Covering: Manali, Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh, India, Weather Winter - Too cold, Best season - February to June,
Budget: 35000 for 3 person
Manali in Different Seasons
If there is any heaven on earth... It is here... It is here... It is here. No idea about Kashmir yet, but enchanting beauty of Manali attracts tourists all around the world. It has a totally different and new look in every season. In January it is totally white and snowfall is there. In July-August water and waterfalls everywhere, but yes that season is dangerous and slippery too. In this season you may face some landslides as well. So September to December the monsoon draws to an end and winter starts to enter. Waterfalls remain and slowly the whole valley wears a white blanket of snow. From March to June, weather is pleasant. Flora is on its full bloom. Whole valley covers with different species of vegetation. Kullu's famous apples are on trees in March-April. A rare scene to capture with eyes in memories. Most of the tourists believe this season as the best as they can do outdoor activities such as paragliding, rafting, trekking and mountain adventures in the Solang Valley in this season.
Weather remains cold almost whole year. Too cold near about -1 degree can be in December-January and hot till 25 degree in Apr-June, when government opens Rohtang Pass for the snow seekers and the route to Leh-Laddhakh, another good destination for nature lovers who want some adventure as well.
Manali is located in Himachal Pradesh in India. Close proximities are Kullu Valley, Manikaran, Solang Valley, Rohtang Pass and then way to Leh-Laddakh.
So depending upon the days you have for vacation, you may cover 3-4 places or if you are a honeymoon couple, you may enjoy just staying at Manali itself. If you want to cover Leh-Laddakh then a minimum 15 days will be needed.
Places to visit (In my favorite order):
- Bhrigu Lake tracking (East of Rohtang Pass)
- Rohtang Pass
- Manikaran Gurudwara
- Great Himalayan National Park
- Pandoh Dam
- Hidimba Devi Temple and Forest
- Solang Valley
- Kullu Valley
- Vashisht Temple Hot Spring
- Tibetan Monastery
- Jogini Waterfall
- Whole Way
- Manu Temple etc. etc.
So now let's start my Manali Memories. We live in Rajasthan and cruel Sun was asking every day to go on some hill-station for some relief. It was May 2016 and Sun was looking hotter and hotter day by day. But as we knew, all hill stations were fully packed in that season and no chance for a reasonable budget trip, I and my friends were sad. After seeking a lot we decided Manali as our new target destination. We were three with a child with no male partner, so hard to take decision, but we just want to chill the summers and had confidence or I can say over-confidence on us. So trip was finalized. Within a week we planned and booked a whole journey of 3 nights and 4 days to Kullu-Manali-Manikaran. Rohtang Pass was not included that time because it was not opened for public. Hotel Vyas (Government Hotel) is one of the best places to stay there. Located on Vyas river and near to market as well. But that time it was full as expected. So we booked another good (As we supposed) hotel, Hotel Delfryn. We were three girls with one girl child of 7 years of one of my friend. We all were excited like a kid, reason one we all friends were on the trip with all our private talks;), reason two it was a daring step from our side, being a girl, reason three Manali studies made us more curious to explore it.
The Route to Manali
Our bus was from New Delhi in the evening at 4PM and we were there on time, but as it was a private bus service, it changed its starting point on last moment and the bus driver and conductor were not picking our call. After calling a lot of times to its call center, finally we were able to get the bus conductor and after a little hustle-bustle, we reached on the pick-up point on time. The bus condition was not good and a stupid movie was played there which just created headache and we were thinking, if this is the starting then what will be there next... But still positive... All will be well... All will be well.
It was almost dark when we were crossing Chandigarh and not able to recognize the ways. I want to enjoy the whole route as well, but due to night it was only roads and trucks to enjoy. We reached Shimla near about 9 or 10PM. Cool breeze was attracting me, but bus was AC and packed. I just saw the roads and those were very clean, too many turns were attracting me. I was trying to look nature and trees there in the dark and having a feel of an amazing journey. Then came 'Mandi' and from there we started on height. We saw first view of Beas River there. Breeze was cooler than before, roads were narrowing. Bus was turning sometimes left then right and I fall asleep. Woke-up around 5 in the morning and we were turning on hills. My friends and her baby were still sleeping and I was continually looking outside the window so that not a single exciting thing left unseeing from me. It was still dark outside, with no proper lights on road. Sky was very clear and I was able to see many more stars from naked eyes. Another thing to amaze me...
