Take Me Back To PARADISE ~ MANALI

Tripoto
3rd Apr 2018
Photo of Take Me Back To PARADISE ~ MANALI by Upasana Venaik
Day 1

Manali has always been like a dream to me. I was only 7 years old when I first visited kullu manali with my family and cousins.  Those highways are somehow etched forever in my heart. Stopping midway in the lush green surroundings, that fresh smell of pine trees is still so fresh in my heart. It was like a dream that I have been yearning to relive again, just like heaven that we all seek.

After 24 years precisely  I visited manali again and this was an absolute impromptu trip. All thanks to my mom, who is a better traveller than I'm. Someone who wants me to see all the places I ever could dream of visiting. And thats how I suppose our mothers  are, helping us achieving dreams that even we are somewhat hesitant of.

All the bookings for this trip have been done using make my trip app. We decided to travel by Volvo buses of himachal tourism and was totally worth it.

The total fare for Volvo AC/seater was 3000 rs  for two passengers. We decided to board at 7pm bus from ISBT, Delhi. As luck intervened, none of us was sure if buses will ply that day due to Bharat band protestations. We were lucky unlike prior travellers, our bus was on time, but the fear was still there if we would find any interruptions ahead.
The HRTC buses are really comfortable, try to book a seat in the middle rows or at the front. A bottle of water is provided per passenger.  The journey could take anytime between 12 to 15 hrs depending upon the traffic and road conditions. I will advise you to book 7pm bus, generally the driver are efficient enough to help you reach manali within 12 hours.

Book your Volvo for direct route from Delhi to manali. Driver will stops at a government run restaurant  in karnal, haryana for half an hour. Wide variety of cuisine is available like dosa, rajma chawal etc. Second stop was at bilaspur for 10 minutes. You could feel the chill in the air. We reached kullu by 6am. Everyone was delighted to see the view of River Beas flowing next to the highway in lush green surroundings. But wait a second, was this similar to my childhood experience? No !
So many changes I could notice by not even stepping out. It was something very different  from the picture of manali I had in my mind. So many buildings have come up. You could easily notice very less number of trees on the mountains. But wasn't I expecting this ?  I really didn't go in shock. With commercialization taking over the soul purpose of travelling, this was inevitable.

I switched my mind from man versus environment debate and started focussing on the good part which I really miss in Delhi. The sight of mountains, the sound of river and those tiny huts surrounded by cherry blossom trees. The perfect answer  to spring was here.
We reached  Manali main bus stand by 7 am. And the road from kullu to manali was undergoing construction so it wasn't a smooth bus ride thereafter.
The moment you will reach the bus stand, you will have plenty of options for transport. You could either choose an auto or taxi. We hired a taxi to our hotel for 100rs. That's the standard  price whether you choose auto or taxi.  Ideally it should have taken us 15 mins to reach our hotel Apple Paradise, unfortunately it took us half an hour, thanks to the fact that so many hotels exist with the same name. Infact even the locals are not well aware as these hotels keep changing their ownership.  Neway our hotel was little far away from the main market, it was surely not a walking distance to the mall road. So don't go by the description on the site. Located in the premises of Punjab national bank on the Nagger road.

Hotel Apple Paradise is a decent hotel, offers a good terrace view. We selected our stay in luxury room for 2 nights inclusive of breakfast and dinner. The cost was 2500rs per night. Total cost was 5500rs inclusive of tax after applying make my trip discount.
Meanwhile in the car I took the details from my driver about local sight seeing, and after cross checking with the hotel about  prices we asked the same driver to be our tour guide. During my travel trips somehow I never felt away from home. Reason is hospitality of our country is really nice and Himachal people are really humble. You really feel at ease when you travel in himalayas.

Coming back to the hotel description,  the rooms are good, well furnished and with balcony view. We got a room on the second floor with garden view from the balcony. The rooms are well maintained, spacious, with tea maker facility,  good cable connection, bath tub, sofas. Room service is round the clock.  since it was month of April so the blankets were sufficient for us,  else they can give you extra blanket as per the availability.  For room heater charges are additional,  300rs per night. Breakfast is on roof top, and you will enjoy the view of snow capped mountains. In fact I really loved the view from here. Menu of breakfast is decent, we had poori Channa and poha for the breakfast. It was buffet, so you can choose from veg to non-veg.

