I have been to 2 countries, 12 states, and 51 cities so far. But, out of all these places, Manali has always been my favorite destination. This goes way back in January 2017. It was my first time going to Manali. I didn’t know how things worked back then about traveling so I went with the college group which used to host those trips every year. I am a very big fan of the movie “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani”, and after seeing that Manali was my dream destination.
This trip included many places like Chandigarh, Amritsar, Manali, Dharamshala. But the only place I was looking forward to was Manali. We started off with Chandigarh, spent 2 days there and later that night we started our journey towards Manali. I remember I couldn’t sleep that night. The excitement was on another level.
After a very long ride, we finally reached Manali. It was 4:00 in the morning. The temperature was around -3 degree Celsius. Everyone just wanted to go to their rooms and get some sleep. We woke up at 9:00 and after having a shower as I came out of the bathroom, my roommate said go and look out of the window. At first, I didn’t know what he was talking and I asked him what are you trying to show. He said to look up not towards the road. I looked up and my reaction was Wooow (Hearts in both eyes) (can’t use emoji here). The view was just awesome, the mountain was fully covered with snow and I just kept looking at it.
It was a completely new experience for me. Yes, I had pictured Manali in my head and how it would look but seeing it, in reality, was just ……. (no words to describe the feeling).
Later that day we got ready and we left for Solang valley. Before any group trips we all are provided with itinerary, we know what is going to be next and what all things are going to happen on the trip. Similarly, I knew we had a plan for Solang Valley in this trip. Before this trip, I did a little research about this place. I looked up about the activities which I could do in Solang Valley.
We started our journey towards Solang Valley. We were being transported in those small jeeps. After a 10 km ride, the jeep stopped and he asked us to get down and rent one of those snowsuits. I had no idea what was going on but because everyone was renting the suit I also went ahead and got me one. After a small drive, we reached Solang Valley. It was beautiful. I was just awestruck by the surroundings and the snow everywhere. I couldn’t remember the last time I was so happy. This place just me feel really good.
The time was not right for me.
We started from the base as the jeeps we not going to the top of the Valley. We started walking towards the top. It was my first time in the snow. After a 15 mins walk, we finally reached up. The one thing which I wanted to do was paragliding which unfortunately was closed due to the bad weather.
Further, I went towards the cable car. There was a very long queue there. I didn’t want to wait there so I decided to climb it instead. Started off very slowly, looking for direction. The visibility was very less as I was going up. There was no proper way to reach the top by walking. No one was walking up, it was just me trying to climb it on foot.
I started walking anyway. It was all going smooth until that one moment. As I was walking up, I slipped and fell down very badly on my wrist. The shoes which I rented were not at all useful. For the first few minutes, I couldn’t feel my wrist. After I got up I knew right away that I had sprained my wrist. Feeling a little scared I went back. I didn’t want to go back, but I guess I had no other choice.
After coming back the pain started increasing. But the only thing I could think at that moment was I wanted to climb it. But, because of my hand, I couldn’t. I went back down and sat where our jeeps were parked. I asked the driver whether there was any clinic/medical nearby. He said we are going to the Vashistha Temple next and I could find a clinic/medical there. I just sat there waiting for everyone else.
Everyone else returned after an hour and we went to the Vashistha Temple and I went to the clinic there. The doctor gave me some cream to apply to my hand and a bandage. One funny thing happened there, the cream which he gave me was frozen. To remove it we have to keep it under the hot water taps near the Vashistha Temple. I applied the cream and tied the bandage around my hand and then it felt a little better. Thanks to my friends for helping me there.
We spent a little time there and later went back to our hotel.
The Story About Hadimba Temple.
The second day started off very good. We got up and it was snowing heavily. The view was just great. We were all dancing and enjoying in the snow. Today we had plans for the Tibetan Monastery and the Hadimba Temple. Hadimba temple was another thing on the list. Yes, you guessed it right it was also because of the movie.
Today we were walking to the places instead of taking the jeeps. Our first stop was the Tibetan Monastery. We almost spent an hour here. All of a sudden, the trip guide called everyone and told us the road to the Hadimba Temple was closed as it was snowing pretty bad. He said he could take us there but it would be risky. He asked us if we wanted to go or not. No one said yes.
The Right Choice
I knew I wanted to go. But I thought rather than asking him to arrange it for me I could just walk there alone. I told my friends that I was going up and asked if they wish to join me. My friend Rupali (who is also the manager of this site) said she also wanted to see that place so she agreed to come. We both went ahead and started walking towards the Hadimba Temple. It was not a very long walk, it was just 1.5 km from the Monastery.
We started the climb, halfway after climbing up I received a call from my friend saying that they were coming up too. After 20 – 25 mins we reached the Hadimba Temple. The place was just as I imagined it would be. As per our, guide the road was closed but I guess he was just lying and he didn’t want us to come up here as we were supposed to head to Dharamshala later that day. Maybe he didn’t want to be late. Whatever the reason was, I didn’t care. I was just happy that at least I crossed one thing from my Manali list.
It was our last day in Manali. We already had our bags kept in the bus this morning. After returning from Hadimba Temple, we boarded the bus and left. During the entire journey, the only thing I can think is how I was not able the climb that mountain in Solang Valley.
