My exams were over and it was the time for winter holidays. I and my family had been thinking to go somewhere to chill for a few days but we didn’t have a place in mind yet. Then a few days later, it just came to me that we should go visit Manali. We’ve been there before, but I was really tiny at that time so didn’t remember much. It was just a random thought which came on a random day in my head to go see Manali.
Little did I knew it was going to be a very important destination in my life’s journey as well. I realized I am in love when I was in Manali, in love with my best friend. The thing about falling for your bestie is that it could be amazing and terrifying– all at the same time. I’ll tell you and maybe you can relate to this tale.
So, a little backdrop coming through: we actually planned our route to Manali which included a night stay at Chandigarh. We booked our hotels from OyoRooms.
An important tip that y’all might know: to see through all the reviews over there for the hotel and not just trust the pictures! That’s like the most basic thing one should do while booking any hotel room online. We learned it the hard way.
As we reached Chandigarh, we found out our hotel was in a really messed up area with not so peaceful environment we were looking for. The hotel was inside sort of an alleyway. The rooms were massively dirty, with some smoked cigarettes sitting around at every corner and even on the bed. The room smelled like liquor, and that too not a good one. It was like a nightmare. Our first step of the journey, and we got a messed up stay. But we still gathered our hope as we had to stay for one night only and leave for Manali the next day early in the morning.
DAY 1 CHANDIGARH
We reached Chandigarh in the morning, booked a cab and went to the messed up hotel. Later in the afternoon, we went to see the famous sites Chandigarh had to offer us: Rose garden, Rock Garden, Sukhna Lake and a shopping market towards the end of the day. Before going to visit the places, we had our lunch at a nearby food stall and had the famous Punjabi Chhole (Chikpeas) with Kulche (a type of leavened Indian bread). It’s like a really tasty and popular dish to have and can be found almost anywhere around Punjab specially.
Zakir Hussain Rose Garden
The Rose Garden is a botanical garden dedicated to various types and species of roses. The Garden is named after India’s former president, Mr. Zakir Hussain, and was created in 1967. It is filled with many different and colourful roses. You can see and click pics of the various species of roses. Who knew roses come in so many different colours. It’s an amazing garden and it filled our trip with so many colours and instantly changed our mood to awesome. You can find a pole with so many wind chimes on it decorated like a tree, which sounds really peaceful when the wind moves them and they come to contact with each other.
Amazing Fact #1: A three-day festival known as the Festival of Garden or the Rose Festival takes place at this garden. It happens in the month of February every year and is a delight for travelers or a flower enthusiast.
Nek Chand’s Rock Garden
Next stop for our tour was the infamous Rock Garden; spread over 12 acres of wooded land situated near the capitol complex. The major and the main reason people visit this place is because it is a large park of sculptures made with recycled industrial and domestic waste which includes ceramic objects, bangles, bottles and electrical waste, etc. Padam Shree Nek Chand is the creator of this wonderful artistic garden. Except for the unique waste-turned-art it consists of, the rock garden also has a wonderful and mesmerizing artificial waterfall, great to click some amazing photographs.
Sukhna Jheel & Sadar Bazaar
After spending an amazing and memorable time at the rock garden we went to the Sukhna Lake. The main feature of this lake is that it is man-made. One can also opt for a few water sports while in the area like boating, yachting, water skiing, etc.
We spent some time over there and had our dinner. We found a transport agent office and talked to him about going to Manali. We bought there package which was not at all a bad deal. We got Innova with the driver and it was planned that we leave for Manali the next morning, early.
We went to sadar bazaar after sukhna lake and shopped for some winter clothes over there. It is a cheap market where one can get almost anything for winters.
We came back to our hotel to sleep and dream about our next stop and unknowingly- a place I’ll always remember. Not for the sights only but also for what I felt in the environment or the stuff that nature tried and told me on the last day of our trip.
DAY 2 ROAD TO MANALI
Early in the morning, we woke up by the driver’s call saying he will pick us up from the hotel in about an hour or so. We immediately started to arrange and pack all our belongings. We had breakfast at the hotel. And a while later, the car came, we loaded it with the luggage and ourselves and so began our journey to Manali.
We had lunch at a restaurant situated at a beautiful place near the mountain road. The view was amazing and we all were very much excited about the journey. They say the journey is as important and worthwhile as the destination and whenever I travel to a different place I always feel this to be so true. The journey to reach the destination is sometimes the best part. And our journey to Manali was indeed one memorable journey. It had the beautiful Himalayan mountains, the wondrous Beas river flowing along, and family- all these things make up for an amazing journey.
It took us about 8 hours to reach Manali. Before our final destination arrived, we stopped at the Trishla Shawl Factory. Now, Shawls are a specialty at the region. People from all over come and buy these shawls. We entered the Shawl Factory to see how it all is done, the machines, the men, everything.
Then we reached our hotel in Manali- The Snow View Hotel which was situated at the Mall Road, a well-known area with a lot of tourists, hotels, shops, restaurants, etc.
We were all really tired by the amazing journey that we had, so just had dinner and went to sleep.
