Intrigued by the beauty of nature, peace in the valleys, breathtaking views of the night sky, passionate display of colours during the sunset and the thrill of sleeping in tents outside, a Himalayan trek was something we always had on our bucket list. Nirma University was kind enough to take us to Manali-Bhrigu Lake Adventure Camp from June 10-18, 2022.
Excited about the forthcoming trip, we boarded the train from Ahmedabad to Una in Himachal Pradesh. From Una, it took us 15 hours to reach Manali by bus. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we took seven hours extra to reach Manali; but being in the best company the extra hours honestly did not matter.
Ahmedabad-based tour agency Path Adventures led the trip and had an entire itinerary planned for us. Our day one began with a beginners’ trek to Jogini Waterfalls under the supervision of four to five instructors and staff from Nirma University. The trek to Jogini Falls is among the best short treks near Manali. The trek route passes through a narrow lane adjacent to the Vashisht temple and through apple orchards, tall pine trees and small water streams. The trek route is through beautiful villages aligned with the sprawling valleys. We completed the trek to Jogini Waterfalls in 90 minutes. As we reached, we were mesmerised by the view and scenic beauty bestowed by the waterfall and the adjacent mountains. We then trekked down to Vashisht Village. On reaching the village, we noticed the distinct culture the people were following. They also maintained the sanctity of the temple premises.
We made a brief visit to the local markets on Mall Road, believed to be the heart and soul of Manali. We picked up some souvenirs and had regional cuisines like laphing, momos and siddu.
How can you not do river-rafting when in Manali? Our next stop was River-Rafting in Beas river, Kullu. The turbulent waters of the Beas river made us taste an adrenaline rush like never before. The other activities were like River crossing, Rapling, Paragliding and Ziplining.
Our next stop was the Bhrigu Lake trek. The trek is to a high-level alpine lake from Manali. It is known as the place where the famous saint Maharishi Bhrigu sat in deep meditation. From these grassy knolls, the mountains of Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar can be dominating the skyline. We started our journey to our higher base camp on an elevation of 9500 ft. For an hour, we trekked upwards on the mountain. Followed by trails while enjoying the scenic beauty of the mountains and waterfalls. We reached our higher campsite in three hours. There were a lot of first-times on this trek as living in a tent, spending night in a sleeping bag, drinking chilled cold water from the waterfalls, staying without internet, etc. in the evening, we collected wood for the bonfire. The campfire was filled with laughter, creepy stories and music. All this with a beautiful view of the Pir Panjal mountain range from our tent.
With the next sunrise, we began our trek to Bhrigu lake. It took us almost 6 hours to reach the summit. We trekked through the grasslands and meadows on the Bhrigu Lake trek stretch far and wide – almost like an endless carpet. Wild horses galloped around us. The grazing sheep looked up when we came out of the tree line, almost as if to greet us. The grasslands extended in gorgeous undulating green dunes. The texture and colour of the meadows altered with an increase in altitude. As we rose, the short, bright, but gritty carpet changed to deep, luscious green. The aromatic scent and the velvety smoothness are still with us. There were moments when we felt like giving up. But the motivation that the snow-capped mountains gave was unignorable. When we were 15 minutes away from Bhrigu lake, the weather became cloudy and started drizzling. Not losing hopes, we continued on our trek to Bhrigu lake with those chilly winds slapping our faces and resisting further movement. With our willpower being on our side, we reached our summit. But all the hopes and excitement shattered the fog made the lake invisible. However, within minutes the weather cleared, and the lake was visible. We had teary eyes as we could see our efforts in the beauty we had just come across. It was surreal. We could feel goosebumps sweeping all over us and could hear our heartbeats through our ears. Snow-clad mountains and captivating views made every step worth the effort. The glacial lake was an absolute delight. The sight of it made our fatigue melt away within seconds. We clicked some pictures and flagged the flag of Nirma University. We beheld the exquisite view of the lake and surrounding ranges in our minds and hearts so that the beautiful view stays with us forever. We were very proud of ourselves and our team. We couldn’t stay for long as the weather wasn’t supportive, and it was time to trek down to our higher campsite again. Smiles were seen on every face as we trekked down while enjoying the Himachal ranges. To us, every moment now felt magical. We reached our higher campsite in five hours.
Next morning, we trekked down to our base camp in Manali. We then visited Hidimba Devi Temple (also known as Dhungari temple) in the evening. Built in 1553 CE, in an ancient cave temple dedicated to Hidimba Devi, wife of Bhima, a figure in the Indian epic. The temple is surrounded by a cedar forest called Dhungiri Van Vihar at the foot of the Himalayas. It is famous for its unique architecture.
Before starting our journey back to Una, on the last night in Manali, the instructors surprised us with a party where we danced and had sumptuous food.
The nine days of this trip gave us insights into life that we could not experience living in the comforts of our homes. We made new friends, learned about different cultures, the way of living and how rich our Indian culture is.Author Chesta Jindal and Vanshita Bachani