For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the white powdery stuff. Of course, not the harmful ones, the playful melting ones. Snow. Being from South India, I have never had the opportunity to see snow or satisfy my curiosity about the stuff till recently.
Manali was the destination for the month of February. Like my friend, Ziyad Mohammed said,
“The first things in life are always memorable. First bike, first girlfriend, first **** and so on…!” Adding one more to the list… 🙂 #FirstSnow
And so my friend and I travelled from Delhi on our quest to see snow. Started on Thursday evening at 7pm in a private bus from Kashmere Gate ISBT in Delhi, through Sonipat, Panipat, Karnal, Mandi and finally reached Manali at 7am on Friday. Quite easy to get the tickets through Redbus and travel was pretty comfortable (though PK could have been avoided).The roads are an absolute delight to ride on and I wished I was on a motorcycle instead of in a bus.
The first blast of cold air hits you when you get out of the bus. Brrrr… It was friggin cold. But the view! If I can give a title to Manali, I would name it Heaven on Earth. It was beautifully cold and green. We reached our resort, Club Mahindra Manali, got ready and started our quest.
There was five feet thick snow in Solang Valley. Along with snow activities. For someone who has fantasized about snow, that was on the top of my checklist. The driver stopped at some shops so that we can get snow dresses available for rent, plus gum boots and gloves. I don’t think I will ever forget my first view of Solang valley. Till where the eyes can see, it was all snow.
Snow, snow, everywhere. But not soft enough to make a snowman. 😦
It was the most fun I had in a lot of years! We rode on horses up the mountain. My horse kept pooping on the way. My friend was teasing me,”Your horse is a dirty horse and you are adding to its indigestion. Get off the horse and walk, madam.” Finally we reached the point from where we were meant to paraglide.
Scary at first, then exhilarating, the experience was! In some ways it was liberating, though I really can’t explain how. It gave me the feeling of flying in the sky, soaring up above everyone else. There was a sense of peace as well as joy, that everything will be fine.
Things to do & Places to see
The best way to explore Manali town is to walk around. Must see places and must do things are:
The legend is that the rakshasa Hidimba was supposed to have lived there. She had vowed to marry the person who would defeat her brother Hidimb. Bhima, one of the Pandavas, defeated Hidimb during their exile into the forest and consecutively married Hidimba. Their son is the Ghatotkacha.
The place to shop for all the pashmina and other shawls. You can get nice items from INR 400 – INR 20,000. We even came across a Pashmina Scheme where the customers are used to create value for the product, so as to create more valuable Pashmina shawls.
Trout Fish and Apple Pie at Johnson’s
Pancakes with lemon honey at the second Johnson’s
Walking inside one of the parks
Tips for not getting fleeced in Manali
All you need to rent is gum boots from the shops. If you have a decent jacket warm clothes, the snow suit is not required.
Gloves are a must. The biggest risk is getting frostbite, so make sure your hands and legs are properly protected with woolen gloves and socks. Especially if you are planning on making snowmen and getting into snow fights 🙂
If you are planning to stay in Manali for more than a day, rent a bike or scooter which is available from Rs. 500 to Rs. 800 per day (Petrol extra). You can explore the city of Manali on two wheelers which is far more cost effective than paying to the autowallahs and the taxi wallahs.
Always bargain with the shopkeepers. Try at least 25% lower than what the street price is.
Manali is definitely a place I would come back to. To try more of the food. To travel to Rohtang pass, which would be open from June to September. To ride on a bullet from Manali to Leh. Somethings are checked off the bucket list, and a few others have been added!