I went to this place when I was in my 12th standard. When I was leaving this place then, I had promised that I would be back. Even nine years could not deter my promise … . And I did go back. I went to the place which had got me a taste of snow-clad mountains for the very first time nine years ago. There is indeed something about it that calls me to this place every now and then … MANALI … .
And before you start thinking about the Royal Enfields going to Rohtang and then further, allow me to intervene and say that it can be enjoyed, and that too, a lot without those stellar bikes. Yes, for a change, just don’t chase anything. Just let go of everything. Stop going after things. Simply leave them all behind. All of them. No package. No planning. Challenge your comfort and leave everything on life.
I don’t know to what extent my logic is valid but I have a special inclination towards roadways buses, specifically in Northern India. Needless to say, it involves a higher risk. But so does everything. I took a bus and set off to my destination. Whenever I go, I make it a point not to miss the sunrise and the sunset. And when I opened my eyes, a tranquil frame was waiting for me to catch it. A mountain standing tall with its chest open, boasting of all the wounds and winds it has endured. The green quilt covering the entire place gave warmth to my iris and the homes crafted out of wood reminded me of my parent’s dream home, only to make the corners of my eye moist.
I was lucky to get a hotel that offers nothing decent apart from the view from its big windows. Just for that view, I will again go there. To sit and stare. To look and get lost. When you closely look at those giant stones strewn by the almighty, you can realize they have got different shapes. Just the way life leaves its memories and stories on one’s face in the form of wrinkles, every mountain has its structure telling about the slips and the slides.
I did go to Rohtang, but to meet those people who climb up to the top in search of work and money. And they are doing a good job. The old pahari lady who sells roasted maize looks as beautiful as my mom, who feels proud after making a delicious meal every day. The slim but strong man who allots horses to tourists as per their weight like my dad, decides how much he should serve the food to me and my brother (PS, he used to serve all of us equal and himself the least). These people are happy. They are simple. They are so cool. What makes this place gorgeous is its people.
Watch the artists doing strokes on wood pieces and giving away those splendid key chains, name plates or décor items, though the smell of the paint colours will take your breath away for few moments.
Trek up to the Jogni Waterfalls and go deep into the life. Slant slopes. Narrow paths saving you (well, not always) from falling into the trench. Long trees. Big leaps. Fresh water. Small homes with bigger orchids. Tiny yellow flowers, big roses and what not. Women looking at you and ready to talk to talk to you anytime. Praise their land and their lives and they praise you more.
Feel tired but alive like never before. Touch the fluffy rabbits and relive the childhood chuckles.
Take a stroll on the Mall Road. Grab a bottle of green apple jam or any one that you like.
Taste Sidu at Jana waterfalls. Have a look at their natural refrigerator.
Click less. Feel more of it. Stop often. Sense more of it. Collect less. Leave more of it. Only to go back just like me.
Manali – Experience the leaving behind.