It had been a while since Dipesh and I had traveled together, this was a long awaited break for both of us!
How did the planning begin?
It was one of the early evenings in the third week of September when we decided to plan a trip to the hills. We tried to find the next long weekend where we could plan this trip. The first stage of our planning required 2 major decisions:
Where in the hills do we travel to?
Do we want to travel with a few more friends? If yes, who should we ask to join us
I was keen on seeing the meadows in Dalhousie because a friend had recently visited Dalhousie and the pictures she had posted looked very inviting. So we started off the planning with our tentative destination as Dalhousie.
We then thought of asking a couple of our friends if they were keen on this destination and more importantly if they would enjoy a hillside trip. Both Dipesh and I wanted to ask Sameer and Aditi because we had traveled with them in March 2020 to Rishikesh and Oct 2020 to Bhimtaal.
I have personally known Aditi for the last 13 years. We graduated together from Thapar University, Patiala. Sameer and Dipesh also get along well so we were happy when they told us they are as keen as we are to take this trip!
Once everyone had figured out the number of leaves they would need to take from work and if that suits them, we all finalized 14th Oct to 19th Oct as our travel dates.
Finalizing the place of stay:
All of us were clear that the next step is to finalize the place of stay in Dalhousie but the deeper we went into the selection we realized that Dalhousie had fewer stay options that met our basic checklist : Hygiene, sit out, view and away from the hustle of the city but approachable enough from the city.
After a rigorous two day search of properties in Dalhousie, we decided to change our destination from Dalhousie to Manali for a few reasons. First of them was that we wanted to select a city which we are otherwise never able to fit in a 3 day long weekend. This was a 5 day weekend that allows us to accommodate the travel time to a far off destination. The second reason was that the options of good properties that we were getting in Manali were far more than what we were getting in Dalhousie.
All 4 of us spent the next few days sharing the properties we liked but as luck would have it the moment we would try to book a property, it would either show sold out or only 1 room available! This was happening because we were not the only ones who were planning to make the most of this long weekend! After a lot of searching and zeroing in, we locked Whitestone resorts,prini, Manali as our place of stay.We were done with our bookings on 3rd October.
Now without much further ado, let me jump directly to the day our trip started.
On 14th October,2021 at 5 PM, Dipesh and I left our home to pick our friends who live closeby. It was a 45 min drive. Our plan was to halt at Chandigarh for the night and then leave the next morning for Manali from Chandigarh. We caught up with each other's lives as we drove down from Gurgaon to Chandigarh. Heard some great songs from Sameer’s playlist, sung along by a few, swung to the tunes of a few more. At 12 midnight, we reached chandigarh. We rested the night at the SBI holiday home that my mom helped us book. We wanted a simple hygienic place, which it was.
On the morning of october 15th at 5 am, we started our drive from Chanidarg to Manali. This is roughly a 325 km run and it took us approx 9-10 hours. This was a bit unusual because ideally this should have been covered in 7-8 hours. This was due to the numerous halts that were happening owing to blasting. Blasting is done on the hills to build roads on that route. We had paused on our way for breakfast at Hill view resort where we had bread and chai and then at a dhaba later for lunch.
We reached White Stone Resort at approximately 3pm and we were very tired by the drive. We rested for a couple of hours. The view from the hotel cafeteria was beautiful and with every passing day it became prettier as the peaks started to get snow covered :)