For some odd reason, despite travelling as far as Coorg, we never happened to visit Manali. But, better late than never as they say. Funnily, Manali wasn't even on our list when we left from our home in Delhi for a 10-day trip to Himachal Pradesh.
We arrived in Manali after spending a comfortable day in a village near Bir. Immediately, the vibe got us. It is reasonably chilly even in May and the streets were inundated with tourists from all across the country. As touristy as it may sound, we had already planned on visiting Rohtang. You can't miss it despite the difficulties.
Rohtang Pass requires a prior special permit if you are travelling in your private vehicle. It is a tedious exercise to apply for a permit as only 1200 vehicles are allowed to visit Rohtang each day. Given the mesmerizing views across various valleys during the uphill drive, it will anyway be a bad idea to drive yourself.
At a height of 3797 metres, the name 'Rohtang' means ... nah, won't delve deep into the details. For curious people, you can read it here.
We decided to take HRTC's electric bus service. It was cheap, convenient and of course, I didn't want to drive and miss the serene views. Also, we did not have to worry about the permit and ruin our holiday. Taking the electric bus was our tiny contribution towards sustainable travel. However little it is, they all count!
Booking the tickets was smooth and almost every travel portal or app sell them. The buses are on time and stop at the Rohtang Pass for about two hours. It is advisable to book your tickets at least 24 hours prior to your travel.
Tourist trap alert! So, there are a lot of shops which provide snow suits for rent along the way. The bus will stop at one of them and the shopkeepers will try hard to sell the idea. On a sunny day, if you have your own jacket then that will keep you warm enough. But if you plan to play in the snow then renting these suits is advisable.
Don't bother carrying lunch. There will be stoppages and you can have a proper meal or enjoy piping hot maggi and chai. Mountains and maggi go well. During the 2-hour stop, you can stroll around the mighty Rohtang. For adventure sport lovers, guided tours of skiing and paragliding are also available but, of course, you will have to go by your personal vehicle or a taxi to enjoy them.
For us, the views during the journey were as good as the time we spent at Rohtang. Get in there folks, if you haven't already.