#Me & #Manali – 2

Transit is way of life – a permanent one

Last time I wrote about Manali it actually wanted to write about Laddakh & Leh. Thinking about Manali makes me emotional I guess. Last time I went to Manali was for Cycling with in Manali and Manali was the base camp, however this time it was just transit, I had to reach Leh for another cycling expedition and I stayed in Manali for less then 24 hours.

The time one spends on #the #MALLROAD can give you an experience in itself and lessons as well. Talking about Mall Road, it has become fashionable name as most famous hill station has a Mall Road of their own. The trend originally started in Shimla and due to popularity of the road other towns in Himalayan region got one main road with same name.

During those hours, by the way hawkers approached tourist, I realised few things like:

Indian Men need “Shilajit” or Desi version of viagra

Indian Men definitely need this thing if they are with a girl roaming about Mall Road

Everybody must eat & shop

Consistent pestering of hawkers can be as irritating & tiring as dogs are for monkeys.

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Mall Road on a Rainy Day|Picture Courtesy: TripAdvisor

Passing time and observing around I happen to encounter couple of people playing musical instruments on road (which is not allow anymore for reasons best understood by Manali Police). Music was amazing and I stood there listening to them and in some time crowd gathered for the same. They kept playing & people kept listening peacefully. That was one of most peaceful road concert I have ever been part of.

I had made a mistake however which was to eat a sumptuous dinner and I was unaware to how was it a mistake till I boarded the mini bus that night round 2am for Leh. I threw each and every drop/morsel of fluid I might have had in my stomach in next few hours.

This visit made me see Manali I did not see last time, The one which tourist see as introduction, the one which makes you eat “softy” & buy “Shilajeet”. The one which is like  a mini carnival with all the colors scattered around. The one which is selling itself to survive that season. The one which sees much more Indian crowd then otherwise.

I bade my good bye for this one that night…. and boarded the bus for Leh.

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Visual Delight

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#Brigde #rustic #himalayas #mountain #cycling #light #love #life #BRO #Laddakh #India #GoExtraordinary! @royalcaribbeanuk

#Me & #Manali – Inception

This post started as “#ME & #Laddakh” but developed itself rather like “#ME & #Manali” and I had to change the title as well

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It can never have a perfect start or end or enough of words when I write of #Laddakh because everything fall short for the #Laddakh. I run out of all tangible thing as I am flooded with………..this post would continue later…for now please keep on reading about #Manali

It started long back when I visited first ever time to Manali and when you are in #Manali you see every day some of groups leaving for Leh and some of them coming back. People talking about which mountain pass is open or not. There are road signs indicating just that. Whole atmosphere is like a transit camp, which is full of life and anticipation. Like any other transit camps, there are  unofficially defined zones for everything. Everything one might want to do to have fun and enjoyment, cafes, hostels, smoke zones, #hash-zones , grass/weed zones, some might like to argue that whole Manali is that only however it is largely divided in terms of type of people populating and hanging about that place e.g. Old Manali is den of foreign nationals and famously second home to Israeli people who come after their military service.

But I did not see any of it.

When I first visited #Manali, it was through the eyes of a cycling expedition and my exposure to real #Manali was as limited as it could be, however, I felt I needed to come back. As Soon As Possible.

First time ever, I was cycling in #Manali and visited all the places one supposed to be visited like #Hidimba Temple, #Manu Temple, #Vashishth #HotSpring, #Naggar Castle etc. and the highlight of whole time was not these place but the routes to go there which we covered by cycling.

Every day was marked with scenic beauty of #pine and air filled with fragrance of mountain flora and fauna. Body filled with strain of #cycling and #heart filled with #joy. It was a different experience and I did not know about it. I did not know I was not looking at Manali with a tourist point of view but a cyclist view.

In later years, I went Manali for different purposes and got chance explore the place from different angles and god it was fun every way I tried but most of all it was a relief from summer heat of northern Indian plains in lap of #Himalayas. While one can feel the transit every day. Transit because #Leh felt like home later and by road Manali to Leh highway is the one of three way to reach Leh.

