I could never imagine what a true 'Himalaya ki Godh main' experience would be. It is like nature has uplifted you to an entirely new space where you get a chance to witness God's craftsmanship. Manali is rightly called the 'Valley of the Gods'.
We took an overnight bus from Delhi to reach Manali early morning. Manali bus stand is right in the middle of the city; you get the feel of a small town. A look around and you will see tons of autos, small restaurants, travel agencies, small and big hotels, souvenir stores, open chai (tea) shops, shawl shops and of course many many tourists. Yes! Tourism is a major source of income here.
After a long, bumpy, tiring bus ride, it was a pleasure to enjoy the spectacular view from our hotel room. Long pine trees everywhere with snow peaked mountains in the background enveloped by wide open sky! The scotching heat of the month of May in Delhi was already faded far behind. Another interesting thing I should mention were the apple trees! I had never seen apple trees in my life. And in Manali you can see them everywhere. And lots of big red roses too! Beautiful.
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We decided to go around the city for the rest of the day. There are quite a lot of tourist attractions within walkable distance.
The roads in Manali are narrow and rocky. There is a small bridge over the river Beas which you need to cross to go anywhere outside the city. Only one vehicle is allowed to pass over it at a time. With no traffic police, it is worth seeing how vehicle owners make their way over the bridge.
This is the view we get all along the way. Look all around and all you see are the snow covered mountains, hidden behind the clouds; giving you a feeling of comfort and happiness that there is some place on mother earth where nature does all the talking and not humans. You realize how small and fake humans are before the mightiness of real and pure existence. The calmness in the place forces you to stay in the present; you can hear your heart beat; makes you listen to your breath. You can smell the freshness in the air. The trip up above was very fulfilling.
As we moved along, we could see many small areas between mountains where people had set up small tea/snacks shops. People were enjoying skiing and snowmobiling too. We decided to go further ahead as far as the roads were open.
It was getting colder as we moved up the mountain. It gave a feel of what the soldiers at the Ind-Pak border may be going through specially in harsh winters. I however cannot imagine how anyone can have the vigour or zest to take lives in a place which feels close to heaven.
Btw, on our way we saw couple of people on motorbikes too. I am sure they must be having backaches after their long ride. Finally we reached a point where the vehicles could not go any further. We parked the car and started walking in the snow. A few minutes of walking and suddenly we came to a wide open snow field. There were many people around; it looked like a festival. Everyone was wearing bright colored snow suits; some were busy clicking pictures; others learning to skii; one place we saw a couple playing in the snow. They used to walk by a small slopy area and roll down in the snow- the way they show in the movies. It was hilarious! The entire place was surrounded by mountains. You could only look at them with a feeling of awe and admiration.
Soon we had to head back to the hotel else we would be caught in the traffic on the narrow slopes. We didn't want to leave but were left with no choice. But Rohtang Pass will continue to remain a very special experience for Navin and me.
Next day we decided to explore a small and beautiful village named Naggar about 25 kms from Manali. The houses in Naggar are very small and are located all along small hills.