Dehradun was my last destination and now I was in Rishikesh. It had been almost around a month that i was out travelling, I was wondering whether to return back home or to explore higher up in the mountains.
Since it was early December winter was setting in, there was an inkling in me to witness the snow-clad mountains of the Himalayan Range, finally this idea got the better of me and i was headed towards Manali. Manali falls in Himachal Pradesh, from Rishikesh there were two routes, one was from Rishikesh to Chandigarh and then to Manali and the other was from Dehradun, a 13 hour overnight bus drive to Manali. Since Rishikesh is just an hour and half drive from Dehradun this looked a better option. With this plan in mind I packed my stuff and headed towards Dehradun ISBT. The plan worked out perfectly well and the next day i was at Manali gazing at the snow clad mountains, Manali is at 8000ft and I started my journey at 1000ft above sea level, it was chilly and damp and I could feel the shivers from Bhuntar itself.
Manali had experienced snow a couple of days back, therefore there was snow visible on the upper mountain peaks.
My place of stay was at Vashisth, a small town on the outskirts of Manali and on the Manali Leh road. This place well popularly known for its hot springs. It is a 15-20 minute drive from Mall road in Manali. Since it is a bit higher up, the views of old Manali and surrounding peaks are spectacular. I stayed here for 3 days enjoying the hot springs and absorbing the beauty of the place.
With in these 3 days one of the days i went to visit the town of Naggar famous for the Reorich Art Gallery and Naggar castle. It is around half an hour drive from Manali to Patlikahul from where again we need to change vehicle and reach Naggar , the climb to the castle is half an hour affair. The castle comes under the HP tourism part of it has been converted into a hotel the rest is for public display.
The good thing about staying in hills is that we are so close to nature, I planned to go higher up to a small village called Hampta. The climb for Hampta starts from a village called Pirni. There is a road right to the top. It was near around the 32nd bend, I was carrying two backpacks, one large and the other small, they weighed near about 20 kgs, was wondering will I be able to carry it till the top. I waited for some time, walked a few meters in anticipation of any kind of vehicle which could give take me to the top but all in vain. Finally without thinking of anything else I planned to take the village hiking route to the homestay. The initial few minutes were tough as my body was adjusting to the heavy weights on my shoulder, the small backpack was at the front and the larger one at the behind my back.
In the hills, the trail goes through bends,meandering around and going up, there are shortcuts as well however mostly with steep ascends since they cut through the bends. I was taking the shortcuts where ever possible,it was tough but it was the only way out if I wanted to reach early. The concrete road would take a lot of time and there was no sign of any vehicle passing by. The climb was tough, but as I was ascending higher up the views of the valleys, forest and the surrounding area was getting better and better, since it was morning the air was fresh, with all these positives I was slowly and steadily moving up.
After around three hours of hiking up, I was dead tired, even in the month of December and me in mountains I was sweating like anything all my clothes from inside was wet, I thought of resting for some time. I was in the 25th bend, 7 more to go, I had already covered around 80% of my task, suddenly as if god was hearing my thoughts a sound of a vehicle coming up reached my ears, it was being driven by a white man, a foreigner, seeing me resting with all loaded up with my backpacks he stopped and asked me where i needed to go, I hastily said the 32nd bend, his car was all filled up but with some adjustments here and there i got accommodated. Finally I reached my place of stay, I thanked that gentleman with all my heart . My Place of stay was very picturesque ,snow clad mountains and tall trees with a small hut overlooking the valley.
My Neighbors where 3 gentle mountain cows, the owner had maintained them well and they provided good amount of daily milk. I stayed here for 1 week, enjoying the secluded life with nature as my best friend, went inside the forest for long walks and cutting trees to collect wood for the evening fire.
Silence has no sound but it still one can hear a lot, being in the forest rejuvenates the mind and the heart, we are born out of nature and we will get mingled with it when we are not there.