I have been traveling in Himachal for the last couple of days. The trip was packed with the usual and sundry like Shimla and Manali and the exciting like Rotang and Keylong.
Shimla was a drab. Too many people, too many houses, too many vehicles and too few locals. It is just like any other congested town in north India. You might as well be sitting in Bhatinda or Hoshiarpur except for the comfortable chill at nights. In fact the traffic is as bad as Bangalore, if not worse.
Manali, is a true blue budget tourist destination. Hotels are mushrooming at an alarming speed as are tourist taxis. And there is cuisine for every palate from macher jhol to sushi. I tried the former but didn’t risk the latter, though the local trout (which are farmed extensively in the fast flowing brooks) were good. And no didn’t get my hands on manali cream. Having a small boy and an old man for company is a sure fire way to deter any dope dealer from approaching.
Rotang at 15500ft is a beauty. Icy and cold. Lofty and majestic. Sharp and threatening. But yeah as usual too many people. Yelling families, bawling babies, teenagers munching away and littering the mountains with empty packets of Lays and Kurkure. Goes to show our value system and education are totally awry.
Keylong, the capital of Spiti and Lahaul (between Manali and Leh) is still pristine. It remains cut off from the rest of the world from Nov to June since the Rotang pass closes in winter. An absolute beauty in its severity and starkness. One has to be there to experience the freezing nights and the silence that cleanses the soul. We had planned to get to Leh (2 days of bumpy bus ride from Keylong) but bad weather thwarted the plan and we landed up spending more time in Manali. If I did not have to worry about a livelihood, I would have settled somewhere in the hills inhaling the thin air and enjoying the quiet.
Well now I am back in Bangalore and back at work. Groan!