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India - Manali, Vashist, Brighu Lake ...

 Following the path of the holy river Ganges up the cities of Haridwar, Rishikes, back to the Delhi to pick up all my stuff and huray to the mountains - Manali (Vashist). I have spent here quite some time. Vashist is nice place, much better then New or Old Manali. Although it gets really busy during the day by mainly Indian tourists, who are visiting the Rama temple and hot springs. The water is really hot and I must say in those temperatures now (June) is not even tempting to have a swim. But it is perfect for the washing clothes. The village itself is combination of the tourist shops, guest houses, restaurants and ordinary life of local people. You can still find here some traditional wooden houses with stone roofs, but many new ones are being build and they are very much changing the village style.

Vashist - village life, harvest

Mountain views from Vashist are spectacular. You can watch high mountains while having tasty meal in one of the local restaurants or enjoy the sunset while sipping some "chai" in another one.

Manali - surrounding mountains
If you want to see a bit more authentic lifestyle, you do not have to go too far. It is amusing, how quickly the tourist influance change when you walk into a villages just a few kilometres away. I must say I really liked the little mountain village called something like "Madzhad". It is situated in the mountain and there is no road going there. That means everything has to be brought on peoples back or horses. It has 50 houses (most of them traditional) and should live there about 350 inhabitans. Yes, quite a lot for just a 50 houses, but the family structure here is much stronger and usually many generations still share one house together. There is also one shop in there. It has everything in it, but it is being open just by a demand and I think mainly in the evening.

Kids in local mountain village - "Madzhad"

The mountain above the village reaches up to 3.000 meters, but later continues towards higher peaks. There is old forest on the top and you can see a "Solang Valley" - famous place for paragliding from its top. Also many herds of cattle or horses are grazing on its slopes.

Men in the mountains looking after the herd of a cattle
If you staying longer in this place, there is nice trek to Bhrigu Lake (4.200 meters). It starts just above the Vashist and it just goes up, up and up. Vashist itself is in 2.100 meters. Locals would probably recommend you a 3 days trip with cook and porter. This is a good idea, if you want to take it really slowly and enjoy staying in the mountains. You can also do it in one day, if you feel for a hard trek. I have packed my big bag and left on my own to explore the place. I must say I had enough in 3.500 meters, so I left my bag with a nice men there in the perfect place to camp. He was actually a cook for a little expedition of two Austrian people. They went with porter and guide up the lake and the cook was looking after the things. We had some tea and nice chat, so I left just with my camera to finnish my climb and to return the same day back and camp with them over the night. What a nice people - all of them. We shared food and stories around the bonfire late in the night.

Bhrigu Lake - 4.200 meters

Once you get all the way to the lake, it is definitely worth it to climb those extra 100 meters for a view from the Bhrigu peak. The scenery itself is stunning. You can see 360 degrees panorama of high mountains. The highest of them are reaching 7.000 meters.

Bhrigu Peak - 4.307 meters

Walking around can bring many nice suprises, like a few woman sweeping forest for getting the stuff (needles like) from pine trees for their cows for winter to lay on. And then carrying it down to the village in typical baskets.

Women in the forest - Vashist

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