Day –One (5th Aug)
Manali – Chauda Mod
On the 4th of August, I reach Chandigarh. “Every 20 minutes you will get a bus a Manali, don’t worry” said the most confident taxi wala I have ever seen. I asked him again “Bhai, Will I get an AC bus”. He said “Don’t worry, Of-course you will”. With the hope of a decent bus ride up the hills I reached the bus stand in Chandigarh. On inquiry I was told only local bus, no Volvo before eight in the night! Now, I did not have much of a choice. I got into the first local bus I found. And thus begun the worst bus journey of my life yet. Chandighar to Manali – Eleven and a Half Hours! OUCH!
After that never-ending bus ride I found home in a small hotel called ‘Hotel Solang’, off Mall Road, Manali. All I could do next was sleep and hope to have a peaceful start to my trek the next day. In the morning at around 6:30am I was woken up by the sound of the rain lashing on my window. Excited to begin my trek I got ready and walked to the meeting point of my trek, not too far from the hotel. All was well so far.
Just when we were getting to know one another, some bad news came along. The 5th of Aug, being a Tuesday, makes it the one day of the week when Manali-Rotang highway is closed for maintenance. Not to let our day go to waste, our guide suggested we do another small trek. He took us to Anjani Mahadev Temple. Situated in Solang Valley, it is a three kilometer trek to see a Shivling with a waterfall dropping right on top of it.
The trek to the shivling was like a warm-up for the further treks we were going to do. A short rocky terrain with a lovely view of the Shivling at the end.
Post this, we took a cab to Chauda Mod and started out trek to our camp site. The first and the shortest stretch of the trek was over before you could know it. We set up tents and let the cooks serve us with some hot tea. We just spent the evening getting used to the altitude. Next step was to let the fact that we are going to live in tents and shit in woods sink in. Our tents opened to a view of the mountains, and our source of water was a stream, flowing right next to us. The night slowly began to dawn on us and it became very cold – very fast. Our guide, Sanju, with a lot of effort set up a bonfire for us. Once we were all warm around it, he told us that this was the last fire of the trip because as we climb higher, we will cross the tree line and there will be no source of wood for the fire. Just as the fire wood burnt out there was nothing more left to do.
So, we all decided to hit the hay, Unsure how hard or other vice this trek is going to become in the days to come.