We decided to take some rest as it was still early to step out for local sight seeing. I asked the driver to pick us by 11 am or so. Honestly that was still early. You can plan to leave by late afternoon and can cover all the local sight seeing  spots.

Photo of Hotel Apple Paradise, Aleo, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Day 2

Local sight seeing generally takes 6 hours only or may be even less depending upon your interest. The driver charged us 800rs "fares fluctuates with season". Better to ask them in advance to drop you at mall road at the end of trip and drop back to hotel from there, else you will end up shedding 100 to 150 rs, unnecessarily.

Our first local sight seeing stop was the most famous Hidimbi temple.
Hidimbi devil temple is also known as Hadimba temple. It is an ancient cave temple dedicated to hidimbi  devil, wife of Bhim, if you have read or seen Mahabharata, you must be aware of this one. The temple is centrally located in cedar forest and drive to this place is hardly 10 minutes from the main bus stand.
I was really surprised  to see such a huge line of visitors. The temple has intricately carved wooden doors and a 24 meters tall wooden "shikhar" above the sanctuary ( thanks to Wikipedia for the measurements-lol).
I have taken some pictures of the temple architecture, you can admire the design of the temple and the animal horns which we saw hanging on the walls of the temple. The surrounding is really beautiful, you actually feel you are in a forest. This place has lot to offer, so you can pass your time  either by getting  dressed up as a local from himachal (100- 150rs) or can get your pictures clicked with the cutest fur animals such as rabbit or lamb only for rs 20 😍.
I really wonder how they manage to grow rabbits so big n furry. You can enjoy sweetcorn or Masale chane.
We spent some 30 mins here, that was the maximum time we could and then we left for another tourist hot spot famously known as clubhouse.

The clubhouse has a entry fee of rs. 5o and is a really popular place amongst tourist. This place is run by himachal Pradesh tourism. It offers both outdoor and indoor games. Outdoor games such as zipping, which is basically river crossing and boating in a small backwater lake they have created.
Indoor lot of gaming options are present. This place offer accommodation also in case you are interested. Or simple take a walk in the area outside, handicrafts shops are there. We sat for a while under a shed to enjoy the view of the river and inhale as much as fresh air possible.

Next we went to see Buddhist monastery located in the mall road, right opposite  to a small zoo, behind the main market road. The tibetan monastery is one of the oldest and also a famous place in Manali. The Gadhan Thekchoking Gompa was constructed in the year 1969. The statue of Lord Buddha presides in the monastery. You can either shop locally or sit peacefully and enjoy the view of the flying prayer flags.

From here we went to Manu temple, located in old manali.it is known that Manu was the creator of human race and manali is named after the sage Manu. It is believed  to be the meditation  place of sage Manu. After doing darshan we went back to old manali and as we were hungry we decided to call it a day at cafe 1947 which is at a walking distance from  the clubhouse.

Cafe 1947 is a famous Italian restaurant and bar.
Mom and I really had a good time here. This cafe gives a nice view of the river and the food also taste good. We tried their coffee and nacho for day one and enjoyed playing board games. While leaving from this cafe I already knew that I would be coming back to this cafe till I will be here in manali. Who doesn't want to sit in cafe which offers a good ambience with some great food and that too Italian.  . Wow!
First day we didn't spend too much time on mall road as it was raining and we were kind of exhausted,  probably because of the late night bus journey and the altitude as well.

So we went back to the hotel, watched a good movie and slept enough to wake up for a good dinner  in the same hotel. Took a walk after that to explore the little shops near the hotel. Spent a little time trying muffins at a bakery nearby.

For the next day we had planned our trip to the outskirts  of manali.

Boating @ clubhouse

Photo of Cafe 1947, Clubhouse Road, Vpo, Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik

Hidimba temple

Photo of Cafe 1947, Clubhouse Road, Vpo, Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik

Manu temple

Photo of Cafe 1947, Clubhouse Road, Vpo, Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik

Hidimba temple

Photo of Cafe 1947, Clubhouse Road, Vpo, Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik

Cafe 1947

Photo of Cafe 1947, Clubhouse Road, Vpo, Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of Cafe 1947, Clubhouse Road, Vpo, Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik

Buddhist monastery

Photo of Cafe 1947, Clubhouse Road, Vpo, Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Day 3

We left around 10:00 am from the hotel.
Our first stop was vashisht  temple.

