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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Trip to Manali-Rhotang-Manikaran - II

Our 5th itinerary was Naggar fort, as read in wiki, this fort belonged to the Pala Empire which was made from rocks, stones, and elaborate wood carvings, an ensemble of the rich and elegant art works of Himachal. However, while on search for Naggar fort; we ended up discovering a park of National importance. This park was indeed rich in woods and flora. It was worth visiting even if we landed accidentally. Later, on our way back, we we learnt that the fort, now, was converted to a hotel and is currently under himachal tourism but we skipped the schedule to visit the hotel and preferred to go back to our hotel rooms instead as it was growing dark. It was our 3nd night in Manali & we had adapted ourselves with cold, all of us rejoiced on making this trip a memorable one.

L to R; Manoj, Sisir, Sumi, Jumi & Sangita at some park in Manali

The park was awesomely spic & span.... At distant, you can see two girl students mounting up the road.



The two sisters amidst the tall green pine trees.....


The group...


some wild orchids in the park....



Our girls gave a pose with the natives of the place who maybe were returning from their field work.


Our 6th & the last itinerary of the trip , on day 04th, was to Manikaran. We paid our Hotel bills and bade Manali 'goodbye' early in the morning & ventured out of town to Manikaran. On the way to Manikaran from Manali, I cannot express the beauty and the grandeur of the place offering wide panorama of the lush green hills mixing with the rocky beautiful Beas river flowing & running parallely with the road........ I was enjoying every single site of these popping my head out of the window.... with this site I concluded myself 'I can visit Manali anytime for this stupendously magnificent panorama'. Oh boy! wat a site to cherish!!
Manikaran is a small town which is located in the Parvati Valley between the rivers Beas and river Parvati in the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh and is famous for hot springs , pilgrim centres and its beautiful landscape.



On the way to Manikaran...... rich green vegetation with the river Parvati flowing alongside.


On the way to Manikaran... a very steep & narrow road...

The road to Manikaran is really amazing.... You get to see all kinds of landforms; green vegetation, mountainous terrains, vertical jaw dropping roads, scenic river etc..

Manikaran is at an altitude of 1760 m and is located about 45 km from Kullu. The road to Manikaran from Kullu is lush green and very scenic. The road is steep, narrow and runs parallely with the river Parvati on one side and green wilderness on the other. One is surely going to be enamoured by the beauty of this place.It is said that the bollywood movie "CHARAAS" starring; Jimmy Shergill, Uday Chopra & Irfan Khan was pictured here.

A small tributary flowing into river Parvati adds the panorama of the locus.

Manikaran is a pilgrimage centre for both Hindus and Sikhs. There are many Gurudwaras and temples of Shiva-Parvati, Lord Rama, Krishna & Vishnu. This place is famous for its hot springs which is associated with religious legends.

The entrance of the Sikh temple....... was extremely cold when we reached there...

I presume this is a Sikh temple....

Statue of Lord Shiva & Parvati in one of the many temples at Manikaran.


River Parvati flowing magnificently.....

A lil closer to the left, you could see vapour (smoke-like) oozing out of the natural geysers (hot springs)

THE LEGEND OF MANIKARAN:

The Hindu belief: According to legend, when Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati were walking in the valley, Parvati dropped one of her earrings (Jewel/ Mani) accidentally in the Parvati river. The jewel was seized by Sheshnag, the serpent deity, who then disappeared into the earth with it. Lord Shiva was extremely angry and in rage he opened his third eye and performed the cosmic dance “Tandava” which led to disturbances in the universe and Sheshnag had to surrender to Lord Shiva. Shesnag hissed the Mani thereby giving rise to a flow of boiling water.

The hot water cave entrance.....

A huge stone carving of Lord Shiva depicting tandava dance in rage against sheshnag.

The natural boiling point just beneath lord shivji's image..

The Sikh belief: According to legend, Guru Nanakji came to this place with his two other disciples when they were wandering in the Himalayan mountains of India , they had rice but there was no fire to cook food, Guru Nanak than lifted a rock from the river bed and a hot spring (hot water) appeared. They were then able to cook rice and beans. The water is sot hot even today that you can cook rice in a cloth bag.

The entry to the boiling point is either through the hot cave (pic shown above) or through a simple way..... both the ways are close to each other....

The view of river Parvati from the Shivaji's stone carving... note the vapour in the left...

After having done at Manikaran , we straight away pushed off for Kullu and had our breakfast at there. We then bought green apples and some dried fruits out there and losing no time we headed our venture towards Delhi with a heavy heart knowing that this beautiful trip is over; none of us wanted to get back to home in Delhi as this would eventually lead us to slog our asses at work inour respective offices. Anyway, the route from Kullu also offers beautiful landscapes and green valleys in conjunction with the scenic river Beas flowing alongside.....

One of my favourite still photography...

another......

and another.....

The mystifying Kullu-Manali tunnel, about 3-4 km long is carved through a mountain..

