Sunday, 9 November 2014

Himachal Travel Diary - Part 6 (Kasol)

"We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us" - Anonymous

Our rooms in the Alpine were situated in the old wing. Mrs. Mukherjee did ask us whether we wanted rooms in the new wing but didn’t want to spend unnecessarily for a bigger room when we got all the same facilities in the cheaper room itself. The old wing had two types of room one with TV (Rs. 850) and one without(Rs.600). We chose the one with TV.

The restaurant

Our room was across the dining area and the new wing on the first floor. Going by the price we had thought it would be a very basic room. Bit when we entered the room it was a pretty big one. The room was dimly lit.  It had a wooden sofa and table and a beautiful wooden queen sized bed. The bed had nice fluffy pillows and two thick blankets. The TV was a basic model not an LCD/LED. But we didn't mind that. The room had so much space that easily another extra double bed mattress could be fitted leaving ample walking space. Along with this two camp chairs were provided which we used for sitting in the common balcony. The bathroom was also big enough and had geyser. I was pretty much happy with the arrangement; in fact it was more than what I had expected for Rs.850.

The Dinning area by the river
I took a quick shower in the warm water. It was absolutely necessary as much time had passed since we were fully drenched in the chilling water of Beas and fatigue was setting in. The warm bath made felt rejuvenating. It was already past 2.30 PM and we were pretty hungry. The restaurant had almost closed by then so we asked what was available. The young attendant informed that Chicken thali was available and we ordered the same.

The common balcony
Outside it was still raining so there was no chance of going out. And due to the rain the mercury had gone down. This actually felt like the temperature should be in the mountains – chilly. While we waited for the food to arrive we got inside our respective blankets and watched TV. It was gradually getting so cold that getting out of the blanket was out of question. Soon the food arrived. The Thali had generous amount of food – rice, daal, chapatti, chicken curry, salad and pickle. We had our lunch on the bed only while sitting covered in blanket.
Our Room
The cold weather, a filling lunch and the warm blankets made us sleepy and we decided to take a quick nap. Anyway the rains were going on relentlessly so we had no other option. I just prayed that the rains take a break in the evening so that we can explore the town. We soon fell asleep hearing the gurgling lullaby of the Parvati river.

The alarm woke us up at 5 PM. I quickly checked outside that the rain had stopped. After a few pushing and shoving I could get A up and ready for the walk. We geared up in our jackets and wind cheaters. The weather was still cold and slightly windy.

The hotel premises looked very pretty in the rain drenched ambiance. The greatest USP of the hotel is that the River Parvati flows right through its front. None of the other hotel in whole of Kasol has this kind of magnificent view.  The river was dangerously beautiful. The force with which thousand gallons of water was passing in front of us was awe inspiring. You could hear the river from all over the town, such was the force. And within the hotel premises it was creating a crescendo of the sound.

The canopied eating area was full of boarders. We walked past them towards the reception area. Vijay met us there and asked us for another installment of the trip money. We told him we would get the same from the ATM in the village. The walk down the mud road to the main road was serene. Everything looked so green and lively. We saw a lot of cannabis or hashish plants growing by the roadside just like any common shrub that we are used to see normally.

Shops on Road side
Kasol is a small idyllic hamlet spread on both sides of the river Parvati. Looks some what like an European countryside minus the manicured setup. The rawness of nature is very much Indian. Nature has bestowed the small village with all its beauty and the inhabitants of Kasol have kept it that way. Small wooden two storied shops of medicine, clothes, grocery and restaurants are lined along the main road. The number of shops is very less in the whole of Kasol, maximum of them being food shacks. Kasol is often referred to as “Little Israel” due to the presence of a large number of Israeli population. If you did not know that you are still in India you could easily mistake this as a foreign village. Everywhere you look you can see a couple of hippies chatting, smoking charas, haggling with the shopkeepers or simply lazing out with a book. Young Israelis with dreadlocks and flowing attire remind you of the seventies and the song “Hare Krishna Hare Ram”.

