A gift of the Himalayas to the world, Manali is a beautiful township nestled in the picturesque Beas River valley. It is a rustic enclave known for its cool climate and snow-capped mountains, offering respite to tourists escaping scorching heat of the plains. The tourism industry in Manali started booming only in the early 20th century, mainly because of its natural bounties and salubrious climate.
Once a sleepy village, the modern town cocooned in its rich cultural heritage and age-old traditions is now one of the most popular destinations of India. The place is a classic blend of peace and tranquility which makes it a haven for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts, who want to get off the main tourist trails and experience nature up close.
The glacial water of River Beas after rushing down the slopes of Rohtang Pass allows adventure sport activities of rowing, white water rafting and river crossing as it meanders through the valley from Manali to Kullu.
The open valley with terraced fields dotted with hotels and resorts has tourists converge on this township in summer from April to July and in autumn to early winter from October to December.
If you have ever imagined of sitting by the gushing water of a snow-fed stream, or waking up to a glorious sunrise with breathtaking views to soak in, Manali is the place to be.
Language: Hindi, Punjabi, English are understood and spoken by the people engaged in tourism trade. Local usually speak the Kulluvi dialect in their everyday dealings.
Clothing Essentials: With increasing altitude, the temperature falls in the valley and weather can change very abruptly in this region. Thunderstorms and sudden snowfalls do cause a sharp drop in temperature turning an otherwise warm day into a cold one in a matter of minutes. Woolens are essential when visiting Manali. In summers, light woolens with a scarf for the evenings will have you prepared should it get chilly.
Rail: Broad gauge trains travel up to Pathankot, from where a narrow gauge train takes you to Joginder Nagar. The distance between Joginder Nagar and Manali has to be covered by road transport.
Road: Manali is well connected by road with Delhi, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Haridwar, Shimla, Dharamshala and Chamba. Deluxe, semi-deluxe, AC, Volvo buses ply regularly to these places.
Car parkings: Tourists can park their cars at the parking lot near Manali main market. It’s a small walk from the Mall Road.
|Places to visit||Distances from Manali (Km)|
|Hidimba Devi Temple||2.5|
The Mall in Manali is where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll and be on a shopping spree. Little eateries and cafes on the street do make you relish the mix of Indian, continental and local cuisine.
The bazaar has good outlets for buying travel souvenirs, woolens, Himachali handloom and handicraft products. A path that goes past the town takes you to the narrow streets of Old Manali, which has a significant presence of foreign tourists and music playing out of hippie style cafes.
The Club House run by Himachal Tourism is an activity-filled complex on the left bank of Manalsu – a tributary of Beas river. The activities of roller skating, billiards, table tennis, go-karting and river crossing can be indulged in at this hub for tourists.
Manali organizes a winter carnival in the first week of January every year to celebrate a way of life in the valley. The carnival is a great display of folk culture through vocal and folk dance performances by local artists and invitee troupes from other states of the country before a large Indian and foreign audience. Carnival parade, singing, solo dance, group dance, street plays, and a Winter Queen beauty peasant are some of the major attractions of the carnival.
Fairs and festivals are celebrated to honor local deities or mark religiously significant days in Himachal and it is no different in Manali. The Dhungri Devi (Hidimba Devi) fair is an important event that is celebrated in spring beside the deodar shaded temple complex. Joining the celebrations and getting glimpses of the rich culture of the region does add to the holiday mood.
The bountiful valley is most pleasant during the summers when temperatures hover around 22°-30°Celsius. Deep winters when there is plentiful of snowfall in and around Manali is for adventure seekers and those who love skiing, a rare sport for India. Temperature in December-January can fall below minus 5 degree Celsius in Manali.
The resort township has some of the best cafes and restaurants that serve choicest of cuisines – thanks to its ever-growing popularity among Indian as well as foreign travellers. The Mall Road and the market nearby are best places for snacking. Street food served at these places carry a tinge of spices that excites the taste-buds. For a pescatarian, most restaurants do serve trout.
Old Manali is a place where most menus are filled with western cuisines. Silent hangout spots with a foreign vibe, restaurants here serve great Italian and Mexican food. Vashisht, more compact than Old Manali, is home to some of the best rooftop eateries that offer great mountain views while serving delicious Italian, Mexican or Israeli dishes.
The tourist city has a Government run civil hospital that provides good healthcare facilities. There is also the privately run Hospital in Manali and good private clinics for meeting any medical care needs in the town.
Manali is well connected by road to places like Delhi, Shimla, Kullu, and Dharamshala. The road journey from Delhi to Manali is about 550 km, and an advance booking of tickets in the AC/Volvo coaches is recommended, keeping in mind the distance and comfort.
|Tourist Information Centre, Manali||01902 – 252175, 252325, 252325|
|SHO, Manali||01902 – 252326|
|Civil Hospital, Manali||01902 – 253385|
On a meandering uphill road, 51 km away from Manali, Rohtang Pass is an ace tourist attraction that elevates your travel experience. The pass gives summer access to the land of Lahaul and Spiti. Heavy snow closes the pass in late November which after much effort is again opened six months later by May.
As the summer picks up and snow starts to melt, tourist vehicles start making a beeline to the Pass to experience snow in the months of June to August. The tourists do also enjoy adventure activities of paragliding, trekking and skiing here. Other excursions in the area include a visit to Nehru Kund, Jogini Fall and Kothi.
