Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Himachal Travel Diary - Day 4 (Rohtang & Solang)

Once you have traveled the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey – Pat Conray

The outside was still pitch dark when the alarm woke us up. I looked out of the door and what I saw dampened my spirits a bit. It was raining outside.  Rain always meant trouble when you were about to go for a trip to see a snow mountain and that too Rohtang. We had already heard how bad the roads were beyond Marhi, and if the rain didn't stop it could create a hindrance for us to go up to the actual snow point of Rohtang. More over snow capped mountains look best in a sun lit morning rather than a grim cloudy day where clouds could even completely cover the mountains deprive us from getting a good view. Still I kept my fingers crossed hoping that it’s just a short spell and would subside soon.

It was 2.30 AM and Vijay was not there yet. We quickly freshened up and changed into proper clothes for the Rohtang journey. The temperature in Manali was still pretty high hence we didn't need any warm clothes even during the wee hours of the morning. I had read that the ski suits that one needs to rent if planning for Rohtang is good enough for the snow conditions, but since I hadn't seen one yet I wasn't much sure about the cold protection it would be able to provide. We discussed and decided to pack a few warm clothes just in case. I took my woolen knee length coat, sweater and pull over for A, the woolen head caps and my woolen gloves (A felt that a gloves wasn't required). We wore full sleeved tee-shirts, jeans and sports shoe. Sunglasses were absolutely mandatory when going to any snow point. The reflection of the sun rays off the snow bedazzles the eyes if proper UV protection glares are not used. Though it was raining, we were hopeful that we would be able to use the glares.

Vijay came at 3 AM. We packed everything into the car. We also brought the biscuits and chocolates we had got last night. The rain had become light drizzle now raising our hopes. Though we had ensured that we made an early start and would ideally be able to cover the entire journey in less than half a day, we were mentally prepared for 12-14 hours of being on road if traffic became bad as was always the case in Rohtang trips.

Here I want to mention a very important point about Rohtang. While we were doing R&D about Rohtang before starting on our trip, everywhere I read that Rohtang was closed for visitors on Tuesdays for maintenance work. Every single site told the same thing. Even coincidentally two friends of mine had been to Rohtang weeks before we went. But none of them had traveled on a Tuesday to Rohtang and couldn't confirm whether Rohtang was really closed on Tuesdays. Unfortunately when we calculated the dates the Rohtang plan was falling on a Tuesday. It was pretty disappointing news for us because the way our tour plan was made we didn’t have any extra days at Manali, where we could adjust Rohtang if it was really closed on a Tuesday. The only option being that we go for Rohtang on the very first day spent in Manali. But that also seemed like a far fetched idea considering we were supposed to reach Manali the same day by 2 AM after a 14 hour journey from Delhi by road ( 2 AM had become 4 AM in reality – refer to previous parts of the travelogue) and again starting off at 3 AM for Rohtang was not at all a feasible plan. The only glimmer of hope was provided by the taxi company. The owner had said that Rohtang is open on Tuesdays. But then travel agents and taxi companies tend to give false promises at times to pull customers. So we had left everything to our lady luck when we started our journey. When Vijay had confirmed that Rohtang was open on a Tuesday we were quite happy.  So I don’t know when the rule of Tuesday closure applies for Rohtang. Maybe when the rains start fully then the rules are enforced for the safety of the tourists. So it would be better to confirm with your tour operator about the days before you begin your journey for Rohtang.

We soon began the much anticipated journey. The roads were empty; Manali was fast asleep as we drove through its deserted alleyways. As we reached the main road, we saw many more cars driving towards Rohtang. Vijay stopped at a gas station for refill. This was unexpected. Vijay knew very well that we were going to Rohtang today and he had the entire last night at his disposal to re-fuel so that we didn't lose on precious time in the morning waiting for a refill. The other cars zoomed past us. The more the number of cars in front of you would mean the higher sequence number for us. As heard the Rohtang check post let 400 cars at a time. If we couldn’t make it in the first 400 then we would surely face the infamous traffic snarl of Rohtang. I was a bit angry with Vijay about this but preferred not to start a tiff at the very beginning of the day least he would refuse to take us to Rohtang.

