17th May, arguably, was the best day of our outing, and certainly one of the most enjoyable ever. Call it The White magic. Magic it was, indeed, the beauty of snow clad Rohtang.
We booked an Indica to go to Rohtang, situated about 30 kms uphill from Manali. We all had heard that if there was a chance to see snow in summer, it was there. So we departed with hope. And as we rose higher and higher, the whiter it became. (Colour of the mountains, that is). The way was beautiful beyond our imagination, complete with really deep waterfalls, apple trees, lush green hilly pastures, and sheep all over them. As our destination neared, we were told we would need stronger protection from cold up there. So we rented the coats and boots, with a very impressive display of the bargaining skills by Sudeep!
And phew! As I was taking a photo, something cold touched my hand, and for the first time in my life I witnessed a snowfall. In a few seconds, it was snow all over. It was beautiful to witness. You see it in the movies and else, but it is really a delightful visual to be a part of. We couldn’t stop ourselves from stopping right there and let the white powder spread on our heads. Rohtang was as we’d imagined it, and more. I always used to dream about a place where there would be whiteness all around, whichever direction I looked. This was it! Infact, it was so white that it took a while for our eyes to adjust. There was a large level ground of snow to ski on, a mountain of snow to climb on, the heaps of snow to make snow-mans of, to make and throw snow-balls at each other. We did it all, though sucked big time at skiing and made a fool of ourselves by falling again and again and crying for help. We climbed on the snow mountain and tried to roll down from the top, as they do in the movies ( ofcourse, sans a lady!) but after an hour of fun, we had finally begun to realize how cold it was! And as the realization poured in, it was almost unbearable. The snow would enter our boots and accumulate in the clearance between them and our legs, and seconds later we couldn’t feel our feet. Our eyes were already moist and hands red. Standing on the top, I looked all round. There was no stopping the snow fall. Probably we are stuck in a snow storm, I thought. It seemed so heroic right there. I could just imagine innumerable Bollywood songs shot in these snowy lands, and how the lead players would play around happily in most glamorous( read scarce) of outfits, as if no amount of cold could bother them. The reel and the real! Feasting on a maggi and an omelet in that freezing cold seemed ecstasy. The tradition of getting a photo on the yak also wasn’t left out.( though it was about to turn into much more as Rajat almost hit the mammal between its legs with his skiing shoes!) Finally ,when we couldn’t any more bear the cold, we left. And another much awaited visual was observed in the form of cars covered with snow. Before we got in and warmed ourselves, we brushed off the snow from all over the vehicle! Memorable!
We surely had enough for the day, and a few sites to be seen on the way back were conveniently skipped. Next moment we found ourselves on the bus to Dharmshala, our next destination!