The friendly hotel owner suggested we take a rickshaw to Old Manali. We insisted on walking the 3-odd kilometres from new Manali (model town). Most of the route was uphill but we had no specific plans for the day, so we walked leisurely. A small bridge connects Old Manali and new Manali.
A left turn from the bridge takes you to a narrow lane that goes up to the Manu temple. Restaurants and cafes flank the lane, offering a range as wide as Israeli to Korean food. We walked up to Manu temple; the last stretch was a stiff climb. The temple was nothing exceptional other than peaceful. Just before the temple, we had spotted a board “Trek to Goshal Village – 2 km.” And, that set the ball rolling. Soon, a plan took shape.
We climbed down to have lunch at Drifters Inn, a restaurant that a friend had asked us to check out. After a relaxed lunch, we asked the restaurant guy about the Goshal Village trek. He said we were likely to get lost in the crisscrossing trails through the jungle and the apple orchards unless there is a local guide. With nothing else to do, we decided to go ahead with the hike, as it was only about 2 km. We could turn back and reach the temple if we get lost.
For the next 45 minutes, we climbed up and down the narrow trails, with apple and pine trees for company. At some places, the trail, with deep valleys to one side, was just wide enough for one person to move precariously. At others, there were steps cut on rocky patches.
Finally, we indeed lost our way. Down below, on one side, Beas was roaring its way through the rocks. After a little bit of exploration on different trails, we chose a trail that kept going down, with the hope that finally, the trail will touch the road that runs parallel to the river. And it did. Not the river, but a farmhouse. Except that a fence stood between the farmhouse and us. Fortunately, the caretaker lady heard our shouts for help and allowed us to jump the fence. She then showed us the way back to old Manali through the road.
But we were disappointed that we didn’t reach Goshal. As luck would have it, soon after we started walking back to Manali, we got a call from our guide Joginder who took us to Bhrigu Lake. He happened to be from Ghoshal village and was at home at that time. After figuring out our location through some photo sharing on WhatsApp, he directed us to the village and his home.
Thus, we turned around and started walking back on the same road. And were rewarded with the sight of this beautiful bird flitting across apple trees.
Joginder and family offered us a warm welcome. We sat with the family around the fire place, had tea and biscuits, and clicked some snaps. Joginder then obliged us to take us around the village. He took us to a relative’s traditional house and explained the design.
The lower storey houses the cattle; the second one is for storing grains; and the third one is where people live. This warmth from the cattle heats the grains first; then it moves up to heat the people. So in the harsh winters, this design helped the people to stay warm. Traditional houses were built mostly suing wood and mud, and they still stand strong.
It was a long walk back to our hotel. But no uphill roads on the way back. We signed off another well-spent day at the Johnson’s bar with some wine and appetizers.
Mostly frequented by foreign travellers, backpackers, and adventure lovers, old Manali is about 3 km from Manali town. The place is quiet compared to the bustling Manali town, and is a good option for stay. Goshal can be reached through a proper road from Old Manali (3-plus kms) or the hiking route (2-plus kms).