Half the fun of travel and moving about lies in the study of behavior and mannerism of your fellow humans.Oh! it fascinates me!!

Day 1

The hills are not so cool as we expected it to be!

A panoramic view of Dharamshala.  Varies in altitude from 1250  - 1650 m. Surrounded by the  Dauladhar range on three sides and the valley stretched out in front.

The Buddha temple at the Norbungling Inst.

This is a place of learning and is dedicated to handing down tradition  by providing training in
Tibetan arts such as Thankga painting,wood work and sculpture  to Tibetans and others.

Making use of the existing rocks, trees, flowing water and the terracing of the land, they have created a semblance of a Japanese garden around the Institute buildings, where nature flourishes and tranquility prevails.
I meet an overbearing Octogenarian who is not only falling foul with the younger members of his unit but also pushing his views on us,about what to see around and what to avoid yadda yadda

This stadium for  cricket is a beauty considering the setting in which it is placed.A longish six may see the ball in the valley!Kudos to HPCA.
Other than the run in the mill IPL tamasha an Eng - Ind  ODI was staged here.

At the stands a  youngish Dad is insisting that his Son emulate SRT by posing for his camera while the Tot is only interested in running up and down

At  1750 Meters stands one of the oldest cathedrals in the north Indian wilderness,Church of St.John.Built in 1852  it is Gothic in character with stained glass windows and a memorial of Lord Elgin. Surrounding the church are thick deodar trees where the great himalayan black faced langoors abound.

Plastic trash,group photos,someone expounding 
his knowledge of the British Raj.Tired faces eager for lunch

This scenic spot of Naddi is located 2,000 metres above sea level and 5 km up the road  from McLeodganj. Naddi offers a spectacular view of the Kangra valley from the walkway as also a close view of the snow caps.
Running,racing and parents shouting...a boy crying hysterically,afraid to get on a Mule's back.A group of teenagers enjoying each others company...cell phones and selfies.

Around 10 km north of Dharamsala town is McLeodganj the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile and the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Naturally, there’s a large Tibetan population here, many of whom are refugees, so you’ll see plenty of maroon robes about.With many budget hotels, trekking companies, internet cafes, restaurants and shops selling Tibetan souvenirs crammed in just a couple of blocks, traveling by car is a nightmare.

Dalai Lama's Temple is the most important monument in McLeodganj. Here lies the Dalai Lama's
residence, monastery, museum, library etc.It is easily accessible. One is free to go anywhere  except the sprawling HH's residential area. It's a joy to see the line of monks praying and reciting the verses in unison.Sorry! no camera  in the temple please!
Tibetan youth throng the entrance....soliciting donation for their cause...if you dig deep you could come across propaganda material

Day 2

We visit a tea garden in the vicinity before taking the H'way that goes to Pathankot and a diversion off it that would take us to Dalhousie.Soon we were eating delicious punjabi kadi (dunked with pakode) and rotis at a road side Dhaba.

The taste of authentic Roti, Subzi here is unmatched.Together with Onions ( and mirchi for some ) it is a heady experience!

Eventually we reached our  destination and Grand View Hotel.With a facade of wood and glass and perching on an edge it overlooks the valley and the mountains.You can gaze at nature  from the sheltered look-outs that are provided just outside the room and forget time.Wonderful moments indeed!

I got a shot of this very attractive Rose the
likes of which I have never seen.


We explored the town hoping to find something of interest.We had to encounter traffic jams as DH was not meant to accommodate the tourist invasion of  Punjab and the large SUV's that carry them.
Gandhi chowk and Subhas chowk had nothing much to offer except Gol Gappas and Chole Bature  with Sunny,Happy,Lucky and Bunty tugging at their mums' for candy and ice-creams while the mums were busy shopping at a long line of shops crammed with clothes and curio.
We got a reprieve...we left all the humanity behind and walked down the km long Thandi Sadak back to our hotel in the evening.Believe me there were hardly any souls clamoring for this space.

And to imagine how serene and wonderful it would have been...this Sanitarium,  for Lord Dalhousie and many of  his countrymen that visited  regularly to rejuvenate themselves.....

Day 3

A lot of driving today in the hills.

