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This is me and my friends adventure holidays to the Valley of Gods – Manali with a trek to the exotic Kheerganga. I am Angad and along with my 3 collage mates Raj, Tripti and Shruti were planning a trip to Himachal Pradesh for a very long time but due to something or the other we kept postponing it till we finally decided that it was time and we just had to go. Planning it since our 2nd year in college and finally in our final year we all were free to travel. Our collage days had ended in Delhi and this was a kind of a parting gift to us four. We were going through a couple of travel companies to get it properly planned as we were planning it as a mix of adventure with nature kind of trip. One of my friend recommended Bharat Booking Holidays to us as they had previously booked a trip to the Maldives with them.
The date was set to 6th June as the date of travelling from Delhi to Manali. I called up Bharat Booking Holidays Office on the 4th and was directed to a sales executive, Ms Tanuja hoping that all can be arranged in this short notice. In our conversation I explained that we as a group were looking for an adventurous holiday, which can include rafting, trekking & paragliding. I had heard about this day trek to Kheerganga and was very much intrigued to make it a part of this trip. Ms Tanuja was quite insightful as if she was reading my mind while I was speaking. We discussed hotels, How many days we had? What are the weather conditions? Was it safe to trek? What cab do we require? Can all our requirements be included? The basic questions regarding our tour got covered and to my great relief I received a mail in detail within half an hour regarding our holiday package. I immediately called Raj and took Tripti & Shruti on a conference call to tell them the news. We were excited as now our plan was finally changing into a reality.
On the 5th we went to Connaught Place to buy our essentials like warm clothes, sun repellent cream, wet-wipes, chocolates, shoes etc. etc. Eventually by 6 in the evening we left for our flat thinking of it as a major achievement and feeling so proud. By 7 I got a beep on my whatsaap and a call from Bharat Booking Holidays that our cab details have been sent and to be ready to travel at 6 in the morning as it takes 12-14 hours to travel the journey. We did our packing at night and Tripti and Shruti stocked so much of don’t know that they ended up with 4 heavy duty bags among them while me and Raj ended up with a back pack and a hand bag. Recalling that particular moment, the looks we got from the girls – the do not even ask look is still so in my memory that a smile comes each time I think of that. With all our packing done, we ordered some light food, called it a night with dreams of adventure awaiting us.
I woke up before my alarm could in the sense that these all had left without me as I kept sleeping. Suddenly realizing they were there and it was just my mind playing tricks on me, I smirked at myself. Everyone was ready by 5:30 as the thrill of this adventure was so evident on the four of us that we all kept, checking and re-checking that we were not missing anything for our journey into the Himalayas. By 6 our Innova cab had arrived with a warm looking driver. His name was Ranbir and with the most gracious greetings he loaded the cab with our bags and us. We were on the move.
We stopped a number of times on the way, at Murthal to have the legendary aloo ka paranthas for breakfast, Rajma Chawal for lunch at Bilaspur and ofcourse to take pictures of our journey. Our driver, Mr Ranbir was too courteous and was happy that we were having fun. We played songs until we only started singing. The memories of this trip are still so fresh as if it was just yesterday.
We reached Manali (a few Kms. before Manali to be precise) at around 7:30 in the evening to our hotel - The Manali Valley Resorts. The view of the valley across with glittering lights was simply breath-taking. It was as if the stars were flickering on the mountains. After checking-in formalities we went to our rooms which were King-sized and really comfortable. After settling in we ordered our food – a mix of Indian and Italian which was so delicious that we re-ordered some more, finally full we went for stroll in the garden and later retrieved back to our rooms for a relaxing sleep.
June 7th our day 2 of the trip. Today was a day excursion to Solang Valley and Old Manali. Our Itinerary was planned and customized in such a way that we get the maximum from our trip. After our breakfast we left for Solang at 9 in the morning as Mr Ranbir was already waiting for us. The sights on the way were simply alluring with the high majestic mountains on one side with the river Beas on the other. This was heaven. Tripti was our designated photographer as she was a born professional at it. We reached Solang Valley which is best described as a hub for a number of adventure activities at around 11. We tried our hands at most of the activities as we dint want to miss out on any once here. We did Zorbing – rolling down the hill-side in an Orb, which was such a unique thing to do for all of us. After that we rode the Quad Bikes and later we rode the Gondola ride up the hill and came across a nice eatery where the view was simply stunning. With lots and lots of poses and pictures we sat down to have maggi and chai(spicy noodles and tea) the most touristy thing to do in Manali and simply because it was just too tempting. The weather was just perfect with bright sunshine with temperature varying between 18-20 degrees Centigrade and it was really refreshing to breathe in the natural mountain air. As soaking in as much as we could we left Solang Valley for the very famous Old Manali Village. Here we sat near the Manalsu River a tributary to the Beas River. The calmness and the peacefulness of the place were enchanting and really needed after the hustle-bustle of our city life. Raj and Tripti did river crossing while me and Shruti laughed and laughed watching them getting their bums wet in the cold river. To them it was totally worth it. There was a café right next to the river which was playing live music and the vibes were such that we found ourselves comfortably seated in the café later on. The place was getting revamped so it didn’t have a name at that point. We ordered some Falafels along with the Rainbow Trout which we had heard so much about. The groovy evening passed with the surreal ambiance and the burbling stream in the most amazing way ever with my best friends for life. It will always remain as one of the most cherished memories of mine. Later on we headed back to our hotel and slept like a baby.