The exit of the tunnel.... you can see a bright flash of light waiting for you to come out of the dark ... 'yes' there is no light (anylight) inside during the day but only at night.. The tunnel is freaky yet beautiful.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Trip to Manali-Rhotang-Manikaran

Plans were laid down to visit Manali right after our Rishikesh trip but wasn’t fixed if we’d carry out this trip during the month of November. Thank you to each one of you who had participated in this wonderful trip and had made it a successful one...

Destination Manali:
Manali is an important hill station in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh (India). It is situated at an altitude of 1950 m. high in the Beas River valley, The Beas river majorly adds the panorama of this place which is a tributary to Indus river. The river begins at the Rohtang Pass in the state of Himachal Pradesh, merging with the Sutlej in Punjab, then flows into Pakistan and further pours into Indus River.

We were a group of six people, ideally my close ones, whom I'm going to introduce you as I take you through this wonderful trip in brief....

We embarked our journey a day before Diwali, Nov. 04th ’10 at 6.00 am in the morning and reached our destination by 8.30 – 9.00 pm in three breaks. The route that we took was Delhi-NH1-Sonepat-Panipat-Karnal....


The manali town from a hill top.

On the way to Manali.

On the way we halted at some places for quick shots.


We reached kullu at around 7.30 pm after traveling a winding distance of about 250 km (approx, thats what took the toll on us!), our cabbie told us that there was nothing in Kullu to see, so we didn’t stop there but continued to travel until we reached Manali at around 8.30 -9.00 pm in the night, The journey indeed was very tiring and exhausting but with a lot things to explore and discover in our minds, we overcame exhaustion and settled ourselves in a hotel of our choice.....

The team, from L to R; Manoj, Sangita, Sumi, Sisir, me and sister-in-law in the rear.

We got decent time to search for a hotel and parked ourselves in a four bedded two rooms @ 900/- rs per night. There isn't dearth of Hotels in Manali but to get the best deal, one has to reach there in a decent time, say before 11.30 pm. And for dinner, hotel orders get closed by 10.30 pm, so you gotta make sure you have your grub ready with you incase you hit Manali very late in the night. Anyway, we settled ourselves, chose our rooms & ordered for dinner.... it was biting cold that night but somehow we got out of our quilt for dinner, no sooner our dinner was over we rolled ourselves into bed again.

The following day we woke up at 6.00 am in the morning and got ourselves geared to cover our 1st itinerary of the trip – Rhotang, perched at an altitude of 3,978 m high is located about 41kms from Manali towards Leh is popularly known for its enchanting natural beauty & being the highest motoring road in the world. The pass to Rhotang, according to wiki is open from May to November. It is the highest point on the Manali - Keylong road and provides a wide panoramic view of snow peaked mountains rising far above clouds, which is truly breath taking...

We pushed off to Rhotang by 7.30 am from Manali, after 20-25 minutes of travel, we stopped at a roadside snow dress shop to take snow dresses on hire, the shopkeeper charged 250/- bucks for a single snow dress, we settled 5 snow dresses and skiing with a guide for 2,300/-bucks,

On our way to Rhotang.

On our way to Rhotang... slowly & slowly nearing to ice-capped mountains.

Getting some close eh!





A roadside snow dress shop where we hired snow dresses and skiing with a guide for 2,300/-bucks...

From this shop, we then further proceeded towards Marhi ( Marhi is half-way to Rhotang from Manali, I belief) where we halted for a small tea break………Marhi offers the last commercial stoppage for breakfast, lunch & refreshment for people travelling from Manali to Rhotang. And it is from Marhi, the beautiful Rhotang pass starts and it is from Marhi again, The BRO (Border Roads Organisation) further approves, depending on seasons and weather conditions, if Rhotang Pass should be open or kept closed for travellers. I did a lil bit of home work on this and found out that the BRO had declared Rhotang pass closed after Nov. 15th ’10. So, we were lucky enough to be there before the closing date...

Marhi, the last commercial stoppage for breakfast, lunch & refreshment.

We reached Rhotang by 11.30 – 12.00 noon, did a memorable 1 hour activity which included hanging out in the snow, rolling in the snow, making snowman, playing snow, skiing, photography etc. I have captured some of the best memoirs of this place in pictures, hope it expresses itself....We descended Rhotang at around 1.30 pm, while our way back we stopped at Rani falls and did a lot of photo session near the frozen icy stalactite from where we headed to Marhi for lunch...


Entering the Rhotang pass from Marhi.....






















Beas Mandir, the source of river Beas & the milestone of Rhotang.






The two sisters in arms....

...after Rhotang, we then headed towards our 2nd itinerary - Solang valley, popularly known as Snow Point....

Solang Valley is 13 km northwest of Manali. It is a picturesque spot and offers splendid views of glaciers and the snow-capped mountains during winters. However, there wasn’t any snow on Nov. 05th, I asked a localite there and he said; the valley would be full of snows either in December end or January beginning. The main attraction of Solang valley is views of glaciers and the snow-capped mountains which we missed other than that, Solang offers a lot of sporting activities, such as paragliding, horse riding, ropeway etc. We didn’t do much there except paragliding & horse riding as we were very exhausted & tired with all the activities we did through out the day, so, we told our cabbie to take us back to the Hotel....

