As the sunrays opened my eyes, I pulled open the curtains to see through the window of our bus. A river stream flowing alongside the road, peaks of white snow clad mountains forming a background in the sky and a few pahadi women selling deep red cherries and strawberries,t this was the first visual of the Himachal I had ,and is going to stay with me forever, no doubts.
Our trip to the state of Himalayas had just started. ‘Our’ here includes Sudeep Gupta, Shashank Sahu and Rajat Batra apart from me. After a gruesome fortnight of BITS examinations and Pilani heat, we owed it to ourselves; we had to give ourselves this pleasure! Though the trip was basically meant for those of us who were spending there last days together in college, but all those who ended up being a part are very much going to be together for another semester. We left Pilani on 14th night and after brief but full of warmth stays at Ambala and Chandigarh(homes of Rajat and Arpit Sardana,who incidently was not a part of our trip despite our persuasion, for reasons undisclosed) boarded our bus to Manali to reach there on 16th May.
After booking the least costly hotel we could find and unloading our stuff we started our day. Manali is , to be precise, very picturesque. Every little detail about the hill stations, which one might have read in a book or observed in a movie, comes to life here. As we entered the town, a large number of sheep were crowding up the road and we had to make our way through them. Just short of a pretty lass herding them from being a scene out of the bollywood’s ultimate hill station! The deodar trees, with their typically shaped leaves, houses with hut like sloped roofs , river flowing along the roads with its rapids and whitewaters were quite a sight! We went to Van Vihar- an enclosure of beautiful forests and Beas river , Hidimba Temple ( Hidimba mothered Ghatotkach with Bheem, one of the five Pandavas in the Mahabharat) which was again amidst beautiful forest and crowded a lot due to some local fair, and also saw a Buddhist Monastery near our Hotel. The most exciting part of the day awaited us in Kullu where we did river rafting on the wild waves of Beas. Though the claims of the agent of giving us a Mountain Dew ad like experience appeared far fetched, nevertheless it was thrilling to float on the river along with the waves, to go wherever the water takes us, apart from getting drenched in the ice cold water in that already cold environment! Believe me, it really feels good to be in the river surrounded on all sides by nature, unabridged, in its pristine form.
The night life is beautiful in Manali. We wandered around the market and streets. The market here is pretty good. You can find almost all the major brands and delicious food. What more, it even houses a multiplex and a disco , but only for couples! We also stumbled upon the dark and mysterious looking tattoo studio aptly named Vodoo, where Mr. Batra got a scorpio on his biceps! (Rs. 250 , temporary, which, later, to much of his dismay and our chuckle, we understood meant a week!). Manali is one of the favorite honeymoon spots for the Indian new weds, we had heard, but seeing the crowd and lack of secluded spaces, its certainly not recommendable as one! One of the most enchanting sights on all the hill stations is that of looking at the surrounding mountains and innumerable dots of light illuminating them. It appears as if the sky has been lit up by the Gods. Equally mesmerizing is the view of a valley glittering with lights, which appears like a river of lights. …Call them the wonders of the Human mind!