part 4. The story of the Hippie, the river and Bob Marley

Manali - 32°17'8"N 77°9'44"E, Alt. 8612 feet

“Why do you look so sad and foresaken ?
When one door is closed,
Don’t you know that another is open ?”
-Bob Marley

The morning light brought us to some of the lower lying hills of the Himalayas where we quickly stopped for tea and a bio-break. Theglorious sunrise over the hills raises ones spirits and washes away any exhaustion from the long bus journey. As the bus winds its way up the hill side, it offered some excellent views of the Beas valley. Through twists, turns and tunnels, the bus offered one breathtaking view after another. But this was just the start.

From Leh and the great Trek

From Leh and the great Trek

Once the bus reached Manali, we legged it to the hotel, which was just a little bit off the main drag called the Mall. As a side note, any hill town in India has just one main street and almost everything that’s there to be done in that town goes on here. You see the same thing in Ooty, Kodaikanal, Nainital and a scores of other places in the Himalayas. And its of no surprise that most of the main roads in are called “the Mall”

The hotel looked more like an apartment complex with a small reception area with a pretty garden. The rooms were sparse at best with mouldy carpets, creaky beds and a non working TV. We stepped out after washing up and looked around for lunch. We then stepped into one of the numerous Sher-e-Punjabs - Sher-e-Punjab, Original Sher-e-Punjab, Asli Sher-e-Punjab and so on that dotted the Mall. A quick meal was followed by a quick nap which didn’t materialize.

At this point the group split again and one set went off Zorbing and so on, while Lacchi,Vivek, Suchi, Prashant, Soumya , Hamy and me went walking along the river Beas to Vashisht Temple. The walk along the river was absolutely beautiful, marred only by the diesel fumes from jeeps and trucks heading over Khar-Dungla pass and into the dusty mountains of Ladakh with essential supplies.

We stopped for quite a bit at the river and just took in the surrounding beauty of the place with the mountains in the backdrop, conifers along the river and the chillness in the air. We sat on the boulder splashing water on each other like children at and had to yell over the roar of the river. With great reluctance we got off the banks and were back on the road and paused for some pictures near the last petrol pump in the valley of the gods.

From Leh and the great Trek

From Leh and the great Trek

From Leh and the great Trek

A quick diversion up the side of a hill along some apple orchards brought us to Vashist, a temple with sulphurous hot springs that stank of rotten eggs. The place obviously had seen holier days, and now was a hippie joint with Bob Marley movies playing alongside cafes that served Jewish bread and a Rasta hat wearing beggar with dreadlocks. Or the stoned German tourist who confused the previous days stock report for her horoscope.

The walk back towards Manali was equally uneventful and we stepped into a couple of shops to buy some curios. Lacchi and I stepped into a tea shop to meet with the guy who organized the jeeps for our trip to Leh the next morning. The room in which we were staying became the war room and we discussed logistics and the revised itinerary for the trek.

And thus we prepare for an epic two day journey over 480 km of lunar terrain...

Trampled byY Trip at Wednesday, February 27, 2008


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