As morning broke, at around 7 AM we dragged ourselves out of our cosy bed and packed to get going. Post breakfast which was complimentary at Honeymoon Inn Shimla, we started our journey. Driver picked us up from the hotel and we started somewhat around 9 AM.
There was a lot of traffic and we were easily stuck in Shimla for around 30 Mins. Google shows 6 hr 53 mins as the shortest route from Shimla to Manali but the roads are favourable to only those who really are seasoned in driving there. Once we started our journey in the hills, I began to wonder that true beauty of a journey indeed only the destination? Those believe that haven’t really had that many road trips.
There is so much to learn and so much to see in road trips. Numerous troughs and crests later I could see the turquoise water of Beas river. A moment so calm swept past me when we stopped for refreshment and pictures. Lush green Pine and Deodar forests presented a view to relish for our eyes.
While we stopped and Shiv got busy with his DSLR, I clicked few selfies there. A couple of pictures were clicked by our driver who insisted to capture us using his master photography skills (he bragged a little) and we let him.
Truly it was a moment of standing in a wallpaper kind of view. If I could stop time I would stop it right then when we held hands for a minute and watched the river.
Some handy points for road trips :
- Toilets – Be mentally prepared that you will come across dirty/semi clean washroom in India while on a road trip. Will be good idea to carry hand-sanitizer and hygiene wipes.
- Ladies hygiene – If on a long road trip it will super good idea to carry pantyliner for the ladies.
- Food woes – The only downside travelling with a driver is you have to stop for food where he does. People with sensitive stomachs can opt for sandwiches which can be packed from hotels, fruits and packaged food.
- Give the camera some rest – I understand with all the Facebook, twitter and selfie things going on and we rarely leave the camera alone; no I am not a hypocrite I do love my selfies and feel happy when Shiv asks me to pose. But, I believe there is a greater joy of holding each other’s hand and relishing a view together.
- Adapt – Every place has its own charm. So love and adapt the uniqueness of each place and enjoy the moment.
Our next stop was somewhere near Pirdi located 4/5 km away from Kullu which caters to white water rafting in India from beginner’s level to Grade 1 and Grade 3.I regret not indulging in rafting as I was down with cold and slight fever.
While driving side by side to some really gorgeous sights of Beas river we reached Kullu.
Kullu shawls are famous and I picked 2 shawls for my Mom and mom-in-law. The typically start from Rs 200 and go as much as in thousands. Really depends on what you are willing to spend and negotiate. Do try the rabbit wool shawls, they are amazingly soft and starting range is around Rs 800. Factory outlet prices are really reasonable and worth trying.
Moving on, we reached Manali during evening 6PM. It was Shiv’s first snow experience and I loved how he marvelled at the snow peaked mountains. We chose Apple Nest for Manali which was located centrally and had good if not glorious views to offer from our room. Apple nest falls in budget category and in a posh hill station like Manali, it is priced fairly. TripAdvisor was trending Apple nest as one of the top Manali hotels and I can say that the only reason will be the impeccable cleanliness of this place. Rooms are spacious and nice where heater is available in extra payment of Rs 400 per night. Downside was food which is average but limited and not to forget the curt staff/owner who cannot take feedback positively and replies very arrogantly to honest reviews.
However, after a long road trip when we pushed aside the curtains from our room we could see the snow peaks glistening with sunset. Just that moment we looked at each other and smiled. The view made the journey just worth it. More was to explore next day so we had dinner at the hotel and retired early for that night.