2019-10 Manali and the Himalayas

I was once again in India and this time it would start in Manali. This part of my trip is as a tour organizer and guide, the first days will be spent in Manali. Manali is on the road to the High summits of the western Himalayas and the high plateau of Laddak and the Spiti valley. It is the end of the season there, soon the winter will kick in, the passes and some roads will close. The plan is to be based in Manali, discover the region and the valley as well as the adjoining Parvati valley. Manali, the new town is not in itself beautiful but its practical and quiet.  There are still many traditional style houses that give it a certain charm. In the Old Manali its a different atmosphere, its very steep with a more traditional and authentic feel, its here that most travellers will stay and where the more trendy restaurants are located. The weather has been great, blue skies all the way throughout the day, it naturally gets a little cloudy in the afternoon and the temperatures drop. The accommodation I found is a loft type wood cottage cottage with a massive veranda facing the sun, so its full of light and heat during the day and has good insulation and wood heaters to not get too chilly at night. Each day was a new discovery, a new place,  a new trek. We first visited the quaint mountain village of Vashist, the guru or lord Ram. This place has a hot spring and a public bath in the small temple. Jogini falls are a short trek away, its a steep walk up to the amazingly beautiful falls. It is possible to walk behind the falls and when the sun is out, the rays meet the water and form a beautiful rainbow. We then visited the Parvati valley. This valley is very much encased and leads to a beautiful Moutain range. We stopped in the holy town of Manikaran, it has many hot springs and temples including an important Sikh temple. The legend of the place is based on goddess Parvati loosing her earrings and other jewelry in the river.  Lord Shiva used his third eye to  find the jewels, the water boiled and the jewels shot back up through the frozen waters and created the hot springs. The town has many baths inside and outside the temples, the water is very hot. I was able to bathe a little but my friend could not bathe in such warm waters so I could not spend much time bathing or try the different bathing spots. Maybe one day I will return and spend a few days bathing and chilling here and going deeper into the valley. On our way back, we made a short stop in Kassol, a backpacker hotspot. It’s well located but did not seem at first and very quick glance to have much else to offer. The fourth day we drove up the Himalayan highway to the Rhotang pass situated at nearly 4000m to admire the amazing panorama of the Himalayan range from there. I had chosen not too go any further on that road as it was late in the season and  the accommodation conditions are a little harsh on the way to Leh or the Spiti valley. Maybe on another visit I will push further into either Laddak or the Spiti valley. We drove up very early to the pass and thus avoided traffic and were ensured to have a clear sky. On the fifth day we trekked our way up into the valley behind old manali, it was a very beautiful walk through varried terrain with the river below and the Moutain range ahead. This day was Diwali festival, the housekeeper had prepared a special dinner and decorated the house with flowers, in the evening we did a small puja and lit many oil lamps throughout the house, the firecarckers were fired throughout the town from dusk and way into the night. Today is our sixth and last day here in Manali, we will follow a different trail up the Mountain and do a little shopping before packing and getting ready to fly back to Delhi tomorrow morning.

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