Vashisht temple is 6 km from manali which is hardly 10 minutes drive. You can either walk or hire an auto for rs. 50 or so. The village is traditional style apart from the additions of cafes.  Vashisht was named after Rishi Vashisht. This temple is believed to be more than 4000 year old. This was known to be his meditating place. Vashisht temple is built in a traditional style with lots of intricate woods carvings. It is most popular for hot springs which is believed to have medicinal value. There are separate bathing arrangement for men and women. There is another ancient stone temple known as Rama temple adjacent to vashisht temple. You will spot many tourist here and beautiful Himalayan fauna. This place is little chilly so you can shop some handmade woollen  from the adjoining  shops.

We left from here for Gulaba, as Rohtang stays closed in April, due to heavy snowfall and generally opens during the month of June till September.
Gulaba  is 27 km away from manali and 25 km away from rohtang. So during this season your snow view point change from rohtang to Gulaba.  Gulaba village is 2 to 3 hours drive from manali. On your way driver will halt at one of the shops selling snowsuits and boots, Jackets to help you walking on the snow. Available on rent. I think the mentioned price per suit was 350 rs, if you want to rent skiing gear as well, then you can rent clothes and gear for 2000 rs for two people with a guide. So we went ahead with 2000 rs option. You will have to purchase gloves incase you haven't  brought yours. They sell it for rs 100 with no discount.

The highways always set me high, especially when you are driving across the snow capped mountains and beautiful valley ultimately enhancing the twinkle in my eyes. Himalayas are so gorgeous, I strongly believe that no one can ever stop themselves from falling in love.

Throughout our way we had the company of good local music ( thanks to the driver) and lavender colored flowers popping from the small crest in the mountains. I could not stop myself from plucking one as a memory of the happiness it filled my heart with.

Soon we reached the trek point for snow, now there are basically two points to trek from, our driver dropped us at a little easy one to climb. I wasn't  really sure if it will be easy to climb up all the way, thinking about my mom as well. But we thought let's try.

You also have the option of going for horse ride instead of climbing all the way up. So we started trekking, with those boots on and no snow, it wasn't that easy. We were carefully climbing every turn, because  there will be no well defined path. You actually  don't feel alone looking at the crowd. And the local people made it a warm ambience by providing the service of local tea, water and other eatery stuff to calm you. I guess it took us around 40 minutes to reach the comfortable snow point. We didn't climb further as it was really exhausting to climb all the way up in the snowsuit.

So now it was time for skiing,  honestly speaking you can really skip it. If had an idea that snow would be so less, we wouldn't shed so much money, neway it was okay for the start. So it was like a horizontal narrow patch of snow on which at least four people were trying their skiing skill. Hardly ten steps and you could cover the distance. Skiing kit was good for posing for pictures and little try how to balance your body with those blades underneath your foot.

So the skiing dram continued for another fifteen minutes,  after which we decided to sit for a while in the snow and play. So we selected a comfortable nice spot, ate maggie and good coffee, enjoyed making snow balls and looking at the people enjoying around. You can also go for the tyre sport, it's nice but cost way too much. This is the only means how these locals earn, so if you can be generous then go ahead. You can also try the local dresses and get pictures clicked for 100 rs.
It's fun once you accomplish  the trek and sit quietly to absorb the ambience. 
After spending almost an hour at the snow point we headed  back. On the way I took the opportunity  to click pictures of the beautiful valley  and snow capped himalayas.  You can also sit next to the waterfall flowing  from all the way up.

We left for solang valley from here.
Solang valley is breathtaking,  so gorgeous, you actually  feel like staying here like forever. Solang valley is the centre for Atal Bihari mountaineering institute. The institute provides  courses for proper professional training for those interested in mountain climbing or paragliders.

