Are winters really the best to to visit Manali? Experiencing the warmth of Himalayan Winters!!

24th Feb 2019
Photo of Are winters really the best to to visit Manali? Experiencing the warmth of Himalayan Winters!! by Arundhati Roy
Day 1

It was the 24th of December, while the rest of the country geared up for Christmas celebrations, we prepared ourselves for the cold nights that would follow. Standing on the hot pavement of Chandigarh National Airport that afternoon we waited for our cabby to pick us up. Clutching the suitcase handle with one hand and counting the number of woolen socks and caps that I had actually carried with me.
Although I had gone for many a trips with my family earlier but this one was the first with my newbie husband and the first one that was exclusively planned by me without any parental supervision. "Winters in the Himalayas? I hope the both of you don't end up at the clinic." I heard my mother say to me at the back of my mind.
"We'll see something that we never had before" said I. And that was the start of our journey from the airport. We had booked an Ola Cab from the airport and the cabbie arrived.
Tip One : Even though Ola takes in booking from Chandigarh Airport to Manali, but the drivers are fussy and would never travel so far.

So eventually we got down from the cab at the local bus stand and took a Himachal Tourism State Volvo Bus instead. It was a comfortable ride to Manali and took us ten hours of travel. On the way we stopped for lunch at the KFCs.
TIP 2 : Eating fried chicken right before a bus journey makes you feel really sick.

Two hours prior to approaching Manali the breathtaking sceneries would just steal your heart away. The best part about Manali was the river Beas tucked in between the Himalayas like in a mother's lap. It made it's way through the hills and the forest, flowing endlessly through the rocks and the pine trees that came it's way.
We reached Manali late into the night at 08 P.M., it was comfortable inside the bus but the moment we got down the bus we were literally freezing. Google showed the temperature to be around 1 degrees and we stood in the darkness waiting for a lift by our hotel cab. It was a full moon night and we could hear the sound of river Beas flowing at a distance. We enjoyed the darkness except for the full moon and the quietness except for the Beas as we both sucked away on the last piece of cigarette that effectively tried to keep us warm.

Photo of Are winters really the best to to visit Manali? Experiencing the warmth of Himalayan Winters!! by Arundhati Roy
Day 2

It was the day for sky-diving. So after an elaborate breakfast at our Hotel (Details with Prices listed below), we headed out for the adventure. I was never an adventure junkie but the idea of trying out something that I might get have never experienced before always got me up to my toes. So this was going to be the first Paragliding experience of my life. Boy was I nervous!! So while heading towards Kullu from Manali main town, there were rows of stalls towards your left where the booking counters would be. Each stall was manned by the pilots and their assistants who would help them with the booking. The pilots are mostly licenced and experienced but you still need to check on those before you would want to take off into the sky. We finished up with the booking procedure after the necessary checks, it took us around 4,500 bucks for the booking after bargain. They drove us to the top of the mountain on one of those Chevrolet Mini Trucks. It was a good twenty five minutes drive and the journey to the top was beautiful with trees and creepers interspersed with mud houses and barren openings. The terrain was Rocky and the ride was rough. To top it up I was the only lady in the van. Thankfully I had my husband beside me to remind me that it would be all worth it once I was in the air.
And so it was, the pilots are all well trained and communicative, they guide you well throughout and while you are on the air, everything else seems to be secondary, all fears are secondary, you feels like a bird high up in the air, looking beneath at the tiny river, the miniscule trees and the mountains all around you. It's an uncomparable experience in life and one cannot forget those moments spent above gliding through the mountains, past the rivers and trees and man made roads and cars.
Post paragliding we spent most of the day eating out at the mall road. The steaming Momos and hot Aloo paranthas were just mouth watering and life saving at the same time. And after a good time spent walking around and shopping at the Manali Club House where you get all sorts of local handicrafts, we finally retired to our hotel late in the evening spending the remaining time with the luxuries at the hotel.
(Hotel Details - Allure Grand Resort, Manali Rohtang Road, Bahang, Manali. The hotel is centrally heated. Try going for the river facing rooms as they have a breathtaking view to offer, Hotel amenties are really great and the staff are all well trained. Major plus point are the grand buffet meals at a very nominal rate)

Day 3

While at Manali, try visiting the Hot water springs at Vashisht. They are

While at Manali, try visiting the Hot water springs at Vashisht. Vashisht is around 6 km away from Manali town in Kullu district. The area around Vashisht has hot water ponds or kinds. The water from these kinds are chanellized into the temple and are stored in tanks whereby people take a bath. There is a separate tant for women. The water temperature usually varies between 110° F to 123°F. This water is Rich in minerals and believed to be of immense therapeutic value.
I googled soon after visiting this place and found out that the reason for this hot water is presence of deep fissures or cracks in the Parvati Valley Region. Due to deep fissures present in this region the water of the Parvati Valley percolates deep down and come in contact with hot rocks. It is this hot water that shoots out at places like Manikaran and Vashisht.
Alright enough trivia for this place, next we headed on to the Hadimba Devi Temple early evening. It is an anciant Pagoda style cave temple located amidst a dense layer of Deodar trees. So after a quick visit to the temple we walked around the deep forests surrounding the temple. The setting amid the towering Deodar cedar trees with the setting sun peeking at us right through the pines and leaves stole our hearts away. The walk was brilliant and we got on to our local cabbie after a day spent to our heart's content.
(Local Cabs charge you a decent amount depending mostly on the places that you want to cover. We had to cut short on most of them and visit only the place that we thought were worst visiting considering the short amount of time. Our cabbie had charged us 2,500 after bargain plus an amazing home cooked meal comprising of local fresh vegetables and roti. Such is the hospitality of the Himachalis.
I feel like three days is never really enough to get the essence of the Himalayas. My plans to re-visit Manali is in the cards, only the next time I plan to go up till Ladakh.
See you guys untill then.

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