To preserve the pristine beauty of the Pass, the small streams, alpine pastures and mesmerizing waterfalls, overcrowding of the destination by law stands restricted. The government has enforced regulated access of visitors and vehicles to Rohtang.
A special permit for petrol and diesel vehicles by the designated authority at Manali is required to visit Rohtang Pass for tourism purposes.
Visitors can apply for Rohtang Pass permit online on Official website of Distt Administration Kullu https://rohtangpermits.nic.in/
An open meadow running along a slope surrounded by a deodar rich forest in the midst of high peaks around, Solang Nullah, 13 km from Manali, is one of the most beautiful tourist spots on the outskirts of the resort township.
Solang bustles with tourism activity both in the summer and winters. A variety of adventure sporting activities that include quad-bike rides, zorbing, paragliding and gondola (ropeway) ride, rock climbing, ballooning, camping and mountaineering can be indulged in at Solang. In winters, the slopes packed with snow becomes a winter sports arena for skiing where even state and national level ski championship are regularly conducted.
Solang also serves as a base camp for mountaineering expeditions to Anjani Mahadev, Hanuman Tibba and Patalsu peak.
Hidimba Devi Temple
Known as the Dhungri Temple, this temple with the presiding deity of Manali is in close proximity of the town center Mall Road. Built on a strong stone foundation, the temple shikhar rises as high as deodar trees surrounding it in a four-tier pagoda style wood and stone structure. The temple dates back to the 16th century.
The temples sanctum sanctorum is a cave shrine that is believed to have foot imprints of Hidimba Devi. The Hindu epic Mahabharata has Hidimba as one of the wives of Bhima, one of the five Pandavas princes in the story. Manali is perhaps the only place in India where she is worshipped as a goddess. The temple attracts devotees and architecture lovers from around the world.
Overlooking the valley from high up on the left bank side of the Beas River, Naggar, 22 kms from Manali, served as the capital of the principality before it moved to Sultanpur, Kullu in 1660 AD. Many monuments and temples along with a 500 year palace castle scattered around Naggar bear testimony of the importance the place once held.
It has become popular tourist attraction on the periphery of Manali. The small settlement has a lot to offer. The most prominent being the Nicholas Roerich Art Gallery, Vasuki Nag Temple, Tripura Sundari Temple and the Gauri Shankar Temple. The well conserved Naggar Castle exhibits magnificent architecture, wood carvings, stone and metal craft of the times. Once a royal residence built by Raja Sidh Singh, the castle is now a museum and a heritage hotel run by Himachal Tourism. Some masterpieces from the brush of the Russian count and artist Nicholas Roerich are on permanent display at his former residence, now turned into an art gallery-cum-museum.
In close proximity to Manali, Naggar is the quickest way to get off the travel grid to find solace. A blend of history and local culture, Naggar manages to maintain the arty environment with a vintage touch.
Vashisht is a sacred village that can be easily reached by a paved path from Manali market. The village has a temple dedicated to sage Vashisht, who finds mention in the Rig Veda, the oldest religious book of the Hindus. Apart from the temple, a hot water spring bath is what makes this small village worth a visit.
At the base of Bhrigu Peak, this small lake (altitude 4,235 meters) attracts a number of trekkers every year. Like a Himalayan jewel, the lake is flanked by snow-clad mountains on all sides. Legend has it that sage Bhrigu meditated at this place. Locals hold it sacred and believe that gods and goddesses from the valley do come here for a holy dip.
The Manali Gompa
Close to the Mall, this Buddhist monastery greets you with its bright colours. A large Buddha statue at the entrance, freshly painted facades, mowed lawns and colourful murals on the wall depicting Buddha’s life hand out a deeply spiritual experience. The monastery was built in the early 1960’s.
Manu Temple, Old Manali
At a walking distance from Manali town, Manu Temple in Old Manali is a fine stone and wood monument roofed with slate tiles. The temple is devoted to Rishi Manu, a sage who codified the Hindu laws in the book Manusmriti. A temple of Manu is rare in the country and Manali derives its very name from Manu Alya, sanctified in the temple.
Mountaineering Institute, Manali
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports is one of the pioneer institutes of the country that has promoted adventure sports in the country. The institute offers basic to advanced level courses in mountaineering, rock climbing, trekking, river rafting, paragliding and other adventure sport disciplines.
Jagat Sukh Village
Jagat Sukh served as the capital of Kullu before it was first moved to Naggar and then to Sultanpur. The Gauri Shankar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and the Gayatri Temple is a testimony of the times when life in the valley centred around this village.
On the way to Rohtang Pass, 5 km beyond of Manali, is a little spring fed by the sacred waters from Brighu Lake. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister during his regular visits to Manali would only drink water from this spring. With time it has acquired the name Nehru Kund.
Manali Wildlife Sanctuary
A dense forest of deodar, kail, walnut and maple trees that shelters a lot of shy Himalayan wildlife is a great getaway for nature lovers. The sanctuary starts about 2 km from Manali. A bridle path darkened by the dense forest cover takes you past Dhungri temple to Gallant thatch. The alpine grassland and glaciers beyond Gallant thatch is a great camping site to observe the wildlife around. The birds and animals and birds that can be sighted include the Monal, Musk deer and Brown bear. Venturing further up to the snowline during summers, one can even sight Blue Sheep, Ibex and the evasive Snow leopard.