Solang valley provides an arena for adventure lovers. You can either enjoy the ropeway, off-road biking, paragliding for small or a longer distance and multiple small road side games to choose from. The paragliders here are professionals, so the prices are quite high. 1000 for small 10 min, which won't  be fun if you are not first timer and 3200 rs for the longer duration. They will take you all the way up from the ropeway and the fall is so beautiful. The most beautiful one I have ever seen so far. You are flying over the snow capped mountains, like a bird high up in the mountains. I have already done para gliding  in bir billing, so I decided to rather enjoy the sight. The eatery area around offers all cuisines.

We headed back after taking a walk around, the public toilet facility is  well maintained here. There is also a shiv temple at a distance of 2 km, in case you would want to visit.

On your way back you can also stop to watch himachal culture themed  performance, a proper amphitheater has been set up for this. Ask your  driver to drop you here in case you would like to attend. They also have a brochure, showcasing  their programs.

We headed back to hotel. This total trip to vashisht temple, Gulaba and Solang valley costed  us 1200 rs, as it was off season. If Rohtang would have been opened, the charges would have been more depending upon the distance.

We slept like crazy in the afternoon and woke up around 6 pm. We were really tired but since it was our last night in manali, we pushed ourselves to step out. My mistake was that I opted to walk all the way to manali bus stand, the distance was way more than I had expected. So after a walk for 20 mins we took an auto for old manali to my favorite  cafe 1947. So this was Wednesday  and the cafe opens only after 7 pm, so I was happy that  we didn't decide to visit it directly in the afternoon. There are many nice local shops around, some nice silver  jewellery  shops, and many more pretty cafes  near the river bank in case you are interested. I was reluctant to experiment on our last day, so we waited for the cafe to open, and as soon as it did, we went to occupy a seat outside next to the river bank. The ambience is serene, you will really enjoy the sound of river gushing  and the cool breeze will make you happy that you have luckily escaped the scorching  heat of Delhi.

I ordered  my favorite mushroom pasta with garlic bread and cafe mocha. The evening was really nice. After this we went to the mall road, and it was so much fun.  You have so many options to select from. We purchased a beautiful handmade wall painting for 150 rs, you could see the artist painting it live. Then we went to an accessory shop, purchased some stuff at reasonable price. Mall road market are always charming. We concluded our trip to manali by enjoying pink candy, hehe.

Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik

Vashisht temple

Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik

Gulaba

Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik

Solang valley

Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik

Mom n me

Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Day 4

We cross checked everything, packing done, breakfast done. We had to catch 3pm HRTC bus from manali, but since we had lot of time till afternoon, we decided to explore naggar and kullu. So we left our hotel around 10 am. We first went to naggar art gallery.

This gallery has been made to honour Sir Nicholas Roerich art work. He was a russian painter, writer, archeologist, philospher who decided to settle down for the rest of his life in naggar, and made nagger his second home. His art work is said to be hypnotic and once you see you will understand it yourself. He travelled to himalayas to seek spiritual awakening and painted all the places he visited. His art work will mesmerize you for sure. Himachal government and Russian government have formed a trust to run this art gallery as the Roerich heritage museum showcasing  his work. Most of the painting show the beauty of ice covered valleys and peaks during early hours of evening.
The artist's private rooms have been preserved in the upper floor of the museum. There are few photos of Nicholas on display here, such as the one with in which he is posing in his front lawn with Jawaharlal Nehru. The entry fee is 50 rs for the gallery. I must say his house is really beautiful, I wonder how lucky he was to have such a beautiful house in one of the most beautiful places I have seen.

Timings for visiting the art gallery is  from 9 am to 5 pm except Monday.

Climb a little more up not only you will get a better view of naggar but also there is another gallery showcasing the eternity flag history and some more paintings of Nicholas. Did I mention ? You also get to wear some really pretty Himalayan footwear when you enter the previous gallery.
There is a souvenir  shop outside the gallery next to German bakery where you can flip through number of books written  by Nicholas Roerich and his son. You can also find some Spiritual books. I ended up buying  a small pocket size book, diary notes about life and art written by his son, Dr. Svetoslav Roerich and it also has pictures of the artwork done by Sir Nicholas Roerich.

