A mesmerizing experience in Manali
Whenever we hear about backpacking and trekking in India, it is the same old hippie’s abode Tosh, Malana, Mcloedganj, and the likes. Not many have analyzed Manali to be a serious competitor when it comes to solo travel and backpacking and not just being given the title of a honeymoon paradise. Having said that, my experience of truly feeling the vibe of old Manali road in the evening was a mesmerizing and enchanting one.
We were two friends who decided to visit Manali during the cold winter month of January. We booked a bus from Delhi and it was a 12 to 13 hours overnight journey. The best way to reach Manali is through bus and Himachal Tourism buses are the best.
Best time to visit Manali:
We visited Manali at a time when even the temperature in Delhi was 4 degree Celsius. It is no less than an adventure to visit a hill station during the winters to experience bone-chilling cold where the temperature drops to as low as minus 5 degrees but take the word of a seasoned traveler, it will be worth it. During the summers Rohtang Pass and the treks get opened so if you want to experience that then summer months are the best. Monsoon season is a strict no.
Staying in Manali:
I said about backpacker’s paradise and I discovered it soon. Even though we didn’t have a booking, we easily got a room for two at 10 in the night. The bus will drop you at the mall road area in New Manali and the place will be bustling with life even after 11 in the night. There are many hotels and a lot many tourists stay there. The place has it all, from street food to restaurants, from clothing market to liquor shops. We found everything that we wanted.
Next day we visited the beautiful Solang valley. One easily gets a Royal Enfield on rent. We started our journey from the hotel. At the starting point of the valley, we had to take clothes and gear for our visit. At a modest amount of 600, they provide the jacket pants and boots on rent. They will also offer adventure packages that you can opt for like a snowmobile, ox ride, skiing. We opted for an ox ride, skiing and tyre skiing. After reaching the Solang valley top I didn’t have words to comprehend a meaningful sentence to state my feelings. It was my first experience of the mountains and I was completely taken by the beauty of it.
After taking a stroll, clicking Instagram worthy pictures, having a snow fight and sliding down the ice as no one was able to balance themselves on the slippery ice we attempted skiing. Again, trust the word of someone who attempted skiing, it does not seem easy as it looks. We could hardly ski for 10 minutes, that too with the help of an instructor. After that, we took an ox ride to a temple at a higher elevation having hot tea alongside. Now it was time for some adventure. Apart from Bir Billing, Manali is a place where the quality of paragliding is good. For an amount of 2500 that 10 minute of paragliding which I did was worth every second. Firstly a car took us to a mountain top and again we had to trek for 5 minutes to reach the launch point. The launch point was a steep hill and from there we landed on the plain field.
After that, during the evening we took a stroll in the forest area near Hidimba temple which connects to old Manali. This will remind you of the forest scene in those old English movies. After that, we did shopping on the mall road. A word of caution, food is costly here and also other goods. There are a few places that serve good food. We had gajar ka halwa and gulab jamun which was amazing. If you want to try your hands on food exploration in Manali, try sweet dishes. Lastly, we boarded our bus the next day and bid adieu to this city of charm taking with us the memories we will cherish forever.