Manali

Only about 46 km from Kullu, today the drive to Manali still took several hours. As is common in India, there was massive road work going on and it often seems that they get to a certain point in the project and just stop. You then eventually hit some good pavement then inevitably another section of road rehabilitation or lane widening. It makes for a very slow journey to cover relatively short distances. This is not just the case in the North but everywhere we have travelled through India.

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Manali and the towns we have visited so far in Himalcha Pradesh are cleaner and less frantic than all of the other states we’ve travelled through. All of them have lovely pedestrian only malls, usually in the middle of the town where crowds gather and stroll through a myriad of shops, restaurants, food stalls and independent sellers lining the sidelines selling pretty well anything you can imagine.

The next morning I left Joyce to nurse her cold and or flu and drove to the Rohtang pass. Well, my driver actually dropped me off about 2 km’s below the pass so I walked up the winding road to the end of the line and the entrance to the Rohtang pass where to venture further you need a government pass and a good vehicle.. The Rohtang is a high mountain pass on the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas around 51 km’s from Manali and connects the Kullu Valley with Lahaul and Split Valleys. At close to 3,978 metres I was a little winded but I exaggerate. I was only at an altitude of about 2,800 metres so wasn’t too bothered by the thinner air. The pictures show, obviously, some of the scenery but the car wreck is something you see throughout India. These wrecks are left intentionally throughout the Indian National Highway system to remind drivers to take it easy and be cautious. They also have a lot of great road signs to remind drivers of the perils they face in their day-to-day get to your destination at any cost mentality. To quote a few signs.. “better to be mister late than late mister”, “love your neighbour but not while driving”, “drive on horsepower, not on rum power”, ” not a rally, enjoy the valley”.

After my high altitude workout I wandered into the village of Vashisht and stopped in to the hot springs temple, Vashisht Mandir, for a sniff of hot sulphur air and a tea with the bunny ladies.

The next morning before heading to Dharamsala we stopped in to see the Hadimba Devi Temple. Constructed with wood and stone in 1553 it stands in a beautiful cedar forest and is built over a huge rock jutting out of the ground. Like many temples in India, photography is not allowed within the temple walls so we could only get exterior pictures.

En route to Dharamsala we made a short pit stop to Naggar Castle. Built by the rajas of Kullu this fort, now a hotel is a great example of the earthquake-resistant alternating stone and timber style of architecture. There is a small museum in the basement of the castle cum hotel and the photo turned out great. Along the way we took a few photos of our journey through the mountains.

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