The place is very peaceful; there are hardly any vehicles around, only the bikes and passing cars which are going to Manikaran. That too lessens after dusk. People here prefer to walk and we also did the same. Maybe all the busy hill stations of our country looked the same some 100 years ago when the tourists didn’t know about them. I just wished that this little jewel in the heart of Parvati Valley never loses its Idyllic charm. Due to the presence of such a large population of charas smoking hippies and their regular rave parties, many tourists have a notion that Kasol is not a safe place. Long live the myth and fear, because that’s one reason tourists will come lesser and it will slow down the commercialization of this quaint village. Till the time it’s isolated, unknown it shall remain untouched and pure.

 The village has a number of parallel hanging bridges connecting both the banks at short distances. As we reached the first bridge a short distance from our resort an amazing view of the snow capped mountains greeted us. The fading rays of the sun were shimmering on some of the higher peaks and looked like honey topping on an ice cream! It was simply magnificent. We stood there on the bridge spell bound for some moments simply admiring the splendor. The mountains looked much nearer and beautiful than what we had seen in Manali.

We took the path along the right bank of the fierce Parvati. It was a serpentine dirt road meandering though the mountain. We came across a small food shack named “Art Café” on way. A couple of Royal Enfield, mostly belonging to long distance bikers were parked outside.  Kasol is strewn with such small little food shacks at every nook and corner. In such an Idyllic setup such things add to the romanticism. We lost ourselves in the wet smell of the earth mixed with a heady aroma of pine cones and damp moss.
The girl eating fruit from the branch
At every bend the Parvati appeared to become fiercer. In this part of the town the waters looked milky white. There was a small local girl on the road who was plucking something from the hanging branch of a tree and putting it in her mouth. We thought of telling her not to do so, but the locals who were passing by didn't seem to be much alarmed by it. After all the locals will be knowing the good from the bad more than us.

A dog resting on roadside

We kept walking on and came across a second bridge. This one was made of wood and iron and had a rustic feel to it. Kasol is so beautiful that you will be confused what not to praise – everywhere you look nature has spread its bounty. You would want to capture each and every tiny moment in your camera so you can take a piece of this paradise back with you.
The Second bridge

The path after the bridge became more beautiful. Now we were almost in the level of the water. As we walked we saw a patch of forest area in front of us mostly having towering Pine trees. There was a small clearing before the forest where the river took a left and a right again. There was lot of big boulders and stones on the bank which bore the signs of water erosion. We had read that Kasol was a good place for angling, but we didn't have the angling equipment with us. And we had planned the same for Tirthan where the hotel itself would provide us the angling gear.  This was a pretty scenic spot and a couple of other tourists were also frolicking around, some of them even daring to go into the ice cold water just for the sake of taking pictures. We didn't dare that much and took turns standing in front of the biggest rock to take our pictures. A midget dog also joined us for a while before he went his merry way. It was a perfect spot for overnight camping and spending some quite moments soul searching.

We continued our walk down the forest trail. It was basically an aimless walk, we just wanted to go where the path took us. The journey itself was so exhilarating, we didn't really care for a specific destination,. The pine tree leaves were still droopy with the rainwater from the afternoon shower. Sometimes when they became too heavy or due to a gust of wind the water would shower down upon us. I would squeal like a kid whenever that happened.

