Sunday, September 17, 2017

Trail through woods and Apple Orchards - Hike to Goshal Village in Manali

Travelling - It leaves you speechless and then it turns you into a storyteller. By Ibn Battuta 

How true this quote is when I write my experience of a hike to a small village on outskirts of Manali which left us speechless with our walk in woods and through heart of Apple Orchards near old Manali. It all started with culmination of our Leh Ladakh journey and a day to spare in Manali. After a week of travelling by car in Leh Ladakh and ending the trip in Manali, It was a relaxing day for our group, We decided to spent our day by visiting Hidimba temple and do a stroll in old Manali. Old Manali is around 3 kms from New Manali which is separated by bridge over gushing waters of Beas river. A complete uphill climb, Old Manali lane is flanked by restaurants and cafes serving wide varieties of International cuisines from Israel to Korea. More frequented by foreigners, We can find shopkeepers and cafe owners talking fluently in Hebrew or Italian or French.

The last stretch of old Manali lane is a steep climb lined with few village houses and ends at magnificent old temple dedicated to sage Manu who is suppose to be the creator of the world and writer of Manusmriti.

Glimpse of old manali house

Glimpse of old manali house
Manu temple

Just before the temple we spotted a board "Trek to Goshal Village - 2 kms, Trek to Solang Valley - 11 kms". And that just set the ball rolling in our head to atleast trek till Goshal village. It was mid afternoon and we had all the time in our hand and more importantly it was a clear day in rainy month of August. Just a few blocks behind Manu temple lies this last cafe on the road called "Rocky's cafe". The cafe provides one of the most spectacular views of the Manali Mountains. One could spend like an entire day sitting in cafe sipping on tea / coffee reading a book or just plain sit and watch the mesmerizing view of the mountains. They also offer stay in neat & tidy rooms and have a restaurant serving simple lunch and dinner. 

R-cafe location and magnanimous view was too alluring for few of our group members who decided to spent rest of the afternoon at the cafe enjoying the hot cuppa while for four of us, the sign board of 2 km trek to Goshal village was too appealing and we decided to go ahead.

The road ends at R-cafe and steps carved into the rocks leads us into the woods. As it always happens on treks, there were these two dogs which followed us on the trail like our guide in the woods. 

The initial steps gave way to a narrow path in the woods with pine trees on both sides. The rainy season had turned the mountains in green belt with lush greenery all around. 

After a walk of around 30 minutes the path became precariously narrow with deep valley on one side with just enough space for one person to walk and rocky mountains on the other. The trail seemed exciting and we decided to continue as it was only 2 kms and we could always turn back if we got lost. At one of the spots there were steps cut on rocky patch. 

The rocky patch climb gave us the most amazing view of Manali valley & cloud covered mountains on other side. As we walked further from here we were welcomed by trees laden with Apples as far as we could see. This was most beautiful part of hike - A hike through heart of Apple orchard. With no one to look over us and ever inviting apple laden trees, it was difficult for us to stay away and not pluck apples.

We did come across few houses in the orchard but they seemed to be empty. Our trail at some places was confusing with two paths going in different directions but we decided to stick with path which was more prominent. Our walk continued for over 2 hrs but still there was no sight of Goshal village. We blindly followed our path which was now leading downwards away from apple orchards.

To our disappointment our hike ended abruptly on a tar road which was not something we wanted or expected. But we could sense human activity and roar of engine few meters away and decided to walk further on tar road. Around few blocks from where we entered tar road were some shops where Apple was being collected after being plucked from the orchards. 

We asked the villagers around who confirmed that we were indeed on right path and Goshal village was few hundred meters away. With sigh of relief we decided to at least get a glance and few pictures before starting the return journey. We reached a nice rocky spot overlooking a Goshal village where we took our final halt. 

Goshal village was a pretty quaint village with few houses and narrow winding lanes in between. But the best part was the exotic village location with Solang valley further ahead and Vasisht village & temple on opposite mountain. The village is away from Manali hustle bustle, right in middle of mountain and Apple orchards all around. For someone looking to stay in calm and peaceful location then this village would be ideal place. The village is around 3kms from Manali through motorable road while it is 2 kms through the path we took from old Manali.

Happy Happy

Return journey begins

Happy to have reached Goshal village and after clicking few pictures we decided to follow the same path to reach old Manali. Our return journey was bit tough for the downhill path we came from was now our uphill climb and there was no longer any excitement left. 

But we managed to complete our return journey in half the time it took for us to reach Goshal village. Highlight of our return journey was a small spring of water in the rocks from where SB decided to quench her thirst, it turned out the water had weird taste and when asked how was it ? she made a funny face saying "AMRIT "which made all of us burst in laughter.

The hike to Goshal village was worth all the effort and may be on our next visit would love to try 11 kms trek to Solang valley. We signed off our trek with hot cuppa and some rest for our legs at Rocky's cafe before heading down to our hotels. 

From Rocky's cafe 

Our Hot Cuppa
Have you done any treks, trails or a small hike in Manali ? How was your experience ? Do share your experiences.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Udupi diary : Hanging Bridge of Kemmannu

If you are a Udupi local or even from Karnataka, you would probably know about this place. But for an outsider like me it was just waiting to be discovered. Tourist prefer to visit more popular beaches like Malpe or Kaup & Krishna matt, most famous landmark of Udupi rather than this offbeat attraction, The Hanging bridge of Kemmannu over Suvarna river.

