Arriving at the hotel in Mandi we were greeted by a lovely old man in a woollen cardigan who mistook me for the Indian tour leader and started asking me questions in Hindi (my tan must have been superb at this point). Not knowing who he was or what was going on, I stared blankly, feeling utterly confused, until someone else jumped in and pointed him in the right direction. “That’s the king”, said a porter with a smile on his face, “he’ll be eating lunch with you shortly.”
I was still unclear about the Maharaja in India but later found out that this kind and funny 86 year old man would have been a king of sorts if not for the changes that came about after independence from the British. Instead he travelled, studied and worked abroad, living an exciting and varied life. He still loves to tell his tales, baffle his guests with riddles and play practical jokes to keep himself entertained; a real joy to be around.
Mandi is a town on the banks of the Beas river. Primarily Hindu (as with much of India) it is filled with Hindu temples, both old and new; the older ones being made from stone and the newer ones painted brightly.
We explored some of the older temples and I once again took photo after photo of the patterns carved into the stone.
The markets were bright and busy with Diwali fever increasing as the 3rd November approaches.
Mandi was only really a stop between Shimla and Dharamsala but it was a great stop; we enjoyed dining with the king, relaxing in the hotel’s gardens and taking in the atmosphere of this riverside town.