Windows to Heaven
My friend Bikash and his wife Antima recently
celebrated their third wedding anniversary. Around the same time, I also celebrated my first wedding anniversary with my
wife, Preeti. Hence we decided to celebrate the occasions together. Since Bikash is also a Club Mahindra member, the
decision was easy. We chose the Snowpeaks Resort in Manali as we love adventure and hills.
The drive from Chandigarh to Manali became a long one as we
frequently stopped to enjoy the view and take photographs. We
reached the resort at 10pm, when it was cold and raining heavily.
The next morning brought beautiful rays of sunshine with it.
The view outside was spectacular — a picturesque view of acres
of apple orchards and snow-clad mountain peaks that sparkled
in the first rays of the sun.
We decided to go paragliding, which the resort staff coordinated
for us. The 45-minute trek leading to the paragliding platform
is dangerous, but once you are there, you feel as if you are on
top of the world. I was the first one to reach the platform and
climb into the paraglide harness. I began and then stopped,
scared. What if I fell? I took a deep breath and ran again — and
I was up, up and away. I was soaring upwards, taking in the
breathtaking view of the mountains and valleys. The weather was
apt — bright sunshine competing with the chilly wind. I could
have spent my life like this. I made a gentle landing 15 minutes
later. If you ever dream of flying, you must paraglide in Manali.
We ended the day with delicious dinner at the resort followed by
a trip to the market.
Someone rightly said that Manali’s weather is whimsical. The
second morning was a rainy day. Deciding to ski in the Solang
valley, we reached the snow point on horses. February is ideal for
skiing in Manali. We learnt techniques like straight running and
sideslip. Next to our skiing point was a famous temple of Lord
Shiva — a 40 feet Shiv ling rose up, formed entirely by snow.
Feeling dead cold after the ski, ginger tea and instant noodles came to our rescue. I have always thought of
instant noodles as the food of gods — and to have it
simultaneously while watching the snowfall is celestial!
We came back and had tea and pakodas. We decided
to spend the evening at the resort. The notice board
talked about a ‘cowboy fashion show’ in the evening;
that sounded innovative. And it was. The resort staff
presented a splendid show — the mix of Mexican and
desi cowboys was very creative and novel.
I always thought that Manali is a popular tourist
attraction only in the summers. But I was wrong. It is an
equally attractive winter destination as well. The diversity
of people, climate, mountains and adventure sports is
the real essence of this town. It is an ideal holiday spot if
you enjoy nature and adventure sports.
Finally, it was time to say good-bye to Manali! I was
carrying back pictures of the view from our resort and
the memories of an adventurous vacation.