We checked out of hotel. We were refreshed and continued towards Manali. That was ofcourse in search of Snowfall. I would like to take an opportunity here to remind readers that the journey started from Gurgaon. Our expectation to see Snowfall in Shimla didn’t go well. Henceforth, we were heading towards Manali.
Shimla to Manali is a 7 hours journey in hills via NH205, NH 154 and NH3. In total you are supposed to cover more than 250 km. After Ghaghas, you need to take a right turn towards NH 154 (Delhi Manali highway). Though it’s a 7 hours journey, be prepared to drive at least for 10 hours.
Due to sharp turn in hills and fog in winter, it is advisable to go slow and reach your destination first.
On NH 154, we crossed Barmana. Swapan stopped the car on a bridge over Satluj River. At first we assumed Satluj River as the Baes River and we are closed to Manali. Soon we realized that Manali is still 5 hours’ drive. Swapan already have driven for more than 4 hours now and hence we decided to take a break for lunch somewhere near Sundernagar.
An extra hour drives in the hills and we were at Sundernagar. We had lunch and stretched our legs in order to get some rest. Clock was ticking at 4:00 PM when we crossed Ner-Chowk. We took a right turn from Ner-Chowk towards Manali and accelerated the car to reach Mandi in next one hour. It took us an hour and half to reach Mandi. We had a quick tea break.
While in Mandi, the air was much colder. It was dry wind which gave a clear sign of snow presence in Manali. We saw Baes River. Very calm and moving slowly down the hill. You cannot see Baes River so silent during summers.
From Mandi, the Baes will follow you up till Manali. The next major stop was Bhuntar from where we are required to take a slight left towards Bhuntar Kully Road. Turning to the right would take you to Manikaran. After Bhuntar, there is no more turn to take and you are needed to follow the road. Few major stops before reaching Manali are Kullu, Biasar, Bandrol and Duwara. You would prefer to stop at Kullu for some refreshment however we drove straight and reached 13 km before Manali. We saw our mobile and the time was clocking 8:00 PM. We were hungry.
It is a hotel, Vinay said. We saw nothing but the pitch dark. Our other senses can feel the bone chilling wind, can hear the roaring sound of Baes river and can see certain portion of road courtesy to our Car headlight. Soon we saw a small house alongside the road. It says, Dinner is available. We stopped again for dinner.
While having Dinner, I was observing the family serving us. It was a small family consist of two elders and one child. We were the only guest and hence there cent percent concentration was on us. I could see there overwhelming attitude. They were humble and extremely polity. In an urge to serve us in the best manner they could. We ordered Rice, Tawa Bread and Chicken. I must quote here that the dinner was the best dinner I had so far. I’ve visited Manali many times and could not locate that home ever again.
Finally, we were in Manali. I saw my mobile again. Time was 9:30 PM. I was too tired to walk even then I was anxious and wanted to see snow desperately. Across the road side of Mall road in Manali, I saw small ice bergs melting its way down to meet the almighty Baes. I got some hope. We booked a hotel near Mall road. To our surprise, Manali hotel was 1500 INR only for 24 hours that too breakfast inclusive. This was the time when I fall in love with this place.
Where can we find snow, Mukul asked the hotel staff. We stared the boy for answers. His name was Raju. Temperature must be in negative outside and Raju was comfortable wearing a Jean and Sweater. He must be local and habitual of the extreme cold weather of Manali. Saahab ji, go to Rohtang Pass early morning. You would be able to see snow all around and if you got lucky you can see snowfall as well. Take a cab from outside, he added.
His answer was honest. We asked hotel manager to book a cab for us for Rohtang Pas for next morning. He took 5000/- for up and down journey and cab was booked.
31st night and everyone else were enjoying the New Year Eve. We four went to bed with a dream to see snow the next day. Rohtang La was waiting for us…