The refill was done quickly as no other cars were there in the queue. Vijay accelerated to make up for the lost time. Soon he stopped again. This time it was for the snow gear. Snow gear rental shops are strewn all over the Manali Rohtang way. Make sure you do your homework about the standard rental cost before you rent the gears. We knew the standard price was 200 for the suit and galoshes per person and were ready to bargain if they didn't quote the right price. Thankfully they did quote the right price. They would give you suits according to your size and choice of color (if available). A lady who came in with us was stuck on renting a pink suit which the shop didn't have. It’s advisable to check out the suit for working zips, any tear and comfort level rather than the color. One more point for the ladies, avoid saree when planning for a Rohtang trip as then no way you would be able to get into a snow suit which is absolutely essential if you have plans of frolicking in the snow. Also more than a salwar kameez a shirt and trouser would be better choice while putting on the suit. Try out the galoshes too for the proper fit else you can face trouble while walking on the snow if the galoshes are a loose fit. The shop also offered us ‘special’ coarse woolen socks claiming that they would be good for the snow. These were not a part of the rental gear so we bought a pair each for Rs. 150. They suited us up and we went inside the car wearing the full gear.

Rohtang Pass (or Rohtang La, Tibetan word for pass) on the eastern PirPanjal range of the Himalayas is located at a distance of 51 Kms from Manali.  The pass connects the Kullu Valley with the Lahaul, Spiti and Leh sectors. The pass is open to traffic during approx. May/Jun to Oct/Nov every year, beyond which thick layers of ice render the roads impassable. The route is: Manali – 12 kms – Palchn – 5 kms – Kothi – 20 kms – Marhi – 10 kms – Rohtang Top.

Our car tore through the silence of the early morning. We could see a line of red tail lights gleaming in the darkness ahead of us. There were barely any street lamps on the road, but we could feel the serpentine and narrow nature of the road.  The dawn was slowly creeping up the horizon and slowly violet colored dark mountains were visible in the backdrop. Inside the car I was feeling hot inside the snow suit, A looked comfortable though.  For quite some time we didn't see any houses; but soon we entered a place which had signs of some township. Vijay told us it was Kothi, which offered the last commercial stay options on the route to Rohtang. Beyond this place the only stay options available were PWD or Forest guest houses. The proximity to the mountains makes Kothi a picturesque place. Tourists can also make Kothi their base camp instead of Manali and roam around.  The faint outlines of the mountain range seemed much closer by now. The Beas river flowed through a very deep and narrow George beyond Kothi.
Google Map Images - Position & Landscape of Rohtang Pass
Google Map Images - Position & Landscape of Rohtang Pass
As we left Kothi behind the proper mountain road started. Narrow mountain roads with no lights, the headlight and tail lights were the only source of light through the entire stretch.  With every bend we saw more and more cars in front of us. It almost seemed like a red line of fire billowing up the mountain in a serpentine trail. At times I was wondering whether we would be fortunate enough to be among the first 400 going by the number of cars in front. Then at times we came across big trucks which were moving at a snail’s pace due to the heavy weight. The roads were very narrow hence overtaking them was out of question. So we had to follow them till the time we got enough clearing to overtake.

Soon we reached a place where we saw many cars pulled up along the side of the road. We didn’t know the reason but were happy that at least we can go before all these cars. But soon Vijay remembered something and pulled over. He said that he had completely forgotten that he had to stop at the check-post and pay for the permit. We understood that’s what those cars were doing back there. Vijay parked the car and walked down all the way as we waited. Current orders do not permit non-Himachal registered vehicles (any vehicle, hired or personal, whose number plate does not start with ‘HP’) across the check post.. In order to be allowed to pass, you need to have permission from SDM, Manali. This is a mandatory requisite for non-HP vehicles, which must be completed at Manali, prior to commencement of journey to Rohtang.

Darkness was slowly fading and the landscape slowly turned grayish from black. We could hear the birds chirping from the nearby trees. We got down from the car and walked on the road. It was really awkward to walk in these snow gears especially due to the over sized galoshes my feet felt heavy like concrete. There were other people also walking on the road who were waiting like us as their driver’s arranged for the passes. The air was a bit cold over here.

Soon Vijay was back and we resumed our journey. We traveled for a long time. Slowly and steadily the snow peaks were getting closer to us. Then the sun peeped shyly over the far distant mountains and the adjacent peaks shimmered in golden. It was a pretty dramatic moment for us. I could feel the drum rolls of YJHD movie thudding inside me similar to when the protagonists in the movie were scaling a snow mountain. Quite a few times we were shrouded by a big misty cloud and as we came out of it we were treated to a new and exhilarating view of the beauteous mountains.

