I always considered myself to be a beach person until that morning in Manali.
We were exhausted. Having slept around 4.45 am in the morning, I woke up at 8 am and peeped out of the window. What I saw left me dumbfounded! I remember nudging Sanjukta and asking her to look out of the window. The view was breathtakingly beautiful! That was when I realized, I am falling in love. I am falling in love with the mountains.
Having landed in Manali at 4 am and going through a whirlpool of emotions while we were stranded with no battery and network on our phones, we were almost about to cry out loud before we were rescued. We literally had a ‘then god said, let there be light’ moment as we reached Zostel after a nightmarish experience.
We didn’t sleep well that morning. Cold piercing through our skin and after the experience we had, we were too tired to think. We just closed our eyes and turned and twisted on our bed until 8 in the morning.
That morning was probably the most beautiful one I have ever witnessed. When I stepped outside the room, what I saw was the most stunning picture of winter. Snow-capped mountains, trees standing tall and naked and mountain dogs rolling on the dry leaves spread on the ground. This sight has been engraved in my mind.
While gazing at this view I remembered the poem ‘Ode to the West Wind’ by P.B Shelly. The words, ‘If winter comes, can spring be far behind’, was on loop in my head like a broken tape recorder. And then I thought; we all need that one happy memory to hold onto. That one happy memory which will turn our frown into a smile. That one happy memory which will uplift our drowning spirit and bring us up. That one happy memory which acts as a Patronus Charm for the human world.
For me, this is the memory. This is my Patronus.
Here are few things you must experience at Manali:
Nepali thali meal: My taste buds still crave for the taste of this meal. I have never had such a scrumptious thali meal which made me go gaga over it, literally!
Garden café: As the cold wind continues to blow, sit beside river Beas and enjoy a hot cup of tea/coffee. It’s one of those precious moments in life which you never want to let go of
Vashisht hot springs: Feel rejuvenated after a bath here. Hot water and open skies, you won’t get to experience this anywhere else
Solang Valley: If you are a mountain person, you must visit here. Climb that mountain as you make your way through the snow. For the snow lovers, trust me, there is no better place than this one to make your dream snow-man. Also, if you want to experience the thrill of jumping off a cliff and getting the birds’ eye view of the snow-clad mountains and pine trees, paragliding here will allow you to witness this (Yes, I did paraglide!)
Café hopping: Manali has unlimited options of cafes which will leave you puzzled. If you have an extra day to spare with nothing to do at all, café hopping should be part of your itinerary
Sitting beside Beas River: You know how sometimes they say that somethings can’t be captured in any form and its best left to your memory? This was the experience for me. I can’t capture it in words and pictures don’t do justice. You have to see it to believe it, experience it to know it
Zostel: If in Manali, stay at Zostel. Period. You will not find a place more comfortable and beautiful than this one