Snowfall in the higher hills can be pretty heavy, as we discovered. We chose to take a ride up to Rohtang on new years day. About fifteen kms before the pass, it beganto snow, and it snowed nonstop. Enough to bring the traffic to a total halt and we were caught in bizzare traffic jam in the middle of nowhere, and especially when many of the people trapped in their vehicles decided to pump up the volume on their car stereos and let the booze flow!
All we could finally manage eventually, was a U-turn, along with the rest of the vehicles around of us...
Dozens of tourists missing or murdered in former hippy paradise
When western travellers arrived in Manali in the 1960s, the north-west Indian town was a Shangri-la, a place of ancient stone houses in a valley originally known as Kulanthapitha - end of the habitable world.
Visitors were welcomed by the valley's gentle and joyful people and relished the wonderful vistas of rocky escarpments and mountain forests.
The town, at the north of what is now known as the Kullu valley, became a haven for hippies, draft dodgers, and idealists, attracted by the peace and a plentiful supply of good quality hashish.
Over the decades the nature of the town has changed dramatically. The wonderful views have largely disappeared behind hotel buildings, souvenir shops and travel agents.
More sinisterly, the hashish trade has turned the area into a rather more perilous place to visit.
Dozens of tourists have been murdered or vanished without trace. Indian police have been accused of planting drugs on tourists and demanding bribes for their release.
It is estimated that up to 9,000 foreigners could be hiding in the hills, depending on the drugs trade for their living. Police have been pursuing gangs from Mumbai and Europe, with limited success. A powerful Israeli mafia is also thought to be involved in much of the drugs trade.
A number of high profile cases have focused attention on the area in recent years including that of British charity worker Ian Stillman.
Mr Stillman, who is deaf, diabetic and has only one leg, was held in a prison for two years after 20kg of cannabis was allegedly found in the boot of the taxi he was being driven through Manali in.
He insisted that he had nothing to do with the drugs and was freed last year after Tony Blair intervened.
Š Guardian Newspapers Limited
In Manali one can see many foreigners with lousy & dirty outfit... & you can be sure that they are drug addicts..even some locals are also addicts... so beware from these people.. better not to communicate & avaoid them.