Saturday 26th March 2011
Its been a beautiful hot day again so made a slow start with a late breakfast at the guest house then about mid day set off for town.
I tried again to find Vashisht this time by walking down to Manali and crossing the river on the rickety bridge, one of a pair which form a one way system over the valley. They are made of mecano and dont look strong enough for a car to cross, but buses and trucks thunder over. When they do, theres no room for pedestrians, so you have to cross with pefect timing between the vehicles.
The road out of town is the Manali Leh Highway but is not at all romantic – just a filthy dusty unsurfaced road through a pretty awful series of dusty buildings and very narrow in places. All along are numbered shops hiring out cheap ski suits for visitors to the snow line and offering packages of ski, snow mobile and parascending.
I dont know how I missed the turning up to Vashist but I did, and kept on walking far too far – changing plans half way to catch the first available bus or rickshaw back to town, or to keep on walking if none came , in search of the elusive bridge which I couldnt find yesterday.
The only buses were going the wrong way and not a single rickshaw came, so I struggled on until well past the Avalanche Research Centre when I found a path down to a very bouncy rickety bridge over the very fast flowing Beas.
The track was a great relief after the horrible busy main road and led into a lovely little village with no main road access – another place where time has stood still and it was most enjoyable wandering around climbing the steep paths between medieval houses, each with its new born calf and mother with tobacco hanging to dry on ornately carved balconies and generations of families going about their daily business of tending to the livestock, weaving or simply sitting talking. What an absolutely beautiful place this is.
Right up to the top is a very rough road indeed which leads back to join the road I walked along yesterday, so I completed the full circle this time – probably 10 or 12 km in total, so I was quite pleased to get back for a rest.
Time to leave Manali I think – although it is tempting just to stay until the end of the week, but I worked out a route to Simla which involves a night bus tomorrow night – booked and paid for at the bus station – 540 rs, to Chandigargh arriving 5am Monday.
Swiftly followed by booking the Himalayan Queen at 12:10 from Kalka to Simla, so the connections will be critical. But then plans are made to be changed!