Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Manali is one of the most popular and important tourist destination in Himachal Pradesh, India. The surrounding snow covered mountain peaks attracts tourists year-round. Manali is located at the head of the Kullu Valley, 108 km from Mandi and 309 km from Chandigarh. It is also easily accessible by road from Delhi, with a journey of around 11 hours covering a distance of 536 km from Delhi to Manali. There are regular buses from Delhi to Manali or you can drive into Manali using your own vehicle as well. Manali is becoming popular among both the domestic and foreign tourists, and welcomes a range of tourists including honeymooners, holiday-makers, trekkers and traders.
According to folk stories, Manu (creator of the humanity), stepped out of his boat here to re-create human life after floods that destroyed the world. The Manali that attracted travellers in the old days has now been changed. Although, the mesmerizing mountain beauty, natural hot water springs and the beautiful temples are still the same. The atmosphere of Old Manali, and the village of Vashisht across the valley is the place for most peaceful stay, with increasing number of guesthouses and cafes. For those looking for some adventure into the mountains, this is a perfect trekking base for short hikes and serious expeditions.
Manali, India points of interest
Hidimba Devi Temple
Pronounced as Hadimba or Hidimba Devi Temple, is the oldest temple in Manali and is the seat of Hadimba Devi (or “Hirma Devi”, wife of Bhima). The Hidimba Temple is resting on a wide stone platform fifteen minutes walk northwest of the bazaar. Hadimba Devi is considered to be an incarnation of Maa Kali and is worshiped in difficult times. Hadimba is supposed to have given the kingdom of Kullu to the forefathers of the rajas of Kullu. The massive triple-tiered wooden pagoda-style temple, crowned by crimson pennants and a brass ball and Shiva’s Trishul, dates back from 1553, and is a replica of earlier ones that burned down following a fire.
The exterior is filled with wonderful woodcarvings of elephants, crocodiles and folk deities. On the entrance door are the wild ibex horns on the top. The temple is dominated by several large rocks, one of which shelters the stone on which goats and buffalo are sacrificed during important rituals. The hollow in its middle, believed to be Vishnu’s footprint, channels the blood to Hadimba’s mouth.
The village of Vashisht is famous for its beautiful valley views and natural sulphur hot-water springs. Located 3km northeast of Manali, it is the hub for the local budget travellers, with a good choice of guesthouses and cafes. The only place for a hot water bath is in the pools of Vashisht’s ancient temple, divided into separate sections for men and women. Vashisht consist of two old stone temples, opposite each other above the main square and dedicated to the Rishi Vashishta, guru of Raghunathji. The smaller of the two opens onto a partially covered courtyard and is adorned with elaborate woodcarvings. Those lining the interior of the shrine, blackened by years of oil-lamp and dhoop smoke, are worth checking out.
Few places on earth can mark so spectacular a change in landscape as the Rohtang Pass. To one side, the lush green valley of the Kullu, to the other, an awesome bare vista, hanging glaciers and snowfields that shine in the dazzlingly crisp light, with just flecks of flora deep in the valley to soften the stark image. Once out of Manali, the road begins its long ascent of the Rohtang Pass (3,978m/13,052ft). Distance from Manali to Rohtang is only 51 km but it may take hours to reach due to high traffic of tourists vehicles, and the situation gets worse when the same gets clogged by the trucks going towards Keylong or Ladakh. In order to visit Rohtang Pass, you will have to first the permit from the SDM Manali located at the Mall Road.
The Mall Road, Manali
The Mall road is the main street of Manali, it is a noisy road with constant activity, with a line of restaurants and hotels, several shopping markets, travel agents, and fronted by the bus stand. It is a great place to watch the people go by – locals in traditional Himachali Caps (Pahari Topi), Tibetan women in clean traditional gown, Buddhist monks, and a mix of curious tourists and travelers. The grid of streets behind The Mall is curiously known as Model Town.
Woollen handlooms are the town’s real forte, particularly the beautifully patterned shawls for which the Kullu Valley is famous. Genuine pure-wool handloom shawls with embroidered borders start at around Rs. 600, but those made from finest pashmina cost several thousand rupees. Shop around and check out the fixed-price factory shops to get an idea of what’s available in the market, the government-sponsored Bhutico on The Mall opposite the tourist office, the Bodh Shawl factory shop just off The Mall south of the bus stand and The Great Hadimba Shop & Factory next to the Manu Temple in Old Manali are a few recommended.
Adventure sports in Manali
River Rafting in Manali is offered between the end of May and early July, when water levels are highest in the Beas River. The price (around Rs. 1500) includes life jackets, helmets and return travel; check exactly what you’re paying for, as some unethical operators expect you to make your own way back after the trip.
Skiing in the Solang Valley Manali is popular from January to April. The valley is also a popular spot for paragliding, kitesurfing (both Rs. 1500–2500) and the ropeway rides (Rs. 500 per person). Rock climbing, canyoning and zorbing are also gaining in popularity. Numerous agents offer jeep safaris and other guided tours to remote areas such as Lahaul, Spiti and Ladakh – prices vary wildly, as does what is included, so always shop around. Most of these operators also run treks on the most popular local routes.
For a list for places in Parvati Valley, please read: Parvati Valley – A traveler’s retreat away from the hustle of the city
|Delhi to Manali||
|Chandigarh to Manali||
|Mandi to Manali||
|Kullu to Manali||
|Dharamshala to Manali||
|Manali to Kasol||
|Manali to Manikaran||
|Manali to Bhuntar||
|Mall Road, Manali to Hidimba Devi Temple||
|Mall Road, Manali to Vashisht||
|Manali to Solang Valley||
|Manali to Rohtang Pass||
|Manali to Keylong||