After an incomplete trip to Sikkim (read this), I was eager to explore more. I kept reading about regular snowfall and heart kept telling me Manali. So, I decided to make a short trip to Manali in February 3rd week. I read other blogs like this and this and a few more as part of pre-trip research.
When I was planning the trip, I was sure of one thing and that was I would go around as much as possible on my own. I did not want to be sitting inside a car and be dropped off at some locations. Sure, some far off places like Solang and Kullu Valley do require vehicles, but Manali in itself can be very much covered on foot. So there we go, the day came and I took my flight to Delhi.
I reached Delhi sometime in the afternoon, probably around 3.30 pm. Then I caught metro for Hauz Khaas and a subsequent metro to Kashmere Gate, ISBT. The total cost of the metro journey was only Rs.50 (imagine taking Ola or Uber). Delhi Metro is one of the best things to have happened for the people there. Anyway, I had my lunch and went towards the Bus Stand, found out the departure point (not very difficult) and waited for about an hour. I had booked for Himachal Tourism Volvo which departed @ 6 pm. As it said, we did depart on time. The bus was comfortable and the pilot was a very very good and calm fellow.
We were on time and reached Manali around 7.40 am in the morning. There is always a concern in these regions whether there will be any road blockages. I was told that the previous day’s bus was about 7 hours late due to landslide somewhere. Anyway I got down and called my accommodation guy for pick up arrangements. We also discussed a tour plan of Rs.3500 which included pick up and drop as well as 4 days of sightseeing in a cab. I found this cheap since I compared it to my cost from other places so I was tempted. But I refused the part where the cab would take me local sightseeing. So finally, we agreed on a 2-day trip plus pick and drop for Rs. 2200. Rest of the journey I had already decided to cover on foot.
One look at the sky and you could tell that the weather was about to get worse ( or good, if snowfall is your thing). From my Sikkim experience, I knew if I decide to rest today, I might not get a chance to go to Solang Valley since the roads will get blocked. So, even after a 12 hr long journey on bus, I decided to visit Solang that very day. The cab came at around 11 am, and I left. I went to Manali all prepared for snowfall (and yes, it is my thing) and boy it was about to pay dividends the very first day.
After encountering traffic, which is usual, by the way, due to constant road repair work, we reached Solang by 12.45 pm. It is only 19kms but traffic takes a chunk of your time. You would be amazed at the queue of vehicles on the way. So the cabbie asked me to get down and complete rest on foot since it would be very difficult to turn back from further ahead. I could see why, and so I got down.
You will find so many people who come here to enjoy the snow, kids falling and jumping in snow pile, girls and boys throwing snowballs at each other. Did I say it was severely cold?. SnowMobiles were begging me to take a ride but I continued afoot. Please carry sunglasses or snow reflectors if you do not want to go blind watching snow all the time.
The sight was absolutely amazing to behold. Beautiful white pine trees, kids in colourful jackets adding much-needed colour and vibrancy to the otherwise white scenery. It is what happiness looks like to me, it is white. Pine tree stems and leaves covered with snow, snow falling from the tall deodar trees as they sway right and left. Half an hour in Solang Valley, it began. Yes, snowfall. I was moving towards the ropeway when I felt the gentlest of landing on my cheecks and gloves. It couldn’t be anything else other than the white feathers of nature.
I continued and on my way and snowfall got stronger. In some time I looked like this(see the background).
I could not have made a better decision that day than to come here. I felt amazing and experienced something I had wished for long. Solang Ropeway was wuite far from my intial estimation and reached there after quite a long and tedious walk and bought tickets for Rs.650. As the carriage started going up, you could see the snowfall getting heavier. Paragliding was going on in the midst of it. At the top, the scenes were extraordinary. Few English guys were prepping for snowboarding in fresh powder and for a while, I felt jealous to not know that stuff. And then I saw them making a long climb up with their boards and felt I don’t need that.
After this amazing experience, it was time to head back to find my cab in all of those thousands of other similar ones. On my way back, got some more photos. Take a look.
I did somehow managed to find my ride and went back very satisfied. It was like all I wanted to see on this trip and I had it all on the first day itself. On the way back, the driver was telling me about the culture, people and seasons as well as the vegetation. I felt quite informed by the end of first day and happy that my I did not rest that day. Whatever happened that day, vindicated my decision.