Forest Trail
A pine cone
Due to the rains the forest area was covered with a carpet of emerald green moss. It was almost like walking through an evergreen forest. On way we came across a couple of shepherds with their big herd of mountain goats. These goats had a thick coat of fur and curved horns and looked majestic the way they stood on the rocky edges with their head held high. They scaled the steep slope of the mountain with élan while their masters waited below.
The mountain goats
His Majesty
We kept walking and walking. There was really no end to the trail it seemed. By mistake we had presumed this was the path that led to Malana village, another scenic hamlet nearby. A local was coming down the trail and we asked him whether the path led to Malana, to which he replied something in the local dialect which we could not understand.
The snow capped peaks viewed from Kasol
The pine tree covered landscape surrounding us reverberated with the gushing sound of Parvati. Soon we got a patch of clearing, the rim of which touched the Parvati. We walked down to the edge of the place. But there we could only see empty packets of chips and broken Beer bottles scattered all around the place. It seemed like people frequented this clearing for their drinking rendezvous. The daylights had become quite dim within the forest trail and also we had come down far from the main village and especially the presence of broken Beer bottles made us decide to turn back. If we were in a group we could have dared to go further but being new to this place, turning back seemed the best option.

We again crossed the mountain goats way back. They were still busy enjoying their evening meal. As we came out of the forest we saw that the daylight was pretty much present but inside the forest patch it was darker. While coming back we crossed over the second bridge and went to the other side. Mostly the locals were staying in this area. It would look like any other mountain village if it didn't have the face of Chi Guevara and other psychedelic sketches painted all over their walls in vivid colors. From this place the view of the mountains in the back was the most clearer. The road led us to the main market area of Kasol.

Here we came across a slice of everyday life of the Israelis. Dreadlocks, Mohawks, lulus tinted in different colors could be seen everywhere. Even though it was such a small village full marks for the local saloon and it’s stylist! T-shirts with psychedelic motifs, Harem pants, braided woolen caps, Junkie sweatshirts and jewelry, music instruments, Chillam hookah, wooden decor were abundantly present in the shops lining the market. Young pretty Israeli ladies could be seen bargaining in the shops. They looked very much a part of the village, roaming around at ease. In fact we looked like tourist compared to them. Apart from this there were a large number of food shacks, most of them served the most popular dish of the region – momo.  A small German bakery is also present in the village.

We were doubtful of finding an ATM in this village at first by going by the number of foreigners present in the village, an ATM had to be there to sustain them on a regular basis. And when we finally found the ATM it gave us great relief. But soon the relief turned into disappointment, as it was non-functional. Expecting a second ATM would have been too much to ask for but we kept our eyes open just in case!

We took the road left of the market. Actually we had seen a fragile wooden bridge from our resort which had looked quite interesting, and we were trying to find that bridge for so long. The bridge had appeared so near to the resort but we had almost covered half the town and yet no trace of that bridge.

The left road was actually the road leading to Manikaran. It was already evening and yet we saw many bikers with the signature saffron turban heading towards Manikaran Saheb. But the noticeable thing was that though it was evening the sun light was still present. It was almost six and it looked like it was 4.30 PM or something whereas in the mountains it’s a usual thing that day light goes off pretty early compared to the plains. This particular road led to the other resorts of Kasol like Sandhya kasol.Devlok International, Parvati Kuteer. Initially we were about to book either of these but when we saw them in reality our unanimous thought was it was a good thing we booked Alpine instead. The location and look of these resorts were nothing compared to Alpine, they were away from the river. There was one resort (forgot the name) which was playing really loud music and people were seen gyrating to its tunes. It’s a pity when you see people can’t forego the usual city requirements even when they are so close to the nature. I mean what is the logic of playing a DJ inside a forest? If DJ is indispensable for you go to a pub, forest is for enjoying silence not creating a racket.  I really despise of the people who doesn't respect nature and spare a thought for anyone else other than themselves.
Chabad House
As we walked further we saw a building with a big lawn. The board at the entrance said "Chabad house". There are many Chabad houses all over India, providing refuge to the Israelis. Its basically a Jewish community center. According to the net the Chabad House in Kasol offers: "Shabbos meals with a young and enthusiastic vibe, a kosher restaurant that serves thousands of meat dishes every month, Torah studies in the mornings, open nights for joint study and in-depth conversations, as well as a luxurious Mikvah (ritual bath) for the use of the public." It seems the current Chabad house was once a property of the Himachal tourism where Indian travelers could stay. But  after it was turned into a Chabad house, it has become exclusive for the Israelis.

