If I were asked to define travel in one simple word, my definite answer would be BREATHING. Yes, I am one of those many wanderers who plan a trip or two in a year to ditch the material world in which I stay around the clock. I have started this write up in the second half of my shift just to give a tight slap to my sleepy eyes and of course because my love for travel is incomplete without jotting down the beautiful encounters I had with the unknown destinations.
This is a journey of four avid backpackers who cherish travel from the core of their heart and with a wide grin on their faces. All four of us are the slaves of our respective corporate sectors, but when us and journey talk, everything behind has to keep quiet. We started our weekend getaway from Chandigarh followed by Kasol, Manikaran, Kullu, Manali and Kasauli.
CHANDIGARH TO KASOL
The train deboarded us on the platform around 7 in the chilly morning. Since we had planned our pocket-amicable itinerary half-a-month before the trip, things initiated as per the scenario we had considered. We met Balwinder Singh Ji waiting right outside the station with his taxi. (Here’s a quick description of this amazing person- The Punjabi man aging around 35 or something was fun, humorous, a die-hard lover of Punjabi songs, and incomplete without the catchphrase- “Tension nahi leni”). By the end of trip, this man had taught us that when you live the moments in your life, when you explore your inner-self, when your journey shows you hard times and when the good sense doesn’t work, it’s better to rest the mind for a while and say “Tension nahi leni”.
Road trips are always fun since they give the chance to stop by a sight to behold, meet the local people, know the cultural diversity and capture the moments behind the lens. We headed towards Kasol with a bunch of fun activities in the driveway. Amid several arresting sites, Pandoh Dam would force us to decelerate the speed of our car, take a halt and seize the tranquil visage of the unmurmuring water in our eyes. There was a constant combat between the cool BREEZE and the mesmerizing NATURE. While the former kept on forcing us to leave the place, the latter kept us caged within the beautiful natural walls. We sat there for around half an hour with a hot cup of tea in our hands and left the panorama to reach the designated destination.
The sun was completely down when Kasol embraced the “exhausted us” with menacing -6. We could barely feel our fingers. Parvati Woods Camp was one of the adventure camping spots in the area and a minimum-amenity place where we stayed that icy-cold night. (Tip- It is a place with average hospitality so if you’re scrounging the web for some good accommodations in Kasol, make it a last-ditch).
With warm enthusiasm in the next frozen morning, we draped a bunch of woolens around our shivering bodies and trailed Chalal Trek. It started alongside the banks of river Parvati. The composed flow of the blue water oozing directly from the mighty Himalayan glaciers was the feast for the eyes. Nothing could give us a kick start better than the beautiful Parvati flowing adjacent to our path. It was such a pleasant experience in the sub-zero temperature. Accompanying us were a couple of tamed dogs of the local people. Perhaps, they too were the wayfarers like us. We befriended the Jungle, talked to the people, captured our happy faces and completed the Trek.
If you’re an adventure enthusiast, Chalal Trek should top the list of your to-dos in Kasol.
KASOL TO MANIKARAN
It felt like the start of the day 1 had poured a full glass of energy drink in our bodies as we were so energized to make it a blasting day ahead. Kasol is a hamlet in Himachal and expecting much from this tiny place doesn’t make any sense. We got to know about a few more treks in the vicinity from the locals, however, ditching the place was the sensible decision taken by the squad.
(Tip: Try the authentic Italian food at cafe Jim Morrison in town if you are a gourmet and nothing interesting has been left for the day)
Manikaran is 4-5 Kms ahead of Kasol and known for the famous Gurudwara Shri Manikaran Sahib. Amidst the natural haven, this sacred place is worth a visit to get a holy feel and warm up the bodies around the hot water spring. We were taken aback momentarily by seeing the exact opposite of what we have seen so far. The natural hot steam was egressing out from the river and we could literally imagine how warm the water was. The scenery was Beyond magical!!
The spot’s definite bewitching factor is the hot spring that gives a picture-perfect dramatic view of the landscape. There are hot caves as well inside the Gurudwara that bestow a soothing feel and a halt for a couple of minutes can be taken there to normalize the body temperature.
With a plenty of beautiful memories in our androids and DSLR, we left for the paradise nestled in the mountains of Himalayas.
MANIKARAN TO MANALI
Every single thing was going as per the plan and Balwinder Ji’s catchphrase- “Tension Nahi Lena” in little-little intervals was continued to be the laughter boost for everyone. We stopped in Kullu en route to Manali. The driver had enlightened us about this famous Shawl Market in the capital town of the Kullu district. The outside temperature was reducing with the raising hours and by nightfall, we reached Manali all fatigued.
A thick set of people were creating the hustle and bustle around the Mall Road, which is known to be the only popular shopping center in the town. One of the best traits of a backpacker is the zeal of exploring the destination regardless of how tiring the journey was. We could see the drowsiness in each other but the enthusiasm of touring the Mall Road overpowered the lethargic sleep and rest is self-explanatory.
Day 3 knocked the doors and it was time to see the real heaven we’ve been waiting to watch for so long. Balwinder Ji routed the taxi to Solang Valley. I am connected to a myriad of travel platforms on different social media channels and I always like the posts of picturesque destinations thinking that someday I would go there, capture the shots and post them like others are doing.
Here I am in the middle of one of those destinations, breathing in the aroma, quenching the thirst of adding one more story in my travel journal and grinning all the while. The sheets of clouds were wrapping the snowy valley and the word ‘paradise’ never appeared so real than ever before. We did a few rounds of skiing and went ahead to have some frozen fun in the glacier.
Manali has always been one of the favorite backpacking destinations for the adventure freaks because it never disappoints the wanderers in any manner. We left the place with a wide radius of the valley incarcerated in our eyes and the cameras. A couple of interesting points to look for in the town are Nehru Kund, Hidimba Temple, and Manu Temple.
MANALI TO KASAULI
Kasauli was not on the itinerary from the start. Since we had an unpacked day left in the slot, we gave it a shot. Kasauli is yet another small town in the state and a cantonment since British Raj in 1842. On browsing the places to hang out in Kasauli, it paged Mall Road, Sunset Point, and Monkey Point. We did make it up to these places happy-sad as it was the last day to breathe the travel aroma. The four-day journey of the four backpackers reached a happy climax there.
For all the sincere travel lovers out there, here’s one thing I would like to say: The money you earn is there to make you do what you love. The material world is going to exist eternally but you are not. Travel the beautiful destinations you wish to see with your naked eyes, meet people, tell your stories and listen to theirs. Don’t make the regrets laugh on you later. LIVE.BREATHE.TRAVEL