India Solo Travel: Himachal Pradesh

Visit Manali INdia. Video Blog #7 India Series

After spending almost 10 weeks mostly studying in Rishikesh, India, I was ready to change scenery. I met three really cool girls in my Yoga Teacher Training, and we decided to travel together for a few days. As it is still summer, we wanted to stay in the Himalayas and experience even more mountain life. So we took a 16-hour night bus and crossed states from Uttar Pradesh to Himachal Pradesh. Manali, to be exact. I can’t believe that as I write this, I have been 10 weeks into my India solo travel!

Himachal Pradesh was on my list of things to visit during my India solo travel. Situated in the Western Himalayas, it is characterized by an extreme landscape featuring beautiful mountains and extensive river systems. This state is basically spread across valleys with many perennial rivers flowing through them. It is GORGEOUS! Super green, quiet, and far off, and there are many places to visit here. 

Manali

After a rough night on the bus, we arrive at Manali. We stayed in a cute guesthouse surrounded by green forests. A little far away from the town, but so lovely and peaceful. It has been cold and rainy, so we have been mostly indoors, practicing yoga, listening to music, talking, reading, and writing. Being with people, especially on a girl’s trip, has been amazing! They are just sweethearts; one is from Macedonia, and the others are from Mexico and Belgium. Great team we made! 

We stayed about four days in Manali. We visited Manali, which is medium-sized (less than 8,000 people). The Old Manali part of town is cool; it has nice stores, cafes, good music, and even bars. I drank my first beer in a long, long time (as in Rishikesh, alcohol is prohibited). Cheers to me for having the courage to be here! I also drank my first coffee here in months, which tasted like glory. 

Walking through the streets is lovely; there is a big market and a cool forest. The town is not as crazy as Rishikesh, but it is still more significant than I am looking for in the following weeks of my trip. Many people love to stay here, and if you do, I recommend staying in Old Manali.

Here is a video of my experience in Manali:

Parvati Valley 

Our Belgian girl returned home, but we decided to visit the famous Parvati Valley. I have met so many people telling me about this valley.

You can take a bus from Manali to the first town to get to this place, but you’ll need to hire a driver to get you to the last village you can reach by car. From there, you can reach many other little towns by foot. This place is like a valley with a river crossing, surrounded by the most beautiful snowy mountains, fresh, crispy air, and green color. Each town gets remoter and remoter as you deep down into the valley. We, for example, stayed in a place with no electricity. 

Parvati Valley is one of the most incredible places in Himachal Pradesh, and I am so glad I included it in my India solo trip. Every town is unique, far off, and clean. You cannot hear engines; you can only hear the sound of the mountain, the wind, the water, the birds, the cows, goats, dogs, chickens, and children playing. Houses are made of wood and stones and own their own animals. People are kind and peaceful. It is epic for a solo or not solo traveler because you can find many like-minded foreigners who like to be away from the noise and experience nature. It is easy to sit down and talk in a cafe with somebody or go on a hike. I smoke my first Chillon in here, which basically is just a large pipe for smoking charas (marihuana). I liked it!

After a few days of traveling together, my days returned to Manali, and they were getting ready to return home. So I decided to go to some hot springs called Keer Ganga, which some people told me about, where you have to walk a whole day to get there as they are at the top of the mountain. I was skeptical of going alone, but they told me it was just walking up the hill straight on the path. That’s it, not a way to get lost! At least that’s what I thought. You have to walk uphill, but it is not difficult, and it took me around 6 hours. It was a long way, but it was fun, and I got to meet some people on the road; nonetheless, other times, I walked for long periods without any contact and hoped I was okay.

I finally saw the tents and a few rustic rooms when I finally reached there. Hot springs were closed until the next day. It was almost dark, so I climbed to the top and sat down to watch the sunset. Then I went to a restaurant and drank a beer with a nice dinner. I hit the sack so early that night! The following day, at sunrise, I was already in the hot springs; I opened the place up! It was magical to be inside the water, next to snowy mountains, with a beautiful view of the valley. I mean! It was fitting that the long walk to get here was totally worth it! It is a whole vibe. 

