We start from the New Delhi train station at 7:40 am but we are on the platform already at 7 am. We sit in an air-conditioned chair class. It is rather the train of the businessmen who go to Chandigarh. While we read the newspaper of the day in English, a bottle of a liter of mineral water arrives. We also get the morning tea with hot water thermos staff, tea bags, sugar, milk, and biscuits.
Around 11 am comes the lunch with omelette or vegetable cutlet, two slices of bread with butter and jam and always our thermos of hot water and tea bags. We arrive in Chandigarh but we have no time to visit the city built by Le Corbusier. We have ten hours of road to go! After keeping our luggage in the big car and comfortably seated, we stop at 2 pm in a small roadside dhaba. We have rice, potato fry served with the vegetable curry.
The road is beautiful, sometimes concealed, along rivers, beautiful waterfalls along the slopes. It is a region full of water! We arrive in Naggar at the guest house. We get a nice room with a terrace and a superb view! For dinner we have vegetable soup, chicken curry with tomatoes!
Early morning we reach Manali and we take the opportunity to visit the surrounding area. We go to the Vashisht temple and the hot springs, the old temple of Hadimba, two Buddhist temples, one built by the people of Manali. We also visit the other, nearby, built by the Tibetan refugees and we eat a good vegetable soup in their canteen.
This temple of Vashisht is known for its sulphurous warm waters and many come to enjoy it. There are separate baths for men and women. Located in a beautiful forest, the Hadimba Temple is famous. Around the temple of Hadimba there are many attractions, shops for young and old. The attraction of the corner is to have our picture taken with an angora rabbit in our arms!
The entrance to the temple built by Tibetan refugees is almost opposite that built by the Buddhists of Manali. Inside the temple, is teeming with colors, streamers, statuettes, and big Buddha. In the restaurant of the Padma temple we learn the rules of the famous game that people play here a bit like billiards with pawns playing flicking. Its name is the carrom board.
There is a mad world in Manali, with plenty of tourists, many Israelis, for whom India is a favorite destination, especially places where one can smoke weed quietly and here hemp grows profusely along roads! We spend time admiring life in old Manali, talking with the old woman who sorts her apricot kernels to dry. Then they will be broken to make oil with almonds.
In the road we find women in beautiful jewels, their finery, embroidered, sequined, and children with Barbie doll dresses. Yet this is not the wedding season at all. It is considered that during the monsoon season, the gods sleep and it is not appropriate to disturb their nap for wedding ceremonies!
We see small stalls with lots of gold threads, flowers, gilding everywhere. Yes, they are rakhi, little bracelets that the sisters offer to their brothers once a year! All the families move, with the sisters to see their brothers and vice versa. Which means that it's also the full moon.
This bond of affection, love and protection between brothers and sisters is stronger than any steel chain. It is also a very strong social symbol that wants everyone to live in a relationship of peace and mutual assistance, trust and harmonious coexistence.
This is an official day off to allow everyone to move and celebrate with family. This is also a good opportunity for girls who want to get rid of a suitor by offering him a rakhi which means that she considers him as his brother and it will always be so!
After settling down in a house in Manali we attended this raksha bandhan ceremony in our Indian family. The sister presents a tray where is the red powder to put the point on the third eye of her brother, between the two eyebrows. Then she binds the bracelet around the right wrist and finally she presents him with a spongy and sweet cake in the mouth, which he eats. Then the brother puts his hand on the head as a sign of blessing and protection and gives him a small gift, here money.
The houses of old Manali still have some beautiful carved balconies, stables where there are beautiful cows. It feels better than in the modern Manali which is starting to be devoured by concrete and tourist shops.
The Rohtang Pass road to Ladakh has just reopened this afternoon and let's hope it will not rain until tomorrow so we can get on our way. We sleep then halfway at 4200 m before descending on Leh (3500 m).