A Wanderer's Guide to Quixotic Getaways in Manali
India is spread across a vast geographical area. Because of this, there are different terrains inside the country that you can explore. From desserts to beaches, this country has got the full package. So after hanging out in Delhi, my friends and I decided to change terrains; we headed up north to Himachal Pradesh, and spent a few days in the resort town of Manali.
Manali is simply beautiful, serene and soothing. It would be unjust to even try to describe it in too specific terms. It was simply heavenly, and the weather was cool and the place was gorgeous; it was the perfect place to “get away” to. There is a quiet and peacefulness that lingers around you wherever you go. People live life at their own pace, and go through their days without the stress and strain induced by the busy city lives we all are generally used to. The people are warm and genuinely friendly, quick to smile and hard to let go from.
Farming seemed to be the main source of livelihood for the people, especially from crops and plants such as maize and apples. Apple orchards were grown and livestock was reared on top of the surrounding hills, where the conditions were optimal for plant growth and fruition. Farmers, men and women and children alike, climb the hills everyday to tend to the animals and orchards. It amazes me just thinking about how athletic and nimble the farmers were in climbing up and coming down the hills; practice surely makes perfect.
We arrived in Manali after a back-breaking 12 hour long bus ride, changing buses multiple times along the way. We had booked everything via a tour agency package, so unlike before, we didn’t have to worry about the hassles of booking accommodation and dining. It took us another half hour to reach our hotel, a cozy retreat built into the side of a hill. We had some fantastic panoramic views from the place. The staff were great and service was excellent. We also dined indoors for most of our meals, and experienced a great variety of local vegetarian and non-vegetarian tastes in their dishes. It was also apple harvest season, so apples were in great abundance. These fresh and succulent bites were some of the best I have had of the fruit.
Our hotel was on the outskirts of Manali, and we spent a great deal of time roaming through the hills surrounded by nature. We also did visit the central areas of Manali, along with some of the tourist attractions. One of the most notable hangouts was the Hidimba Devi temple area, where a Hindu temple stands shadowed by a forest of pine trees. These wooden beasts towering well over our heads were certainly a magnificent sight in the early morning hours. We also visited the Club House, which was a great place to play some games, enjoy some snacks and just hang out in general.
The highlight of our trip was undoubtedly the visit to Rohtang Pass. Rohtang Pass is a high mountain pass located about 30 miles outside Manali, and 4000 meters above sea level. We set out early in the morning to Reach Rohtang Pass, taxied by who must have been the best guide in the town. We had some amazing views of the whole area during the ride, and quite enjoyed learning about the area and the people from the driver. When we finally reached the pass, there was only a small crowd in the area so we had a lot of space to ourselves to enjoy as a group. We also had a lot of fun trying to reach the peak of a mountain, and failing miserably. It was a great though; coming from a low lying island nation, the barren mountainous parcel of land was completely new to us.
It was with a heavy heart that we ended our time in this fairy tale like town. After spending five amazing days in the comfort and tranquility of Manali, we headed back to Delhi as our vacation came to a close. It was a unique experience, and I am definitely looking forward to going back to this retreat soon.