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My getaway to Kullu Manali (part 1)

So...i am back after a long gap. it has been quite a time since I wrote here.

Recently I got a chance to visit my Bua's home at Kullu. I was happy as I had never visited that place in spite of spending 4 years in Hamirpur which is quite close to these places. My friends used to visit there and I thought, "kabhi na kabhi toh ghum hi lenge, Himachal hi toh hai"; but I never got a chance. Now, 3 years after passing out from college, I got a golden chance and decided not to let it go.

We decided to go by car and taking a day's break at Chandigarh. So we started at 7 AM from Noida and reached Chandigarh at around 2 PM after a 2-hour break in Panipat. We had lunch at Chacha's house and afterwards bua and uncle left for a night stay at one of his friend's house.

The next morning we started again at 7 amidst pleasant weather and cool breezes as it had rained the previous day. The drive up to Bilaspur was a well acquainted one and we stopped at a place 10-15 minutes ahead for breakfast. The view of Gobind Sagar from the restaurant's window was beautiful and then it struck to my mind that I was carrying a 2 MP camera in my new Nokia 5130.

I started taking pics even from the moving car. The place was beautiful and the cool weather was quite a relief from Delhi's humidity. I was feeling a bit sleepy but countered the urge to sleep as I had never seen the places on that route beyond Bilaspur. As we drove to Kullu via Sundernagar, Mandi, and Pandoh Dam, the temperature started dropping and the breeze became more chilled. Then came the beautiful view of the Beas river flowing adjacent to us.

We took a halt at Hanogi Devi's temple built on the banks of Beas. All the temples in Himachal have one or the other myths associated with them and this one also had one too. People driving on the way generally halt at this place as a gesture of respect to the local deity and even if they don't have time to halt completely, they would stop for a second, pray and then go ahead. The location of the temple is very rugged as it has been built on the rocky gorges of Beas.

We came across a 3 km long tunnel built for the hydel power project and I couldn't stop myself from appreciating that marvel of engineering. We reached home at Bajaura in the afternoon at 2 and were greeted by bua's parents and served a satisfying lunch.

After some rest and chit-chat, I decided to go to Manikaran. After getting complete directions from grandfather about the conveyance and other things, I started. I reached Bhuntar from where I'd get a bus for Manikaran. I decided to go by bus because it gives a real life view at the locales. We started at around 3 from Bhuntar to Manikaran. The moment we crossed the bridge at river Beas, I realized that it would be a picturesque journey.

The bus started climbing the tall mountains at a slow and steady pace. On the left side was the breathtaking view of the river Parvati looking like a tiny rivulet in the deep gorges. The thing which fascinated me was that the very top of the mountains was also inhabited and small trolleys were suspended from the houses to the other bank. I later saw that the trolleys were powered by electricity and were used to send daily supplies to the houses.

We crossed many villages on our way and also passed the famous Malana hydel power project. In the deep gorge on the banks of Parvati, it looked like a miniature house and a small pipe attached to it. There was a place named Kasol, which had a big settlement of foreign tourists who had come there for an arduous trek to Malana village.

Finally, we reached Manikaran at around 5 and saw the majestic gurudwara complex built on the banks of Parvati. The gurudwara is famous for its hot water springs. Also, I noticed that there was a temple in that complex itself which was a great example of peaceful co-existence. There was a hot cave near the springs which was quite like a sauna bath in spite of the chilly waters of Parvati flowing nearby. Then I saw the springs and was amazed to see that the water was boiling hot and people were cooking rice, potatoes, dal and many other things by simply suspending the contents in a muslin cloth in the spring. I visited the shrine and had langar there. The whole food was cooked in that spring itself.

There were baths built for the devotees and the water was so hot that it was mixed with cold water first and then channeled to the baths. I had a stroll at the place and appreciated the nature's miracle of those springs. Devotees were coming in large numbers in spite of the tough journey.

Finally, I decided to take the last bus back to Bhuntar at around 6:30 and reached home after a 2-hour drive downhill. This was the day 1 of my maiden tour of Kullu Manali.

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