Vashisht, a small village located east of the Beas river, is on the northern slopes of a popular tourist destination of Manali. This quaint little town in the center of the Kullu valley clings to a steep slope and is a veritable backpackers paradise also visited by a vast array of Indian locals during the year. Indian tourists and 'Babas' from neighboring villages usually come to Vashisht to do 'Pooja' or sing prayers in the temples, to visit the waterfalls and to bathe or dip their feet in the hot water springs also known as the 'Kund'. Vashisht village is extremely significant when it comes to the Indian Hindu heritage and culture as it is the home of Rishi Vashisht, one of the 'Saptrishis' or Seven Sages. The sulphur hot springs are known from an old myth in the Ramayana where it is believed that the hot springs were created where Lakshman shot an arrow for the sage 'Vashisht'.
The magnificent 180 degree view of snow capped mountains is visible from most if not all the guesthouses and trails in Vashisht. While on a 2 month sojourn in Himachal Pradesh from the congested metropolitan city of Mumbai, I felt most at ease and at home in this village, awestruck everyday in a 3 week visit by its simplicity and pristine green view, twice between May and July
The mountains in the afternoon surrounding Vashisht Village
Photo – www.Sleepymaggie.com
A local 'Pahadi' or mountain girl washing dishes; a daily routine outside her house in Vashisht
Photo – www.Sleepymaggie.com
As I was traveling a long distance to the north from Mumbai, I researched on Air travel to Vashisht. The closest airport is in Bhuntar also known as Kullu Manali Airport and airfares range from – INR 7,000 to 16,000 while flights to the capital range from INR 4,000 to 10,000. Its always advisable to book a month in advance to avail the near former pricing options.
Being a photographer first I personally prefer a longer route of travel by the Indian Railways which had plenty of photo opportunities in store during its 16 to 24 hours travel to Delhi from Mumbai. Rail fares range from INR 500- 2500 depending on the availability and classes of seats. The 16 hours trains are 'Rajdhani' and 'Garib Rath' while it takes from 22 hrs to 24 hrs on other trains.
There are 2 ways to reach Manali from Delhi. Either by booking tickets at the Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT) to Manali - www.hrtc.co.in or via private buses, both ranging from INR 500 to 1200. All the Volvo and the other luxury buses transit in the evening between 5 and 9 and it usually takes 13 to 18 hours depending on the class of bus. From Manali, it is a short distance of 3 kms to Vashisht. It is advisable for the first timers who have never visited Kullu valley and are also looking for light adventure to choose a gentle 45 mins trek which is a treat to the eyes and ears on clearly laid out road beside the gushing banks of the river Beas. Rickshaw takes about 15 minutes and costs about INR 50 to 70 but are less frequent post 7pm.