From here we went to the Naggar castle, the official seat of kings for centuries. This place dates back to 500 years. Now the castle has been converted into a heritage hotel  run by HPTDC. If you  look at the pictures of the castle, it will remind you of the movie Jab We Met. Yes a lot of popular serials also have been shot here. Nagger Castle have some good restaurants inside its premises. You will love the scenic beauty here. The view is really mesmerizing. This place also has a small museum. I will really suggest you instead of planning to stay in manali, take an accommodation  in this castle and have a relaxing getaway. The room rents are also minimal. In the main entrance ancient horns have been displayed for public just like the ones you can spot at Hidimba temple. My mom spotted a lamb, so it was really adorable to hold the lamb and get pictures clicked. The owner charge only 20 rs for as many pictures you can get clicked. Happy me !

The next destination was to an amazing waterfall, located at distance of hardly 15 minutes from naggar castle. The waterfall is famously known as Jogni falls. If you would like to see the origin of the falls, you will have to climb little up. The climbing is not smooth and advisable only if you are wearing sports shoes. The waterfall is amazing and there is a cave right behind the water falling, so if you are in for some adventure or rain dance, surely you will love this place. The weather was really good, it started to rain and just at the end of the fall, you can sit and enjoy maggie, tea, Channa fry and even take a sip of chilled coca cola all thanks to the cold water.
The people in Himachal are really kind and tourist season is the main source of income which helps them in surviving harsh winters. So be generous to them, avoid bargaining  as such they are already selling things for the standard price. I really didn't want to leave this little lively spot. It was so refreshing. If I want to summarize, it was heavenly.

As we booked our return bus ticket from manali and we were currently  on the way to kullu, so I called to inform the bus driver to pick us from kullu main bus stop.

Finally our driver took us to our last destination of this trip that was the shawl factory. There will be many factories on your way to kullu, it depends on the driver  where he stops. This was government run factory and had everything ranging from sweaters,  shawls, warm suit etc. They generally have some offers going on. The purchasing can be done from first floor. The factory is on the ground floor. You can witness live weaving of the shawls by himachal women, a sign of women empowerment. I was happy to take pictures by the time my mom was purchasing stuff.

By this time time it started to rain heavily and we could not make it to other tourist spots in kullu. Our driver dropped us near the main kullu bus stop and he was chauvinistic enough to wait till the bus came. I will drop his number at the end of this blog in case you would like to do booking for your trip with him.

Journey really didn't end here, no matter what try to occupy window seat to your left on your way back to Delhi, I bet you won't regret. The view of the mountains and the sunset will mesmerize  you so much that himachal will call you back. I was so delighted to witness the sunset, rainbow, changing colors  of the mountains, the sound of beas  river making its way through the valley will never get erased from my memory. I just had a telephonic conversation with my mom that I'm writing manali blog and she asked me to mention about the same bus view in this blog, isn't this surprising ?
Once you will witness the same view with your loved ones even you won't be left surprised.  I always believe that it is never about the destination, what matters is your journey to that destination. Manali beauty or in fact himachal beauty is beyond any bloggers writing frame, you really need to witness this to believe in its pure beauty.

I had the most memorable time in manali. the clear skies, fresh air, warm people instilled faith in me that we are still alive, we can still coexist in an environment that we all dream of, what is required little changes on daily basis to let this nature nurture. Care for the environment around you and it will love you back in ways that you won't  be able to withhold within  yourself.  Don't pollute the places you travel to especially  with plastic waste. Don't make it so commercialized  that in future you are left with no getaway destination for your summer vacation. Think about it !

If you like my blog please kindly like and share. You can also follow me on Instagram for some wonderful pictures @upasana_2407.
Else you can check and subscribe  to my blogs as well on you tube "upasana Venaik".
Thank you so much

And Happy Reading !

Hotel name: Apple Paradise
Bus: HRCTC A.C. Volvo seater
Driver in manali : kuldeep, GSM: +917018351087.
Booking app: makemytrip.com

Photo of International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
Photo of International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Upasana Venaik
1 Comment(s)
Sort by:
Very nicely expressed with so enthusiasm... I would love to read more and its so delightful to see it from your perspective too...
Thu 06 28 18, 08:11 · Reply (1) · Report
Thankyou so much....love you
Thu 06 28 18, 09:53 · Report