Two famous and beautiful Mountain Places in Himachal Pradesh.
One is a smaller tourist place on 2000 m and surrounded by high snow-capped mountains. The other is the state capital situated on 7 hills on approximately 2000 m. But which one is better?
I lived for 7 years in Manali and have been living in Shimla for 4 years now.
Manali is an amazing place: high mountains, awesome treks, lovely villages, the hot spring in Vashisht and the gateway to Ladakh, Spiti and Lahaul- the high desert areas.
Manali is also perfect for all type of adventure and outdoor activities, such as rock climbing, rafting, paragliding, fishing, expeditions, mountain biking…
I really enjoyed my live in Manali. Whenever possible, I went for a trek or another adventure. I used to sit in one of the trekking agencies to do my office work, eat Sandwiches from the German Bakery and made short term friends with travellers who would come and go. Whenever I felt to not wash my clothes by hand, I gave it to the laundry service. Whenever I did not feel like cooking, I would go out and eat at one of the many restaurants. Often, I would and my regular bike rides with a hot bath at Vashisht.
It was a good and fairly easy life. People from outside of India used to admire me, for being able to live in India. But I knew, I was rather living in an artificial tourist world.
Now living in Shimla, I still come back to Manali. For work, for tours, to meet friends.
The tourism keeps growing there.
When I came to Shimla, I desperately tried to find a laundry service and a decent restaurant nearby. I could not. So, I bought a washing machine and an oven.
But what I could find in Shimla was a real life away from tourism, a beautiful home with nice neighbours, great friends, real family, a small NGO and awesome routes and tracks for mountain biking and running.
Despite being the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, the town located on 7 hills is widely spread. While being close to city life, I have the rural village life just in front of my balcony.
I teach some private yoga classes, do my everyday shopping at the local shops, try to volunteer now and then for the NGO Hope Foundation and learned how to run a household and to cook daily ?.
During my last visit in Manali, I felt my friends there were pitying me, for living in Shimla now.
But to be honest, for someone like me – a foreigner working in the tourism industry- it feels very, very good, to have a very untouristed and normal life, when not on work.
I am happy to be able to call Shimla my home.