"Wow... now it will come... Is it Manali... Where are the snow mountains..." I was just talking to myself. Then sunrise happened, my friends and little sweety awake, but still only turns... from one hill to another and from another hill to another... But nothing was boring for me. Mount Abu, Rajasthan (which I visited 2-3 times) also has many turns. But here turns were not ending. Then I saw a board of 'Himalayan National Park Welcomes You'... and then a long tunnel. Our bus took almost 5-7 minutes to cross it. How long the tunnel was, we can imagine and how they cut the whole Himalayan mountain that was also out of our imagination. Now we have huge mountains of Himalaya, but no snow was there as we were expecting. But amazing views all around. I was getting more and more excited minute after minute. Sometimes seeking some Himalayan Tiger on high hills, sometimes seeking special species of snakes or deer or bear... any animal of Himalaya..., but found no one. Beauty of trees, mountains and of course of Beas river was catching my attention time by time. Sometimes Beas river was on right side of us and sometimes on left side. No idea what was happening... how we were climbing... Sometimes we were upside the hills and sometimes our bus started to downside near the river then again up. It was almost 8 and we were still far from Manali. Route was so beautiful and I was thinking what will happen when I will see Manali at first time... Will it be love at first sight with nature.... We saw the 'Pandoh Dam' from bus and after a while a white mountain. I cried with excitement "Voila we will have snow there. I saw snow mountain" and we all three girls become excited and the little baby was more and more excited than us. Some person in the bus having headaches and gastric trouble and they were vomiting due to height and unended turns. But by the grace of God we all including baby were well with no problem and far from those people, but pity on their condition.
Reaching Manali and the Hotel Delfryn
And ultimately bus entered in the so called desert like bus stand. It was 10:30 and we were feeling tired. Sun was on full bloom and nothing like snow or coldness we were feeling. We took a taxi to our hotel which was really far from there and on a hill top in old Manali side.
The best part we were between the forest areas itself, so a wonderful walk can be possible anytime. Snow mountains were all around us and from our hotel we can view them in two directions. One exclusive scene was available from our room's full glass window. Our room was on top floor of hotel (3rd floor) and no other room was there on that floor. So Best for our fun. Whole hotel was wooden structured, excited us more...
We have Devdaar Trees (Cedar trees) exclusive view from the below floor's seating area and there also rooms were empty that day. We decided to took bath and a bit rest then photo session inside hotel and then will be out for a forest walk and then local sightseeing to save the day. We were carrying enough refreshment with us, some were home-made and some packed food items. We all three and the little hungry kid ate and started as per the plan. While my friends were busy in getting ready, I was busy in capturing the white Himalaya in my eyes. For any honeymoon couple that hotel can be a best place to stay. Hotel amenities were good as per the price. Room and seating area was well decorated. Food was good and prepared as per the order. Hotel manager was a gentle person and he told us that in cold season snow layers on its steps. No need to go anywhere to find snow. Amazing and exciting too....
Hidimba Devi Temple
Well after a photo-shoot, we were out on our feet, roaming and viewing huge-tall Cedar trees (of about 80 feet height I guess), Kaili trees and more types of trees and flowers, which names we hadn't able to know. But enjoying. We were on the upside and walking downside easily, another benefit as per us, till that time. It was almost 1 to 1.5 km walk on feet in forest areas then we reached Hidimba Devi Temple, the story from Mahabharata. A devil lady with good nature who married to 'Bheem', one out of 5 Pandavas, and become mother of 'Ghatotkatcha' (A devil who helped Pandavas in the Kurukshetra war). Whole temple was built with Cedar wood. It was my first experience to view a wooden temple. I think it helps to stay hot in the winter. It is an ancient cave temple with brass idol inside the cave. In Navratri here people worship Hidimba Devi and not Devi Durga. Whole temple has different animal heads (real skull) in the path to main deity's cave area. In nearby area there is 'Ghatotkatcha' (Son of Devi Hidimba) Temple and one can see footprints of Hidimba Devi inside it.
Beas River and Rappelling
Manali Traditional Dress
In the nearby forest-park area Manali natives sell photographs of Manali and give you their traditional dress to take photograph in that. They have animals like Angora Rabbits and Domestic Yak and you can click photos with them, sitting on them in really nominal charges. And yes you can bargain as well ;). We also took lot of pictures with them. Then we started to get down on road. We have Beas river in mid of our way. And passed some time viewing its beauty and clear water and hearing its sound. Rappelling facility was there and we all enjoyed that.
