Covering: Kullu, Bhunter, Manikaran, Himachal Pradesh, India, Weather Winter - Too cold, Best season - February to June,
Budget: 35000 for 3 person
So as I was telling you in my last article that we have booked a government bus in 150 per person for Kullu and Manikaran tour for the third day trip and we were very happy that we maintain our budget by saving money here... So here started the next morning.
Himalaya Early Morning View from My Hotel
As per my habit I wake up early and got ready first, while my friends were getting ready, I was viewing the calm and magnificent Snow-White Himalaya from my room window. Sun rose from right side of it and the whole Himalaya turned into Golden color from white. Majestic scene it was! Well we all were ready then and started a walk till down the hill as we were on hill top. We took our ever-loving South Indian breakfast in a restaurant in the main market. We were having enough time to spend as bus was at 9:00 am and it was only 8:30. We were excited and enjoying in the market and then sat in the bus on time. Bus started and the conductor asked all of us, not to take more than the given time else we would be late in the evening. So soon after our bus was wandering on the circular roads of Manali and in last two days we already had a good experience of it, so we were just enjoying it and not waiting for the destinations...
The way to Kullu
Beas River Near Mata Vaishno Devi Temple
I wanted to ask the conductor about the places and trees coming in the path, but he was not at all supportive. Most of the time he was saying that he had no idea. We were start getting irritated but the scenic beauty was calming us. We were thinking about our yesterday Rohtang Pass trip, that how attentive that driver was!! Driving... playing music and answering most of our questions. The bus conductor showed us the Kullu Apple Trees, from the bus itself, with no apples in that season. For apples we should be there in Feb-Mar. After a while the bus stopped and conductor told all of us about the famous Vaishno Mata Temple, Kullu and given us half an hour to visit that place. On the other side of the road Beas River was flowing and we were not able to stop our legs to go there. We put our legs in cool water of Beas and were praising the peaceful place with cool breeze. After passing 15 minutes, we rush towards the temple just to have a look of that place. Temple was not a small one and divided into 7 floors, each floor has different deities on it. It has a lord Shiva temple in it and at the bottom the Cave of Mata Vaishno Devi, with the similar built pathway and look of cave. Enjoyed that, but reached late by 5 minutes and conductor was angry on that.... We were thinking we should book a separate cab and not a bus. In a cab it is our desire where to stop and which place to skip and we can spend as much time as we like. Anyways our bus started and then after half an hour journey it stopped on a Kullu shop, to which conductor was calling a factory... He asked us to visit the Kullu factory and purchase anything if we like... and time given for that was one hour... Wasn't that more than enough for that small place... Well we moved inside and saw a man started weaving shawl with hand-pulling machine. He started that as we entered and no other person was working with him... It was clear to us that it was only a show to fool the foreigners like us and that was awful. We visited whole shop and check the prices, those were high and clearly our bus driver and conductor had commission in it. We didn't purchase anything from there, but from the nearby shop. We were cursing ourselves for booking this boring bus instead of a taxi just to save a few rupees.
Kullu Handicraft Factory
The Beautiful Bhunter
Well, then after an hour break, our bus started finally for Manikaran. Manikaran is about 40KMs from Kullu via Bhunter. But due to hilly area, journey looks longer than that. Bhunter is a hilly area with steep valley and narrow circular pathways and have no railing at many places. At a time only one sided traffic can be passed (especially buses) from there so drivers buzz horns to check traffic is coming from other side or not. On turns they stop vehicles and let the other side traffic pass. They really need a good sense of driving. We were somewhat scared when our bus was roaming on Bhunter hills. The environment was clean and Parvati River was flowing in the valley. This river is so clean that one can see its bottom pebbles on some places where water is not so deep. There is a bridge in Bhunter where Beas and Parvati River meets. We saw that place and amazingly one can identify confluence of two different river waters. The blue one was of Beas and the Yellow one was of Parvati River.
