Reminiscences from a two day snowfall in Manali

Much ado has been made about having a ‘bucket list.’ The moment you tell someone about a lovely experience you had on your unplanned holiday, it goes straight into their bucket list. Let me tell you very frankly, as human beings our greatest memories are not of places, but rather of the time we had, the happiness we felt in the moment we were nowhere else, but there; physically, mentally and with all our soul.

Yoga and meditation in the balcony, full power Vitamin D.

Sometimes, I feel like asking people who keep adding items to their bucket list, if they actually ever think about doing the things that they have so fashionably added. It has never crossed my mind to make or maintain a bucket list. There is certainly a ‘wow’ factor when I read about places, or listen to experiences but in my conscious mind I know its nearly impossible to do everything in life.

Valley view on the other side as viewed from my balcony.

In my opinion, we are bracing ourselves for disappointment and failure by having a bucket list. Example : Although I had arrived in Leh with the sole objective of trekking the Chadar, I ended up walking on a frozen river in Markha Valley instead. If I was hell bent on completing a bucket list item, I would not have been privy to a secret one home village in the Himalayas.

Read : Frozen in Markha Valley & A One Home Village in the Himalayas

A glimpse of what was about to unfold.

My most memorable instances on the road have been when I did not know everything about a destination, sometimes knowing too much clouds the vision, eliminating the scope for exploration.

A chilly wind sweeps in Manali, carrying songs from frozen Lahaul across Rohtang.

There was very little money left and I had booked a volvo ticket to Delhi. The bus was supposed to leave at 5 in the evening. I had gone for lunch and to say my goodbyes to the owner of Chacha Dhaba. It was the only place that was open in Vashisht in February 2014. He looked up at the skies and asked me to wait.

I called up the volvo guy to ask if they could reschedule my booking. They agreed, and I had no idea that that small decision would turn out to be my best memory of Manali.

Clouds have flown in, impairing visibility.


In the long time I spent in Vashisht that winter, there were very few tourists around and when I met two American guys with an Australian girl, we decided to buy some wine and promptly polished it off in a local dhaba and were buzzing with activity. In the meanwhile, the weather had turned really feisty and a gentle drizzle had turned into a dream-like setting gradually shifting to snowfall.


We were drunk by the time we walked back to Vashisht, and gathered our towels and change of clothes and simply jumped into the hot water springs. It was a crazy experience with the warmth of natural sulphur water while snow flakes continued falling on our heads.

And it begins… Chachu’s words ring in my head; ‘Aaj barf hogi’.

Here is a series of images when I was confined to my room. The teenage manager was kind enough to give me food when everything was shut down.

There is no sweeter sound in the world than the gentle rustling of leaves in a snowfall; this window opened to reveal a valley shrouded in white.



Picture perfect scenes were laid out on a platter for me. It was monochrome, and nature was the creator.


Meanwhile – Some photographs from the streets. _DSC0449_DSC0450

Read : Finding the Offbeat in Manali

Read : Ten Foodie Delights of Manali

The first layer of snow in an apple orchard, the trees are devoid of leaves.


Sitting in the balcony, singing Himachali songs and the locals start a small bonfire.


It is bone chilling cold; waters of the Beas river have reduced to a mere trickle.



Room with a view! I was lucky to have found this for only two hundred rupees.
View on the other side, dark clouds float freely to bring more snow.
Picture perfect & framed views, the entire market was shut and the streets were eerily empty; yet hauntingly beautiful.


Murakami’s words ring true ‘Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.’

And any remote ideas of a bucket list were thrown out of the window. I would wander everywhere I liked, the world was my playground.

As Bukowski said ‘I wasn’t much of a petty thief. I wanted the whole world or nothing.’

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32 thoughts on “Reminiscences from a two day snowfall in Manali”

  1. I agree with you about the bucket list, just feels like it would be a forever growing list. Why would you want to confine yourself to places on a list anyway, kind of defeats the point of exploring a little. Anyway, your pictures in this post are absolutely breathtaking, such a beautiful place <3

  2. Beautiful! Beautiful! Thanks for sharing all these photos, Shubham! I lived so near to Manali but could never see it in snow. Although your pictures reminded me of the January snowfall experience when I was living in Khairi near Ravi river (in Chamba district). 🙂

    1. Wow. Chamba is one part of Himachal that is very similar to Rajasthan in culture. Love the temples that side. Wishing for the roads to open soon, so that I can hop across the Sach pass onto Lahaul and the Changthang. Your snowfall experience sounds epic, near Ravi river! Would love to read about it.

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      1. No not to Manali of course. I have been to Manali so many times but haven’t actually been there…. Have always used as resting place. We go soon, let us!

      2. Thats generally what people do. Most travellers haven’t really seen Manali in the low season. And that is when nature comes to life. :)) Hope you are enjoying time at your home, Rajiv. Cheers

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  6. Wow! Everything looks even more pretty during winters specially snow covered mountains and trees. Manali is indeed one of the most beautiful hill stations in India. Travelers should visit here during off season to see the real beauty of this place. Great pictures!

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  14. So agree with the bucketlist point. When we are asked what’s on our list, our reply is everything 🙂
    These winter images are just too lovely. Someday, we will be brave to meet the Himalayas in winter. And kudos to jumping in the hot water spring in that cold. Did the cold vanish after that? We’ve been told it takes the cold away, never had the guts to try.

    1. Yay, coming from you guys that means a lot. Thank you! Hehe, truth be told – it was a fun time after the heart was tipsy with some wine… During that winter of 2014, I went for the hot water spring baths twice everyday, and yes the cold entirely vanished after that. And in fact, because the water is naturally hot – the cold stays away for 30 more minutes after the bath. You have to try it. 🙂

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