Our trip to Manali started with flying out of Chennai and staying overnight at Delhi. Our flight to Kullu was early in the morning the next day, so we chose to stay at a hotel very close to the Delhi airport. Red Fox hotel was a decent option, offering clean rooms and a restaurant for a reasonable price.
The next morning, we caught our 6.30AM Air India flight out of Delhi to Kullu. We were warned by plenty of folks that this flight gets cancelled often due to weather conditions, so we were prepared with a back up plan on driving all the way to Manali by renting a car at the airport, if that were to happen. Luckily, the flight landed in Manali on time, to a great scenery!
I had booked a mini-van with Kullu Manali packages, and arranged for it to pick us up from the airport. Once we land and I call the company to confirm, the driver informs me that he is stuck in traffic and will not make it to the airport for a while. So, we planned for him to pick us up from our cottage in Manali after a couple of hours. We were able to rent a taxi at the airport to drop us off in Manali for Rs. 6000 (~ 90 USD).
The road from the airport to Manali wasn’t paved the whole way, and made for a bumpy ride (sadly, this seemed to be the state of most roads around here). After leaving the airport around 9am, we were in Manali around 10.30am. The taxi dropped us off at our home for the next week – the amazing Mary’s cottage!
I would not be exaggerating if I said that this cottage was the entire highlight of our trip! The settings were picturesque, surrounded by mountains and clouds. There was a beautiful garden around the property, with chairs to relax in. Inside, there were 3 bedrooms – perfect for our 6 person party. The entire decor was like a English cottage, and maintained very well. But, the best part of the stay was the service! The cottage came with a personal chef (you heard that!) who cooked the most amazing home-cooked food, per your request. He was around the whole day and took care of general housekeeping as well. He also made refreshing chai multiple times a day, as we requested.
After settling into the cottage, and having our first dose of mountain tea, we decided to explore Manali town. Our driver finally showed up at our cottage, picked us up, and dropped us off at the town center. We headed to Sharda Satyam for lunch, a known vegetarian restaurant. The quality was decent, but my sister got sick after eating there (the rest of us didn’t), so I would stay away from the uncooked material.
Most places in Manali town are walkable, so after lunch, we walked to an old Monastery. If you have nothing else planned, this is a small place to walk around.
Right opposite the Monastery was Van Vihar, a park that borders the raging river Beas. There was a small entry fee, and we spent some time walking through the park.
It was the rainy season, so as expected there was rain, on and off. Wearing rain jackets was a must. After walking around a bit more, we headed back to our cottage for the night. A hot dinner was ready, including fresh and soft rotis, dal (lentils), a vegetable sabji, rice, and yogurt. Everything tasted so fresh and yummy! Did I mention that our cottage came with a personal chef?!
As we winded down for the night, we peeked outside and could barely see the mountains because of the fog and mist. We hoped the sun would come out the next day.