I’m someone who doesn’t believe in an afterlife, god, spirit, heaven, hell. But then when I was in Manali, I imagined how heaven would look like if it existed. It would be the exact copy of the place where I was staying for 2 nights in a tent, alone. It’s a story of how I found myself there in that place which was not less than a fantasy.

Talking about fantasy, I’ve always been in a fantasy world where I never get bored. If you ask which movie character I could be compared with, I’ll say Walter Mitty (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – 2013). When I reached Manali, I felt that this place is far better than my imaginations, even better than the fantasy world I lived in for 21 years. It was my B’day week I planned for the trip. Best B’day ever! 🙂

Mountains Are Calling by Akhil C on 500px.com

I must say that the Hindi movie Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani inspired so damn much, and that was the reason I chose that location. I took a flight from Bangalore to Delhi and I reached Manali via an overnight bus from Delhi. As a solo traveler, I knew that choosing a hostel rather than a hotel was better. It’ll be cheap and lots of fun when you meet other travelers just like you. When I say hostel, Zostel comes first on my list of choices. So I was staying in Zostel for 1st two nights.

Night 1 & 2

I realized that I was so lucky to choose Zostel, just because it was in Old Manali. Such a beautiful village it was. Steep roads, cafes, and pubs which becomes active at night. I’ve been to Drifters’ Cafe, People Art Cafe, and Sunshine Cafe and I would recommend trying those cafes if you ever visit Old Manali. 16°C daytime and 5°C at night, that’s how Manali was (April end). Did I just forget to say that I love cold? But then I realized it was way too much for me to handle when I was on phone and started shivering.

Cycling In Manali by Akhil C on 500px.com

I came to know about an Electric Bike rental shop in Old Manali called LetsPlayy, which was just started and I became the first customer there. I also had an opportunity to shoot some pictures for their social media handles.

Night 3 & 4

Those two days I made so many friends over there. Then it was time for me to camp alone somewhere in the woods. I was in search of a place where I can camp, then a traveler agency suggested me the place called Disco Valley, near to the Manalsu river. It was just around 1km from Old Manali. When I reached there, I realized that it was one of the best decisions I’ve made till the date. That place gave me such a pleasant vibe. But wait, night haven’t arrived yet.

Into The Wild by Akhil C on 500px.com

It was around 12 AM and I was sitting inside the tent, enjoying the moment. The moon was out, I was able to see a snowy mountain far away but with a layer of fog covering it. And there the river in front of the tent, which added a pleasant background music to the view. Tall pine trees were there at the other side of the river. I was capturing that moment somewhere in my mind palace. I’m not even able to write what it actually felt to be there in that moment. Some things or moments are like that, it can never be explained with words. I think it’s so common with every beautiful thing.

I don’t have many regrets in my life. But returning from Disco Valley is definitely one of my regrets. I was returning from a fantasy place. I wish I could be there forever 🙂

Night 5 & 6

I went to try another hostel called The Lost Tribe. It was situated around 7KM from Old Manali. Those days I was roaming around the city and made some more friends. Met some Instagram celebrities and a man from Tamil Nadu who have been traveling all over India after the retirement 🙂 “people are awesome!”

Night 8, 9 & 10

I came back to Zostel, Old Manali. It was my B’day and I choose the same place where I stayed my first two nights. Forgot to mention that the day before I started my journey, Avicii passed away. He was one of my favorite artists and it was a painful event. I was listening to his songs the whole trip.

When it was 29th of April 12 AM in the night, I was standing there on cold grass barefoot, looking at the moon with a smiling face, playing The Nights by Avicii in full volume ❤️ I was the happiest man on earth 🙂 There still are many more moments I had, which I’ll never forget. I never got out of the Manali vibe till the date. My heart is still somewhere is Manali, such a heavenly place!