Here is a vlog of Parvati Valley experience:

Vashisht, India

Coming down from Parvati Valley back to Manali, I visited a small village called Vashisht. This place is one of the ones you can fall in love with and stay here. Well, actually, that happened to me. I originally planned to stay in Vashisht for two weeks but stayed for two months! Imagine how captivating it is, and let me tell you why. 

The thing with Vashisht is that it is too cute! It is small; you can enter only by walking (so only a little of the typical Indian chaos happening here). Still, it is close to Manali ( a bigger town if you need anything). It is a perfect size, the people are amazing, you have hot springs available, there are waterfalls everywhere (one in particular is enormous), and the hikes through the mountains are beautiful. The place is just stunning! and pretty peaceful.

As you wake up, you can see people working on their animals (mainly cows and goats). Also, there are two beautiful waterfalls near where I love to sit down and write or chill in front of them. Vashisht also has a beautiful forest and many mountains to hike in. From any cafe, you sit down and watch the Himalayas beside you. I mean, this place is magical! And I cannot get enough of it. 

Another thing that has become cool about my experience here is my friends. I’m renting a room in a guest house where I share the common spaces with the other renters. And life is good enough to send two beautiful souls to spend my days with: my friend Pragyan from India and Steven from Australia. We love to trek in the mountains, play cards, make food, hear music, meditate, and smoke some joints together! Life is chill, and it is pretty good. 

Watch the vlog from the magic mountain, Vashisht:

Dharamshala

After a sad goodbye to my dearest neighbors, I decided it was time to move, so I took another long night to Dharamshala. 

The town also hosts the Tibetan Government-in-exile. Dharamshala was a 

Dharamshala is a place with a very peculiar kind of energy. This is not only because it is located in the heart of high green mountains filled with beautiful giant trees covered in moss but because it is a land where the Tibetan Government and home of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama; what sets it apart is its Tibetan solid character. You see prayer fluttering prayer flags, monasteries at regular intervals, and monks attired in bright saffron robes. 

Here, Hinduism and Buddhism connect. The combination of the Indian culture with the Tibetan community makes this place extraordinary, where you can learn much about these unique cultures and their different ways and approaches towards life. 

Also, like other parts of Himachal Pradesh, Dharamshala has different mountain towns where you can stay away from the city in a peaceful place. I stayed in a guesthouse surrounded by big trees and people playing music and spend my days taking hikes in the mountains and taking classes. I took yoga classes and did a couple of Buddhist teaching workshops at the Center. Like Rishikesh, Dharamshala is also huge in spiritual practices, so it was a gold mine for me! One night a week, I went to Kirtan nights to chant mantras, and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I also learned much from the Tibetan community, where they come from, and some traditions they still remain while visiting the museum and refugee center. The labor they do in there is so interesting, sad, and impressive. 

India Solo Travel: Himachal Pradesh

Taking this time to be alone in the mountains in a peaceful, beautiful place helped me incorporate and practice the tools I learned in the meditation and yoga courses I just took back in Rishikesh. I feel so grateful to God and life for allowing and aligning everything so I could have this precious, unforgettable healing time. I had rough moments, very lonely moments, I got heavy sick, and I had to face some internal darkness. The healing process can be very painful and beautiful. I am transforming and making sure I am taking the time to create a presence for that. 

I liked this place, but unfortunately, the monsoon rains are here, and I need to move! As I finish this blog, I realize I have spent spring and summer here on my India solo trip. As fall is coming, rains are starting to fall heavy, so I must escape Moonson rains while visiting my family on a trip to Italy. Yes, the traveling continues. The truth? My family has been planning this trip for a long while. I need to get out of the heavy rain for a while, so I’ll spend two months in Italy and come back to India during the winter season after the rain is over. I honestly can’t complain about going to Italy, right! And sooner than later I will continue with my India Solo Travel adventure!

So this was it! A long blog post that I wrote for a long time. I hope you like the vlogs!!

Much love,

Pia 

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