Backpacking Solo for 2 days in Manali, Himachal Pradesh – India


Well, it was finally that time of the year when I plan a complete switch off from work – July. In last 4 years I have been planning my July in a way that I get to experience something new and something different. Hence this time I decided to go for a trek in mountains. It was a 5 day trek starting from Manali to Hampta pass and Chandratal lake. I will talk about the trek in my next blog, for now I would like to share about my solo soulful experience in Manali.

The best way to reach Manali is to take a bus from New Delhi. I took a flight from Bangalore to Delhi and from Delhi Kashmiri Gate Bus stop I took a HRTC( Himachal Road Transport Corporation) bus to Manali. They run on time, they are clean and their stops are very convenient.

Tip 1 : You can book your Bus tickets from www.redbus.in

Day 1

My bus started at 6 in the evening from Delhi and we reached Manali around 8:30 am the next morning. Manali bus-stop is located on the highway. There are taxis available at the bus-stop that can take you to the city centre or your respective hotel. You can also walk as the Mall Road is just 1.5 km from the bus-stop. My check-in time was for 1 pm and I had first half completely free. I took a quick break at a famous bakery called Amigos Cafe right at the Mall Road square. I had my breakfast and also planned my next 2-3 hours.

Tip 2 : Do try their masala omelette and ginger tea 😉

Later, I walked through the Manali bazar which was just starting to open hence the roads, though narrow, had very less people or traffic around. My first stop was Himalayan Nyinmapa Monastery. However, I misread the location on the Google maps and ended up at the Von Ngari Monastery. This place is like their quarters and also has a place of worship. There were no tourists around and looking at the pictures I understood that I am not at the intended place. And just as I decided to walk back, an old monk waved his hand towards me pointing in the direction of the temple. I followed him inside and had the most beautiful and peaceful beginning of my day.

From here I went to my actual planned destination, The Himalayan Nyinmapa Monastery. It has an amazing view and just as the sun came out, I could see the snow sparkling on the top of the mountains. As I moved closer to the structure I realised why is it so well known, I could see a statue of Sakyamuni sitting in a meditative pose from outside the monastery. There is no entry fee. However, if you wish to take a picture of the statue then you need to make a donation of Rs. 20. I sat outside the monastery in the quiet for a while looking at the mountains and admiring them and feeling how grateful I was to be there in that very moment.

Tip 3 : There is a canteen at the monastery that serves good food and tea.

By now it was time to head to my hostel so I decided to quickly take a glance at the nature park on the way.

Nature park is located on the bank of Manaslu river which later merges with Beas and is a paradise for the nature lovers. You must visit this place, take a walk around the park or just sit and relax under a tree.

While I was looking for a place to stay, I found out that old Manali is way more beautiful, peaceful and less crowded than new Manali. And hence, after a lot of research I finalised a hostel called “Culture Nation Hostel” located in Old Manali.

I decided to walk from the Nature park to my hostel. And I must mention this, the moment I crossed the bridge on Manaslu and entered the borders of Old Manali the vibes completely changed. I had finally found the peace and solitude that we city slickers miss the most. While walking on the streets surrounded on both sides with colourful shops and cafes with stunning views; I felt I was in a paradise.

About 400m from the bridge I found my hostel, tucked in the spirit of old Manali with every wall echoing the stories of the travellers who had been there before me. Its white walls and colourful windows is what stood out from the other buildings in the vicinity. As soon as I checked in I felt an urge of having tea. So, I rushed to the cafe which is on the terrace. You can witness the most amazing views of clouds embracing the tall snow capped mountains from the terrace.

Tip 4 : Do try masala tea at the hostel’s cafe

Day 2

I woke up super early to enjoy the view from my balcony and also did some quick stretches. Then I had my favourite, masala tea at the hostel and decided to have breakfast at some cafe on the way. I had walked down for just 200m from the hostel when I spotted this beautiful place called Sunshine cafe. It had this very positive and welcoming vibes that I was immediately drawn towards.

Tip 5 : Do try the Falafel wrap at the Sunshine cafe.

My first stop was Hadimba temple which is at a distance of 1.7 km and close to 30 mins walk from the hostel. Now, there are two different paths that lead to the temple. If you are driving then you can take your vehicle in the parking area and walk just a little to reach the main courtyard. Whereas if you are walking, there is a shortcut much before the parking, there are stairs that lead to the back side of the temple. You can do a quick darshan inside and then sit in the courtyard and chill for while as it is quite a workout reaching at this spot on foot.

I had lunch at the hostel, rested for a while. In the evening I joined this girl named Kruti who I had met while checking-in, she was returning from a similar trek as mine. We clicked immediately and spent a lot of time together. We strolled in the market and then had dinner together. I took her to the Sunshine Cafe. We had an amazing time. A nice band named Breaking Bumpers were performing live. We left the place around 11pm and I am so proud to tell you guys that at this late hour the streets in old Manali were very safe.

Day 3

My reporting time for the trek was at 12, so I didn’t have much time in the morning. I packed my bags and checked out of the hostel at 10. I stopped on the way at a coffee shop called Dylan’s Toasted and Roasted Coffee House. It is a small and cosy coffee shop in old Manali. It is famous for its coffee and freshly baked cookies. After the delicious coffee break I took a rickshaw to the Manali adventure camp, which was the reporting place for my trek.

Manali is a must place to visit. I hope my itinerary and experience helps and inspires you to plan a trip soon.

..

Thanks

The Seeking Soul

Recommended hostels

Culture Nation, Moustache, Zostel Manali.

Recommended Cafes

Sunshine cafe, The lazy dog lounge, Rendez – vous , German bakery, Cafe Manali Bistro, Dylan’s Toasted and Roasted Coffee House.

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