DAY 3 EXPLORING MANALI & FINDING LOVE !
The next day, we woke up early in the morning, had our breakfast and left for the Manali sightseeing. On this journey, we felt Manali, the cold breeze, the sun rising and setting behind the mountains covered with clouds, the flowing river. It was magical.
We left for Solang Valley, a place covered with snow where one can go and feel the snow deeply. The road to the valley was mesmerizing in itself with the greenery to the snow-capped mountains, etc.
Be it summers or winters, this place remains one of the most gorgeous and adventurous place to visit when in Manali. On the road to Solang Valley, we saw many small shops where one can get the jackets, shoes and gloves which would help you walk on snow easily. You’d wear it on your clothes, and return it when you get back from the adventure.
You can indulge in many adventure sports over there like paragliding, quad biking, skiing, etc. It will always really be a wonderful experience for both: the adventure seekers as well as the calm nature admirers. To tell you the truth, it was more icy than snowy at the time we went there, so the climb upwards was really, really slippery. I came down and hit my back and my head so many times at the hard and slippery icy ground while trying to explore more by going upwards. But it didn’t feel like a big thing at the time because the view, it was just like a fairy tale coming true. Snow all around me with the cold breeze. At one time though, it went so damn cold that my legs were jammed, so I decided to sit there for a while and rub my feet and tell them come on you can do this. It was hurting a lot but it was all worth it.
The next place we went to after the Solang Valley and after giving the snow-gear back, was a famous temple called Hidimba Devi Temple or simply Hadimba Temple. It was a temple situated between lots and lots of alpine trees.
The temple’s design included a four storied wooden structure with a tower peaking up to 24 metres high. The three tiers of its square roofs are covered with timber tiles and the conical apex is embellished with a metal cladding. The mud walls are covered with stone work. The wooden doorway is ornamented with very elaborate carvings that depict goddesses, animals, foliate designs, dancers, scenes from Lord Krishna’s life and Navagrahas. It is an ancient cave temple which is dedicated to the wife of Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers from the Indian epic, Mahabharata.
Our hotel was situated at the Mall Road, the most famous road in New Manali. We spend some time exploring and walking across the Mall road looking for stuff to buy, places to have dinner at, etc.
The Moment I Found Love in Manali
I went to the rooftop of the hotel where there was an amazing balcony, you know, like the ones we see on several posts at Pinterest.
It was like I had to be there to know, to listen what the universe was about to tell me. It was magical. So, I sat at one of the table in between the balcony and saw the magnificent view the world had to offer: The setting sun, slowly fading away behind the enormous mountains… The moon, slightly showing itself… The snow-capped mountains… The cold wind spreading all across my face… The sound of the river flowing…
I looked at all the wonder and suddenly they told me… the wind, the sun, the moon, the mountains, the clouds in the sky, the river, everything… reminded me… not of something, but of someone.. it was something that never happened to me before, ever. It felt like at that moment, all the things in this universe of mine had conspired for me to be there at the right time to explain it to me that… I was in Love. In love with my best friend. With Anjali. A divine gift. For me. Sent by the universe itself.
I cannot find the words to describe what that feeling was, it was like I was in a movie or a novel or somewhere out of this world… where there was no one else.. just me, just her.. and Manali. I didn’t tell her though, at least not for the next couple of months. I was terrified. What happened later? You’ll find out soon. Now’s not the right time for that story, that comes later.
So I enjoyed the view and thought about everything I could remember from the first day we met, to the day I was here in Manali and I felt it… it wasn’t just friendship, it was love all along. Since the very first moment we met. The spark. The vibe. The Magic.
Then I went down to our room for some rest. I never told this to anyone related to me, this post is the first time I am mentioning this, that too on the social media!! Woosh, its really terrifying, but at the same time… it’s quite amazing, too.
At night, we went to Sher-e-Punjab restaurant and had there specialty: Makke di Roti te Sarso da Sag. It was delicious and a must try for everyone.
DAY 4 “PART OF THE JOURNEY IS THE END!”
This was our last day in Manali. I did not want to go, at all, neither did any person of my family. But what can we do, as a great man once said- part of the journey is the end. So we packed our bags, called the driver and left the place early in the morning.
On our way back to Chandigarh, from where we had to catch our train back home we went to this famous Gurudwara located in this small town called Manikaran, near Kasol. It is also known as Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurudwara. It is a place of pilgrimage for the Sikhs who come there to pay homage to Guruji and to seek spiritual rejuvenation.
Another interesting thing in this Gurudwara is the natural hot water springs one can find at the entry of the Gurudwara. The river flowing here carried hot boiling water which is used for the preparation of Langar for the devotees visiting.
After this peaceful visit, we headed on our journey back home. We reached Chandigarh late in the evening; the driver dropped us at the railway station. It was still some time left for the train to arrive, so we kept our luggage in the dormitory and went to have dinner nearby. Our train was late and came after midnight. Then we bid adieu to this beautiful journey we had in Chandigarh and Manali.
I’ll always cherish all those moments with my family at this short trip and especially the fairy tale I got from that balcony.