Jul 26, 2009

Riding the mist

I find myself in Manali, Himachal Pradesh shortly after an impulse break-away from Bangalore. A bustling hill station of the north, defined thus by the bejeweled honeymooners and large families all congregating to beat the heat of the North Indian plains. There is an over-riding sense of well being and casual prosperity in stark contrast to the complying hospitality of the genteel natives of Manali, a significant portion of which are people from Nepal and Tibet.


While Himanshu, tries to negotiate a sweet deal on a '93 RE Machismo, I gaze upon the tibetian settlement across the street. There are a multitude of people, tourists of all colors, bikers, and even the few natives, old, crinkled and sitting in groups with their prayer wheels. Old women, with beautifully lined faces, making me want to reach out and touch them, as if that single act can convey the stories behind each line.

With the noble steed right in place, we set off for Rohtang Pass (3978m), a ride through kilometre long traffic jams owing to the double laning of the road to the pass, at times a feet of mud to bike through but mostly gorgeous views of the valley spreading below lined with tall deodars and pines. At the fringes of the Lahaul Valley, Rohtang is still largely covered in glaciers here and there and hordes of tourists trying to ski. We set off a little beyond the pass and stop by in the freezing wind, to just lie on the grass and take in the panorama that the places springs up.

What was most stunning about Rohtang that day, was the mist that envelopes the place shortly after we start hiking around the pass. Visibility is well impaired, and at intervals, ghostly figures of tourists on horses emerge from the mist to cross me and gradually dissapear into the mist again. Now and then the mist separates just a wee bit, to give a peek at the valley below. Its breathtaking!

2 comments:

Kunal said...

the firang is taking ur video pic, or was he generally shooting the view around you guys?

Darkness and deep said...

wow, the last para was mystic! Super photo to complement what u experienced!