The View Point

We kept walking and found a spot from where the river was really close. There was a viewpoint sort of an area created but a building was also there by its side. We were not sure whether it was some private property but decided to go anyway. If caught, we had some excuse ready. The view from this point was really amazing. Nothing blocking the view in front. The river was flowing with so much force over here that it had created an aura of mist all around. It looked like we have ventured into some mystic fairytale land. We sat there for quite some time before it became really cold due to the presence of the moisture in the mist.

We decided to head back to hotel as we were feeling a bit hungry and had walked for a considerable time. It was about 6.40 PM when we reached the hotel premises. En-route to the hotel we also inspected the area around it. Nothing much, it had a couple of mud paths used by the villagers. The outside dining area was still teeming with people. I doubt whether anyone actually ate in their restaurant area, because everyone preferred this open eating area with a view. We were pretty cold by the time we reached our room. I called up one of the attendants whom you can always find walking down the lawn and ordered chicken soup in the room. We were too cold to sit outside at that moment. We watched the local news and thawed our numb hands and feet inside the blanket. The cold was actually exhilarating. What’s a mountain without some chills!

The chicken clear soup of alpine is something out of the world. You must absolutely try it whenever you come down after a walk outside. It warmed the cockles of our heart, no pun intended. An amazingly potent soup with the richness of chicken and heat of black pepper. After the soup I felt warm enough to go out of the room. A was busy watching T20 match as I ventured outside for an evening stroll. Amazingly the daylights were still there and it was already close to 8 PM. I wondered whether night ever came down upon this small hamlet. The stars were out in ones and twos. The open dining area finally looked a bit empty. I sat on the boundary wall just opposite to our room watching the river. Far from that point I could see the silhouette of a person standing on a rock fishing. Mist had made it impossible to guess whether it was a guy or a girl.  Looked pretty dangerous from here but the person was very much at ease it seemed.

I called up home and had a chat with mother. Even she could hear the river over the phone! The tremendous sound of the river reminded us of the time we had spent in the Rainforest Athirapally. Our tree house was located bang opposite to the majestic waterfall and the entire night we could hear the rumbling sound of the waterfall. It was almost like living open under the nature. The experience at Alpine was equally enthralling. Even how much I praise the view and ambiance it would fall short of the actual beauty of the place. I loved the time spent sitting on the boundary wall listening to songs on my phone and ideating.

I had lost track of time and when A came out to call me did I realize it was already past 9 PM. We speculated whether to have our dinner by the lake or in the room. The open dining area was much more cold due to the proximity of the river and the mild wind. Though some people were having their food out there we were literally shivering. We decided it was better to have food in the room only, if we wanted to prevent ourselves from falling ill.

The dinner consisted of some chicken curry, daal and rice. The curry was more than enough for two people and very tasty. I had also ordered another bowl of chicken soup for me. I was way beyond full post dinner and pretty sleepy. I hit the sack with a novel while A waited till the end of the match.

It was a real pity that we were leaving Kasol the very next day. This place was such that you could spend as many days as possible over here but still the charm wouldn't die out. There was a lot on our itinerary the next day. I don’t know when I slept thinking about the amazing day we had and listening to the lullaby of the river outside.

Continued in Himachal Travel Diary - Part 7.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Himachal Travel Diary - Part 5 (Manali, Jagatsukh & Kasol)

"Let’s find some beautiful place to get lost"

The Prayer Wheels

I was pretty excited for this day. A few months ago an ad of a telecom service provider started airing on the TV which showed a foreigner travelling through Himachal using public transport and his GPS on phone to locate a particular pine tree filled beautiful camping area which was Kasol. The view of the dreamy backdrop for a few seconds in the ad made me fall in love with the place. When the Himachal plan started taking shape I knew this was my chance to visit the place for which my heart was yearning from long.

