A Digital Marketer by profession and a crazy traveler by passion — Nirmala Salam is driven by a desire to explore new places, foods, peoples and cultures. In her attempts to celebrate the New Year’s Eve, she signed up for a group-tour to Manali, organized by TravelTriangle. From being concerned about safety, to making friends for life – Nirmala’s, was quite a journey. Take a look.
I have always been more of a traveler than a tourist. I am hardly ever concerned about a tour guide, or for that matter, even a travel companion. So, taking a pre-booked package with an unknown group on a New Year, was about to be an adventure in itself!
Initially, I had planned to celebrate the New Year with some special members of my family. When that plan did not work out, I decided to do something other than my usual. I signed up for “New year celebration – Manali Hills” (a group-tour event organized by TravelTriangle), that I recently got to know about from a friend.
The idea of traveling with a bunch of 100+ unknown people was seemingly exciting, but laden with doubts. Initially, I was a little insecure about safety, but dared to face the challenge.
Day 1: First Impressions
My journey started in a bus from Delhi at 7 pm and the ride, soon, became a trouble. With the noisy group sitting beside me, I began to complain of the company in my head. But as I got talking to them, I realized how unnecessarily judgmental I had been. The energy and enthusiasm of the young group gradually brought me to comfort. Now this, did, give me something to ponder — Should the first impression always be last?
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Day 2: The joy of company
Well, we reached Manali, a little late than scheduled. Excited to settle in my room at Hotel Trishul, I ran into Deepti and Neha – two solo female travelers, and my roommates for the trip. We immediately struck a chord and in no time, they became like a long-lost friend to me.
As the day proceeded, we were taken to the mesmerizing Hadimba Temple. Embraced in an array of tall Deodar trees, and with mountains in the backdrop — the temple was quite a spectacle to look at. We roamed around the temple and befriended some other group-mates.
Our soulful visit to the temple found a perfect contrast in the night’s revelries. A party scene was set, to mark the beginning of the New Year. The DJ was on, dance was in full swing, and a cake was cut. Everyone was colored in the spirit of joy. With so much energy in the air, the night was a full-on blast.
Day 3: I wanna build a snowman!
Scheduled for a visit to the Solang Valley during the day, we woke up at around 7 in the morning. The chilly weather was inducing a rush of excitement in me. Though I don’t set high expectations from any place that I visit, but playing in the snow and making a snowman were definitely on my wish-list this time.
We soon geared up for snow and went for a trek uphill. The trek laid bare different shades of the beauty of the valley. My much-longed desire to build a snowman was finally fulfilled, while we all made merry in the snow. In the evening, we indulged in some shopping at the Mall Road, before calling it a day!
Day 4: And the year begins!
Come the last day of a trip and the memories you made, begin to flock your mind. Our stay at the hotel had come to an end, and I bid goodbye to the room where I had immense fun with my crazy roomies.
On the way back, we visited the Gurudwara Manikaran Sahib. The hot water spring in the Gurudwara refreshed my senses and the guru ka langar offered a perfect parting treat. Stuffed with langar, I took my leave from Manali and began the home-bound journey with some new-found friends.
High Points: My much-awaited trek in the snow and the crazy DJ night.
Low Point: The bus journey throughout the trip was very uncomfortable. Moreover, I think I missed out on visiting Old Manali. But I believe, it is good to miss something every time you travel. That makes you come back.
Tip to future travelers: A quick tip is that one must travel light.
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