When we set out for Manali from Gurgaon as a family, we knew that it would be a long drive, and sure we were prepared for it. The best time to start the journey from the NCR regions is early morning, although I prefer driving at night since it has two benefit, namely less traffic, and the benefit of reaching the destination in the morning, thus providing you enough time to hunt for a hotel. We started from Gurgaon at 9:00 p.m. on the eleventh of June and reached Manali at 2:00p.m. on the twelfth.At First we thought of going only to Manali, but then after staying in Manali for two days,we thought of extending our trip to Shimla. The weather in both the Hill-Stations was very pleasant although Manali was colder. Rohtang-Pass was in our itinerary but unfortunately, we couldn’t reach Rohtang-Pass because our route was blocked by a land-slide. The route to Rohtang-Pass was jam-packed with vehicles to make matters worse. Upon reaching the foot-hills about hundred kilometres off Chandigarh en-route to Manali, we were greeted with a spectacular sight of sunrise.
At Kullu we got our first glimpse of the snow-clad mountains of Manali.
Upon reaching Manali, we checked in at our Hotel, The Himalayan-Regency and were greeted with yet another breath-taking sight of snow-clad mountains.
The town of Manali is itself a very beautiful town surrounded by snow–clad mountains and mountains covered with lush-greenery and trees. The lack of pollution and tall-rise buildings make Manali look rather serene and peaceful!
Although we couldn’t reach Rohtang-Pass because of the Land-Slide and the heavy traffic, we were however very close to the snow-clad mountains and the numerous waterfalls.
On the way to Rohtang-Pass we were greeted by a Pastoral sight of a Shepherd herding some sheep. It was surprising to find such verdant pastures on the way up!
Van-Vihar, in Manali is another must see. One can find tall massive Pine-trees and also the River Beas flows close by!The Van-Vihar is protected National-Forest.
The Vashisth Temples and the Vashisht Baths are another must see in Manali. Sulphur-spring-water is piped into the baths. The Sulphur-water is said to have medicinal qualities.
The Vashisht temples are a must see for the devotees and also a photographer’s delight.
The temples have been constructed in the traditional style with a mixture of wood and stone and they are very old! I was surprised to see that these two poles, rather like totem-poles were made from the trunk of a single tree, and boy were they really tall!
After our brief sojourn in Manali we decided to leave for Shimla, the Capital of Himachal-Pradesh. To avoid the crowded town, we booked a Hotel twenty-eight kilometres from Shimla. So we left for Kandaghat, twenty-eight kilometres from Shimla and checked into the Falcon-Crest Hotel 10:00 p.m.on the fifteenth of June. The Hotel is ideally situated on the Shimla-Chandigarh High-way. We parked our vehicles at the hotel and then took two vans for Shimla the next day.
Undoubtedly Shimla is very beautiful by night. during day-time one can see all those quaint- English style buildings, after all Shimla used to be the Summer Capital during the British-Raj. Every-where you go you are reminded of the British-Raj, whether it is the English-Named buildings, or the style of their construction.
The Christ-Church of Shimla and the Public Library are both worth visiting, it is a heritage-monument, and and well known landmark of Shimla.
The interior of the Church is well decorated, the walls carry plaques of various British Officers and Devotees, moreover the stained-glass is a delight! Criss-cross beams support the roof of the Church.
The Crowning Glory of our trip was a Heritage trip from Shimla to Kandaghat by the Toy-Train (Kalka-Shimla Railway). The railway line was placed in 1903, it is a narrow gauge track and the scenic beauty is amazing. The train passes through numerous tunnels on its way to Kalka from Shimla. The Bridge at Kanoh is a marvel of Engineering since there are no fewer than four levels of arches built on top of each other which support the tracks! At the Kandaghat railway station I spotted an ancient weighing Machines which still works!
Thus we returned to our Hotel at Kandaghat late at night at 8:30 p.m. and were greeted with the sight of a quarter moon sinking into the mountains.
Thus ended a wonderful trip to two wonderful Hill-Stations in Himachal-Pradesh.