One of the prime honeymoon destinations in North India, Manali epitomizes mountain scenery of the Himalayas. Its mild temperatures are a good break from summer heat of the plains, and its a delight to play in snow during winter. Manali also serves as gateway to higher mountains up north – to Ladakh, Lahaul and Spiti.
Overview. Manali has an envious combination of greenery and snow. While deodar trees surround the town, a little up north, Rohtang Pass is buried in snow for more than six months a year. Comfortable resorts and hotels in all budget are spread around the town to help make visit to Manali a pleasure.
Orientation. Manali itself is a small town with a mall road no longer than a quarter kilometer. But interesting locations are spread around the town, and some as far away as a two hour drive. Autorickshaws can serve as means of transport for short distance commute, while taxis are easily available for longer journeys like going to Rohtang Pass.
Sightseeing and Activities
Manali Town. The mall road, which is rather small in comparison with other popular hill stations, is the place for quick eats and some shopping. Most of the conveniences in town are also located here, like travel agent offices, ATMs, restaurants, internet and utility shops. HPTDC office is located at one end of Mall Road.
Hadimba Temple and Manu Temple. Hadimba Temple, built in 16th century, is dedicated to Bheema's wife - Hadimba. Its a small temple built in wood, typically Himachali style with with a tower in the center raising three storey high. The temple is located in a large deodar grove and is a beautiful place to spend the day at. Manu Temple is another well known temple in quiet surroundings of Old Manali.
Vashisht Hot Springs. Located three kilometers from Manali off the road to Rohtang is a small village of Vashisht. This is known for its ancient Ram Temple, and a sacred hot springs where people can take a dip. Today, Vashisht also doubles up as a popular backpacker hangout.
Solang Nala. A twenty minute drive from Manali, this place is a large activity center. A plane area in Solang serves as a sports center where you can go on parasailing and paragliding rides. In winter, this places serves as a ski slope. Just 20 minutes walk up from Solang is a sacred place where a tiny waterfall is known to form ice lingam in winters. You can also opt to hire a horse to ride to this place.
Rohtang Pass. One of the famed passes in the country that serves as access to Ladakh and Lahaul-Spiti regions, this place is also a large tourist attraction. Snow remains on Rohtang until June-July every year, attracting large number of tourists from the plains who want to see snow. The way up to Rohtang is also very green and beautiful, with vista of deep valley of Beas River. Once the snow starts melting, Rohtang is covered in beautiful flowers all along the surface, which is worth seeing.
Naggar. Thirty minutes away from Manali down the Beas Valley, Naggar is known for being the residence of famed Russian artist Nikolas Roerich. Roerich's paintings are displayed in a small museum located in the house that was once Roerich's residence. Naggar was also the capital of Kullu kings. A castle built in 15th century by Raja Sidh Singh is now a heritage hotel owned by HPTDC. Other attractions of Naggar include two ancient temples dedicated to lord Shival and Gauri Shankar.
Food and Accommodation
Manali has no dearth of places to stay and eat. South Indian and North Indian foods are easily available on the mall road, with plenty of eating options. A few renowned restaurants on the road to Old Manali serve world cuisine. Vashisht is the place to go for typical backpacker menu comprising Israeli, Italian, Indian and fast foods. While good hotels are located all around Manali, budget places are located in Vashisht.
How to reach. The airport is located at a place called Bhuntar, two hours drive from Manali. HPTDC runs overnight Volvos from Delhi. There are buses available from other major towns around Delhi, such as Chandigarh and Haridwar. Driving from the planes is also a good option if you are well verse with mountain roads. There is no rail connectivity.