Ski Guru

Arriving in Manali


By Sam Lozier, Correspondent

Ski blogger Sam Lozier is spending a chunk of this winter skiing in India.

A week ago Allen, Amit, and I left Kashmir for a small Himachal Pradesh town named Vashist, near the popular trekking city of Manali. Along the way we passed through Srinigar, Jammu, and Dharamsala. Last week I posted a gallery of shots I’d taken along the way. At that point I’d only reached Dharamsala though, the images here should catch 

you up.


Dharamsala had it all; from refugees straight from Tibet, to hippy wanna-be’s from wealthy parts of the USA. Don’t let my cynicism muddy your view though; it really is a jaw-droppingly beautiful and culturally unique place. As we started in Muslim Kashmir, traveled through Hindu Jammu, and arrived in Buddhist Mcleod Ganj (town above 


Dharamsala), we had quite the tour of world religions in just a few  days of travel. When we arrived, the Dalai Lama was in town, and consequently the place was crowded. We headed for the temple (followed the chanting) and found several thousand monks chanting in unison; an eerie sound I’ll never forget.


The next day, after a relaxing morning of hanging out on rooftop cafes and enjoying views of the plains of India spread out below us, we decided to go on a little hike up into the mountains. The new perspective emphasized what we had already realized down in the town: that the improbability of the cities location, combined with the unique culture of the people living there, make Mcleod Ganj and Dharamsala very special places.


A little of the cities luster wore off after I spent that entire night sick with food poisoning, but I came back to life the next day on the drive to Manali, somewhere around the city of Mandi and was able to appreciate the crazy canyon road we were traveling on without any ill effects.


Somewhere after a tunnel built by the Indian hydro project company, we caught our first glimpse of massive snow capped mountains in the distance, and were suddenly as giddy as school children. Our taxi driver was doing an admirable job battling crazy traffic and endless road construction, but we still couldn’t seem to get there soon enough.





When we finally pulled into Manali, near the public bus stand it was a bit of a disappointment. Though we’d been warned by friends in Gulmarg, Manali has a bit of a touristy boomtown feel to it, and was not where we wanted to stay. Ten more minutes in the cab brought us to our (again, recommended by friends) new home, Vashisht.


Read and see more of Sam’s work at


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on