So this was the day. But there were a couple of other places to see before reaching Kasol. The first thing was to see the Buddhist Monastery of Manali. We heard about it so much but were not able to locate it in the market area.
Monastery seen from the Parking
Shops outside the Monastery
Outside view of the Monastery
Inside View of the main Gate

Entrance of the Monastery
 Vijay turned right from the Van Vihar junction and drove through a by-lane. The by-lane led us to an opening where on one side was the Buddhist Monastery area and on the other was a multi level paid  car car parking complex. It was a bright and sunny day. We brought out our hats that we had purchased the previous night. It was a square area and we walked around all the way to reach the entrance of the monastery. There were a couple of shops selling Tibetan goods just outside the entrance of the Monastery.

The name of the monastery is a pretty difficult one:  Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa. This is one of the oldest and famous places in Manali. It was built in the year 1969. One may wonder why a Monastery in Manali? It is due to the large number of Tibetan population residing in here. Just like other Tibetan monasteries, the entrance to the Gompa is pretty ornate with vibrant colors. The’ Kalachakra’ or the wheel of life is painted on the outside wall of the monastery depicting Lord Buddha’s life.

Garden of the Monastery
 We purchased a ticket of Rs. 20/- for taking photographs inside the monastery. It was a small monastery compared to what I have seen in North eastern India, but had a big Buddha idol spanning two floors. The tankhas and everything inside had signs of ageing. We took a few photos in the first level and then went to the second level. The face of Buddha could be seen from this level. Butter lamps were placed all around. Idols of Tara and Padmanava were also present alongside Buddha. After taking a couple of photos we went out. The prayer wheels surround the monastery. We went around spinning the wheels which had the Tibetan mantra “Om mani padme hum” written on it.

Lord Buddha
Flowers in the garden
The monastery is situated in the middle of a beautiful garden with lots of colorful blossoms. One can sit here for long and enjoy the serene atmosphere. The snow capped mountains could also be seen in the backdrop.
Banner of the Bengali Dharmashala
While going around the park a banner put up along the fence came to my notice. It said in Bengali “Gumpa Dharmashala – Monastery Bengali Restaurant”. I can understand the omnipresence of travel crazy Bengalis everywhere in India but a Bengali restaurant right inside a monastery was crazy! The menu list advertised piqued my interest – thin grained rice, masoor daal, chutney, subzi, fish/meat/chicken/egg curry. As if the presence of a Bengali restaurant was not enough, the information that they served non veg in the monastery premises was pretty amazing. Later we reasoned maybe there was also a guest house along the boundary of the monastery which housed all sort of travelers, hence the restaurant was catering to non-veg as well.

It was breakfast time and we decided to have a peek in this restaurant. It was a very small place with 3-4 tables. I asked what was available for breakfast and finally ordered two egg parotas to-go. A was busy taking photographs of the flowers in the garden. I asked him to take the parcel while I made a quick visit to the shops outside. I was mainly looking out for some bowls with Tibetan design. I did find a couple of them in one shop but it didn’t look good enough. In the next shop though I didn’t find a soup bowl but the shopkeeper showed me another interesting thing known as the “Om bowl” or singing bowl. Singing Bowls are used in meditation and ritual practice. If you strike the rim of the bowl with a wooden mallet and then continue to rub the rim in a circular motion with the mallet, the rim creates a vibration which increases with the uniform rubbing and produces the sound of “OM”. There is a particular way to hit the bowl which takes practice. I was not able to produce a constant sound but the shopkeeper could. The bowl had pretty intrinsic design which I liked very much. Though it was a bit heavy I decided to buy it as a memento.

By the time I came back to the monastery the parcel was ready and we left for the car. Our next destination was Jagatsukh. We had the egg porota in the car. The porota was made in a pretty unique fashion. Usually the parota is made and on top of that the beaten egg is poured and fried. But in this one the layer of egg was in between two layer of parota. It was very yummy and wholesome.

