Day 3 - From Chandigarh to Manali
14th June, 2013
We had decided to start our journey at 4:30 in the morning. As planned everybody woke up at 4. By 4:30 we started loading our bikes. We wore our helmets, Riding Jacket, Knee Guards, and Riding Gloves. We were ready in our riding avatars. It had already dawned at such early hours. We realized sun shines earlier in northern parts of the country as compared to Mumbai. I observed that sky was cloudy and there was pleasant chill in the air. By 5:30 we started our journey. About half an hour later we were on Manali highway and it started drizzling. We took it lightly and continued riding, assuming it would stop soon. Soon light drizzle turned into a moderate rain. We pulled over and took a shelter at a Petrol Pump on a roadside. We wore our rainy wears and hit the road again. Soon we were out of the city. The roads were good and mostly there were farms on both sides which gave us a pleasant riding experience. After riding for around two hours we stopped at “Beas Vaisho Dhaba” by the roadside. The paranthas were mouthwatering. I rubbed full cube of butter on these paranthas and enjoyed it with a cup of hot tea. After finishing our breakfast we headed straight for Manali.
By the time sun rose higher in the sky we noticed the temperature dropping down, that only meant that we had begun our ascend towards Manali. By lunch time Avinash spotted a very small nice Dhaba which had amazing Mountain View in the backdrop. Even though it was midafternoon, the Sun was hardly visible due to cloudy weather but it had stopped raining now. We enjoyed yet another delicious meal. The paranthas and Dal makhni I had here was the most delicious north Indian meal I have ever had in my life. We finished our lunch, paid our bill, complimented the two owners of the Dhaba for such delicious meal, hopped back on our bikes and started riding. The straight roads had now become curvy which slowed us down. We were riding at an average speed of 25 Kmph. Honestly speaking the journey towards Manali was breathtakingly beautiful. Every curve on the road presented us with new beautiful scenery. I began to think that single pair of eyes is not going to be enough to take in the beauty of this place. I wondered if the road to Manali is so beautiful then how it would be when we’d be in the mystical lands of Ladakh.
We were soon riding parallel to the Beas River. This river was so beautiful yet so mighty that I wanted to spend the entire day sitting on its banks. There was something different about riding along this river. I observed that our road would run straight on a mountain side for some time then it would take a sharp 90 degree turn at a bridge. This bridge would take us across the river on the other side. Then again it would run straight and after a while we would find ourselves on the other side of the river. It was similar to Spiderman swinging in the Manhattan city from one skyscraper to the other. We soon began to observe huge mountains covered with long pine trees. Along with amazing sights I also noticed some weird road signs (In Hindi) such as “Aage Teekha Mod Hai” and “Aage Sadak Tang Hai”. Maybe I found them weird because of the cultural and language differences. After all, I was thousands of Kilometers away from my city.
Our road came brought us to a dam. We were riding on top of it. The water released from the dam was falling down with immense force and created a mist as soon as hit the bottom. It was a beautiful sight to see but we had no time to stop as it was evening and sun had begun to set. As we rode further the road went through mountains. The roads were carved out of the mountain side. It had an appearance of a tunnel except that the side facing the river was completely open leaving only arch like rock formation above us. In this patch of the road the sky was visible only as blue strip above our heads as rest of the sky was occupied with mountains from all the sides.
Soon the road became narrow and we got stuck in heavy traffic jam. The day turned into night and we were still 20 Kms away from our destination. With our current speed it was going to take us another hour to reach. Somehow we managed to move out of the jam. When we reached Manali it started raining again. We had a terrible time finding accommodation as all the hotels were already occupied with huge numbers of tourists, as it was a peak season. Every inch of our bike and us were now wet with rain. Me, Avinash and Rajesh were running in different directions in search of accommodation. Me and Rajesh even rode 2.5 Kms in search of a Guest House as a passerby told us that there are chances of finding good accommodations on the other side of the river.
Unfortunately the rooms were not available in the guest house but a local shopkeeper came to me and said he can get us a room for some extra money. My phone rang. It was Avinash on the other side. He had managed to find a hotel room for us. Since the hotel was newly opened and was not completely built, very few people knew about it. The room was huge and expensive. Therefore all five of us stayed in the same room. The temperature in Manali was 14 degrees but rain had created a chaos. Our hotel had no restaurant therefore we found a nice restaurant in the main market area called “Khyber Restaurant”. The ambience and food, both were good in this cafe.
Day 4 - Sight Seeing in Manali
15th June, 2013
We had decided to spend the day sightseeing in Manali. We woke up at 8 and one by one started taking bath. Since we all were sharing the same room it took us a long time to get ready. Today we took a bath after three days. By the time everyone got ready it was 12 am. The ideal time for breakfast had long been passed. So we headed for having a brunch in the same “Khyber Restaurant” where we had dinner a day before.
We had paranthas again for a meal. Ever since we started our journey we’ve been feasting on paranthas only. After having our brunch, Rajesh headed for a mechanic hunt. He had to get his bike fixed as it was giving problem while climbing up on ascends. His wife Kinjal went to the market while I, Avinash and Maithili headed for visiting Hidimba temple. As a legend in the great Hindu Epic “Mahabharata”, Hidimba was Bhima’s wife. Their marriage took place during Pandava’s exile. Hidimba and Bhima even had a child named “Ghatotkacha” who played important role in the war of the Kurukshetra. I had seen this beautiful temple for the first time in the movie “Roja”. It was still raining in Manali and sun was not visible due to the thick blanket of clouds. The day was looking very dull.
Our walk to Hidimba temple was 2 kms long but the continuous rain, heavy traffic jams on the narrow roads of Manali and steep ascends made it difficult. To make the matter worse, my socks were drenched inside my shoes and even my T-shirt was wet even though I was wearing my jacket on top of it.
The sight of Hidimba temple was amazingly beautiful. The long pine trees, mountains in the backdrop were making it look even more beautiful. We saw local women holding cute furry Rabbits in their hands. They charged 20 bucks for letting tourists borrow their rabbits for taking photographs. Maithili got her photo taken with a Rabbit and then Avinash and I did the same. We looked around and spotted a small museum. We went to see it. The museum had displays of cultural festivals, weapons and tools used by the locals and the History of Himachal Pradesh.
Once we were out of the museum, we came straight to our hotel room and buried ourselves under warm and cozy blankets. Avinash and I started feeling sick. Prerana Mawshi who has a great travelling experience had told us that in North, river water has considerably higher mica content which results in diarrhea, but once body gets used to it, the symptoms go away. I guess this was what affecting both of us. Considering our health condition we decided to have a light dinner. Next day we had to cross the very first high altitude pass of our journey. Rohtang pass is a very famous tourist attraction among all who visit Manali. We received news that due to heavy snowfall for past 2-3 days, Rohtang pass has been closed. We finished our dinner and went to the traffic police office. The police confirmed that the news is correct. That meant we had to spend one more day in Manali. Anyways with the belief that whatever happens, happens for good, we accepted the situation happily.
To be continued…