I am a Taurus, so I am not very fond of travelling. I prefer chilling at home, have a nice meal and watch some rom-com movie on my couch.
I had Christmas holidays at school (I am a teacher). I had gone to Goa, with my friends, for the first time. It was a fun experience and I got the feeling for the first time that I had planned my holidays well. This experience changed my thought process and I made it a point of travelling, whenever I had holidays.
I had summer vacations (in May), so I planned a vacation with my parents to Manali, through Veena world, for 6 days.
I chose Manali because I wanted to touch snow. I had never touched snow; it was one of the things to do on my wish list. It was a spiritual (visited temples and scenic beauty) and an emotional (went with parents) journey.
Each day had some great adventures.
Day 1: 13-May-2019
I had to take a flight from Pune Airport and fly to Delhi. From Delhi, the tour manager had arranged a bus to go to Chandigarh.
At Chandigarh, I visited the Rock garden. It is a sculpture garden entirely constructed from industrialized discarded, scrapings, household waste and thrown-away bits and pieces.
It shows that how unwanted things can also be brought together and made into something so magnificent. With our ongoing pollution problems, this amazing structure has shown that the things we discard can be used into building such beautiful tourist places and help reduce pollution.
It has waterfalls, which is a photography point, it looks scenic. It’s a completely different environment and gave me a rural village feel.
Day 2: 14-May-2019
I started my bus journey from Chandigarh to Manali. On the way, I visited the famous Kullu Shawl Factory. It was a shop in the basement of a shabby building. At the side of the shop was a small area, which was turned into a small room, where a person showed us how the shawls were woven with different colours and designs.
I bought sweaters for my mother, my sister in law and myself. It had a wide range of woollen products. I started my journey to Manali. I could start feeling the weather changing. It was cold when I finally reached my wooden hotel room. It was a tiring journey so I slept once I hit the comfy bed.
Day 3: 15-May-2019
My dream to touch snow was just a few hours away. I had never touched snow. The schedule for the third day was to travel to Rohtang Snow Point. We had started from my hotel at 3 am. We had to travel to Rohtang Snow Point in the car.
My driver was a friendly man, he loved talking. He told me about how the roads get blocked due to traffic after 9 am. (while returning we could see a line of cars just standing due to traffic).
I rented the Snow Clothes (Dungaree). This includes a jacket and gumboots. From my Manali hotel room to Rohtang pass was a 51 kilometres car drive.
The most remarkable car drives, in my life, is the car drive from Manali to Rohtang Snow Point. It was very cold. The drive up the steep mountain was breathtaking. I looked down from my car window. It was scary and a beautiful view, at the same time. I could see a green stretch of landscape with some waterfalls and Beas river flowing in her own glory.
Travel really changes your thought process and increases the curiosity to see the rest of the world. I started wondering how the locals managed to stay in such a place, where travellers crowd the place, and on other days, when the weather is bad, everything just shuts down, including electricity!!!!
I reached the snow point. I walked a distance in my heavy clothes, which were not enough to bear cold. I climbed a little, just to get someplace to sit, on the snow-covered mountain. I removed my gloves and touched snow for the first time. It was a magical experience. I don’t know why, but I had tears in my eyes when I first touched snow.
I made snowballs and tossed them in the air and hit it to see it splash. I played and enjoyed myself in the snow. I had asked my father, “In mythological TV shows, they showed that saints sat on snow-covered mountains and meditated in just a saffron cloth. Wonder how they managed to stay warm?” He had said, “The saints had inner warmth achieved by meditation and self-control.” A thought crept in my mind that, maybe Lord Shiva must be somewhere on that mountain meditating and smiling at my naïve nature.
I had hired a photographer, who took pictures of me, sliding in the tyre, me with skiing blades (which I just wore to click pictures, my first-time experience, I don’t know to ski) and a Yak ride, in which I almost fell.
The drive back to the hotel, I felt calm, spiritual and emotional. This car drive, helped me strike out the snow experience in my things-to-do list. It gave me a feeling of achievement.
In the evening, the travel agency had arranged for a cultural and traditional Himachali folk dance. It was beautiful. It’s Indian, so of course, it was colourful. In the end, all the travellers participated in the dance. It was fun. It showed me, how we can collaborate with unknown people through art forms, where each one experiences their own beat of happiness.
Day 4: 16-May-2019
I love visiting temples mostly to know their history. I explored the ancient temples of Manali. I visited the Vashisht Kund, dedicated to Vashistha Rishi located in Vashishta village, across the River Beas.
The Vashisht Kund is one of the most well-known sightseeing fascinations in Manali. The temple is thought to be more than 4000 years old. I clicked some pictures in this temple. It has a hot water spring. I dipped my leg in d spring water. This water is said to have skin healing properties. The leg dip was a relief from the cold weather, I wished I had time to just relax and bathe in this holy warm water.
The next visit was to the Hidimba Mandir. It is a prehistoric cave temple devoted to Hidimbi Devi. She was the wife of Bhima, one of the five Pandavas, from the epic Mahabharata.
Later, we visited the Solang Valley. I enjoyed the “Ropeway Ride” with my father as my mother has fear of heights. It was beautiful scenery. I could see, tall trees under our ropeway box, some snow-covered mountains at a distance and a large green landscape. Each day, nature showed me how it gets better and better each day.
The ride helped us reach the middle of a mountain. There was a small stall, they rented the Himachali traditional clothes. I rented a Himachali dress with jewellery and clicked pictures (hired a photographer). The view from that height was mesmerizing. I stood at the edge of the flat land near the stall and breathed deep. Fresh air!!
Day 5: 17-May-2019
It was time to travel back to Chandigarh from Manali. On the way, we would wait for Water Rafting in the cool white waters of Beas River.
The water rafting area, had a small garden, washrooms to change and a few stalls selling snacks. I had worn my track pants and t-shirt and rented the river rafting jacket and a helmet. I had never done river rafting before. We had to walk towards the river through a muddy lane without shoes. It was cold.
I stepped into the raft. I could feel the chills; the waters were extremely cold. It had to be cold, as it was the waters coming from the snow-covered mountains. With each splash of water, I screamed, which I hadn’t screamed my heart out for a long time. It was a 45-minute ride with a lot of screams.
It was an out of this world – amazing experience.
Day 6: 18-May-2019
I reached Chandigarh. I could feel the change in weather. It was a bit warmer, but with a breeze. Nature adjusts itself according to the areas. I had one last site to explore – Rose Garden.
During May month, there were no roses in the garden. The garden was huge with plenty of trees to provide greenery.
We reached our Chandigarh hotel by noon. I relaxed on my bed and thought of all my 6 days of experiences. I had a flight back to Pune in the evening.
When I reached home, I jumped into my bed, Home sweet home.
It certainly was a summer vacation well spent ….!!!