On the road of new Manali
We took the road through New Manali to reach Jagatsukh. I never knew that Manali spanned beyond the mall road. The beauty of new Manali is much prettier than the main Manali area. This is a relatively new place which extends beyond the Mall road limit and is much peaceful. There are a number of quaint  hotels alongside road having nice wood work. The entire stretch of the road throughnew Manali is so beautiful and serene that we promised to ourselves if we ever happened to visit Manali again we will definitely stay in the new Manali area.

Jagatsukh is a small peaceful hamlet at southern flanks of Manali which is approximately 6 km away from Manali on the left bank of Beas. The place is famous for ancient temples of Lord Shiva and Sandhya Gayatri. Originally known as Nast, it remained the ancient capital of Kullu for about ten generations.

We reached Jagatsukh in about 20 minutes. Maybe there was a time when so many buildings were not present and the temple could be seen from the road. But as of today you need to walk past some roadside stores into a narrow gully and then reach the temple. The gates have yakshis carved in stone. The Sandhya Gayetri temple is built in wood and stone in the Shikhara style. It’s mentioned on the temple wall that the idol dates back to the times when Pandavas came here almost 5000 years ago. Both Gayetri and Shiva Idols are believed to be “Swayambhu”. We remove our shoes and walk inside the sanctum. Inside along with the main idol of Sandhya Gayetri there is Lord Anjaneya and Lord Ganesha along with Siddhi Buddhi and Lord Shanmukha. A middle aged lady sat there handing out the Charanamrita. There was no priest around. She explained the story of Sandhya Gayetri and then asked us from where we have come. When she learnt we were tourist she started discussing the tragic accidental deaths of the students that happened in Beas. We talked for a while then left.

Sandhya Gayetri Mandir
After this we walked down to the back end of the Gayetri Temple. The temple of Lord Shiva is a tri-ratha sanctum roofed by a Shikhara. This temple dates back to the 8-9th century. A very old Himachali lady was present here. She said she was the priest and told us the history of the temple in detail. It is believed not only the idol but the stone temple as a whole had come out of the ground as is and from then on it has been worshiped. It’s a very beautiful temple with intrinsic architecture. The lady priest was also very friendly and knowledgeable. We talked with her for long; she also told us she had come to Maharashtra to visit all the Jyotirlingas.

The Shiva Temple
Shivlinga & the old lady priest by the temple

The next destination was Kullu rafting club. That’s right we decided to redo the entire 7 Km stretch and this time make sure we had a video of the same. From the morning onward the sky looked a bit overcast and by the time we reached the rafting point it had started to rain. There was hardly any tourist present. The river looked pretty rough with the onset of rains. We were speculating when the only official present there said we should decide fast, because as the rain increased the waters would become more choppy and dangerous and they would stop the rafting. If we wanted to go for rafting we should do it quickly. Not doing was out of question, because that is why we had waited from a day before. We paid the ticket amount and went to change. That day we did bring change of clothes.

This time we were taken to a different rafting group who had their own photographer. Apart from us there was another couple. We quickly wore our life jackets and helmets and posed for the photographer.  Another couple joined us in our sojourn when we were about to start. The journey started with the six of us. The water was below freezing level we soon found out and that made the adventure more challenging. Regarding the journey I can only say, this one was more thrilling, chilling and exhilarating than the first one – rains and turbulent Beas – the combination is totally lethal. Even in such choppy waters we didn't feel scared for a second. We enjoyed it to bits and this time we did have the video clips of the entire journey. After all the excitement we were feeling hungry again. We got some roasted corn on the cob. Rains and corn on the cob reminded us of Lonavala.