Next morning I woke up to the sound of birds chirping in the most melodious tune. Today was full on adventurous day with white water rafting and paragliding in the menu. We all got ready and headed out. Mr Ranbir had prepped us for the day ahead. Paragliding was first as the wind conditions are not suitable after 2pm, as informed to us by our Tour Planner, Ms Tanuja. She was really helpful in making sure that we are totally comfortable, right from the food and to asking how our day went which actually relaxed us immensely as we did not had to worry about the small small nitigrities of our trip. We reached the paragliding point at around 10am from where we disembarked and rode in a 4x4 gypsy to the actual location on the top of the mountain. The views from the place were totally out of this world. The mountains with the beautiful blue sky are imprinted on me for life. We were given proper instructions with all the information that was required for us to glide safely by our instructor. One by one we took off and those 15 minutes which felt like a lifetime, were worth every second of it. We landed at a field and everyone was so thrilled to be part of this experience. Raj was not too sure about it initially but as he landed his happy high-pitched voice said it all. After this adventurous experience we headed out to the rafting point which was another 30minutes ride from there. We reached around 2 and the river looked calm but as informed by our rafting pilot the under-currents were the dangerous part if not navigated properly. We were briefed about the do’s and don’ts while rafting, with our life-jackets properly mounted on we set afoot. While on the raft we were again explained in a practical way. The experience of bouncing on the rapids was totally alien to us. We all stayed calm and did as our pilot said, it was totally an amazing feeling. It ended with us totally drenched and smiles all over. We had change of clothes with us which we had packed while leaving our hotel. (A change of clothes and towels are a must if going for river-rafting) Later on we reached Manali as it was our last day here to do our shopping and explore the famed Mall Road. The girls bought really cool jackets, shawls for our parents, while I and Raj bought small souvenirs in remembrance of our Manali Trip. Now totally exhausted we headed back to our hotel, recalled each other’s experiences of the day over an amazing Indian dinner. Later while doing our packing, I and Raj realized why the girls were carrying 2 bags? For all the things we had to carry back! I somehow managed to pack it all and then called it a night.
Next day in the morning we had our break-fast and checked-out of our beautiful hotel which truly had the most helpful staff. We had become accustomed of Mr Ranbir greetings, as he waited for us. We said our goodbyes to Manali and left for Village Tosh in the Parvati Valley. We stopped at Kasol to buy our essentials for the camp stay for the night and we finally reached Tosh at around 11AM. Here we were greeted by our Bharat Booking Holidays guide who gave us important pointers for our trek. This trek was not a difficult trek to do but had to walk carefully at some points due to its steepness. We walked at a decent pace and stopped to take in mother-nature. The greenery of the forest here was unlike I had ever seen in my life. We stopped at a water-fall and had some snacks and chocolates. The place was dream-like with only the sound of the flowing stream and the rustle-bustle of the forest. It was a pleasant day for walking as the clouds kept coming and disappearing at intervals. After criss-crossing the terrain we finally reached Kheerganga at around 5PM. The beautiful meadows with the high mountains make this place remarkable. Another fact about the place is that it has a natural hot water spring, where I and Raj soaked ourselves for a good part of an hour. We were provided with comfortable tents with sleeping bags. Once the stars came out the place was transformed into a dream-land. We had our scrumptious dinner with the fire burning as if dancing with the twinkling stars. Afterwards we got into our cozy sleeping bags and called it a night.
Next morning I woke up around eight to the most alluring sight of the mountains with the sunlight, looking like crowns on them. I sat down watching it over a cup of hot coffee. I just could not miss any part of it. Finally as the sun covered the mountains, we all left for a small hike over the meadows. I was so moved by the overwhelming bounty Nature has bestowed upon us that we otherwise just see in movies. We all got back to our campsite and had breakfast and the day was planned forward. We trekked back to Tosh and from there we reached Kasol. It was our last night in the mighty Himalayas so we decided to check-in at our pre-booked hotel and then spend the evening outdoors. We left our bags at the hotel and descended towards the mighty Parvati River. Later on we got back and settled in a charming little café. The looks on our faces were evident as it was our last night and we did not want to leave. Raj came for the rescue by suggesting that we make this a karaoke night as the café had a karaoke stand. There were a few couples in the café and we took theirs and the café owner’s permission. In a self confession Shruti, Tripti and Raj are good singers while I am an okay one. The night turned out to be so much fun that we slouched and had our dinner over conversations of our future, our group’s future. It was there and then decided that we will all make a plan once a year wherever we maybe to some destination or the other. We got back to our hotel and packed our bags and slept.
Early next morning we had our breakfast and after check-out started our journey back to Delhi. We reached Delhi late evening and thanked and parted ways with our caretaker/guide/driver Mr Ranbir.
Thank you Bharat Booking Holidays and Ms Tanuja for a wonderfully crafted Holiday that will remain with us for a lifetime.
Things to Note:
1. Always carry a carry-bag for personal garbage, whichever destination you visit.
2. Take change of clothes and towels if planning to do river-rafting.
3. Be alert and careful near rivers, stay at a safe distance.
4. Carry water and chocolates if going on a trek.
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