Ever since, I came back from the Goecha La trek, I have had this yearning to return back to the Himalayas. And in August, I planned my next trek. This time, I chose a new state - Himachal Pradesh. On Friday, the 30th of September,  I took a flight from Bangalore to Delhi. I was joined by Girish and Rageeth, whom I had met during past treks.

At Delhi airport, we took the metro to Shivaji Stadium and walked to Connaught place. We had few hours to spend in Delhi before catching a bus to Manali. Connaught place is the only nice place to hangout, that I know of in Delhi. On our way, we tried some local chaats and lassi. They were delicious.  We walked into a cafe and sat there until were ready to leave to the bus station. 

I had booked a Volvo bus to Manali run by Himachal road transport corporation. The buses ply from ISBT Delhi near Kashmere gate. Ride the yellow line metro and get off at Kashmere gate stop. Take the Metro exit gate 7 to reach ISBT directly. 

The bus was on time. We left Delhi at 8PM. The journey was uneventful. We reached Manali the next day (1stOctober), at around 10:30AM. 

The Volvo bus station is located 2 km away from the main town. We took a taxi to our hostel. Keekoo Manali is situated at the border of old and new Manali. We were impressed by the location. There is a small apple orchard behind the hostel. The folks at the reception were very friendly. As this is an off-season, the place was reasonably empty. 

After check-in, we freshened up and got ready  and stepped out to have a meal. CafĂ© Backyard is located by the Old Manali bridge. We sat next to the Manalsu river and enjoyed some good continental food. The food in Manali is amazing but very expensive. 

We took a walk uphill and explored the array of shops in old Manali. Some shops sold ethnic wears or local wines, some sold painted tins and leathers bags. The road that winds its way all the way up to Manu temple, is filled with shops, cafes and Guesthouses. After playing a game of chess with the locals, we headed back to the river for a much needed cup of tea. 

Next, we headed to Nehru park. At the entrance of Nehru park, adolescents were busy skating or bicycling. Right in front of the Nehru statue is the Mall road - a busy street that is filled with shops of all kinds. That evening, the ambience there was really good. A Rajasthani musician was playing some soulful music with his instrument - a rawanhattha. I sat there for almost an hour listening to him. A guitarist, impressed by the musician sat next to him. This attracted more people. After a while, another singer joined and the three of them performed a song together. 

We tried a local delicacy called Siddu. Siddu is made of steamed wheat dough, stuffed with vegetables or dry fruits.

Back at hostel, we had a bonfire. We met the owner, who hails from Gujarat. Tired that I was, I went to bed early that night. 

Next morning, I woke up early and decided to go for a walk. I knew that Manalsu river would go and join Beas river. So, I planned to follow it downhill and reach the Sangam (confluence). I followed the road by the river that passes by the clubhouse. After a point, I had to get down a flight of stairs to reach the banks of River Manalsu. 

A narrow footpath takes you further towards the Sangam. The place is an absolute gem. Mesmerising views of the snow-capped mountains and the merging of rivers was a sight to remember. This is undoubtedly my favourite place in Manali – My discovery. 

I wondered why I was the only one in Manali to experience this sight. Why is everyone else unaware of this incredible place? I was the only one there for a long time, until Sky arrived. And then there were two!


On my way, I stopped at a dhaba to eat Alloo parathan for breakfast and some tea. I then headed back to the hostel, got ready and woke up the others. We had to reach Nehru park by 11AM. All trekkers were to assemble there and head to the mountains together. 

At Nehru Park, Gandhi jayanthi celebration was in progress. It was funny because, none of the banners had a photo of Gandhi or his name. Instead they called this event Swatchta league (Cleanliness league). A group of dancers were performing a folk dance on the stage. Many travellers joined them. It was a festive atmosphere there. 

While we waited for our Trek guide to arrive, we saw the Education minister, his family and some other politicians being welcomed to the podium with grand celebration. One by one, the politicians gave their speeches. Except for one lady, none of the other speakers mentioned the name of Gandhi. In between the speech, they shouted “Hail Modi” slogans. Not sure if I missed the National anthem or not, but I never heard that being played. Instead, they stood up for the National song - “Vande Matharam”. Ironically, I was standing right in front of the statue of the first Prime minster of India and his beautiful quote while currently, the exact opposite of what he says is in progress.