I woke up startled, as the earsplitting noise of the doorbell broke my slumber.It was 9.00 a.m. on 2nd of May and having slept at 6.00 in the morning,I was hardly in a mood to wake up.I turned and looked at Harshada who was staring at me through tired and sleepy eyes.We both knew that it was Bharti ringing the doorbell,to wake us up,so none of us actually made the effort to climb out of the bed and open the door. 😛 But,Bharti didn’t give up in just one attempt. She kept ringing the doorbell in every ten minutes until Harshada finally gave up and opened the door. 😀
Even though we were awake by then,yet we didn’t have the energy to pull ourselves up and start getting ready.So, after lazying around for a while,I finally decided to hit the shower (giving Harshada some more time to doze off),since we were already running late.As soon as I got dressed,I went out into the corridor and found Bharti,Ankur and Geetu,all in readiness and deep in conversation.“Oh, did I mention that Ankur and Geetu finally resolved their differences.” Yes, Ankur apologized to Geetu a night before,under the lame and clichéd cover up of returning her towel (the idea was Priya’s brainchild).But,no matter how played-out the idea was,it did end the cold war between them. 😛
By the time Harshada and Priya got ready,we had a round of photography session and then checked out of the hotel. Our first destination was Hadimba temple,in Manali,which is an ancient cave temple dedicated to Hidimba Devi,wife of Bhīma (characters from the epic tale of Mahabharata).The temple is surrounded by cedar forest and is built around a cave,where,as per beliefs Hidimba used to perform meditation.I,personally love architectures/monuments which have some kind of historical significance to them.This 500 year old temple has a wooden pagoda,with beautiful and intricate carved wooden doors and walls.Inside the temple,the imprint of the feet of Goddess Hidimba,carved on a stone,is worshiped.Though,there is a huge queue for darshan,the temple is a must visit for being one of its kind.
After our darshan,we headed straight for our next venture i.e.river rafting.Now,if you are visiting Kullu Manali,this adventure sport should be on the top of your itinerary.It surely topped our itinerary,after the failed paragliding experience. 😛 You will find various drop points,between Manali and Kullu from where the rafting starts.The prices vary according to the distance covered (you have the option of 3 km, 7 km or 9 km).We opted for the 7 km rafting and paid around 750 bucks per head.
As soon as we got down at the starting point,we were unable to hold our excitement any further.After inquiring about the details and making the payment,we made our way to the changing rooms just across the road and switched to ensemble suitable for rafting.The instructors helped us gear up in life jackets and made us sit on the raft,adjusting us according to our weights.What followed next was the do’s and don’ts by the instructor and then we were ready to go.We asked our cab driver to meet us at the end point as we would have no means to contact him once we were out of the water.
The river seemed quite tranquil,compared to the spine-tingling experience awaiting us.With the first splash of the cold water, all six of us shrieked in unison.The water was cold and numbing to the nth degree and the thought, that we have to endure the ice cold water for another 7 km gave us goose bumps. However,the experience was thrilling beyond words. Actually,it would be more apt if I say the entire cruise was maddening. 😀 We were holding on to the safety ropes frantically as the boat moved through the rapids and bumped on the rocks.
By the time we were done with rafting,we could no more feel our limbs.But,the instructor continued to splash water on us until we climbed out of the boat.It was finally a relief to be out of the freezing water and to stand under the sun.We then started searching for our driver as we desperately needed to change into dry clothes.But wait, where was our driver? He was supposed to be at the end point by then.And,there we were standing drenched,in soggy clothes,looking clueless like lost puppies.It took our driver another half an hour to reach the end point (he misunderstood our instruction and was waiting for us at the start point instead) and by that time we had a run down on all the worst scenarios that could have happened. 😛
Thankfully, none of our over imaginative thoughts came into existence and after getting a change of clothes, we made our way to the next destination,“Bijli Mahadev”.Out of all the places that we had visited till then,I believe this trek was the most exhilarating (though I had almost given up halfway through the foot-slog).The trek for “Bijli Mahadev” starts from Kullu and a road of 12 km has been constructed to the temple (we covered the distance by car).This road stops 3 km before the temple,from where the actual hiking starts.Best time for trekking to Bijli Mahadev temple is during day, as the weather is pleasant and amicable. However,as we had other places to visit,we got delayed and it was 4.30 p.m. by the time we started our trek.
The temple of Bijli Mahadev,is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is at an altitude of 2,460 meters overlooking the Parvati valley.It is said that lightening hits the temple breaking the Shivling into pieces and every time this happens the temple priest joins the Shivling with ghee and satoo (with not a single crack visible).As per beliefs,it is said that Lord Shiva is the guardian of the valley as he bears the brunt of every thunderstorm.
At the beginning of the trek,I assumed that I would easily manage the hike.But, soon after 15 minutes I was winded and it was getting extremely difficult for me to walk any further.I looked at my friends who were around 10-15 steps above me and thought of walking back down to the car. 😛 But as they say friends never leave you alone. So they stood there, motivating me,every time I fell back in step.In fact, Ankur literally dragged me after a certain point and kept walking with me till we reached the top (this also gave us the opportunity to click lots of pictures on the way).
The moment we reached the top of the valley, the view became so captivating, that we actually forgot all our fatigue. We were at the peak of the mountain and it was just the six of us,surrounded by distant snow-capped mountains,untouched natural beauty, green meadows and clouds that seemed to kiss the mountain top. Also, as it was time for sunset,the temperature dropped to 0°C and it became extremely difficult to bear the cold weather. Still the mesmerizing view was enough of a motivation to keep us there. After the temple visit,we went to one of the kiosk,where a lady was selling eatables.We gave her the maggi packets that we carried with us and ask her to prepare the same along with some tea. Till the time our food was getting ready,we sat around the fire bustling in the middle of the kiosk to save ourselves from freezing to death. 😀
Once the food was ready, we hurriedly gulped it down,as it was getting dark and we had to climb down the valley (sprawled with pine-tree forest) and also because the cold wind was giving us jitters. As I started getting down with my two left feet,I slipped and fell down,after which Priya had to hold my hands and make me climb down the entire valley (so much for being an independent adult). 😛 We made our way down in the dark with the help of the flash lights from our phones,but every small sound from the jungle was making us scared and jumpy(Ankur even started seeing silhouettes in the dark).
It was 8 by the time we got back to our car .The drive to our hotel in Kullu was a quiet one as all of us were dog tired after the long,venturous day.An hour or so later,we checked into ‘Hotel Aroma Classic’ and straightaway went into our rooms to freshen up and lie down for a while. It was the last night of our trip and from next day onward there wouldn’t be any hotel stays or card games,no late night gossips and no banters.Just one last destination and then it was time to go back to reality. The dreamlike trip was coming to an end and there was nothing we could do to hold back time.