This bridge lies on the outskirts of Udupi in a region called Tonse, around 8 kms from Udupi city centre. Tonse is small but beautiful village which has lush green landscape, creeks and coconut palms every where you look. The surreal beauty of the place is the master work of Suvarna river which flows from east to west creating a number of islands in its delta before it finally merges into Arabian sea few kms away at yet another beautiful place called Kodi Bengre. 

Suvarna river creates a lush greenery all around its bank and some really beautiful islands covered with coconut trees like a coconut lagoons. The houses or bungalows around this place are the perfect homes that everyone would love to live in. The hanging bridge also called Kemmannu bridge connects the mainland to one of the islands called Thimman Kudru. Before this bridge was built the island were accessible only by boats. It was in the year 1991 when Karnataka engg cadets during their annual training built this 280 feet long suspension bridge which is now become a lifeline and boon for the island people. 

The stone slab at the foot of the bridge names it as "Deepak". Though the life of the bridge was suppose to be 5 years but it is going strong and hanging even after 20 years. Walking on the bridge provides a real thrill as it sways as you walk on it or when an occasional biker passes over it. On weekends this place attracts small crowd of tourist as was informed to me by one of the shopkeepers near that place. 

How to reach: Udupi has quite an extensive network of local bus transport, From city bus stand one can take a bus going towards Kemmannu (called as Kemmann) or Kodi Bengre which will cost only Rs 16/- and takes around 25-30 minutes. The bus drops at the village of Kemmannu from where one can cross another bridge and walk 1 km on the path which ends at the suspension bridge. Or one can also take a rickshaw from Kemmannu. 

My Visit: On my backpack trip to Udupi I longed for some offbeat places to visit during my 3 days trip. I was quite excited on reading about this Udupi at traction so on a Sunday morning decided to combine my trip to see this place with some other nearby attraction. So armed with my google maps, I boarded bus to Kalianpur for visit to a famous Milagres Cathedral early morning. After visiting the cathedral. I walked to main highway from where I got into the local city bus heading towards Kemmannu. Being a north Indian and illiterate in Kannada I informed the bus conductor in Hindi if he could let me know once Kemmannu stop arrives. His answer was "Whockay" .. As bus drove deeper into small winding roads with small villages and lush greenery landscape, local kept boarding and deboarding the bus while I enjoyed my bus ride hoping the conductor would inform me when the stop arrives. 

After a ride of over 25-30 minutes when conductor seemed indifferent and in his own world collecting the bus fare from locals. I switched on the google maps only to be horrified that bus was actually moving in opposite direction then the location of the bridge !!!!!! 

Aghast I cursed on coming in search of a place which I didn't have much information about and to top it the language barrier problem I had. I lost all hope of visiting the suspension bridge and at one of the small village called Hoode on the way decided to deboard the bus at the sight of beach nearby. On setting foot on the long stretch of white sand beach of Hoode and the only soul on the beach as far as eye sight could reach. The clean blue water, sound of crashing waves and the white sand beach all for myself brought back the smile on my face. Truly mesmerising !! 

Hoode beach was one of unexpected highlights of my visit and after which I also visited Kodi Bengre village and delta where the Arabian Sea and Suvarna river meet. But more on that in another blog. On my way back I had enquired with some locals about the suspension bridge and was informed it was close by and pretty much doable visit. I boarded the local bus heading towards Udupi and asked the conductor to drop me at the suspension bridge. Got similar response of "Whockay"  !!! lol. Bus conductor did informed me when my stop arrived and pointed to go inland from the main road. Happy I thanked him and got down from the bus. Walked a few yards and there were two bridges, one in a very dilapidated and broken condition while other was newly constructed road bridge over river tributary.  But this wasn't I had come looking for .... and yet again no sight of suspension bridge. Cursing my luck that probably bus conductor felt I was looking for this road bridge.

Disappointed I stood on the bridge watching a local fisherman putting fishnet in the river and clicked few pictures of surroundings. As I was about to leave the place, saw a biker coming in my direction. I stopped and asked him about the Hanging bridge. Luck seemed to be holding up as he directed me to walk down the road without turning left or right and around 1 km ahead was the my destination.

Voila !!!. Elated I headed towards my destination with new zeal as I clicked pictures of river tributary flowing parallel to the road and some amazing houses in the middle of coconut palms. A walk of around 15 minutes, I finally got the sight of the Hanging bridge of Kemmannu - Deepak.

To experience the thrill of suspension bridge I walked from one end of the bridge to other while it swayed and it swayed heavily as I reached right in the middle of the bridge. It was quite a experience when the bridge sway while the river flows majestically below. The bridge has stone slabs on which one walks and you get a feeling that either one of them would break the moment you step on it or you would surely topple due to the swaying but luckily nothing of that sort happened. I even managed to click few pictures standing on the bridge. 

The visit to the suspension bridge was quite an adventurous experience for me and at the end a happy one to say the least for apart from getting to see this unique attraction I was also able to visit the beautiful Hoode beach and the Delta of Kodi Bengre. 

To summarise on this backpack experience of mine, Its absolutely "OK" to get lost while on a backpack trip for their is something more beautiful waiting to be explored. You can never see it all which is why first backpack trip should never be the last. Appreciate everything that comes your way and make every second count.

More on my Udupi backpack trip and other attractions I visited, In other blog coming soon.