#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.

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 14

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.

#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

img_6877

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.

img_5987

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.

img_5966

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.

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.

IMG_4764

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?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Me, Cycle & Tiger Reserve

It is interesting to see sometimes that how much difference is there in perception & reality. With each passing day and people a mole becomes a mountain and then wise people make a saying on that. We, as human race, seems to be self obsessed specie. Are n’t we?

So I have searched and read about Jim Corbett National Tiger Reserve many times ( in hope to just pick my bag and leave for the place ). I heard a lot about it from travellers, friends & traveller friends which led to some sort of imagery in my mind about the place. Indian film industry popularly known as Bollywood also fed some dramatics in my already hyper dramatic mind ( no, it is not my assumption but I have been informed by lovely people around me about the same, I just embraced it with fervour , coming back to main theme), so you get the picture, don’t you?

IMG_4703

The Jungle

This is what this jungle offers you when there nothing else to offer which include picturesque sights, Tiger, Leopard, Elephant Tuskers and other wild animal species & a lot of wait if you are just interested in Tiger as King is not easy to spot. In our case it was more interesting case as we wanted to spot Tiger before he spots us as we were riding our cycles in this jungles and just in case Tiger spot is first and make up his mind to have a quick snack, we did not stand any chance, in theory at least.

IMG_4642

Tiger Pug Mark, Wrist Watch & Tyre Marks

I spent almost 15 days in the jungle and cycling in and around the region and it was meditation for me as I was doing two of my favourite things together that is being in jungle and cycling.

Every day was filled with anticipation of danger and thrill of spotting wildlife.

The moment when you are taking a leak in jungle and hoping that any wild life wont prefer this time to meet you in person.

Looking at pass by safari jeeps as they watch us in horrid expressions and extra open eyes riding out cycles.

Getting cycle puncture in the middle of jungle and fixing it on the spot anxiously.

Appreciating the life every moment as it can be your last moment any time.

Crossing water streams riding on cycle.

Eating at river bank and drinking fresh water after lunch.

Looking at Sun Rise & Sun Set from different angle every day.

Spotting flora and fauna and learning new things about them.

Camp Fire and fun at night.

I can keep writing like this and this post would never end.

Thank You Jim Corbett National Park for a wonderful time.

IMG_4477.JPG

Sunset