One of my friends doing para-gliding.

...where we parked ourselves, enjoyed the night throughout over a bottle of whisky amongst three of us (guys) while the lady folks enjoyed themselves in the other room, but, not relatively to forget that we had to wake up early the following day to cover the rest of the itinerary’s in the list, we soon dosed off. After a nights sleep, around 9.00 am in the morning, after breakfast, we headed for our 3rd itinerary – Hidimba Temple....

Hidimba Temple, erected in 1553, is dedicated to the local deity Hadimba, wife of the Pandava prince, Bhim. The temple is noted for its four-store pagoda and exquisite wooden carvings. The temple is surrounded by a cedar forest at the foot of the Himālayas . The sanctuary is built over a huge rock jutting out of the ground, which was worshiped as an image of the deity. There is also a fun park in Hidimba Temple where you can pose in a Himachali dress, ride a yak, buy antiques etc.

The enterance gate of the Hidimba.

Cedar trees inside the premises of Hidimba Temple.

Front view of the epic temple 'Hidimba', note the four-store pagoda.

Posing with my star sign 'The Ram' inside the Hidimba park.





















L to R; note the wooden stump, stained with blood is the alter place at the temple // seated, is me & my fren, also note the horns of the Antlers, Stags, Deer etc, at the rear, decorated exquisitely after an offering or a sacrifice is made to Devi Hidimba...











The board put on diplay near the temple explaining its historic epic and national importance.


One of the many Indian tourists, taking photographs... we, guys, rather found her hottttttt...


A local Himachali women, the owner of the Ram who charges 20/- bucks for a snapshot.

Wifey, sure did have an affection for the mountain Yak...



Sister-in-law giving a shot draped in the Himachali attire.... ahem! nice poise SIL!

The fun park @ Hidimba, a semi-aerial view, where people do recreational activities, VIZ - shooting, riding Yak, net jumping, pose in Himachali dress and buying accessories and statues etc..


An elderly localite in trade, selling accessories, paintings & statues... I bought 2 Ganesha's and 2 Buddha's from here for my office colleagues ...

The next place that we intended to visit was the Vashist temple - our 4th itinerary, so we headed our cab to Vashist but had to stop 1-2 km before the temple as the road to Vashist was/is steep and narrow and therefore four wheelers were not allowed but only two wheelers were. We came across a very bizarre experience while on our way to the temple, a string of hawkers and shopkeepers literally besieged us and repeatedly annoyed us to buy ‘‘Chingu”. We had no idea what chingu was; we may have had what chingu was but looking at the swarming hawkers and salesmen who besieged us in every 6 steps we took on the road, we got suspicious about ‘Chingu’ or rather got highly annoyed with their harassing sales technique. Later, I found out that “Chingu’ was/is an endangered Himalayan animal known for its warm fur and is used in making ‘Chingu’ quilt. They say, the significance of its fur is that even after its death, the blood in the Chingu keeps circulating, and such is the warmth of its hide. So, the govt, as a measure to protect Chingu, has banned selling chingu quilt through out India, however, visitors and tourists get attracted with the offer they make while selling chingu quilt. A chingu quilt is sold for 8K to 9K in lease for a certain period (10-12 years) with 10 to 12 free gifts such as carpets, shawls, blankets etc. Once the contract is over, it is said that they come to collect it from you, no matter where you are in India, and return you the amount of money invested on buying the chingu quilt. It is believed that the human body warmth expands the chingu hide the and it can then be used to make approximately 5-6 shawls each fetching about 15K to 20K and that’s the reason why the seller come back to recollect it after the lease is over, but many people on the other hand considers it to be a scam, no body comes to collect the chingu after 10-12 years.

The visit to Vashist was really very disappointing, the temple was small but very intricately & beautifully designed. Vashist's main attraction was supposed to be its hot sulphur springs but to my astonishment it was a mere cemented 6-7 ft deep tank which was in dimension of 10 ft by 10ft wide, utterly very small. Looking at the pool/tank, u wouldn't even feel like taking a dip... it appears to be so contaminated & dirty... Anyway, Just near to it, above, is a Ram Mandir, not much to see except for making prayers... In my viewpoint, Vashist was merely an attraction but the 2km steep walk, with the Chingu experience & watching lots of foreigners in their living style in dread-locked marijuana trance, was quite an unprecedented experience....

The enterance of the Vashist temple... extreme left, beseated is a foreigner doped.


The inner main enterance of the Vashist temple.

Supposed to be Hot water springs but u cannot see any springs or geysers around, though the water is warm yet dirty.... U wont feel like taking a dip into it.... its that contaminated... I would rather call it as a bathing tank than the famous Vashist's medicinal sulphur hot water springs.

The Ram Mandir, near & above Vashist temple..... not much to see...



( to be continued ...)