam, Vaishno Devi temple etc. We reached Manali in the evening. A frosty wind welcomed us to the paradise. Manali is located in a valley with the snow clad Himalayas at its vicinity. We were amazed to see the Mighty Himalayas at such a close proximity. We moved to our hotel room and refreshed ourselves.
4th April… Our destination was Rohtang Pass, on the Himachal-Jammu Border. It was a journey amidst the snowy mountains. On our way we stopped at Snow Point, a large snow field perfect for skiing. We also stopped at the scenic Rahalla Falls which left us spellbound. With full vigor we were on our way to Rohtang. But luck was not with us that day as we came to know that a landslide blocked the road to the pass. The landslide marred all our excitement; nevertheless with a heavy heart we returned to our room. In the evening we visited the market and bought some locally made products.
5th April….We had a local tour of Manali. At first, we were taken to the Hidimba Temple, a beautifully stone carved temple dedicated to Princess Hidimba, wife of Bhima as written in Mahabharata. The temple is hidden in a thick forest. One could easily find solace here. The tranquility of this place did not let us go. We also saw a huge footprint carved on a rock, considered to be that of Hidimba. Our next stop was Manu Temple, a temple built in Himachali style of sage Manu, the first human being according to Hindu Mythology. The temple was full of monkeys but that did not bother the tourists. Then a halt in Vashishta Ashram full of waterfalls and hot water springs made us all ecstatic. We also had our meal near the Ashram. We then visited a beautiful Tibetan monastery. It was built on similar lines as the world-famous Tawang Monastery. This brought an end to our lovely sojourn in Manali. We moved back to our hotel room.
6th April…In the morning we took a bus to Chandigarh as the very next day we had to catch our flight to Guwahati from Delhi. Every one of us with a sad face bade farewell to the Himalayan town with a promise of visiting again. The trip to Manali will remain etched in my heart.