Beas Nullah

Soon we reached Marhi, the last village before Rohtang. Just as Vijay parked the car he pointed towards a patch of snow on the opposite rock wall and said it was the snow point. We looked at the sorry looking patch of snow and exclaimed this cannot be Rohtang snow point! Vijay nonchalantly said, it wasn't the Rohtang snow point but it was the Beas kund snow point and tourists usually meant this when they said snow point.
Marhi Village
We said we want to see the Rohtang snow point and not this joke of a snow point. He said then we need to take a local car from the union and proceed further up. His car didn’t have the permit. We argued with him that what kind of permit did he avail at the check post then. He said it was till Marhi only.

A wave of emotions muddled our brains – extreme anger, frustration, helplessness, anticipation of going to actual Rohtang and deceit. The sense of deceit overpowered all. Reason being, Vijay had talked us into paying him Rs. 1000 more for taking us till “Rohtang”, which we agreed because he had convinced us that we need not hire any extra car  separately and that he would only take us. And now it became clear the kind of game he had played on us. A tried to argue with Vijay but I knew there was no point. We had only one option left – to hire a local cab.

I told A to end the fruitless talks and talk with the locals to know how we go further from here. But just as we walked down the main road of Marhi, local drivers flocked around us and started quoting prices. We knew we had to talk with the shopkeepers to know the correct price before we committed to one. But they kept on escorting us and pestering us. We kept dilly-dallying and finally they left us for some new prey. We entered one shop and inquired about washrooms. Marhi has a couple of shops selling biscuits, Maggi and other refreshments. They also have washrooms at the backside of these shops. So ladies travelling to Rohtang need not worry about washroom provisions. We found them pretty neat also. The biggest challenge was getting out of the snow jumpsuits and galoshes and then again getting into it.

We were not really feeling hungry as it was just 5.45 AM yet. Moreover it’s better to traverse mountain roads on a relatively empty stomach to avoid motion sickness. While at the shop I bought some biscuits and inquired about the jeep charges for Rohtang. The shopkeepers said we need to bargain and it would be around 3K. After Vijay’s 1K the thought of spending another 3K really bothered us and we felt a renewed angst towards Vijay. I knew A was specially looking forward to the Rohtang trip as he wanted to experience snow for the first time. We discussed for some time and finally I told him let’s spend this much because this was going to once in a lifetime trip anyway.

We went out and talked with a few drivers. If you share a jeep then the price would be less. But the problem would be the dependency on others. If we wanted to come down we would have to wait for the others as well. For non-sharing option they drivers were quoting 5K. We told then 3 K would be the final amount we would pay. One of the drivers agreed at the price and we sat down in his jeep. Later however we realized that we shouldn't have paid more than 2K, but both of us were too bad at bargaining.

As soon as we left Marhi, we entered into a more beautiful land with almost non-existent road. It’s best to take a 4x4 jeep on this road which has better grip and braking than the normal cars. With each passing bend the panorama became more and more pretty and we clicked away to our heart’s delight. The driver played a selection of Bollywood songs and instrumentals which suited the ambiance perfectly and even added to the charm of the travel. I have always noticed these mountain drivers usually have very beautiful collection of songs playing which make the journey even more memorable. We remembered the famous song “Yeh Ishq Hai” from Jab we Met movie which was shot in these roads only. Travelling in India and Bollywood always went together.

We drove through mud, slush, rivulets, rocks and craters and ponds and everything imaginable (except a good road). The more we scaled the mountains the poorer the road conditions became. There were many precarious points were we saw huge chunks of solid ice in the middle of the road which had broken off from the adjacent mountain due to melting. There was a lot of slush due to the melting snow and we had to drive bordering the outside of the mountain road. An inch of miscalculation would have been the end of us. Our heart was already in our mouths when we drove around the chunk of ice. Such condition of the road challenged even the best of drivers but fortunately for us the driver was very much adept to these mountain roads and deftly maneuvered each dangerous stretch.

As we were nearing the snow point, we saw more and more ice on the rocks. Though these were very old ice from the month of January and had by then tuned into sleet, yet it made us excited. At some places the snow had become quite dirty and grayish that we often mistook it for some rock rather than snow. But as we went further up we got to see cleaner snow. The snow covered mountain slopes were refreshingly alluring at one moment and scarily ominous at another.

The dangerous roads
The sun was almost up by the time we reached the actual snow point of Rohtang at 6.30 AM. We see a long line of jeeps and cars parked on either side of the road. Our driver parks the jeep and tells us to meet him at the very same point. As we got out of the Jeep the cold and harsh wind greeted us for the first time. It was super chilling. We quickly put on our woolen caps.  However the woolen gloves were rendered inadequate in the cold air. And A was not even wearing any gloves. There was an array of shops selling Maggi, omelets, chips etc. We found one selling gloves. It was like god sent opportunity. We bought a nice waterproof pair each at Rs. 100. After securing ourselves from the cold we finally got a chance to look around properly.

