After a never-ending lockdown and long periods of work from home, who wouldn’t want a good and scenic vacation? When the tedious daily routine and the unbearable humidity of Chandigarh started taking a toll on me, I decided to take a break from the hustle-bustle and the prolonged work from home routine to reward myself with an only-me vacation to the cold and beautiful Manali.
My plan was to utilize my 4 days’ leave to its fullest. So, I looked for all the places I could visit in Manali and booked an affordable taxi from Chandigarh to Manali.
My road trip began early in the morning, a sacrifice of sleep worth making. The distance between Chandigarh and Manali is 307 km and it took me almost nine hours to reach the hotel that I had booked. En route, I passed Bilaspur, Mandi and Kullu and time quickly passed by in marvelling at the beautiful sites and enjoying the comfort of a car ride.
The next day the first place I visited was Hadimba Temple which was built by Raja Bahadur Singh in the 16th century. The temple is located on a hilltop among the tall and gorgeous deodar trees; it was a sight to behold. The locals believe that the entrance of the temple houses the footprint of Goddess Durga. After visiting the temple I chatted with the locals who told me all about the myths and stories related to the place and Goddess Hadimba. Listening to these people talk about the place the temple held in their lives and culture was such a learning experience for me, it took me back to my roots, something I had forgotten in the rat race.
To know about a place all one needs to do is listen to the locals and look closely at its culture and heritage and that’s what my second visit was about. The Museum of Himachal Culture of Folk Art is located at Hadimba Road, a place filled with everything you need to learn about the people and culture of Himachal. In the museum, there are scale sized models of traditional homes, temples of Kullu Valley, traditional garments, jewellery, wooden dance masks, musical instruments, furniture and other religious articles of virtues.
After spending a day meeting with people and exploring the market the next day I decided to go to the Beas River, the epitome of tranquillity and beauty. When I reached there, I was welcomed by dramatic snow-capped mountains, the sound of fast rushing water and pine trees. I spent a lot of time looking at people and thinking about how all of us have different lives and meanings of it, the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows has a word for it – sonder. I took out my journal and tried to write things about this journey. After scribbling, I went to a market and found a local eatery to eat Tudkiya Bhat and Patande, two very famous and equally delicious dishes of Manali.
When I got back to the hotel I booked a car using a reliable car rental app to Chandigarh. Remember in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani what Naina said about taking back a suitcase of memories with herself, that’s exactly how I felt when I reflected on the time spent in Manali. Hans Christian Anderson was right when he said, “To travel is to live”, so, my advice to everyone is to travel a lot more to live more.