Saturday, October 9, 2010

Manali As I Saw It

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There is no doubt that Manali is a very beautiful city in Himachal Pradesh. With Beas river flowing turbulently, the city presents an excellent view for the tourist. Manali is a very clean city. Hotels start appearing as you enter the city. However, near the bus stand, there are a lot of hotels to choose from. One can hire an autoriksha from the bus stop to go to any hotel. We visited this city in September, which is considered an off-season period. Also, we expected a lot of rain during this time.However, we had made up our mind to stay at the hotel  to enjoy the rains of this hill station, if rains  not permitting us to visit outdoors . But, we were told that the best season really starts in September which extends up to January - February. The weather was very pleasant in September. Rains were there, but were only for a few minuets on a few occasions. These did not interrupt our program in any way. Also during this period, the city is less crowdy , and that gives visitors a lot of space.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKosEUX9dxk
One can travel in the city in the autos when one intends to travel a few kilometers. A lot of bargaining is required for this. As a rule of thumb, always quote one third less than asked for by auto driver.


For sight seeings, although autos also are ready, one should always prefer either cars or eleven seater cabs on sharing basis.These services can be had through any of the travel agents on the main mall road or through your hotel. Always ask for the mobile number of the concerned official when booking tours as the tour generally starts at 09:00 A.M and the travel agents open their shops at around 10:30 A.M. So if you only happen to have the land line number of the operator, and your cab has not arrived, you would be in a fix as the shop whose land number you have would not pick up the phone to answer your quarry. But if you have his mobile number, at least you can curse him to your heart's full extent.

The drivers just do not tell anything about the place you are visiting. They will not guide you. So be prepared to face this by reading on the internet or some travel books about the place you visit. Many places that are there in the pamphlet when you book your tour, will not even be mentioned during your tour, and even if you ask driver about this, he would just say " There used to be some village or site of this name there, but it was destroyed in land slide etc" , and move on.
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If visiting Manali, at least one should visit Manikaran, where a Sikh gurudwara is situated. Manikaran has beautiful scenery and is famous for its hot water springs.

A visit to Rohtang Pass is must when in Manali. It is about 50 K.M from Manali main
( probably to and fro ) and one can hire taxis of eleven seaters. One should also hire a special wear to be worn at the pass, which protects against the ice cold temperature at the Rohtang Pass, as the temperature  may fall upto minus six degree Celsius at Pass, even during September. This special wear also protects against very strong winds.

It is said that there is always ice fall at Rohtang Pass. During our visit, there were very heavy winds and a contentious ice fall there. Wear a lot of warm clothing and also the special protective clothing when at  Rohtang Pass, because it is said that the cold there can penetrate your bones and may trouble you for rest of your life if you are not well protected (particularly if you are above fifty).

As I stated earlier, Manali is a very beautiful place, go there and enjoy it. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

ManaliTravelTips

Recently I , along with my family had the occassion to visit Manali during mid September,2010. We were three people, myself, wife and a teenager son.Whatever my experiences were, I would like to share with all so that it may be of help to everyone.
We live in Delhi. Our first concern was how would we reach Manali. It takes almost sixteen hours by bus to reach Manali. We decided to reach there by Himacher Pradesh State ordinary bus, where we pre-booked our seats from ISBT, Kashmere Gate. Only Himachal Pradesh State runs direct ordinary buses to Manali from Delhi. Otherwise, one can travel by Delhi, Haryana, and Punjab State buses from Delhi upto Chandigarh, and from there, one will have to take the bus for Manali. The charges were minimum for the ordinary bus (around Rs. 1300 for three adults for one side trip). One can also travel in private Semi-delux and Volvo buses which cost Rs.550/- and Rs.800/- respectively.

As I mentioned above, we traveled by State Government ordinary bus, which started at around 9:15 P.M. (the official departure time being 9:00 P.M.) from I.S.B.T. and we reached at Manali bus stand at around 1:00 P.M. the next day. We had reserved the three seats behind two rows behind the driver so that we face the minimum jerks due to speed breakers etc.The overall journey  was quite comfortable barring a small  inconvenience to my son in adjusting, probably due to his long legs. We had the impression that all the travelers would alight at Manali, but as we entered Himachal Pradesh, the bus started stopping at different places along the route.It seems that there is no concept of proper bus stop for these buses. The driver dutifully stops the bus as per the convenience of his passengers.I think that if one wants to avoid the problems which arise with traveling in private buses and also wants to save a lot of money, choosing the state government is not a bad idea.   

I noticed that the bus staff do a bit of some business out of their  every trip. Probably, they load some stuff at I.S.B.T and unload it on the way to the respective destinations of the load. This delays the bus a bit but they do it fast enough.