I was surprisingly so fine when I woke up the second day. Despite of the change in climate, the altitude rise, my body remained fit. I was so excited for the day as I was heading to Rohtang Valley, the gorgeous mountain pass located on the eastern side of Pir Panjal Range, Himalayas. This location is the most popular and preferred destination for almost everyone visiting Manali, located at an elevation of 3978 m above sea level and at a distance of 54 km from Manali. Tourists can hire taxi or take private bus from the Manali bus stand, just adjacent to the Mall Road. The private bus will cost you Rs 74 for taking to Rohtang Pass (as of August 2016). You have to board on the bus to Keylong from Manali for reaching Rohtang.
We are not alone while we pursue a solitary journey. We establish good connections with a lot of people to make the journey smooth. I established good relationship with a local villager and a snack seller to know more about the journey and clarify the bus timings. They spoke to me about the things which I should keep in mind while travelling. The bus had many local villagers who are travelling to Keylong. Even though there is a slight difference in the dialect, we can easily communicate with them in Hindi.
Piercing the mountains
A narrow road that pierces the mountains and greenery. Breathtaking views of mountains and trees. Clouds coming down to murmur with the mountains, where wind spying the whole love story. The whole tale of freshness we feel through the journey is something we haven’t experienced – that’s the way to Rohtang Pass. When I say bus, it’s not the big bus but a small one that fits the road. The road is twisted and turned with a lot of big and tiny hairpins, offering scenic views of mother nature. While we travel through woods, we can cherish lifetime views of nature. All the effort we take to reach Manali will become fruitful when we decide to travel through this heavenly path – the perfect getaway for urban dwellers.
The first 15 km of the journey will take us through woods with views of fresh ripen apples, small hotels and habitations all around. We can also spot River Beas flowing majestically through the sidelines of the road after originating from Rohtang Pass. Advancing further, we shall arrive at the first major destination Palchan located at 12 km from Manali. If we deboard here, we can turn towards Solang Valley, which brims with a lot of activities in winter for visitors including skiing, paragliding and ropeway. Although it involves an element of hard work, I was happy to see a lot of motor enthusiasts and cyclists enjoying the adventurous ride through the road. Majority of them were a group of bachelors, but surprisingly some families were also enjoying their ride.
Keylong is situated about 120 km from Manali. This mountain pass is arguably one of the captivating and adventurous path through the Himalayas. After Palchan, the villages and habitations will slowly fade away. As shops and human habitations are not available, there are predetermined pit stops for the bus, from where passengers can collect food and water for the rest of the journey. The first halt came when the bus reached Kothi, a small village, possibly the last area of human habitation. I had tea and snacks from the shop and those who were travelling to Keylong bought and stocked food and water.
The mountains and clouds kept own revamping my body and soul. For me it was the nature’s own pacemaker. After quite a time, we reached Marhi, the shanty town of roadside restaurants located in the midway of Manali and Rohtang. The whole panoramic view was amazing. The whole settlement is seasonal with most businesses shutting down during the winter season when the Rohtang is closed. Buses often stop at Marhi so that passengers can eat and drink. The tea mixed with ginger was refreshing and gave me enough warmth inside. Each slurp was accompanied by a sigh and relief of the past. I was literally feeling everything deep my heart touching. Staring at the mountains, feeling the wind pampering my broken inside. Nature is literally healing us. We are gradually reborn.
The driver honked the horn interfering my thoughts. The passengers stepped in and we resumed the journey. We kept on conquering attitudes closer towards clouds and closer towards attaining peace.
The wind was blowing strongly. The sound of it hitting my pinna and redirecting to enter my consciences was well synchronised with endless views of mountains patched with snow. A fair number of tourists were enjoying their valuable time laughing all together and taking photographs. Since, it was the beginning of monsoon season, only a narrow patch of snow was available of the tourists to aim and throw each other. Some photographers from Manali were also roaming there to click the pictures of the interested clients. Police and some other official guys were seen to monitor the events. Many couples were relishing their time, hopefully strengthening their bonds. The local tribes were serving coffee over the area.
After spending some hours there, I forced myself to come back to Manali. Because my mind was compelling me to go further to Keylong and then to the dream destiny Leh. But I promised her that I will take her sometime in the future and stepped on the bus coming back to Manali from Keylong. The seats were filled. But some workers from Keylong to Dharamshala offered me a slice of their seat and I was happy to take the offer.
Yes. I was worried. I was suffering from post-trip depression. Who would wish to leave such a heavenly place knowing that two days later we are back to the urban chaos? I was emotionally pulled back, but I had no other options as life moves on. Home is far away, but I have guys waiting for me. So the next 54 km will descend me through woods, mountains and wind. The sun had begun its preparations to go to the other half. Staring at the wonderful nature, I slowly came back to Manali. That just put the curtains down for one of the exciting days of my life!