Confluence of Parvati and Beas River
Bhunter Valley Way
Bhunter :: Parvati River and Steep Valley
Bhunter :: Parvati River and Narrow Roads
Bhunter Scenic Views
Bhunter Hills Close-Up
The Wet Hills of Bhunter
The Deepness of Bhunter Valley
The Deepness of Bhunter Valley
Bhunter Danger Way
Then our bus reached at Manikaran, a pilgrim for both Hindus and Sikhs. For Sikhs it has a very famous Gurudwara, Manikaran Sahib and for Hindus it is a place related to Lord Shiva and Devi Paarvati. There is a story behind its name too and here it goes... So Once upon a time when Lord Shiva and Parvati were returning to Kailash, Devi Paarvati's earing's gemstone (Mani Karnika) fell into the water near this place. So Lord Shiva asked the water resources to return it back, but received no reply. By this he became angry and start boiling that water to find her wife Paarvati earing's gemstone. At this the water returned Devi Paarvati's Gemstone and asking to forgive him. In the meantime the Rishis (Saints) who were praying Lord Shiva from years, came there and pleased to see their God with their eyes. Lord Shiva and Paarvati declared that they were very happy with their prayers and asked what they want; The Rishis said that they just want to do 'Abhishek' (Special way of worship with water and milk) of their lord, but from years they didn't bath, so first they want to bath and that place was very cold, so could Lord Shiva let some boiling water springs ('Kunds') there for the common man. Lord Shiva became happy with this and blessed that place. The flowing river named on Devi Paarvati and the place got its name on Gemstone of Paarvati's Earing 'Manikarnika' or 'Manikaran'. Another story is with King Manu that after flood Manu recreated human life in Manikaran, making it a sacred area.
Whatever the story behind, but truly this place has its special charm. From the bus stop we crossed bridge over Parvati River, hearing roaring sound of river and clicking different shots. Due to boiling water, this area has fog because area is cool and springs have hot water. Some kunds (springs) have too much hot water that people cook rice and potatoes in it without pressure cooker. Other Kunds have lukewarm water for bathing. There is a Lord Rama and Krishna temple and it has separate kunds for Boys and Girls bathing. The boys' kund named Ram Kund and girls' kund named Sita Kund. The water is good for skin as it has sulphur which is good treatment for any type of skin diseases. We also wash our face and hands in it. After doing worship, we ate Dal-Bhat (Dal and Rice) which was cooked in the spring's boiling water. It was properly cooked and delicious. Then suddenly rain started. It makes weather more foggy and enjoyable. We rush to the Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara from its narrow main market. We saw houses were built on hills with no proper shapes and all have natural hot water supply for 24 hours. It was amazing to think about a home there. No need of AC and natural hot water in all taps all the time... Amazing!!
We entered in the Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara, it has a cave like passage inside and one wall of that passage is warmer than the other and just outside that wall we saw boiling rice in the spring. What a fabulous nature there!! The Gurudwara Sahib was a peaceful place. Nobody is allowed to speak in Gurudwaras and I always like this practice. No talks; you only talk with your God in a peaceful environment.
Then we moved to nearby Lord Shiva temple, which had that boiling spring. It was the pathway where we were having all the springs one after another and the pathway was in touch with the cold water river Parvati. I actually have no words what we were feeling that time. It was really... really mind boggling!!