The so called “snow point” was buzzing with activity. A lot of “snow sports” were going on which seemed a joke in the name of snow sports. The skiing was nothing but standing on the ski and posing. The snow bikes were offering a 2 minute ride only. There were hand pulled snow sledges being drawn up one of the face of the snow slopes and from there they were let loose so that the sledges could come down with speed. Similar activity was also happening sitting on the tires. We already knew that the locals charged almost 2K for all these stupid sports. But we were here to feel the snow which had became very dirty and unimpressive in the area where all the action was going on. We felt a little disappointed at this. So we started walking to that part of the mountain slope which appeared relatively secluded. There were just a few people here and there taking pictures.
Towards the secluded slope
The area below buzzing with activity
Towards peace and tranquility
The sun was streaming down from between two mountain peaks. We decided to climb the slope. But it was easier said than done. As I have already mentioned that these snow had turned into hard sleet. And the early morning rays were melting the surface ice and made things very slippery. It was absolutely difficult to balance on the slippery and hard ice. And on top of that the heavy Nikon D90 with the 200mm lens made me even wobbly. I was more worried about hurting the camera instead of myself. Both of us fell down on the ice a couple of times. But still we kept going on. Soon I found a way to walking easily. I dug the heel of my galosh first and then the toes with every step.  Thus gained a better balance.  But I was getting completely breathless with little climbing. A was not having that much problem. I thought maybe due to the camera I was feeling tired quickly but later realised that the air had become thin and icy with height and the oxygen was less over here. Fortunately I didn’t feel nausea which is usually the case with many at such heights.
Moving farther away from the crowd
Frothy snow
Sea of snow
We decided to go little distances and stop for a few minutes before continuing to avoid discomfort due to breathlessness. Our legs had also started to pain because the snow was offering us very little resistance and we had to force our feel into the snow ever time to maintain balance. But the more and more up we went the more beautiful the vistas became. I had never seen the sky that was so blue, the mountains that were so white and the sun that was so bright. The heart was already thudding inside out of breathlessness and the stunning vistas unfolding at each step was again creating a drum roll inside me. The sun rays sharply reflected off the pristine snow and it was a good thing we had our glares on.

Climbing the slope
At one time when we had come far away from the crowds below we were surrounded by complete silence. The only sound was that of the passing icy winds. There was not a soul apart from us to be seen anywhere. We smiled meaningfully at each other. This was where we wanted to be – far away from the civilisation, just nature and us. There was no end to this sea of snow. We saw some new mountain peaks at a distance and decided to have a look at them closely. Now we were enjoying rolling in snow and fell down a couple of times deliberately. We also had a mock snow fight.  It felt like we were back in our childhood days. We captured the moment in our camera.
The stark contrast
Blue sky white snow

As we reached the edge of the mountain slop we felt a zen around us. The lofty snow peaks all around were so mighty looking. Nature made us feel so inconsequential for a moment. We humans destroy the nature at our will thinking we were the god. But the nature is so much more powerful than us and it just waits till it becomes inevitable to intervene. We were born out of the nature and we shall go back into it one day, but the massacre that we are doing to Mother Nature is unforgivable. We sat there absorbing the impressions of the amazing creation of nature in front of us. For those few moments every tension of the life had blurred into oblivion, we felt inner peace.
Miles before I sleep
Beautiful Snow Peak
Maggi sellers

Snow Sports
We came down with a treasure trove of memories.  The sun was shining brightly by now. Though we felt a bit hungry we avoided having food for the very same reason – avoiding mountain sickness. By the time we went to the car we found the road more crowded. We also saw snow mobiles on the road. We spent some anxious moment when our jeep would not budge from the slush , then some other local drivers pushed from behind and finally we started our backward journey. We were almost there for a little more than an hour. On our way back we saw a shepherd crossing the road with his herd of sheep. The sheep were walking though the precariously placed rocks on the mountain slope but they didn’t seem to panic. They even posed for a picture. The sun was fully out and the panorama looked different form the early morning.

