Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Travelogue- Visit to beautiful Kullu / Manali

As part of my 60th birthday celebration, my son and daughter and their spouses offered us a trip to Kullu/Manali. My wife had never been to Himachal Pradesh(H.P) and hence we were only too happy to accept the offer.

Lakshmi in the hotel balcony
The tour package was from Delhi and was done through Bharath Booking Holidays ( ). Delhi to Manali ( about 520 kms ) was done in a Volvo bus in 13 hours. The route wasDelhi-Karnal-Panipat-Kurukshetra-Ambala-Roopnagar-Bilaspur-Mandi-Kullu-Manali.

The bus journey was comfortable but the dinner stop at Kurukshetra was in a road side Dhaba which had very poor toilet facilities especially for women.

Perched at an altitude of 1950 m (6400 ft) in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh state is the small, picturesque town of Manali. The Kullu/Manali valley is full of apple orchards and Ber trees. 

Manali is about 250 Kms from Shimla, the capital of H.P and we visited  from the 11thApril, 2012 to 14th April, 2012.In Manali, we were received by our cab driver/guide Kuldip and were put up at Hotel Naina Resorts. This is a decent hotel and offers a breathtaking view of the mountains and the River Beas from our room(see pic).

Day 1:  It was cold, raining and suddenly snow started falling. Mid April was not really snow time but i guess  we were lucky. Our guide suggested that we go to the “snow point“ which is in Solang valley, about 20 kms from our hotel. We rented some snow outfit and “ear cover” to guard us against the cold. Tourism being the main source of revenue, shops do mint money from the visitors. We paid an exorbitant rent of Rs.600/snow outfit and bought the “ear cover” for Rs.40. (we later found out it was available for Rs.5 in other shops). But, we forgot all about it when we reached the snow point.
Enjoying the hot corn cob
This was a beautiful place with snow covered mountains and ice banks on both sides of the road.  There were a lot of people trying their hand at skiing. We had our share of snowball fight. Lakshmi bought a “hot corn cob” and really relished it in the biting cold weather (see picture).

After an eventful experience in the snow, we visited the “Saint Vashisht temple” with it’s hot-springs. The water felt so hot for the initial touch, but you start feeling comfortable after some time. After the icy sojourn, this felt very soothing.
Day 2:  After a sumptuous breakfast of Poori, Chole and fried eggs, we set out for Kullu which is about 40 kms south of Manali. We were to have another adventurous day in the Beas waters. We went for “white water rafting” and the feeling of joy is to be felt to be believed. Lakshmi was initially a bit scared, as she didn’t know swimming, but minutes after setting off for the 7 kms ride(25 mins), we were soaked with excitement and fully drenched in water. The water current throwing the raft off the water and sometimes the raft bumping against the rocks in the water was really a thrilling experience. This was the place where the Ad film for “Mountain Dew” drink was shot as also the film “Krish” with Hrithik Roshan.( see video of our rafting).

Right across the river was the Vaishno Devi temple. After worship, we sat down for lunch offered by the temple. This is called “Bandaar” (free lunch). It was simple but delicious with rice, daal and a side dish.

Kullu district is famous for shawl manufacture and we did visit a factory producing shawls. Woolen sweaters and pashmina shawls are famous in H.P. 

Many would not know that Manali houses the famous “Nicholas Roerich” arts gallery. Roerich was a famous Russian painter, environmentalist and a philosopher. He spent a lot of time in the Himalayas as a mystic and his paintings depict this aspect of spiritualism. The museum also showcases the house he lived.

The remaining part of the day was spent in visiting the Naggar castle, Gayathri temple, Tripurasundari temple and a Tibetan Monastry. Naggar castle was earlier a Royal residence but since turned into a hotel and is now frequented by Bollywood for film shooting. Was a long day but enjoyable.

Day 3 & 4: we visited the “Van Vihar”( like a Botanical gardens). This place is full of Deodhar trees valued at about Rs.230 million. A lovely and cool place which reminds us to preserve our environment and be eco-friendly. It has a small lake where one can use the pedal boats.

We also went to the Hadimba temple located in the midst of the Deodhar trees. Like most houses in Manali, this is also constructed using slates as a roof cover. Slate has a low water absorption index and hence resistant to frost damage.

We did spend some time strolling down “The Mall”. Mall is a strip of road that has all the shops and restaurants. Bargaining is a way of life for shoppers and one can be happy to find that 40-50% discount can be had from the original price.

Plenty of roadside restaurants and Dhabas line up the Mall and food generally tastes good in most of these places.

A trip we would cherish for a long time. It gave us a chance to be young again and try our hand in adventure sports. Last but not the least, we also tried the traditional H.P dress and kinda looked nice in the outfit.

Dressed in traditional Himachal Pradesh attire.


Divya Shankar said...

So nice to read a post from you after an year. Warm wishes to you on your 60 th birthday, Uncle and many regards to Aunty too. Snow in mid April, white water rafting in Beas waters, temples, monastries, Ber and deodhar trees, all make it sound so good and perfect. Nice, descriptive post and great pics too.

Karthik said...

Nice entry. Hope you are planning on writing about the rest of the trip

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