Manikaran Panoramic View
Ram Chandra Temple, Manikaran
Hot Spring Bath, Manikaran
Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara
Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara Mirror Work
Lord Shiva Temple, Manikaran
Lord Shiva Temple and Priest in Traditional Dress
Rice Boiling at Lord Shiva Temple
Manikaran Temples and Heavy Rain
Parvati River, Manikaran
Parvati River Panoramic View
Soon after we realized that we passed a lot of time in viewing nature and may be bus conductor again show his anger... So we rushed towards the bus and it was just departing. Seven people were running behind the bus. It was just another way of the conductor to show his anger and just a few meters away driver stopped the bus and we entered in it. We were now happy that it was not a total waste and we have something to plan another trip here... We were returning and singing and just watching outside the steep valley and Parvati River. In the evening time Manali has a lot of rush and it takes hours to cross just a kilometer. And we were trapped in the jam. After so many hours of rush we reached to the bus stand in night, approx. at 8 PM and just like the day before that day... it was raining heavily, so we had to take shelter in a shed. We were feeling hungry that time because we just had the breakfast and the Dal-Bhat of afternoon. Our pretty princesses even not had that Dal-Bhat because of her choosy nature. If we spent more time in that shed we would be late for our dinner at hotel which has a closing time of 9 PM. Market was already closed due to rain. Any how I rush in the rain found a taxi and we reached our hotel by 8:45 PM. Restaurant was about to close so it had a few options to choose, but we managed and moved towards our room which was at third floor with no lift option. In the room we changed, laid on bed and fast asleep.
Last Day Fun and Rafting
Rafting at Beas River
Fun at Manali
The next day was the day to return to Delhi, so we packed our baggage, paid the hotel bill and left the hotel. We wanted to make it a special day with full of Manali memories. Our rafting in Beas river was left and nothing else... so this time we took a taxi to have fun on some of our desired spots and which would drop us to the bus stand on time, means before 5 PM. Our taxi driver was a good guide who told us name of a few species of trees there and stopped where ever we wanted. We took a lot of pictures at every single spot in different poses as that was our last day. We did rafting, but Rishikesh Rafting in Ganga is better than that. It was just like boating only. Then we saw a small zoo in the nearby restaurant and our princesses enjoyed that a lot. We ate there as per our choices and memorize the whole trip once again. We sat in the taxi at 3 PM and started towards our bus stand. So was it the end of our Sweet and Salty Manali Trip?? Nope, an accident was waiting for us.... At the bus stand there was a long open drainage with only that much way that one bus can be passed from it. We had baggage, so we were entering one by one from there. One of us was crossed that passage with two luggage. I had one backpack and one handbag and purse in hand and my friend was carrying one suitcase and her child. When we were in the middle, a bus suddenly came on that passage from front and the driver was confident that he can pass it without hurting us, which was next to impossible because the bus needed to take a small turn there and for that it had to hit us from its back. We were shouting... public was shouting... but the driver didn't stop. We were just on the tip of that passage and a slow wind even could push us in that drain. Awful!! My friend was managing her child there with a difficulty and suddenly the bus's back hit me and due to that force I was not able to maintain my balance and about to fall in the drain, but my friend pulled me up with her hand and for that moment left her daughter. Daughter was holding her mother but another hit by bus could do anything. But with Grace of God driver pushed the break that time and I jumped to the back side of bus. She held her daughter and we all jumped one by one from that passage. All were thanking God for saving life and I was thanking God for giving me such a caring and loving friends. Nothing wrong can happen if you have true friends with you. Love you friend!! My heart-beats still increases by just thinking what could happen there and how she saved me.
So as a crux of this journey, we learnt a lot of lessons.
- We can plan it in some better way by studying the place and attraction points some more deeply.
- It is better to stay near bus stand or taxi stand or at least in the main market. You are on a tourist spot not to stay, but to roam around and proximity from bus or taxi stand matters a lot in that.
- You can find better options offline than online, but it needs efforts.
- Never book a bus for sightseeing, better to have taxi with only your group.
- Keep your gloves, goggles and socks with you for hill stations.
- The above advice doesn't matters, if you don't have like-minded people with you. So always ask your best friends to join you in the trip. You never know how and when they help you out.
- We missed the following places in our trip because of poor planning and less awareness and we will keep them in mind in our next trip to Manali. You may also note them....
- Beas Kund (Near Rohtang Pass)
- Vasishtha Kund (Hot Spring in Manali)
- Great Himalayan National Park
- Raghunath Temple, Kullu
- Bijli Mahadev Temple
- One tracking like Parvati Valley Trek or Bhrigu Lake Trek
- Jana Falls