This was the 15th time!
Me and my buddy from my MBA days, decided to drive down from Delhi to Manali.
In two days time, I was at the Delhi airport, at 3 AM, waiting for my friend to pick me up. We drove his car, turn by turn. It was around 700 km and we planned to cover it in around 14 hours.
Till Chandigarh, the road was amazing and we could see the sun rising ahead of us. Luckily, the fog didn’t play a spoilsport and we were happily munching onion and aloo parathas with hot chai at a roadside dhaba near Chandigarh by 7 AM.
You will find India’s best dhabas between Delhi and Chandigarh. You cant afford not having your meal here!
Most of the dhabas are named haveli 🙂 and all are good. During this time of the year (Nov – Jan) you can ask for “Sarson da Saag and Makki di Roti”, at the dhabas. We had it on our way back. Must try.
After you leave chandigarh and move on towards himachal border, you would find these shops selling oranges and orange juices.
We had to stop for having the freshest juice. We didn’t tell the guy, making juice, anything on sugar, and by Jove, the juice was god damn sour :)……still, we loved it….!
Our plan was to reach Manali by 4 Pm. We were planning on what we would do once we reach….and then……………………………..this happened!
We got stuck at 4 places and on an average we had a stoppage time of 1 hour each of the places. Somewhere, there was a landslide, and somewhere, they were expanding the road. That meant long traffic jams and uncertainty on when the jams would ease!
For those who have not driven in the mountains, please take note of the following suggestions.
You should always give priority to a vehicle which is coming up.
Normally, you should not overtake.
And in case of traffic jams, you should park your car on the extreme left so that vehicles from the other side can pass freely.
Also note that, this being India, you might not see these often. You will actually witness, exactly opposite of these. You shouldn’t get frustrated if you see no one following these rules :))
You should be the ideal driver and be an example for others :))
This is what you do, when you get stuck for an hour in the traffic jam. Free your legs by taking a walk and take as many clicks as you can. :))
If possible walk up to the start of the hold up. You might end up getting some vital information on the reason for the hold up ahead!
We reached our destination for the day – Baragarh Villa, at around 8 PM. The traffic jams became bigger and bigger and post a difficult drive on this terrain, we finally managed to reach our night stop, totally exhausted.
For a detailed review on Baragarh Villa, you can read my other exclusive blog on that! Few facts which might interest you about the place – Krish and lot other reknowned movies were shot there. The owner – Mr. Nakul Khullar is amazing. You just need to talk to him to realise that….!
These were the morning views from our balcony. I took these clicks on my Nikon D5300 at almost sub zero temperatures :))
This was the view from our second hotel, the next day. Manu Alaya – the hotel, is a luxury resort and is one of my favourites. The clean view from your balcony, the central room heating ( very rare in Manali) adds a lot to your comfort. The food is good and you cannot afford to miss their breakfast.
This was our room for the remaining two days. Rooms are premium and are costly. Book in advance for your choice of room.
I know someone, Mr. Amit Lawania, who always gets me, my choice of rooms. Let me know, if you need his number. Don’t worry, he wont charge you! :))
My buddy – SG, who was amazed at the views and couldn’t control from seating himself at our verandah! 🙂
This is how Manu Alaya looks from outside…!
We were in pursuit of snow and headed towards Solang Valley. Normally, I head towards the rope way, but this time, someone told us that he could take us to snow, by a quick 5 min ride on one of the ATVs. We agreed and in a jiffy we were found, precariously poised on the seat, hanging onto anything we could, three of us (including the driver), heading on an extremely rocky terrain. I could see the mountains with snow ahead. Only thing between us and the snowy mountains, was, this rocky terrain and the extremely uncomfortable and bumpy ride :))
This was the ATV parking where we were asked to get down. And the view ahead, made us speechless …..
There was snow all ahead…..!! We didn’t have proper shoes or attire, to be in snow, but that didn’t stop us from diving into it. We were slipping, but we went ahead! Almost on all fours of ours :))
Here is SG, posing as Shahrukh Khan…:))
We managed to hurl a lot of snow balls at each other, till we were exhausted. A must do activity. :))
We were greeted by a couple of four legged friends and they didn’t leave us till they had their share of biscuits and Maggi. This gentleman was selling maggi which was tasteless and bland, but being a monopoly for him, his sales was high. I ensured my entire plate of Maggi is devoured by my four legged friend. Well, he lapped it up as if it was the best dish on earth :))
Here, we are pretending, as if we drove these. Trust me, we didn’t :))….
This guy drove us :))
I could see a solo paraglider, enjoying the views from above….!
This is the famous Hadimba temple! I have always been here on my every visit, barring once. I met with an accident on my way back to Delhi, that time. Post that, I ensure, I visit this place on every visit. Sort of a must do activity for me. It might not be the same for you.
Normally there is huge rush in the evenings, but, we were lucky that day. Rush was not there and we could offer our pujas, in peace!
Even if you don’t believe in God, be at this place for the natural beauty. The pine trees, the lonely yak waiting for you to take a pic while you sit on it, the small time shops….offer an old world charm!
The famous Mall road of Manali!….known for food joints and shopping!
These lights are part of decor, of my favourite restaurant – Chopsticks. You can order hot momos, thukpa, noodles and have it with the famous fruit wines of Manali. Right on mall road, right on price and quality! And always full and bustling with tourists!!
We woke up to this view the next morning! Amazing snow clad peaks….beckoning us!
Every time, I don’t feel like returning back from Manali. I feel like staying back there. But, every time, I have to come back….! Manali, is that one place in India, that I keep going back to, at all seasons. I love Manali truly, along with all it’s tantrums.
Maybe, someday, I would go to Manali and never return..from the land of the Gods! :))