We had planned for a trip to Manali in the month of March. The trip was planned way in advance – the tickets were booked, and hotels were booked and the list of itineraries was well prepared. Five of us, we’re so excited about the vacation. This was the first time were going to visit a place apart from pilgrimage that we regularly go for, plus we planned the trip on our own with some assistance. We preferred March for the travel as it is neither too cold nor too hot in northern regions.
A trip to Manali of 4 nights and 5 days was planned.
We reached Nizamuddin station in the morning at around 9.00 am since our bus to Manali was at 7.30 in the evening, we had 6-7 hours to explore Delhi. So, we hired an Innova for Delhi tour, to visit a few tourist places in Delhi. We first went to see Qutub Minar; it is a 73m high tower of Victory built-in 1193. The Moghul architectural style is quite evident in this monument.
We did not spend a lot of time due to a shortage of time and our desire to cover as many places as possible. From Qutab Minar, we headed towards Akshardham temple. On the way to Akshardham temple we visited Rashtrapati Bhavan and the famous India Gate. It took around one hour to reach the Akshardham temple from Qutab Minar.
The temple complex is grand and it beautifully showcases the essence of Indian culture and traditions. The temple offers tranquility and peace to the visitors. One can easily spend more than an hour in the temple. The security in the temple premises is very strict and visitors are not allowed to carry cameras, phones, tabs, etc inside the temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Swaminarayan and reflects the beauty and melange of art and culture. There is a lotus garden in the center echoing spirituality and piousness of this place.
After visiting the Akshar Dham temple, we went to the famous Paranthewali Gali which around 9 km away from Akshar Dham via, Raja Ram Kohli Marg. It’s hard to resist the aroma of hot oil and sputtering spices. The air was filled with high-pitched shouts of shop owners and chaos from the busy streets. The stuffed parathas are dipped into a large Kadai bubbling with desi ghee. The Paranthewali Gali has a series of shops selling parathas with chole, the parathas served are lip-smacking and delicious.
After spending nearly two hours in Parathanewali Gali we went to the gurudwara near Majnu Da Tila, from where we were supposed to board our bus for Manali. We arrived an hour earlier to the scheduled time for the bus as we were new to the place and were a little tired after a whole day sightseeing in Delhi.
We reached Manali at around 9 o’clock in the morning at Manali bus station from there we hired an Innova to reach our hotel. Our hotel was not too far from the market. The climate was cold so we quickly took our sweaters out. On our way to the hotel, our driver informed us that there is a possibility of snowfall in a day or two. We were extremely happy to hear this as we had never seen the snow before and were very excited.
After reaching our hotel we rested the entire afternoon and planned to visit Hadimba temple which not so far from our hotel in the evening around 4.
It is around 1.5 Km away from the main market also called Mall road. An old wooden temple located in the middle of a dense forest; the dense forest adds more beauty to the temple. The temple is small but serene. One can see the imprint of the feet of Goddess Hadimba in the temple. The temple has a history of Pandavas (Bhima) who wanted to marry Hadimba.
The climate was getting colder and so we were adorned with as many warm clothes as possible. There was a huge pile of snow behind the temple where small kids were playing. We also joined them in making a snowman and throwing snow on each other. We took many beautiful pictures at this site. After visiting the temple we went to the clubhouse for relaxing and having evening snacks.
To our surprise, it suddenly started raining on our way to the clubhouse and eventually the rain got transformed in snowfall. We were awestruck by this and moved out of the car to enjoy the snowfall however within no time we were cold and immediately rushed for a shelter.
It was a lifetime experience for all us and pleasure to sip a hot cup of coffee while watching the snowfall. We took endless photos and videos.
The next day we planned for river rafting in Beas River. The water was crystal clear and extremely cold. Since there was a snowfall the earlier day we were informed that the flow of water is a little less and we may not be able to experience large rapids. We were given helmets, life jackets, and oar for rowing purposes. We were given instructions and practice about what needs to be done in case of extreme conditions.
We were taught various commands like “up”, “down” etc. The rafting experience was full of twists and turns in which we enjoyed rapids. It was a thrilling experience as one could see only nature all around. It took around one hour to complete the entire rafting exercise.
After Rafting we did a vast photo session covering mountains, trees, rivers, etc. We were very tired after rafting so preferred to go back to the hotel after lunch and rest till the evening. Mall road for shopping in the evening is the best place to be. We bought some showpieces and key chains for friends and relatives and also the famous pashmina shawls. There are various restaurants on the mall road and hence we planned to have our dinner there.
The last day at Manali was planned for Solang Valley. The road to Solang Valley is picturesque and exceptionally beautiful. Because of snowfall one could see heaps of snow all around Manali and the temperature had also dropped drastically make it impossible to travel in a car without a heater. We halted at a ground full of snow to spend some quality time there. We hired snowsuits and gum boats to specially play in the ground. We hired an instructor for skiing.
Falling while skiing was a fun-filled experience, we played for more than two hours in the ground, made a snowman, threw snowballs on each other, did photo sessions, etc the kid in us was out and we were laughing giggling and having an amazing family time.
There were many stalls near the ground offering hot instant noodles, momos, tea, coffee, etc. We were too tired as well as hungry after playing so much therefore we rested at one of the stalls and enjoyed some hot snacks. We reached Solang valley quite late due to heavy traffic and narrow roads. Solang Valley was like a heaven on earth one could see only snow-clad mountains and trees all around the snow complex. Solang valley is a snow sports complex offering various activities to the visitors like a snow bike ride, Paragliding, zorbing, some adventure snow slides, skiing etc. One can also sit on a yak and click photographs.
There is an ATM center also in the complex to facilitate visitors with cash withdrawals. There are ‘n’ number of food stalls in the snow complex offering a variety of snacks like cheese pakodas, Hot corn, instant noodles, moms, Chinese, beverages, etc. No doubt we spent maximum time at the Solang Valley enjoying our last bit. Solang Valley was one of the most beautiful and mesmerizing destinations of the trip.
In the evening we took the bus to Delhi as we had our train for Mumbai from Delhi. Indeed the trip to Manali was the most amazing trip that offered a lifetime experience to all of us.
Manali is a must-visit place for anyone looking out for a perfect combination of adventure and leisure.
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Contributed By: Prachi Shah