Mangulam, Kasol and an uninhibited view of the Himalayas: Anarkali Marikar’s travelogue

For Anarkali Marikar 2020 largely has been a fruitful year. True, she had to bear the brunt of cyberbullying and there was a controversial photoshoot in which she appeared as Goddess Kali, with her body and face painted in black and was criticised for endorsing racism and discrimination on skin colour. But otherwise, actor-model Anarkali likes to remember the year as the one which allowed her to travel extensively. And what more, everything was planned according to her pocket-friendly budget. When the Pandemic set in she was advised to stay at home but once the lockdown lifted, she decided to explore Kerala. 

Mangulam-Off road 

The idea was to find somewhere like Munnar, and they came upon Mangulam, 25 kms from Madurai, known for their Jain caves and rock beds.

“It was unforgettable. We stayed at mud huts. It was fascinating to ride through the road leading to Mangulam which covers the Tea estates of Rajamala and the dense forests of Malayattoor,” she offers.

Anarkali recalls the thrill of taking a dip at a stream only to be told later that it was always infested with snakes. That is when she spotted quite a few snakes in the vicinity. 

The Himachal Trip

She always wanted to visit Himachal Pradesh and on Christmas day she took off to Delhi and from there on a bus to Himachal with a few friends. Their first stop was at Kasol, a hamlet in Kullu, situated in Parvathi valley, on the banks of the Parvati River, on the way between Bhuntar and Manikaran. It is known as the Himalayan hotspot for backpackers and serves as a base for nearby treks to Malana and Kheerganga. Due to the large influx of Israeli tourists, the place is often dubbed as the Mini Israel of India. 

A stunning view of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks, blue waters of the Parvathi river and weather that remains the same all through the year, makes Kasol a favourite tourist destination. You can trek to Kheerganga, Tosh Valley and Malana village, opt for riverside camping, stroll along the Parvati river, shop on the streets of Kasol, binge on Israeli cuisine and try the Moon Dance café. Some amazing riverside campsites serve as the basecamp for several exciting treks. They stayed at Shani Mandir café owned by a Malayalee.

Their next trip was to Shilla, a mountain peak close to Spiti Valley, arguably the coldest place in Himachal, which gets snow all through the year and hardly gets enough sunlight. “I am not much of a winter person but then decided to take this up as a challenge. We travelled halfway through the car and later trekked through snow. Though I kept slipping on the snow, it was worth the effort,” she admits.

When they reached the Farmers café, again owned by a Malayalee, the weather was -10 degrees. “They had some lovely new year’s party at Shilla, but then we left on New Year's eve. I would say Himachal Pradesh is one place you need to experience, and I can’t think of anywhere else where you can witness so much beauty, that too at a pocket-friendly budget,” she smiles. But yes, her dream destination will always remain Hampi, where her debut film, Anandam was filmed. “I want to go there again,” she says. 

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