The next and last stop of the day was Kasol. It was a long drive from Kullu to Kasol and took us around 2.5 hours. We passed through many beautiful areas filled with pine forest. Then there were many quaint wooden homes strewn across the valley. We saw the Naggar palace up on a hill, but Naggar was planned for the next day so we didn't stop. We carried on the Bhuntar-Ramshila Road while the Beas accompanied us all through. Near Buntar there was a check-post where I bought 6 small apricots for Rs.10.
On way to Kasol
From the Bhuntar diversion we turned left at Hathithan and followed the Manikaran Road. We saw the confluence of two rivers at the diversion – the Beas and the Parvati. From hereon it was Parvati that accompanied us till Kasol. It was a gradual ascent through another river valley to the mountain village of Kasol. The weather had cleared up a bit but the sky was still overcast. Beas had always looked sparkling clear but Parbati looked Toffee colored. The overcast sky also contributed to the dark hue of the water. But one thing was Parbati seemed much turbulent and deep than Beas. The drive through the narrow mountain road with sharp turns and blind spots was dangerously beautiful. And Vijay drove like Michael Schumacher in those roads also. Whenever two vehicles were parallel at any point it was pretty scary as the left hand side was always open to a sheer drop of thousand feet below. We saw many Sikhs driving along the Manikaran road. They wore the typical saffron turban and had the saffron signature flag of Manikaran gurudwara. We also came across a group of young Sikh ladies in a tempo who sang in Punjabi and chanted the name of Guru Nanak. It was really nice to hear them as they sang.

On way we crossed Jari, a small mountain village and the Malana Hydro Electric Project . The long shining pipe snaking through the mountain makes Jari easily noticeable. Malana is another quaint little village in the Parbati valley which is gradually gaining tourist attention because of its beauty. We couldn't plan Malana due to shortage of time.

By the time we reached the limits of Kasol, the weather had again turned rainy. The phone tower was mostly unavailable. At one time when I had enough tower I called the hotel to ask for directions. Thankfully so because after that there was no signal of IDEA or Reliance till the hotel. We had read that Kasol was a small village but we didn't know that it was so small. It’s very easy to locate your hotels in this small place. We were staying at the Alpine resort which was a bit way off the main road, a minute through a mud road. The moment we entered the mud road and saw dense forest all around us I felt really nice about choosing this particular hotel. However later we discovered that Alpine was possibly the hotel with the best location and amenities in whole of Kasol and that too at dirt cheap prices.

It was a beautiful, cozy resort. The reception area was right in front of the entrance. It had flowing boughs of a crimson blush coming down one of its sides. The blossoms resembled China Rose. The combination of deep crimson and green painted a pretty picture. As Vijay parked the car we were greeted by Mrs. Mukherjee who is a very cordial lady and the co-owner of this resort. She and her husband had started this resort. We were quickly checked into our rooms.

The restaurant
Let me mention over here how we had booked this resort. When we were searching for resort in the Kasol area, we had queried a couple of places before contacting Alpine. The price of the other’s were pretty steep compared to Alpine, hence we almost zeroed in on Alpine. The problem is they don’t have an online reservation portal where you can check availability or make payments, so you need to call the hotel and ask about the availability. Moreover we had heard that since Alpine gave verbal confirmation of booking a few tourists had faced trouble when they landed up in the hotel and were told the booking is not there. When my husband called the hotel, someone who attended the call informed him that the booking was full for the month when we were travelling. A bit disappointed we started re-evaluating the stay options for Kasol. A couple of days later when we were about to finalise some other hotel I thought of calling up Alpine once more. This time Mrs. Mukherjee herself had received the call and to my surprise she informed that there was no booking around those dates. Immediately I made the verbal booking. She said we need to pay the dues once we came down to the hotel. I asked her for a mail confirmation but she informed that the net connection was not available most of the times so a verbal confirmation is fine. However just to be double sure I had called Mrs. Mukherjee once before leaving Pune and once before reaching Kasol. But once we were at the hotel, we were given a very warm welcome by the owner herself.

The tiredness of our journey wore off by seeing the beauty of nature all around. We decided to have lunch and rest for a while before we explored the village.

Continued in Himachal Travel Diary - Part 6.

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