Manali became and hopefully be my favourite transit camp. More about Manali some other day!

Himalayas, Elevation, Rain & Cycling!

When I left Delhi for Aut to join the Jalori Pass Mountain Biking Expedition, little did I know about course of event are about to give me memories for life time. In small villages of Aut, Manglore, Jibhi and Sojha there were so many moments about to unfold themselves before me that I would be left in different array of expressions and emotion sometimes expressed otherwise not.

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Aut, situated roughly 68kms before Manali on Delhi Manali Route ( Right after the 3kms long tunnel , NH 3) is peaceful hamlet saving all day noise of vehicle passing by on the main road. There is one route which takes you towards Shimla.

Map – Aut – Jalori Pass

The route itself in scenic and exhilarating would be an understatement when you start moving toward Sojha, it feels like you are in the movie, Lord of the Rings and walking in the mountains where elves are about to appear any moment. Weather changes colours fast then a chameleon can and roads become a roller coaster ride. Every turn you take feels you have discover a new world which keep happening more often then not.

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When all this can happen and you choose to cycle your way around these mountains, it increases your fun quotient by several fold as it gives you time to take as much as possible without rushing through the region as the length of this route till Jalori Pass is roughly 40kms which not too long if you want to take a motorised vehicle.

I was fortunate enough that rain gods thought of gracing my ride with their blessings and it was fun to ride in light rain fall along the way and it was beautiful to be able to differentiate between area where it was raining and areas without rain in that comparatively small patch of route with naked eyes!

Anybody who wants to train themselves for high gradient cycling, it is great idea to ride this route as it starts with easy roads and take you to HQ gradient coupled with no roads. Reaching to each of these villages is fun and moving too. However entering Sojha is unparalleled possible for many reasons like its altitude, its proximities to the pass yet charm to hold you for stay. The fragrant air which one can’t get enough and many more.

If you want to just relax in lap of nature and cool your mind off. These are the places for you. C ya!

P.S. Don’t forget to pack your rain jacket.

Let’s Fly…..!

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This picture had been taken at village Tedagaon near Jim Corbett National Tiger Reserve, India while I was cycling there with a group of amateur cycling enthusiasts, the things on the branches are Not leaves but parakeets which are common in this region.

Jungle, People, Escape & Tamasha 

You might be wondering what kind of title is that! Well, its some what as incoherent as my thoughts are but don’t worry I would try to make these edible for you but in case I fail to manage ( not that I passed in that earlier post!!) please  cut me some slack and read it anyway. So coming to the main theme….

I have spent last few weeks in Himalayan foothills, cycling in and around Jim Corbett National Tiger Reserve along with couple of hundred more people while helping them out with various knick knacks of mountain biking and jungle as and when required and was fortunate enough to have a direct or indirect conversation with some of these people.

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During these conversations interesting phenomena came out. Many were behaving totally differently then they do in their regular lives. Notable point here is almost all the people were practically strangers to each other or most of others in this gathering of wanna be off road cyclists and they had an opportunity to portray themselves whatever way they would like and no body would know in their regular lives about it.

Whatever happens in jungle stays in jungle

People tried to engage in conversations at their will and possibly argued/ talked in more free way then they would do compared to their regular settings.

They cracked jokes, exchanged pleasantries, ate, slept, cycled, laughed, cried , loved, be loved, roamed, practically Lived their lives more as they wanted to and less as they were supposed to.

It felt like they were living an alternate reality , an alternate life.

An Escapade!

Not very long back there was a hindi movie released on similar theme with the title Tamasha, featuring Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone as lead pair. Just it was taken more towards a happy ending where patrogonist is sucrssfully able to breakfree from his life and covert his alternate reality into the main stream reality with the help of his lady love. Cherry on the cake was everybody ( family, friend and other not so insignificant people in his life) understood his actions snd approved in one way or another. What did you say?! Unimaginable in real life? Ofcourse why do you think its called reel life?

