Plus Central Asia Onward travel blog








Hotel guy arranged a taxi to take us to train at 6 am since there are no autorickshaws running at this early morning hour. Train arr. at 7:15 and after 2-3 minutes the crowd waiting jams on board and away we go! Thru countryside of agric(rice, etc.), see several what I take to be refugee camps(plastic tarp, tents, or just cloth over sticks) - Tibetian? - thru mtn. areas w/ poplar, pine(rust color needles on many - diseased?), bamboo...strange combo of trees. Many small villages, lots of passengers on & off, seats always filled w/ few standing in aisles...we watch sunrise. Later I see poinsettia 'trees', banana trees, & willows!! Riding the train we get to see another side of India...kind of like bicycling the alleys in Msla. - you see the 'backyards', the living side where people do their everyday stuff and let it all hang out. Lots of neat little RR station stops along the way. The train really gets up into the mtns, we cross many rivers/riverbeds as well as follow along side rivers(mostly rock/boulders w/ a trickle of water. Arr in Joginder Nagar (town) 11:30 and catch bus lvg at 11:45 to Mandi (50 r.= $1 US). Newly asphalted, 1 1/2 lane road up up up into mtns - lots of pines much healthier & tall. Up higher it is mostly forested, lower areas agric is mixed in(terracing). If it weren't for the very bad haze(pollution) the views would be spectacular. Heading down or at least not up, mostly we encounter the asphalting machine (echoes of another country & Chinese) after one hour on the road...this crew is different however, and just a half hour delay we're off again. This time the driver acts like he's a madman, we cover 25 km, 400 meters drop in elevation, in less than 40 minutes around over 150 twists & turns(I counted) - most of them blind ones - arriving in Mandi at 2:15 and walking to Shiva Hotel. After dinner we head out to explore the downtown...the central market square. Mandi is the gateway to the Kullu Valley & was a former trading stop on the salt route to Tibet. It is at the confluence of two rivers w/ at least 81(count 'em) Shaivite temples. Mari hires an auto rickshaw to try and take in as many as possible while Bon & I circle the Indira Market(sunken shopping ctr right out our window), which gave us the opportunity to see the old palace w/ its faded paintings circa 1800 and the old court facilities, certainly unique sight w/ old tables & chairs all scrambled up under a huge tin roofed area just in front of a new bldg underconstruction to replace this 1940's looking area. Just outside this compound is the palace & a moated & covered bathing/abulation area as well.

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