The bus started trudging against the cruel road to Solang. We were made to rent out snow dresses and snow shoes on our way so that our clothes and footwear remained intact. After struggling on the ugly roads, we reached Solang Valley. (We couldn’t go to Rohtang pass as it was closed during that time due to heavy snowfall)
Solang Valley had snow covered peaks and we saw hundreds of tourists with lot of traffic in the parking lots. This place has definitely sprung into a commercial destination with numerous photographers, small tea shops that served momos and Maggie, and caps ad shoe too. There were various activities going on like adventure sports- there was paragliding, skiing, and the most funny one was tyre skidding.
I decided to try my hands at paragliding first…after striking a negotiated deal with the person I started following him on a hillock for getting into my paragliding gear. Gaurav preferred to wait down and take my pictures. The cold wind beating against my face but my spirits were high…I was going to do this for the first time in my life! I carefully took the instructions from my gliding instructoer and fastened the parachute. He asked me to keep running till the land was over and air started under my feet! Sounds really scary…..I waved my husband from top (as if it was our last) and started running on the hill ……and kept running till I saw myself floating in the air…Wat a magnificent experience……I could actually felt at TOP of the World..freely floating in Natures Bounties…This was a heavenly feel for me…I was gliding in the thin cool winds of Himachal! The glide hardly lasted for 2 minutes, but at the end of it I felt I had lived my life to the fullest…and wanted nothing more from it..right then!
We saw tourists struggling with skiing equipment and trying to practice to ski…Gaurav and I didn’t have to patience to practice anything…we just wanted to freak out before our tourism bus decided to return.
We saw some men making tourists sit in a tyre and skid them from a height in the snow…We decided to try out this funny and dangerous looking game…The man told us that if we take 2 rides, the 3rd was free!! The ride required us to climb up the hill and reach the top to sit in the large tyre tube. Both of us were fitted in the same tyre and pushed away from the hill like on a slide…..vrooooooom…we slid down and I went screaming all the way so loudly that the other tourists thought I was dying!!! When we hit the ground, people started staring us…my husband said we are going to shut the tyre business for sure!! I enjoyed the ride so much that we decided to take his 3rd ride free offer and enjoyed each of the rides equally! We laughed and laughed till our hearts content to see the confused tourist at my screams!
I was in no mood to go back and wanted to be in the snow… we started simple sliding on the snow slopes and lie in the snow…Time to go!! We sat in our bus extremely exhausted by our activities and desperately wanted LUNCH! We were told we were going to visit few temples and a castle before we had lunch. I dozed out for the rest of the journey and woke when the Gayatri Temple halt arrived. Thereafter we went to the castle built by ancient Maharaja of Himachal. It was a beautiful wooden palace and overlooked a beautiful valley. It started raining and getting freezing cold…The palace is now converted in to a restaurant. We hogged on the lunch served and returned to the bus after sightseeing. Our return journey was hardly memorable. We reached the hotel and crashed until late evening…went for a short walk and dinner thereafter…
March 14, 15, 16: We spent the rest of days at manali very leisurely like morning jogs, sumptuous breakfast, long walks, local sightseeing, Italian dinners and mindless strolls and souvenir shopping at the market. I coaxed my husband to travel to Solang once again, but he asked me to stop my untamed behaviors and demands! Alas..I had to be satisfied with only one visit of the heart throbbing snow clad valley.
Our return journey to Delhi from Manali was a night journey and was very uncomfortable in the AC vlovo…I missed the local HPSTC buses that we used for the passed weeks. We reached Delhi on morning of 16th morning and caught an evening flight to home sweet home Mumbai, after meeting old friend at Delhi.
But as our bus left Manali, my heart sank at the thought of leaving this beautiful countryside…last eight days flew like beautiful tender birds out of my hands making a permanent footprints in my mind and on my life….