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However lets hope everybody is able to live their alternate reality daily at least in bits and pieces to keep their mind sane and heart from exploding!

P.S. : The observations and thoughts completely belong to the author and are completely made up and has no gaurantee of being real/ facts whatsoever. People in the mentioned gathering ……..oh one minute? Which gathering?

P.P.S : Picture Courtesy : Cycles : Nitin, Riders : Shanil, Rest : Mrigank

Sikkim & Bhutan -14

We reached Thimpu and Visited Tashi Dzong.

Planning & Research Courtesy : Insignia

Weather in Thimpu was cool and for some it could be called cold though according to locals it was start of summer. Temperature hovered around 8 degree Celsius in Thimpu.

Office of SAARC!!

Office of SAARC!!

We started for Dochula Pass which is at altitude of 3050 m and offers 360 degree panoramic view of Himalayas. This place also have 108 Druk Wangyal Chortens and Druk Wangyal Lakhang beautifully built majestically in middle of the pass amidst tranquility of the  mountains.

Druk Wangyal Chortens!

Druk Wangyal Chortens!

It was peaceful experience to be there for some time and just stare at mountains, it feel enriching to one’s inner self.

We got back to Thimpu after this and went to under construction Buddha Statues which sits above the city and visible from anywhere in the city.

Giant Buddha Statue!

Giant Buddha Statue!

We visited Changangkha Lakhang after that and returned to our hotel in order to leave for Paro.IMG_2561

What happened in Paro?  For that keep watching! Stay Happy.

Sikkim & Bhutan -11

We reached back to Gangtok last time after spending two nights and three days in North Sikkim

Planning & Research Courtesy : Insignia

Next day morning we started for Nathula apprehensively as two days before it was closed for civilian and visitors. However driver of this cab was positive and assured us that we would be able to make it to Nathula!

On the way to Nathula it was decided that we will first go Nathula and then while retuning back will cover other places like Baba Mandir, Lake etc. Excitement is an understatement for the feeling I felt because of many reason, Seeing India – China Border was one them.

On the way we stopped at one place, small market, where we rented snow boots,glows, jackets etc to be ready to enter into snow, well, we did not realise by that time it was more then 4 feet at some places.

Lake!

Lake!

Taking pictures is not allowed at Nathula but I can paint picture for you. It was all snow and so much snow that whole barbed wire fence had gone into it and we were walking like we could cross the Border, had not there been Indian Army guarding the place and on the other side Chinese troops are deployed.

We could not see many Chinese soldiers but only one and he returned a favour of shaking hands with us. I tried asking his name but no response and We spent almost 20 mins at last point of Nathula.

We started climbing down as we started to freeze and we came to know, we can get certificates signed by Army Personal about visiting Nathula, of course we got it. We also got to know about cross border business/ markets and flag meetings and where do they takes place.

After coming down we headed to Baba Mandir ( Temple)  which is in the name of  a soldier of Indian Army who had been martyred on his duty. It is common knowledge in the region that spirit of the soldier still patrol the border and help army personal in their duty. The temple has canteen where food for Baba get ready three times a day and Army treats him as real soldier i.e. all regular uniforms, food etc goes to this temple. They have made one more temple which is rather on road for ease of reach of tourist, however we went to original temple.

We visited Elephant Lake after this and saw Bhutan ( which is distantly visible) on the way back to Gangtok. We saw many trained Yak and Tsongu Lake as well. We reached Gangtok by evening to get ready to start for Bhutan next day!

Keep Reading, Keep Sharing, Stay Happy

Visual Delight – 8

On the way back to Nathula!

On the way back from Nathula!

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Visual Delights – 7

THE YAK.

THE YAK.

This magnificent creature has been trained to ferry people. However normally Yak is shy animal and like tomaintain a distance as far they don’t know you.

For more of Visual Delights, Please visit these:

Visual Delights -1, Visual Delights – 2, Visual Delights -3, Visual Delights – 4, Visual Delights – 5, Visual Delights – 6