From Chandigarh to Manali...from the foothills of the Himalayas to the Himachal range, observe the changes that take place in the topography around you. When in the Himalayas, travel as geographers do...
Huge V-Shaped Valleys carved by River Beas in the valley course of the river. The water that you see, remains as a part of a reservoir.
Middle - aged Deodar (Cedar) trees in the higher ranges of the mountains. These are the lungs of the mountains. The air, rivers, soil, animals, birds as well as humans depend on them for their livelihood. Tourism industry itself thrives due to the presence of these forests. The moment they disappear, that will be the doomsday.
Huge dinosaur - egg sized boulders lie on either side of the river. What is interesting, is their shape. These perfect pebble shaped rocks have been created by the grinding action of the river water. Fancy a natural paper weight anyone?
Where religion and nature worship go hand in hand. The locals respect the nature in the hope that the nature will help them survive.
So when the Tibetans had to escape from their homeland in 1949, it was here in the Himalayas that they found their refuge. The Himalayas were a common bond between Tibet and India and so they felt at home, while being away from it.
You will find many such beautiful monasteries throughout the Himalayas.
On the way to the Solang Valley, the River Beas is your constant companion. The freezing cold waters make a deafening, yet pleasant sound.
Although mountain glaciers seem to be stationary, they are always on the move, albeit rather slowly.
As they move down the valley, they shape it, making it deeper and sharper. This is the source of water that keeps the Himalayan rivers perennial.
Trekking in the mountain is not easy...at least not for flatfooted humans like me! The stones are sharp, the soil is slippery and your have goats, lambs, horses, cows and other such animals who are climbing up the mountain for their annual transhumance.
Yet, beautiful scenes around you, keep you going. ( Also the hope of finally landing in snow!)
As our guide commented, "Barf to bhagwan ki tarah ho gaya hai! Kaha kaha se log aate hai aur itni mehnat karte hai sirf barf dekhne ke liye!"
(Loosely translated - The way people take a pilgrimage, similarly here, people are trekking to see some snow!)
But what you see at the end of your long and arduous journey is rather a disappointment at first. Considering what you expected was snow - clean, white, fluffy, the one in which you could play and make a snowman! But alas, what you get is a small glacier made up of ice. The ice is mixed with plant matter and mud that was brought along with it as it came down the valley! And the entire journey suddenly seems a big waste!
Oh, but well, after all you have come to enjoy...snow or ice...who cares! Lets wear some traditional Himachal clothes and take some typical photos!
Let's also pick up huge ice balls to show back home that you have actually seen some SNOW!
And finally, let's roll on the ice wearing the - Rs.250, 5 kg in weight - snow suit, that you have rented, just so that you can play in SNOW!
Why otherwise would you be wearing it when the temperature is not even 15 degrees C??
Oh yes, just so that your clothes don't get wet and dirty.
(One advice - the ice below may be freezing, but the Sun above is not! It does it's normal work and burns your skin, no matter what! So please so not try this stunt without wearing a good sunscreen, unlike myself...)
While coming down the valley, this is what we found - a skeleton, probably of a dead sheep.
Mind you, we did not carry it along with us. In the months to come, it would decompose and become a part of the Earth once again, thus completing the cycle.
Horses grazing freely on the slopes.
The return journey was much quicker as we took the road. We could have done so while going too, but the security guys did not allow us. This new road is under construction. A tunnel is being constructed that would take you directly to Rohtang Pass from here.
Unfortunately, the Rohtang Pass was closed when we went.
(Advice - Prior permission needs to be taken to visit the Rohtang Pass. Do confirm if it is open before making your travel plans.)
The road has been closed for the right reasons too. You can see landslides dotting the sides of the road. Retention walls have been constructed at most places, yet precaution is better.
So many things to be observed in just one frame!
The river flows down from the high mountain with very high velocity (here, in the form of a waterfall).
It slows down a bit as the slope decreases. Various streams join together to make one stream.
As it reaches the valley bottom, it is seen splitting into two streams. It has deposited a large amount of debris in the valley, forming a fan. This is just before it meets the main river.
Terrace farming, a common practice in hilly areas.
Solang village (from where all the guides come)
Population: Approx. 400 people
Occupation: Farming, tourism, herding
People: Soft - spoken, kindhearted, loyal, not greedy for money.
Facilities: The village has a HP Board school upto class 10.
Treat them well, they work hard for a living. Our tour guide took Rs.1000 for the 4-5 hour trek. We split the charges with another couple who came with us. The guide did not mind. He was friendly. Halfway on the trek, he asked us to carry on with another lady, while he would go back and bring more people. They would carry your extra baggage happily.
And finally, listen to the force of nature...River Beas, flowing in all it's abundance!