Kalatop is a good spot to visit while in Dalhousie.It is at an elevation of 2500 m and is approached from Lakkarmandi through a dense forest of pines and deodars. The walk is 3Kms long and is blissful...

Regretfully,the cacophony of car horns come in the way of  peaceful cogitation and brings you back to reality.

Traveling further we come to Khajjiar.
A small picturesque saucer-shaped plateau surrounded by dense pine and deodar forests, is proud to have been designated       "Mini Switzerland".That is supposed to be a lake in the middle which is all weeded up.


Day 4

Another day,and another long ride to Manali is staring at us.We take a diversion at Beed,where the sky is heavily overcast, to watch Paragliding. The gliders taking off from a hill yonder then hovering like vultures for a while and  coming down...Whooosh...landing smoothly in a level ground close to were we were parked.It seemed quite easy and we decided to try it one day and drove off

We are now following the river Beas and its twists and turns. Flowing calmly beyond stones and boulders where only a few weeks ago 24 students were washed away due to a human error.

Naggar Castle
20 Kms shy of Manali and situated on the bank of Beas is the ancient town, Naggar. Today it is a
popular tourist spot where every one stops to see the Naggar castle.This medieval Castle was built by the Raja of Kullu around 1460 A.D.Castle is a unique stone and wood mansion, and is  now a HPTDC Heritage hotel The hotel overlooks the Kullu Valley with great views.

Oh! you should have seen the clamor for photography... and why not ?

Day 5

Rohtang Pass  at an altitude of almost 4000 m is located at around 50 km from Manali. It connects the Kullu valley with the Lahaul and Spiti valleys of  HP. Manali-Leh H'way, a part of NH 21, transverses Rohtang Pass.The pass lies on the watershed between the Chenab and Beas basins. On the southern side of this pass, the Beas river emerges from underground and  flows southward. On its northern side, the Chandra River, a source stream of the river Chenab flows westward.

Got up at 3:30, hit the road at 4:00 and after picking up our snow gear from the vendor, joined the party.Even at this time  there were plenty of vehicles making a bee-line for the hills. As dawn was breaking I got these shots.

The road winded up the hill, with the Beas river flowing along. At 11000 ft, after an arduous 4+ Hrs of driving we got a break at Marhi, a pit stop for refreshments amongst the plenty of small restaurants and  eateries here. It was a cool and perfect day for further exploration.
After the break, we hit the road again for the final climb to the pass. We had to go 15 Kms or so and the roads became steeper and the greenery around vanished. Snow capped peaks and  mountains looked at us.Oh! it was wonderful and reminded me of my Sikkim experience 4 years ago.

And then we were at the Rohtang Pass. There were tourists all around,walking in the snow. Some were skiing. There were snow carts and scooters to take rides on and make-shift stalls for Maggi and Chai.

After a while when we returned to the car the driver said that he had to get his permit stamped at  Koksar some 20Kms beyond and would we care for the ride? We went along on the bumpy ride, on roadways cut out of glacial debris and where crystal clear melt water was pouring out.
The movement of heavy tucks going to Leh (~400Kms) did not help the road condition,yet, we enjoyed seeing the range of mountains on the other side and the valleys of Spiti and Lahaul with river Chandra snaking below .
 What happens if there should be a vehicle breakdown here? No network,no phone booths,but cheer up ..HPTC over crowded buses ply this route..so you will get there ..eventually

On  our return we passed "Rani Nullah" a place that has become a tourist attraction,what with a cascade of attractive glacial remain that makes the vehicles stop for pics,creating snarls.Also the melt water makes the road here very slushy and treacherous all year around.

There must have been many first-timers at this altitude...the joy and the glee writ on their faces  as they chucked  snow-balls at each other was a  sure give away of their state of mind

Day 6

Whitewater Rafting on the Beas -  Whitewater is formed in a rapid, when a river's gradient increases enough to disturb its laminar flow and create turbulence, i.e. form a bubbly, or aerated and unstable current; the frothy water appears white.Rafting in whitewater rivers is a popular recreational sport but is not without danger. In fast moving water there is always the potential for death by drowning or hitting objects. Fatalities do occur

We traveled 40 kms from Manali to Kullu to get to the starting point for Rafting.It was a nice cool day and the river was tumbling downhill at a good pace.Crystal clear water was frothing with turbulence.