From top only we could see long queue of cars around Marhi. We got down at Marhi and went to our car. We saw people enjoying the snow at the sad looking snow patch and understood that they like us were also conned into believing that it was the only snow point. It was almost 8 AM and there were already such a terrible traffic snarl on the Marhi-Manali road that we understood why it was advisable to visit Rohtang in the morning.   These people and the people coming later in the day would be in no position to go back in less than 10-12 hours going by the long line we saw.  The sun was very strong by then and we removed all our snow gears and even then we felt hot. We were stuck for a long time near the Beas Nullah. I was really feeling hungry by then and got down from the car to buy some roasted bhutta (corn on the cob).  I had a long chit chat with the bhutta seller as he roasted the corn on the charcoal. I got two bhuttas at Rs. 180, pretty steep but that was how it was in any tourist spot. We were stuck for like 45 mins after which we got clearing and our car zoomed past the oncoming cars. Now in full daylight we saw the stunning waterfalls, rock formations and green patches in the valley which we missed in the darkness.

We now drove towards Solang Valley. Solang (means: nearby village) is located 14kms from Manali. It is famous for horse riding, paragliding and Zorbing. The ride till Solang was pretty beautiful in itself. We crossed over multiple clear water brooks and bridges. Solang had hotels but much less populated than Manali. As we closed in to the main point of Solang we could see para gliders in the sky.

Solang Valley, locally known as Solang Nullah and derives its name from a village called Solang.  It is 8500 feet above mean sea level. Solang is not just about adventure activities. Its lush greenery, apple orchards, snowcapped peaks and lakes are also a crowd puller.

Vijay dropped us off at the main point and went to park the car. Himachal has been a favourite with Bollywood directors. Many famous movies including Krrish was shot here.

The area was buzzing with activities. I noticed a state –of-art cable car along the slope of the mountain carrying people to the top. It resembled the one I had seen in Gatlinburg, Atlanta. I was pretty excited seeing. Also the Para-gliders sweeping the landscape made me think if we can do that as well. Zorbing was another thing that is quite popular here. Zorbing is the recreation or sport of rolling downhill in a transparent orb. We roamed around for a while taking pictures. But then we realised that tiredness was slowly setting in and we didn’t have much energy left for all these activities. I was also feeling a bit sleepy. We decided to leave and gave a call to Vijay to bring the car.

We passed some colorful refreshment stands before getting into the car. On way back we stopped at the bridge where the climax sequence of the movie Tango Charlie was shot. It was a pretty bridge and in its backdrop we could see the beautiful snow capped mountains. There was a small path by the side of the river. We walked down it and found a waterfall and a mandir. Everything was blissful around there. We spent a few moments clicking snaps and then we were on our way.

The Bridge

Picture perfect landscape
Soon we reached Manali. It was almost 11.30 AM. We told Vijay that we had no plans for the afternoon but we will go to the Mall road at night so he needs to pick us up and drop back to the hotel. Just as he heard that he started throwing tantrums. We had already overheard him talking to some of his fellow drivers who were in Manali that day that they were planning to have a get together. We didn’t have a problem with that but now Vijay began giving excuses that he needed to wash the car and only if he is free by that time he can take us to the mall road. We were tired and weren’t in the mood to argue hence we thought we will think about it in the evening.  We went into the hotel, had bath and then came down for lunch. We had already spotted a few restaurant of our liking while coming up, very near to the hotel and decided to eat there.

I forgot the name of the restaurant; it was some like Green chilli. It was a small joint which is in a covered veranda with lots of homemade artwork on the walls, colorful lamps hanging over tables with checked tablecloths. There was a group of bikers on one table and another foreigner lady in another table in the restaurant. We ordered buttered rice, fried trout fish and some chicken gravy. The restaurant took a long time to bring the food and when the food came we found it pretty tasteless. Nothing tasted good enough. Somehow we stuffed it and went back. The meal cost us Rs. 530. It was a bright and beautiful day and we could have roamed around had we got enough energy. We hit the sack and didn’t put any alarm for a change.

Finally we got up at 7 PM. We felt revitalized and got ready quickly. When we gave a call to Vijay he curtly refused to come and pick us up from hotel. He said that go to the mall by yourself and I will at max drop you back to hotel. We were furious at this point. After the morning conning this was too much. After all we were paying his company for his services and here Mr. Vijay had his own tantrums. We immediately called up his boss in the company and told him about everything and the continuous attitude problem. The boss was a big sissy himself and just mumbled something to talking to Vijay and calling us back.

We didn't wait for Vijay and decided to venture out on our own. The quaint old Manali was glittering and abuzz with activities. The cozy little shacks by the roadside looked even prettier dressed in strings of small lights. We enjoyed the nip in the air while walking down the winding road. The roads were pretty much empty and ideal for a leisurely stroll. We stopped by a few shops and looked around.

