Manali Again


I Continue From Here - Hampta Pass Trek - Day 04

On the last day of the trek (October 6th), I woke up early. Except me and chef Ram, everyone else was asleep. I walked to the kitchen with the intention to meet Ram. He is from Sankri (Uttarakhand) but during the peak trekking season, he travels around the Himalaya states. 

I know for a fact that in these treks, it is only the guide who gets paid decently. So, I always make sure to leave a tip behind for the cook and the helpers. Ram was very happy to receive the tip and asked me if I did like some hot water to wash my face. I politely declined. He then made some tea for me. I am touched by the simplicity of the villagers. They are so hard working. I sat next to him and watched him cook. He taught me a few important tricks to cook good north-Indian dish.

For breakfast, Ram bhai prepared Poori and Channa masala. It was delicious. During breakfast, Adarsh and I discussed some politics. He wanted to know how Mangalore, being a city from the South, is so conservative and has turned into the hub for Hindu fundamentalists. Because, the general perception is that the South of India is well educated and way to forward thinking than the North. I could only answer him based on the changes I have observed in my hometown from my childhood till now. 

At around 10 AM, we were ready to leave. We bid farewell to Adarsh, Bharath, Ayush and Rageeth who were heading to Kaza. In 2 jeeps, the rest of us left to Manali. We passed by the new Atal tunnel that reduces the travel distance considerably by skipping Rohtang pass. 

Back in Manali, Girish and I checked into Keekoo again. We had left some of our baggage there. We took a nap for a while. In the evening, I took Girish to my favourite place in Manali; my discover – The confluence of River Manalsu and Beas. 

We stayed there till dark. At around 7 PM, We met Swathi, Shreyas, Sarab and Varun in Old Manali and we joined Samar, Yash and Tarun in a restaurant near the river. Rohit and Rishab joined us too. So, all of us, except those who left to Kaza, were there.

Sarab suggested that I try the local beer – It is called Hawk Eye and comes in various flavours. I tried apple and Ginger Ale flavours. I preferred the latter. It is available in almost all shops in Manali. We also walked to the riverside. At around midnight, we were probably the last few people awake in Old Manali. We walked to the only restaurant that was serving food at that time. By the time we were done with our dinner, it was 1AM. Sarab, Rohit, Rishab and Varun were kind enough to drop me till the hostel as I was staying on the other side of the River Manalsu. 

Next morning (7th Ocotber), I went back to my favourite place. It is such a peaceful place to be. 

Girish and I got ready by 9 AM and decided to explore the town. We were staying very close to Hidimba Devi temple. Hidimbi is a demoness who appears in the epic Mahabharatha. She had married Bheema, one of the Pandavas after he defeated and killed her brother Hidimba. Together, they had a son named Ghatotkacha. The temple architecture is impressive. 

Very close to the temple you can also visit the Ghatotkacha tree temple. It is interesting to see how there were temples for these less popular characters from Mahabharatha. 

We then went to the museum of Himachal culture and folk art. Though a small place, it has some interesting artefacts that show us the lifestyle of these mountain dwellers. 

Next, we walked to Old Manali. At the very end of the road, up the hill, is Manu temple. Manu temple is named after Manu Rishi.  According to ancient Hindu scriptures, Manu was the first man created by God Brahma. English word ‘Man’ is derived from the Sanskrit word Manu.  The town of Manali also gets its name from him. It is here that he used to meditate. 

That made me wonder about the first woman created by Brahma. Shatarupa (she of a hundred beautiful forms) is the daughter of the creator god Brahma. Shatarupa is regarded as the first woman to be created by Brahma along with Manu.

We met Sarab on the way who suggested that we try the local dish Siddu prepared by a lady near Manu temple. So, on our way back, we stopped to taste that. It was amazing.

In the evening, Sarab Varun, Girish and I met at Tensing restaurant near old Manali. Fried momos there are good. But the best ones are in Sikkim. Rohit and Rishab had change in plan and they had to leave early. So, we bid them farewell. In the evening, we went to my favorite place again with some Rhododendron wine and Ginger Ale beer. The view from here is indeed the best. 

We dined at Come a Naploi Pizzeria who make the best pizzas I have ever eaten in India. Girish joined us there along with our new dorm-mate – An engineering student from MP who was backpacking solo. 

After food, we stopped at Madking's cafe and house for some live music. When that ended, we walked back to our hostel. Girish and I stayed up till 2AM discussing general stuff.  

Next morning, I woke up slightly late. Girish and I met Sarab and Varun in Old Manali. We took an auto to Vashishta temple. Sarab had suggested that we take a dip in the natural hot spring at the temple. There are many pools around the temple but they are not clean. We finally came across one inside the temple complex. It was clean and except a little boy there was no one who wanted to take a dip. So, I dared to get in. Seeing Sarab and me, others joined. 

On our way back, we took a mini van operated by Himachal road transport. Mini vans ply from Manali bus station near mall road to various locations and it is the most economical way to get around. 

We stopped at a Tibetan restaurant to try some spring rolls and fired rice. We also stopped at a sweet stall to try some Moong dal ka halwaGulab jamun and Kadai milk. They were absolutely delicious. 

Girish and I bid farewell to Sarab and Varun and headed back to the hostel. This trekking group has been incredible and we had bonded really well. I always cherish the memories of the people I have met on my travels and the time spent with them more than the views I witnessed. Old Manali will always hold a special place in my memories.

We picked up our backpacks and walked to the volvo bus station. The bus journey was mostly uneventful, except for a dispute between two passengers over seat reclining. We stopped at a local dabha for dinner. I must say that their roti and Malai koftha was out of the world.

In Delhi, we took the metro to Pahad Gunj and checked into a hotel for few hours. The place is really dirty and it is difficult to find some descent place to stay. We freshen-up and headed to Sita Ram Diwan Chand restaurant that serves one of the best Chole Bature in town. The food was mouth-wateringly tasty. 

Next, we stopped at Bikaner sweet to try some Bengali sweets and Dal samosa. After a long trek, it was time to put on some calories. 

So, thus, another trip came to an end. This trek and stay in Manali has been exceptionally enjoyable. I hope to come back here someday. 


  1. Pleasantly surprised to read so much information about temples from you. And also about Manu.

    Will send you my take on Manu to your email. Hilarious , I think.


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