We woke up to a particularly lazy day, where we wasted the first half of the day except for the successful planning of our 9 day road trip around Himachal. By afternoon, we headed to Vashisht, an interesting town near Manali. It is believed that the great Vashishta maharishi has spent a lot of time here. Our first stop was the Sita-Rama temple opposite the Vashisht temple. A special bhajan by some ladies were going on there. It was fun and frolic. Spirited singing, native music and rhythmic dancing made the atmosphere lively. A swami wearing sunglasses was seen listening intently. After the performance, he got his old transistor radio and played songs. Quite a swami!
Next was the Vashishta temple. This is famous all over for the natural hot water spring inside. Its an enclosed bathing ghat where natural hot water from a spring slightly uphill is circulated. One dip and I jumped back. It was much hotter than the jacuzzi am used to. It took a long time to get used to the hotness and then it was heavenly. The slight drizzle was a perfect combo and so we spent quite sometime there. We saw some old men who were jumping in as easily you jump into a normal pond. They turned out to be regular visitors there. We also met a couple of spainiards who been in India for the past 8 months. Besides tripping, they are also doing social work in villages. After the bath, we proceeded uphill to find the starting point of the hotspring, expecting to see a hot waterfall. A school kid educated us that the spring doesnt start like a waterfall. It just originates from the earth somewhere above the temple. Truely humbled!
If you are ever going to Vashisht, don't forget to visit this small house screening classic movies. A big TV inside a small room with a good sound system. You can watch movie lying down or sitting up. You can select the movie you want to watch if nobody else is watching. When we went there, a foreign couple had just started watching 'water'. They rewinded the movie so that we could also watch from beginning. A superb movie at an even superb place. For 50 rupees, I enjoyed it more than the exhorbitantly priced multiplexes.
We reached the world peace cafe, near to the temple. This was one of the best views I ever had from a cafe or hotel. The jasmine green tea cooled my mind and heart. The report in the papers there suggested that spiti valley, one of th destinations of our planned road trip, was cut off due to landslides. It was total disappointment. Our Plan B was also in shambles. Ideas of heading to Uttarakhand and making it a spiritual trip touching rishikesh and haridwar were floated. Thats when we saw some photos of spiti valley and surrounding monasteries on the cafe walls. Now, there was no doubt on anyone's mind. We were all set for the 9 day trip, come what may.....
your crusader Praveen