Just as we reached the end of the road from where we got Auto rickshaws for the Mall road, Vijay called. I handed over the phone to my husband as I was too angry to talk to him. As I negotiated with the Rickshaw driver (Rs. 90 for 2 KM!) I could hear an argument building up on the phone. Heated exchanges happened and finally A kept the phone. Seems like Vijay was shouting on A for complaining to his boss. That was it I decided to talk with his boss one final time once we reached Mall road. We even thought we will pay off Vijay and terminate further travelling plans with the company. As we reached Mall Road, I asked A to take a look around to spot any other travel agency while I rang the boss. This time I him a piece of my mind and pointed out each and every inconvenience caused by his temperamental driver. I also mentioned that we didn't wish to continue anymore with him. he Boss tried to pacify me saying that he will talk to Vijay and there wont be any more trouble. He also added that once we were done with our Mall road sightseeing we may call Vijay to drop us at hotel in the night. I was not entirely convinced but I decided to park the matters for a while because we were spoiling the valuable time over such petty matters.

The temple on the Mall road
Mall Area

We walked down the very busy area of the Mall road. As usual the traffic snarled along the Manali road. We walked to the small temple situated in the town center, it was crowded as morning. The town center was teeming with thousand of tourists and locals. There were glittering neon boards all around - some of them were of restaurants and others of souvenir shops. First we walked down to the place were most of the street shops were. We had already purchased shawls hence we were not attracted towards the shawl shop, instead something else caught our fancy. There were these makeshift stalls which were selling custom painted wooden Name plates. Beautiful paintings adoring the rectangular and oval wooden name plates with your name or meaningful quotations. Each shop had its own signature style of painting and color pallets. We browsed through several of those name plate shops before finalizing on one. They have certain sample designs on display, you can choose and customize from them. It was priced at Rs. 150 and would take half an hour. I paid him Rs. 50 in advance and then we went to check out the other shops on the street. We walked till the end of the lane and saw a couple of Bengali hotels and restaurants. All of them were pretty much full otherwise we would have gone to one of them. Due to the strong sun we experienced in Manali we decided to buy hats for ourselves. Both of us tried out a number of hats before purchasing one each.

It was already getting late and we felt hungry. We wanted to find us a restaurant which served good food and quickly, we didn't have the time or patience to wait in a queue for a table. Unfortunately all the restaurants on the ground floor of the buildings seemed fully occupied. So after combing through the Mall area we found out this small restaurant named Mughal Darbar on the first floor of a building. There were hardly two more people apart from us in the restaurant.  A small place but with an extensive Menu. It was a Mohammedan restaurant and all the names on the Menu were traditional well known Muslim delicacies. Reading through the list made us hungrier. We thought if the food was half as good as the menu sounded, it would make our day. We ordered Roti, Shahjahani Chicken and Jahangiri white chicken.

They had a open and busy kitchen which made it clear that they were anticipating a good crowd. And surely enough soon people started to come in big groups. But we noticed that almost 99% of the people who came were Mohammedans which was quite strange because I never saw any restaurant crowd being religion biased. Anyway our food arrived very soon and we dug in. The food was out of the world delicious. I have never tasted any Mughlai food this tasty and melt in the mouth.  I understood why Mughlai khana was considered as such a regal affair after all the food that we had was really fit for a king. The portion served were enough too hence after finishing off the ordered food we didn't have any place left in the tummy though our hearts craved for trying out more dishes. The price was perfect too. I just kept wondering why this place was so little known and did not find mention in any of the travelogues or guide books of Manali. If you want to have authentic Mughlai food then make sure you pay visit to this place.
The Nameplate
We collected the name plate post dinner. I suggested a few modifications here and there and the name plate came out beautifully. As we made our way back to the hotel in a rickshaw I called up Vijay and told him we didn't need his services that night and that he needed to pick us up for kasol the next day at 8 AM sharp. Vijay seemed to relax a bit hearing he didn't need to drop us at the hotel in the night.

The rickshaw took Rs. 80 and dropped us at a walking distance from the hotel. We completed the check out formalities with Nishant before hitting the sack. It was a Tuesday night and the live Karaoke was taking place in the restaurant. If I had energy would have definitely sat there listening to the performance. But we were pretty tired and had a lot of packing to do before going to bed.

The less explored places of our journey was about to begin starting with Kasol.

Continued in Himachal Travel Diary - Part 5

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