We donned our safety gear and were ready for the  Raft that was being lowered into the river.

Six of us got seated excluding the oarsman who gave us instructions which meant "Hold on to something always"

Over rocks and boulders we went down river, the oarsman shouting orders, while we were
enjoying the ride, holding the ropes and screaming  as the water sprayed and drenched us.
Expert maneuvering by the oarsman provided the extra thrill. 

After 20 exhilarating minutes we were conveyed safely to the shore.Best part of the ride was the way the Raft turned,rocked and swayed as we held on.

A short video presentation of our journey.

Excitement over, we shopped in one of the many factory outlets nearby  and then got into the thick of Manali traffic.Downtown was overflowing with tourists as we made our way to Hadimba temple. She was the wife of Bheema and mother of Gatothgach if you didn't know.

A pagoda shaped roof, front doorway covered with figures and symbols and intricate wood carvings are its features.It's setting amongst tall Pines adds to its allure.

By now we were ravenously hungry and we saw a Pahadi lady at a stall dishing out Momos and masala Maggi to a small crowd.We joined in.She had MO and I had MA and felt good.

Bumper to bumper traffic and we stopped moving.We decided to cut short our sojourn in the town and went away to look up Vashisht.

About 3km ride out of the town center alongside the Beas River lies the Vashisht village,a quieter version of  Manali and a popular travelers’ hang-out. Indian tourists flock here to see the Vashishta Muni's temple and bathe in its hot springs,while foreign tourists largely come here for the cheap accommodation, chilled atmosphere and Charas.

Day 7

Today we proceed to Shimla on the last leg of our long journey.But not before one more round of Rafting as the bubbling waters were so inviting.Then after a wholesome breakfast we followed the river on its winding path round the hills,now a calm Beas,with some rope bridges strewn across...a beautiful sight.As we drove on to Mandi a massive cloud burst, a tree fall across the road and an interminable wait  delayed proceedings and lunch.Thereafter we crossed river Sutlej and moved on to Darlaghat in Solan dist., and then to Shimla.

Springfield hotel in old Shimla where everything seems as if caught in a 19th century time warp which includes room service.Its Management is in the hands of an erstwhile Rani whose family portraits adorn the walls

Day 8

First stop, Kufri, a hilly spot close by, where the  main activity is a trot up the slushy track on Mules.Plenty of decorated Yaks as Props for photos,some temples,food vendors and plastic trash.Nothing to write home about.I suppose one enjoys  Kufri's natural beauty by staying at a Resort here.

Then to see the 100Ft tall Hanumanji at Jaku temple. He is supposed to have rested here before continuing  on his quest to find the Sanjeevani for Lakshman.There was a bit of excitement as one amongst the many monkeys here snatched her Specs and I had to lure it with sweets for retrieval.

See how tall and majestic he stands... a Sentinel,protecting his wards

We went to look up the Indian Institute of Advanced Study a prestigious research institute for Humanities,Social and Life Science,a brain child of Dr.S.Radhakrishnan, in 1964.This  institute was originally built as a home for Lord Dufferin from 1884–1888 and was the Viceregal lodge, now Rashtrapati Niwas.It housed all the subsequent viceroys and governor generals of India.We walked around the building with its flourishing gardens and well kept lawns and spent a good hour in repose before relishing the Rajma chawal and Pastry at the crowded
I don't envy the job of the chowkidar who was constantly blowing the whistle to ward off people from the lawn

A view of Ridge, Shimla,looking at Christ Church built 1857
cute pose..both

Walked along the Ridge and Mall roads spent time at the park overlooking the hills,shopped some and returned.

Day 9

Got up early and waited for capturing the Sunrise at Shimla.
However,the clouds thought  otherwise


Left Shimla after breakfast and after stopping for a box or two of Cherries on the way,drove towards Chandigarh.At Kasauli we stopped,as we had time to kill, and as our Driver was none the wiser reg points of  tourist interest,I told him to take us to Monkey point that I had heard about.Looking for it we reached the Airforce Stn. and there it was...Man Ki Point! another Hanuman temple accessible after a climb of 500 meters through smartly laid stairs and railing.

On the way down to CGH we were stuck in a  traffic jam for 2 Hrs and made it to the airport just in time for the GO AIR flt. to Mumbai.

Fruits anyone ?


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