The Way and Bhagwan Manu Temple
Around 6 o'clock in the evening we started for Bhagwan Manu Temple, The first Human King on earth after the universal devastation, who saved different species from it and started new era with the help of Bhagwan Matsya. We thought it would be near somewhere, but it was 1 km on a height but in excitement, nature and with friends who was there to remember the distance and the way. Red roses and Christmas trees were everywhere. It was like, without any efforts full blooming flowers, just due to the soil and purity in environment. We talked to some of the natives as well, about their living, food and how they manage in this hilly region even in winters when snow spreads everywhere. They told us, they become happy when snow is there. If there is less snowfall, it affects the whole climatic conditions there as well as plantation and business. We also inquired about the Leh-Laddakh tour. They were charging 16000 for all of us, but need 10 days, which we hadn't that time. We saw a designer gate and asked the people about it and they told, that was a Post Office. Amazing... We reached Bhagwan Manu temple, it was also built with Cedar wood.
Post Office Gate, Manali
Manali Traditional Cap, In-front of Manu Temple, Manali
We were very tired then and decided to get back to hotel as early as we could. The way was long and no auto/taxi was there on the hilly area. It was around 7 and dusk was spreading. Clouds were coming around and we were hearing their roar sounds. We were not expecting that weather and running down fast. On reaching down, it started raining. A benefit was that, where we took shelter, was a place near taxi stand and suddenly we heard that Rohtang Pass opened and as it closes on Tuesday and that day was Sunday and we were returning on Wednesday evening, we have only next day (Monday) to plan for it. Rates were too high from 5000 to 6000 per person, because of Tuesday closing and only a number of 1200 taxis were allowed in a day legally, to avoid excessive traffic and pollution on hill. It was out of our planned budget, but we came there to see snow, which was only in Rohtang Pass that summer. After deciding plan for next day, I ran for catching an auto and it took 300 for hotel. Again an unplanned expense which we had to bear every evening in our stay and we realize the sense of having hotel in the market, near bus stand or taxi stand if you haven't your own car or pre-booked taxi and come not to sit in the hotel. We reached hotel in the rain, all wet, having no food apart from our refreshment and to our bad luck or bad planning it was 9 and hotel food time was till 9. But the manager was a nice guy and he arranged food for us in our room as we were not having that much energy to move three floors up and down there.
Nights were cold as we believed and tree leaves were knocking on our wooden roof. But we were so much tired that we fast asleep.
Mission Rohtang Pass
Next morning we wake up early, did jogging downside of the hill, in main market took heavy breakfast and start seeking some budget option for Rohtang Pass. And yes with our luck we found a taxi taking four of us and a couple just in 1500 per person. It was his second trip, although not allowed there, but it happens. We were excited and scared because it was not legal. But after passing police check post only excitement left. From the bare mountains to the real Snowy Himalaya, with lots of turns and walls of snow our taxi was climbing up and up, the same our heartbeats. We took the dress on rent for playing in the snow. And yes remember, they do not give you socks and gloves on rent. You need to purchase it. So better take it with you. Only Plastic Coat, Pant and Shoes included. Ultimately we were on hills completely packed with snow and our nice driver took us some more upside where there was lesser crowed and we were out of taxi.
Video of Rohtang Pass
Once only I have seen that...
I want to view it again and again...
and every time it will show me...
...new colors in its whiteness.
I had never seen that before and really I cannot explain that joy in my words. It was snow all around... as far as we can see... till the top... it was amazing but scary. I was able to imagine what happens in a landslide. How people burry in snow in thunders. Although that ice was not too soft to create snowman, but legs were going inside and it was hard to run. We through snow on each other, tried to make a little snowman and tried to measure its height by eyes and by climbing upside to some height. Our little princesses enjoyed a lot there without any fear. After some time clouds started coming and we asked our driver is it dangerous, he told us that was usual there in evening time but yes path can be foggy and we should move. So we all said Goodbye to Rohtang Pass but decided to come there again in life, even to cover Leh-Laddakh trip which will be more amazing definitely. We did not want to leave that place but on driver's recommendation we were returning. In mid-way we saw Jogini Water Fall and way to Solang Valley, but after viewing that amazing views of snow mountains, nothing was clicking in our minds. Soon we were down and had a great evening rush. Our intelligent driver somehow took some other path and dropped us in the market on time with safety.
From our today's experience, we decided to book next day trip that day only and to save money next day, we booked a government bus in just 150 per person. to Manikaran Gurudwara and Kullu Ghati. I will tell you about it in my next article. Till then keep reading....
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