Meandering Through Manali

The inky blackness swallowed up all that came in its way…..the deep valley was dark and eerily silent as our lonely car trundled up the winding road…tired and desperately wanting to crawl into a warm bed,  I still sat alert clutching at the door, fearing the worst as the midnight crept upon our car on that hill-side.

I was traveling to Manali from Chandigarh. It was well past midnight when I reached White Meadows Club Mahindra Resort at Manali. The cozy room with earthy tones of wooden floor and a warm bed beckoned me; a day long journey gave me enough reason to quickly accept the invitation.

The bright crisp morning brought with itself a promise of a beautiful day ahead and I was eager to soak my senses in the natural vistas of Himachal. Manali is a little hill town in the Beas River Valley nestled in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas. The town is named after Sage Manu who made it his home “Manu-Aaalay” (Manu’s abode) and recreated life from his ark post a devastating flood. I wonder if the ‘pralay’ or a flood really happened because there is this similar story of Noah’s Ark in Bible.

The Britishers who found the climate and the natural beauty soothing and refreshing, escaped the sweltering heat of plains in India to the climes of Himachal towns and introduced the cultivation of apples and breeding of fresh water fish Trout.

With only a day in hand, we left for Solang valley. Beas river tamed by the Pandoh Dam gurgled along the road tempting me to dip and dangle my feet in its icy waters. Few enthusiasts indulged in river rafting…I reveled in its beauty from afar content to hear it flow noisily…

River Beas

 Solang Valley

The hills rose in succession…layer by layer along the way; some piercing the cottony clouds; peaks of the farther ones obliterated by mist and the closer ones proudly displaying an array of pines, deodars and firs. We passed many apple orchards…trees laden with red skinned fruits waiting to be plucked!

Fresh snow on farther hills of Pir panjal Mountain range
Fresh snow on farther hills of Pir panjal Mountain range

Soon we arrived at the rolling giant slopes of Solang valley, some 14 kilometers from Manali. As winter approaches the gentle snow-covered slopes of the valley attract skiers while in summer zorbing, paragliding, parachuting and the newly installed cable car rides are the popular adventure activities.

I was keen on paragliding but the breeze did not seem to have any intention of letting me have the experience. By the time we had our fill of beholding the view of picturesque Himalayan range and finished our cable-car ride, the paragliding team had wrapped up their equipment depriving me of the thrill.

Slopes of Solang valley
Slopes of Solang valley
Sailing above the world
Sailing above the world

Temple of Hidimba

Next on itinerary was the temple dedicated to Hidimba, wife of Bhima of Mahabharat. Revered for her sacrifice during Mahabharata and considered to be a reincarnation of Goddess Durga, her temple dates back to 1553. Constructed by Raja Bahadur Singh, it is a pagoda style wooden structure in typical kath-kuni architecture of Himachal Pradesh.

Set among the tall conifers, it seems a perfect abode of the giant mother and her son Ghatotkach.

Hidimba Temple in the heart of forest
Hidimba Temple in the heart of forest
Ghar aaja pardesi....
Ghar aaja pardesi….

But what made me linger a little longer in the temple complex was not the ancient structure but a street artist who created popular Hindi film music and nursery rhymes on his ancient styled stringed instrument.

The day seemed to be almost  over by the time visit to Solang and Hidimba temple finished. Famished and fatigued we preferred to return back for rest and recuperation. White Meadows is a premium Club Mahindra luxury resort sitting pretty on the banks of River Beas with a sprawling layout.

The club boasts of accommodation ranging from studios to duplex, three functional bars, private party zones, family fun activity areas, Svastha Spa and well laid out lawns for private as well as common use. With the privacy and comfort taken care of in the premises, the vacationers have ample time to relax and spend quality time with family over a game of carrom or pool table or grooving to the music by a disc jockey!

The resort believes in nurturing relationships and strives to give facilities to its members so the families bond together without bothering about boarding and lodging issues on a holiday.

I am all for experiencing local food of a region as long as it’s not something weird like chocolate-coated-grasshoppers.

Himachal Cuisine
Himachal Cuisine

To my pleasant surprise the resort had arranged for an authentic Himachali cuisine. The piping hot fare complete with Siddu(lentil stuffed fermented dough ball), Khatta Murg(Chicken cooked with dry mango), Pahadi Maas(Lamb stew), Meetha chawal(sweetened rice with fennel flavor) whetted my appetite no end.

All that food and residual tiredness brought a fitful sleep post the lunch. Well-rested I spent a peaceful evening in the well-laid out lawns, my hot cup of coffee and no one to disturb my reflective mood.

Later in evening after a few failed attempts to hit a ball or two on pool table over a glass of wine, a mouth-watering  fried trout and invigorating discussions on aliens, myths, legends and life sciences I learnt about the various choices of Club Mahindra Membership and the concept of vacation ownership. It was good to know that the Resorts encourage the vacationers to take an informed decision of becoming a member by going through the Club Mahindra Reviews of existing members.

The evening stretched beyond midnight again, but so engrossed were we in our conversation that it took a deliberate decision to retire for the day.

After all the trip had just begun…

My trip to Manali and its scenic locales was organised by Club Mahindra.

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