During the past winter, I was fortunate to launch on an unforgettable journey with my friends, encountering the grandeur of the mighty Himalayas. This remarkable experience is a travel gem worth capturing and sharing in a blog post.

Our adventure began at Manali in Himachal Pradesh, the gateway to this majestic mountain range. Here, we were embraced by the welcoming scenery adorned with lush vegetation, truly a splendid sight to behold.

Before I introduce my journey, here is a brief overview of the Himalayas and their Ranges for those unaware.

“Himalayas, the great mountain system of Asia forming a barrier between the Plateau of Tibet to the north and the alluvial plains of the Indian subcontinent to the south. The Himalayas include the highest mountains in the world, with more than 110 peaks rising to 24,000 feet (7,300 meters) or above sea level.”

The Himalayan Ranges are divided longitudinally into three parallel ranges: The Shivaliks (the outer Himalayas), The Lesser Himalayas (the middle Himalayas), and The Greater Himalayas or Himadri (one which includes Mt. Everest).

Himachal or the Lesser Himalayas.
Himachal or the Lesser Himalayas — Photo by Somil Gupta.

The grandeur of the Himalayas lies in their towering mountains, verdant valleys, tranquil lakes, and snow-capped peaks, creating a breathtaking spectacle. This region is a melting pot of diverse cultures, languages, and traditions, drawing numerous tourists to its enchanting embrace.

For adventure seekers, the Himalayas offer a playground abundant with activities like hiking, paragliding, and thrilling escapades. Beyond adventure, these mountains hold a sacred space for spirituality and serenity, providing tranquil settings for contemplation — a haven cherished by meditators seeking solace.

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Rare animals and plants dwell in the Himalayas, adding to the region’s allure. The locals extend a warm welcome, offering unique and delicious cuisine. Serene villages provide a tranquil escape to reconnect with nature. Stay tuned for tales of my cultural immersion in an upcoming blog post.

And if you like taking pictures like me, the Himalayas are a perfect place for photographers because you will see so many amazing sights to capture.

Starting at the Atal Tunnel’s Magical Portal

Our journey commenced with a visit to the renowned Atal Tunnel — an engineering marvel boasting the title of the world’s longest single-tube highway tunnel, nestled at an altitude exceeding 3,000 meters.

Before entering the Tunnel, the scenery on the south side unfolded like a breathtaking canvas. The views were like the image below.

Here is the photo of our perspective before entering the Tunnel.

River on a sunny say in the Himalayas.
Lush green Himalayan range — Photo Somil Gupta.

As we entered the nine km long Tunnel, we were not expecting much difference in the views on the north side.

But our jaws dropped when we exited the Atal Tunnel.

It was like we just took a portal or Doraemon’s anywhere door.

We stepped into an entirely new realm. The lush greenery accompanying us throughout the journey vanished, with no green leaf in sight.

This special moment served as an essential reminder of the diverse wonders our beautiful planet has to offer.

The unedited image below, captured on the north side of the Tunnel, portrays a surreal black-and-white landscape stretching as far as the eye can see.

Unedited, naturally black-and-white mountain.
The moment when the Himalayas turned grey — Photo by Somil Gupta.

This surprising change in scenery highlighted the incredible differences you find in the Himalayan region. It amazed us how Earth can showcase such a wide range of breathtaking views.

We wondered what really happened here. It was like a dream in an awake state, putting us in an altered state of mind.

As our journey carried us further north, a transformation unfolded as we transitioned from the Lesser Himalayas to the Greater Himalayas.

This change in the geographical terrain marked a shift in the landscape and introduced a dramatic alteration in altitude, thereby redefining the entire visual experience.

Here’s how I captured this remarkable change with my camera.

Edited, black-and-white photo of a town at the bottom of the mountain.
View from Keylong, a town in Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal — Photo by the Somil Gupta.

During our homeward journey, a charming Post Office gazed our attention at a staggering altitude of 10,300 feet. The temptation to send a postcard from this location was too strong to resist.

For just 50 paise per postcard, equaling 160 postcards for only $1, we seized a unique opportunity — an affordable yet cherished memento — a handwritten postcard sent from an elevation exceeding 10,000 feet.

The most delightful aspect was the chance to send a postcard anywhere in India, a sweet gesture to share a piece of your adventure with loved ones — a little keepsake to treasure.

We made sure to send a postcard to ourselves because who doesn’t appreciate a little self-compliment from time to time? Thus, we seized the moment, securing an affordable postcard from the mountain peaks, immortalizing those memories.

Building with a life insurance billboard.
I luckily got this photo from one of the videos — Photo by Somil Gupta.

Leaving with Gratitude for Earth’s Wonders

Closing up our Himalayan odyssey, the memories we gathered were as diverse as the landscapes we traversed, from the lush greenery near Manali to the surreal black-and-white world beyond the Atal Tunnel.

While the snow-capped mountains left us, we couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for the life our planet offers.

The Great Himalayas unveiled their majestic beauty and imparted a profound lesson about the ever-changing, ever-wondrous world we call home.

Beautiful Himalayan landscape with a pair of legs crossed in the foreground.
Meditating in the wilderness — Photo by Somil Gupta.

We closed this chapter of our journey with hearts full of gratitude, knowing that the memories of the Himalayas will remain in our minds, hearts, and souls forever.

Back to reality from an altered state of mind!

With cherished memories and a profound sense of accomplishment, we continued our journey home, driving safely. This expedition carved a pleasant chapter in my travel chronicles.

Roadside sign advertising the next filling station; young man standing beside it. The Himalayas are visible in the background.
That’s me gazing at the Indian Oil board — Photo by Somil Gupta.

Conclusions and Considerations for Travellers

Visiting the Himalayas goes beyond the scenic beauty. It is an immersive experience encompassing adventure, spirituality, culture, and a deep connection to nature, leaving a lasting impression on travellers.

Read more: Adventure tips for solo travel

The Himalayas have taught me to embrace the dynamic beauty of nature and foster deep gratitude for the wonders of our planet.

Transitioning from Lesser to the Greater Himalayas brought terrain changes and a vast difference in altitude variations.

This means a very low temperature — hence, one needs to be prepared accordingly as it can pose altitude-related challenges such as altitude sickness, requiring acclimatization.

In certain areas, infrastructure, accommodation, transportation, and amenities may be limited, necessitating thorough planning and adaptability upon departure from Manali.

Given infrastructure constraints, travellers must exercise caution when driving through these terrains. Employing a skilled and experienced driver can notably bolster safety and enhance the overall enjoyment of the journey.

Thanks for reading my story. If you like to read more stories like this, I invite you to subscribe to me on Medium. Till then, Sayonara! I wish you the best in your travel journey.