(Top photo: The mountains around Vashisht)
We reached Vashisht, which is ten minutes up from Manali, really early in the morning on the 29th, and had planned to take a two day holiday from cameras and blogging and film and all work in general and just relax. This brilliant blue guest house where we’re staying has a super collection of DVDs and a screening room with a large TV so it was an absolutely perfect space for the break. The second photo is from the wall right outside.
Right next door is Guran’s Cafe where we’ve eaten almost every single meal since we’ve gotten here. Though it’s fun to try out new foods, in these touristy areas every single cafe seems to have exactly the same ‘multicuisine’ mish-mash menu – Israeli Indian Tibetan Chinese Mexican Italian Martian – and the food’s not exactly cheap, so unless we find a place that actually serves a different cuisine, especially something local, our new strategy is to find one good restaurant and stick to it. Guran’s turned out to be a blessing that way. For some reason they’re not overrun with tourists, so it’s quiet and each meal is cooked fresh, and we can sometimes hear (but not see) the entire cooking process – from the splash of the oil into the kadai to crackle of the tadka and the chop-chopping up of the ingredients.
The two days of sleep and movies and excellent food was getting dangerously addictive, but we did resurface and begin exploring the area. Vashisht is a single street village – one long road with cafes shops and houses on either side and a few more houses tucked away up and down the hillside – with a definite hippie leaning. Some of the old houses here are really stunning, with slate roofs and a wood-stone mix construction (apparently the style of architecture is called khaatkuni), but like everywhere else they’re getting broken down to be replaced by modern concrete structures.
Our first day out we wandered up to old Manali, and saw more of these khaatkuni houses.
A little past the village is a lovely weaving centre – a government co-op actually – where we spent some time. The Kullu Valley is really famous for its handloom woollen shawls and many of the houses we’ve passed have had small looms. There were six looms there but only two at work. Some of the more intricate designs that they were working on apparently take up to 25 days to complete. The black lines running through the shawl are all yak wool.
And here’s a nifty modern day version of the charkha that they use here…
Yesterday, we walked up to the Jogini falls which is just above Vashisht, here’s some random photos from our walk up. As you can see, we loved the black rock.
And finally, the world through Iswar’s eyes…