When I was stuck in Manali for a week

It was September 2018, I had just finished my 6 day Hampta Pass trek with Indiahikes in Manali, Himachal Pradesh. I had taken 2 weeks leave from my office, had a perfect plan in place, had packed my bags and clothes accordingly for 2 weeks too. I was carrying my action camera along with a tripod too which I had recently ordered especially for this trip. In this 2 weeks, I had planned to do this trek for the first week and second week proceed towards Spiti valley to explore the same. The reason I chose Hampta was for the same reason, as it starts in green valley of Kullu and ends in barren stark landscape of Lahaul valley.

Rewind to last day of the trek; we were at camp Chhatru, which is the last campsite of the trek. Till the previous evening the weather was more than perfect throughout our trek and it suddenly started to rain continuously the previous night. Our camps were pitched just a few meters away from the mountain behind us which was full of rocks. We were scared the entire night as we could hear sounds similar to small rocks falling down, which was also sometimes the raindrops falling on our tents. Video from the dinner tent – link.

I had planned to leave to Spiti from the morning bus at Chhatru bus stop. Actually there was no proper bus stop there but after enquiring with locals I had got the information that there is only one bus from Manali to Spiti in a day which leaves from Manali at 6am. This would arrive at around 10am to Chhatru where I could board from. There was no bus stop or anything at this place except for a small tea shop.

We all woke up in the morning and still there were no signs of the rain stopping. The weather was worsening and people told there is prediction of storm in the coming days. Watch this video of that morning.

Many adviced me its better not to wait alone for the Spiti bus in this condition as there was no way for me to go anywhere suppose the bus did not happen to come by.( Depending on weather there is always chance for that one bus to get cancelled) At Chhatru, there is literally nothing except for barren landscapes and no establishments of people anywhere nearby which would mean if left alone there was chances of me getting stranded.

So after giving much thought, I decided to go with everyone else towards Manali (Hampta pass itinerary of Indiahikes starts and ends with pickup and drop in Manali). It is total of 3 hour journey from Chhatru to Manali and the road is kind of dangerous with many steep turns and water flowing on the road especially in such rainy conditions. As time passed by, rain turned to snow and within minutes the green landscape turned entirely white!

Landscape – Before
Landscape – After

We stopped at Rohtang Pass on the way just for a few minutes, to smile and dance in the snowfall! This entire journey we were just looking at the road in awe, looking at how beautiful it was looking, as if we were in some wonderland.

We stopped at Rohtang Pass to take some pictures
The girl gang!

Reached Manali, I checked into my room which I had booked on GoIbibo on the way which was near to Mall Road as it would be at a walkable distance from the bus stop. I paid just Rs.325 per day for the room and it was pretty big and an amazing one for such low price, with carpeted flooring due to the cold (it was near to 3 degrees in the daytime) and a balcony giving a direct view of the newly snow-cladded mountains (what more could I wish for).

View from my Manali hotel room

The rain didn’t seem to stop. I went to bus stop to enquire about the Spiti bus and I was told that it has been cancelled because the road to Spiti has been fully covered in snow starting from Rohtang pass and that this year the road has been closed so early (Usually roads to Spiti will be closed somewhere around last week of September is what I had heard and it was just 2nd week of September). I was heartbroken. So much of planning and dreaming had been a waste! I didn’t know what to do, I went and stayed in my room and watched TV to pass time.

The first day I asked my hotel people that I wanted to do some sightseeing around Manali even though it was raining. I got a cab guy number from them who agreed for a one-day sightseeing thing to nearby places for Rs.500. It was a good day where I saw the famous Hadimba Devi temple, Buddhist monastery, Shiva temple and an Arcade.

He stopped for lunch at a small local place which served amazing local food. Near to the arcade, we saw a crowd of people overlooking the road. Seeing that I got to know the seriousness of the situation, the road had collapsed at the sides and the Beas river was flowing ever so violently (watch this VIDEO), eating away the roads and covered in mud. I remember seeing her the first day I entered Manali, so calm and peaceful and now it was entirely the opposite.

Another day passed by and the rain still didn’t stop. TV connections went off, the electricity went off, ATMs went out of cash (I had some emergency cash), all the buses from and to Manali got cancelled, my phone network which was intermittent also went off, I got news that the main Highway from Delhi-Manali collapsed! This hadn’t happened in decades together. I was all alone left not knowing what to do and the only option of waiting for everything to get fine soon.

I was extending the booking of my room each day online and now there was no network. I went and spoke to them about the same and they allowed me to stay saying that I could book online again once the networks resumed. I must say that even though they knew the situation and I was staying there alone, I never for a moment felt unsafe and these hotel guys always helped me in whatever way they could. I used to eat just 2 times a day and order from them. 2-3 days passed by with no network at all so I could not even contact my parents. I couldn’t go out and was literally so bored with nothing to do for the entire day. I used to go to bus stand daily once to check on the status of the buses if they had resumed and if I could get out of Manali at least and go to Delhi. The rains had reduced and the network was restored, only calls could be made and I informed my close ones about the situation.

Click on my next blog post here to read what happened next.

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