This routine seems good. Not having to wake up to any alarm. Packing up and heading to the next destination.
Ideally as per plan was supposed to go towards Srinagar, but due to unfortunate events (curfew) had to head back and take the Manali – Leh route. Headed back to Mandi and then Kasol. Post which will figure out what to do.
Luckily managed to take the other route from Dharamshala to Mandi this time and avoided the patch where the 4 lane construction part was taking place.
Luckily didn’t get any major rain spells along the way. Could ride at a leisure pace, take lots of rests and enjoy the air of the mountains.
Decided to spend the night at Mandi and set out for Kasol next day. The roads to Kasol were in immaculate condition. There was one section which had like a 2KM long tunnel. For a while all sorts of thoughts were running in my head, as if this is a dream that I’m in right now.
For the last 20-30KMs was riding beside the Parvati river. Riding at a relaxed pace. The sound of river flowing made it more soothing, or I was imagining the sound of the river in my head and riding.
Had heard a lot about this area being famous for marijuana plants and products. Was surprising to see it growing right beside the road.
Started raining a bit and halted at Kasol Camps.
The guy running the place, Rohit, was a super chilled out bloke who is a biker himself. He had done the Manali Leh circuit on his Avenger last year with a bunch of friends. We landed up talking for at least an hour after which we realized that I should pitch my tent and unpack the luggage. Landed up camping here for two nights.
My tent was pitched right beside the river and could hear the flow of it all the time like a lullaby. Freshened up and ventured out with Rohit to Manikaran market area. Picked up some local dental timber sticks to chew on.
He showed me this one temple, maybe one of the only Ram Mandirs who serve langar on a regular basis.
Sat by a place just to watch the sunlight go out. More conversations prevailed.
Couldn’t fathom what the night would hold for me. With the lovely river flowing beside me and simply making its own song. In the middle of the night, there was a bunch of mad dogs that started fighting and barking and landed up near by tent, rolling over and somehow one of them got their teeth into the sticks and the tent collapsed.
With the help of few people at the campsite, managed to do some temporary jugaad.
Headed to take a dip in the hot water spring at Manikaran. All unknown people sitting at the common bath, pouring hot water on themselves. Every new guy who walked in was treated with the same smile and thought ‘Go on take a dip and pour hot water’.
That was one of the most refreshing experiences to sit there, pour hot water. No words spoken. Just the pleasant weathering and hot water.
Struck a conversation with a guy from Mumbai who had lived in Europe for 4 years. He had spent a few weeks here in Parvati Valley.
Went on to have the langar in the Gurudwara, sat down in the prayer room for a while. Just experiencing the vibe of the place.
Post lunch, moved on towards tosh. Roads weren’t that favourable. Met an Israeli guy who had come on a Bullet from Goa.
Reached Tosh and a few drivers just came up and started asking the now quite regular questions that people ask. ‘Where are you from? where are you going? Are you really alone?’
In the midst of conversations, it started to rain. To which these folks with a big heart said ‘Bhaiya aajao, let’s sit in the car.’ Conversations continued about Ladakh, traveling, food, etc.
To which they said, let’s go we’ll have fresh apples from the farm here. A 2-3 min hike lead to a few locals cleaning the apples and piling them up in a basket. One of them was going to pluck more apples and I accompanied them.
Was the first time ever having seen an apple tree. The farmer plucked one apple and handed it to me to try. A nice and juicy red apple. The joy of eating such fruits is something that cannot be described in words.
After the rain stopped, we noticed that one mountain range far away had received snowfall and the peak was now all white with snow.
Headed back to Kasol to grab some food. Rohit had recommend this momo place called Shambo Momos.
Turns out that the owner of the momo place, Sunil Thakur, is also a bike lover. Spoke for at least an hour only to realize that he needed to shut the shop as it was time for him to pack up. I’m sure we would’ve simply landed talking for another hour.
Went back to the campsite to find all the blokes working there playing teen patti. By now it seemed that we all had become pals and sat together to watch some random movie which was running on TV.
These few days had some very interesting experiences that have made the trip memorable. The people, the conversations, the roads, the location. Everything just helps to remind oneself why we travel the way we do.