24th November 2011, Thursday….Day(2) Naldehra-Manali 260km
Woke up to a beautiful morning at Naldehra. Enjoying cup of tea and went on a narrow path along the golf course for an early morning walk. Morning at Naldehra was cool, calm and heavenly. Early morning views of the hills, the countryside, cattle grazing in the fields, village folks busy in early morning chores everything looked so cool and calm.
Far away a bells rang at a temple, its sound was so soothing for the ears. Rustic pahari women were seen carrying loads of grass on their back to feed their cattle. Life around looked so leisurely, peaceful and happy.
It was joy all around. My mind was still filled with overwhelming romance of the previous night. Amazing drive up to Shimla, excursion to Naldehra, nice simple, romantic hotels. Cool dark night, beautiful lonely road, nice cosy room, drinks, those lovely female pahari singers singing melodious songs.
I don’t remember when I went to sleep while the singing and merry making was still going on in my neighbouring room. Wonderful start to the drive. Came back to the room, had another cup of tea, got ready and began driving towards Manali.
Early morning drive in the mountains is always so refreshing. The grass on the cliffs and valleys had dried up due to winters and instead of green of the summers, it was all gold around. While there were cliffs on the right of the road, the left side had deep, large and wide valley with villages hung here and there.
There are so many beautiful places on the route. One of them and most interesting was Tattapani (hot water), famous for hot sulphur springs. People come here for rafting in the fast and furious Sutlej river as well as bathing in the hot water sulphur springs.
It is believed that hot sulphur water is good for skin. So many people visit the place for cozy hot sulphur bath. Interestingly, the water of the river flowing alongside is very cold.
After spending some time at Tattapani and taking bath in hot sulphur water spring, I continued driving and soon reached Churag. A board resembling the kind of business I was in, caught my attention. Called the phone number mentioned on the board. The recipient was a very nice gentleman and asked me to visit their home.
Mr Bansal’s residence was a beautiful cottage, on the main road, overlooking their apple orchard farm with all the modern amenities. The couple was very nice to talk to. We chatted about life, orchards, business and education over a cup of tea.
Even though it was our first meeting and was quite brief yet they never let me feel like a stranger. In fact It felt like as if we knew each other for a long long time. I requested the couple to visit our home in Ludhiana. Thanked them for the cup of tea and left with the promise to visit them again on return journey.
This sign board, located near Chindi, HPTDC Hotel, Mamleshwar, was very informative. Each one of the destination mentioned in the board is a nice tourist attraction. The entire area is a big forest with breathtaking walks and trekking trails.
The well kept, HPTDC hotel, Mamleshwar at Chindi is beautifully located inside a dark forest. Its beauty is enhanced by a very touching board placed right at the entrance of its reception by a very thoughtful Manager. I thought I would surely stay at the place one day most probably with the family. Meanwhile had a cup of tea, egg omelette and was off to Rohanda and Chail chowk.
Govt. of India has put in place MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act), which guarantees every unemployed person certain number of minimum employment every year. These women were employed under the same scheme and were quite happy with the scheme.
From Churag to Rohanda-Chail Chowk, the drive was on a single but beautiful forested road. It was lined up with thick deodar and pine trees on both sides and had amazing views of villages in the narrow valleys.
Just after Rohanda, the straight road leads to Sundernagar and the right turn leads to Chail Chowk. Turned right and pretty soon was in Chail Chowk. Chail Chowk looked like a lively place with good market. From Chail Chowk one road goes to Mandi via Baggi-Ner Chowk and the other one goes to Pandoh.
I drove towards Pandoh. After driving for 4 kilometers near Gohar a board mentioned Janjehli 55 kilometers. It made me think about Janjehli and Shikari Devi. I thought might be on my return journey.
By the time I reached Pandoh, it was pitch dark. Manali was still 90 kilometers away. Since now I was on NH-20, I thought there was no problem. There was lot of traffic though and driving in the night was not an issue.
From Pandoh onwards I did not take any break and drove straight to Manali. Reached Manali at around 9pm, checked into Hotel Kenilworth International where I had my booking, took few drinks, had dinner and went to sleep.
End of another wonderful days drive, the 2nd one of the trip………!!!