Manali

 Notched in the narrow Kullu Valley and its sharp peaks, Manali is one of the most popular destination for Indians
on holiday. This makes them to bring traffic, honking horns and pollution, which you wouldn’t expect in such mountain paradise. Nevertheless, the savage mass-tourism is thankfully concentrated in New Manali, around the main commercial road poetically called “the Mall”. Unluckily, also the Hadimba Temple falls into the range of this industry. I went by just for duty of reporting.

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I found myself taking a room in Old Manali, which I found pretty much better, and cheaper. With its tiny alleys and buzzing apecars, it probably recalled me the old city of Bari.

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Of course I spent barely half a day in the city center. My first trip was in the neighboring village of Vashist, renewed for its hot springs and waterfalls. The pools at the hot springs were divided by gender, and this took every appeal  away. While I was still shaking the disappointment off, I bumped into Arkash, a Russian guy I met on the bus from Dharamsala. We went together to the Jogini waterfall, the most famous among several. The sunset from that spot was stunning.

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The next day, I asked around for a remote place. Honestly, it was what I expected Manali to be. I’ve been sent to the Solang Valley, branch by the very end of the wider Kullu valley. The trek is meant to start from the Roadhouse in Old Manali, but I actually got a ride from Raja, a smiling guy who was also a mountain-guide. He gave me precious  information, and dropped me around Solang village, the last inhabited place. Over there, you just have to lose yourself along the shepherds’ paths.

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As often happens, the weather turned bad, so everybody took the way home. Locals with quads, me with the usual, overcrowded local bus.
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Still thirsting after a real challenge, I refused to pay the expensive organized expeditions, and I’d rather found a good teammate and make my way to Naggar, in order to reach Malana, in the Parvati Valley, crossing the

Chandrakhani Pass.

My thirst was finally quenched. Just before leaving for my next destinations, a group of friends met at the guesthouse invited me for a picnic in the woods in between Old and New Manali. I wish I could have found it before.

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Photo: Matteo Fabi

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