Yes, coming to Manali was like a dream but while leaving the place I was feeling incomplete. Like something was missing and I just wanted it very badly. This was one of the worst feelings ever. I remember I didn’t sleep that entire night just thinking about how things would have been if I hadn’t slipped and if I could have completed that climb.
Later that night I decided, whatever happens, I’m coming back to this place and I will complete the climb no matter what. Doesn’t matter how much time it would take me but I will definitely come back.
Planning the Climb
As soon as I returned back home, I started researching about the place. The first thing I searched was, how one can maintain grip while walking in the snow. One person said that if you want to break your fall in the snow and you don’t have those expensive shoes, the one thing you can do is, you can wear socks over your shoes. They will help you while walking in the snow and you won’t fall.
I kept on researching more about how can I reach there if I was traveling alone, the prices and what all things you have to keep in mind during your first solo trip. Also learned about the snowsuits which they give you on rent near the Solang Valley. I realized that it was the worst decision to rent that, because they were of no use, plus they didn’t look good. Knowing that I had done so many things wrong during my first trip to Manali. I didn’t want to repeat all those mistakes again.
January 2018 – 2nd Trip to Manali.
It was January 2018, exactly a year after my last Manali trip. I was again going to Manali. This time all prepared and ready to complete the thing which I left incomplete last year. I was supposed to go solo but at the last moment my friend joined me and we both went on this trip.
We started the trip from Delhi, stayed a couple of days there and after that, we left for Manali. It was the same night bus ride as last year. I was very much excited to see Manali again. We reached Manali early in the morning around 8 a.m. We checked in our hotel and the next day we were supposed to go to Solang Valley. This time I was fully prepared and all set to go.
It was day 2 in Manali and this was the day where I was going to that one thing which was eating me inside for an entire year. Again, this time while going to the Valley, our driver stopped us and asked us to rent one of those snowsuits. I was very much sure that I didn’t want those suits again. However, I suggested my friend to take one as it was his first time and I knew during the climb he would want to take a break and sit for some time. He rented the suit and we headed off to the Valley.
Seeing it again was kind of a flashback for me, the same mountain, the same month, same surrounding. We started the climb slowly, this time I didn’t want to mess up. I asked my friend if he wanted to take the cable car or walk with me to the top. He said he will walk. We started walking and guess what the socks over shoe hack was working like a charm. After walking for a few minutes again the same thing happened like last year.
No, no I didn’t fall. But like last year I didn’t know how to reach the top and which way to go up. Then I saw the cable cars just passing above us. We decided to follow the cable car towers which we located at regular intervals until the top.
That Incomplete Dream
“Excited”, “nervous”, “scared”. All these feelings were just juggling around me. The temperature was falling down as I was climbing up. Every step I took, softer the ice would get.
While walking towards the top, gondola cables cars were continuously passing above me. After trekking for 2 hours, it became very difficult to walk in the snow. The snow was very soft, almost half of my leg was getting buried inside.
Many questions were going through my mind. Am I doing the right thing? Should I quit? Should I go back? Just negative thoughts. But some part of me knew, how badly I wanted to be on the top. I just stopped near a tree for a bit. While watching the view, a gondola cable car just passed above me. A random lady was waving her hands down to me, all excited, happy, telling her friends to look down. It was really weird, but at the same time, it also felt good. This was exactly the motivation I needed to continue this trek. It got me boosted and after trekking for another hour I reached the top.
After entering the main area, I saw this big board, which said: “You are at 3200m, GET STOKED”. It was the best feeling ever. Though it was not a long trek, I really felt proud of me.
I just went near the edge, sat down and started looking at the view. I had a perfect date feeling, with me and all the snow around. A year-long wait was totally worth it. I exactly remember the date. It was 6th Jan 2018 when I completed this climb which I dreamed about a year ago.
From Vishal Hadal to Stubborn Hippie
That was the moment I realized, this is the thing which I want to do for the rest of my life. This was the thing that actually makes me happy. Before this, I was in two minds whether I am doing the right thing. But after this trip, I was pretty sure about it.
The one thing I learned after this trek was – Don’t ever regret your decisions. Things don’t every time go according to plan. They don’t exactly happen how you expected them to be. It doesn’t mean you get all depressed, sad and stop trying. It is all a part of the process. If anytime in life you get demotivated and don’t get what you need, just stop for a while and tell yourself one thing,
“BECAUSE I BELIEVE SOMEDAY I WILL”.
Dream with your eyes wide open because those are the dreams that never let you sleep. Doesn’t matter even if it is a very small dream or a very big one. There is no meter that can measure your dreams. Just work towards them and keep trying until you find a way to achieve them. Even if you don’t achieve them quickly but you are definitely going to enjoy the process.
After 50 years when there would be a time when I will be on my last trip. I would like to end my traveling journey in Manali right where I started it. I would again go to the same Solang Valley. Yes, maybe that time I would have to take that cable car to the top. I will go to the top, sit on the edge of the cliff, open my laptop, watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S and have a nice cup of coffee.
That’s it for today’s blog.
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Keep Travelling. Keep Budgeting. and yes Keep Dreaming.
Founder – Stubborn Hippie,