Manali is a resort town nestled in the mountains of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh near the northern end of the Kullu Valley in the Beas River Valley. It is located in the Kullu district, about 270 km north of the state capital, Shimla, 309 km north east of Chandigarh and 544 km northeast of Delhi, the national capital. The small town, with a population of 8,096, is the beginning of an ancient trade route to Ladakh and from there over the Karakoram Pass on to Yarkand and Khotan in the Tarim Basin. It is a popular tourist destination and serves as the gateway to Lahaul and Spiti district as well as Leh.
Manali is named after the Sanatan Hindu lawgiver Manu. The name Manali is regarded as the derivative of ‘Manu-Alaya’ which literally means ‘the abode of Manu’. Legend has it that sage Manu stepped off his ark in Manali to recreate human life after a great flood had deluged the world. Manali lies in the North of Kullu Valley. The valley is often referred to as the ‘Valley of the Gods’. Old Manali village has an ancient temple dedicated to sage Manu.
The British introduced apple trees in the area. The first apple orchard was set up by the British near Patlikuhal, before this, no Apple trees grew in the area. To this day, apple— along with plum and pear— remain the best source of income for the majority of inhabitants. Both Rainbow and Brown Trout was also introduced into the rivers and streams of the area by the colonisers.
With the increase in disposable incomes and somewhat owing to the rise of disturbances in Kashmir in the late 1980s, Manali witnessed a surge in tourist traffic. This once quiet village was transformed into a bustling town with numerous homestays as well as the occasional boutique hotel. During the warmer summer months, cafes and restaurants can be seen doing brisk business.
How to go
By air: The nearest airport is at Bhuntar, located approximately 50 kilometres away from Manali. Domestic flights connect Bhuntar with Delhi and Chandigarh. Once at the airport, you can take a pre-paid taxi to Manali. However, owing to weather conditions, flights are not the most reliable option for getting to or out of Manali.
By bus: Manali is very well-connected to important tourist destinations like Leh, Shimla, Kullu, Dharamshala and New Delhi by means of a network of state-run as well as private buses. The bus journey from Delhi to Manali is 550 kilometres, and it is advisable to book your tickets in the air-conditioned Volvo coaches, as the buses are more comfortable than ordinary ones, keeping in mind the long distance of the journey.
By road/self-drive: The drive up to Manali is simply breathtaking! You can catch scenic glimpses of the adjoining mountains and valleys from almost every turn that the twisty uphill road throws you in. Though a lot of tourists prefer a self-drive up to Manali, it is advisable to hire a taxi in case you are not comfortable with driving in mountainous regions.
Solang Valley: A valley between the Beas Kund and the Solang village tends to be a favorite for all its visitors as well as the locals. Also known as the Snow point, the Solang valley is famous not only for the glaciers and snow-clad landscapes but also for the countless activities that one can enjoy here.
Rohtang Pass: Rohtang pass is the stretch which connects Manali to Himachal’s dreamier and dessert like landscapes, Spiti and Lahaul, and is one itself. This vast snow desert is a landscape like only a few other and a view one should not miss, while here.
Beas Kund Trek: The Beas Kund trek is a perfect weekend getaway trek with outstanding views of Pir Pinjal mountain ranges over the Beas River. Let your soul get wooed by the spectacular meadows of Dhundi and Bakarthach and finally, the glacial lake at Beas Kund which is worth all the hiking.
Paragliding: The hillside town of Manali is famous for paragliding. At 2050 metres above sea level, it is an ultimate location for the sport, with its beautiful green valleys, stark blue skies, and snow-capped mountain peaks. The picture-perfect valley boasts of ideal wind conditions for paragliding and is thronged by both international and domestic tourists. Starting with a basic training course, the operators are well organized, competent and trustworthy.
Hadimba Temple: Hadimba temple, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, is a peaceful place surrounded by towering deodar trees. The temple is dedicated to Hidimba, the wife of Bhima, one of the five Pandava princes from the great Indian epic Mahabharata. The main attraction of the temple is the three day Hidimba Devi Festival, which attracts devotees from all over the world and features colourful folk dance performances.
Skiing: A major tourist spot of North India, Manali is known for its excellent skiing conditions with skiing enthusiasts visiting from all over the country. The undulating slopes of Solang Valley and Rohtang Pass offer a perfect terrain for amateurs to learn their first move while an ideal grounds for professional skiing in Manali. So, if you are an adventure lover, leave yourself in the hands of your professional trainers to feel the thrill of skiing in the picturesque setting of Manali.
Chandratal Baralacha Lake: Chandratal Baralacha is a perfect trek destination steeped with all the right elements – nature’s beauty and enough challenges to be thrilling and tranquillity. Perched at an altitude of 4,300 meters, Chandratal is one of the high altitude lakes in the Himalayan region. Located on the Samudra Plateau of Spiti Valley, the most delightful sight of sunset gleaming upon the turquoise waters of the lake, pristine landscape, mountain passes, several gushing streams, verdant meadows, the gush of colourful orchards and exotic wildlife make Chandratal Baralacha Trek an unforgotten experience to cherish forever.
Why visit Manali?
Trekking Trails: Trekking is one of the most popular activities that many people love to do because it makes them feel more adventurous and close to Mother Nature. Manali is considered a paradise for trekking enthusiasts as it is the starting point of many amazing trekking trails. The most famous trek is the Hampta Pass, which starts from Jobri Nala. Some of the other treks are Beas Kund, Bhrigu Lake, Dashaur Lake, Patalsu Peak, Lamadugh, Hampta Circuit, Deo Tibba base camp, etc.
Vibrant Markets: Markets and mall roads are considered the lifeline of hill stations. Manali is home to a vast Tibetan market where one can find and shop varieties of clothes and souvenirs. The old Manali area is home to several cool cafes where one can chill out and spend a pleasant evening.
Waterfalls: Waterfalls are the only place where one can sit for hours and enjoy the sound of gushing water. Manali houses a famous waterfall called Jogini waterfall situated around 7.5 km from the main city. The place is perfect for spending quality time.
Mountain Biking: The most exciting thing about the mountains is the road and mountain biking can give you once in a lifetime experience. The curvaceous and adventurous roads can amaze anyone with its thrill. So if you are an adventure buff then it’s a must try activity in Manali. Bikes can easily be rented in Manali.
Hot Sulphur Baths: The natural hot water springs are one of the most exciting phenomena and found in the mountains. Taking a bath in these springs can give you an amazing relief. Manali houses one hot water spring situated at Vashisht Temple.
So this summer head out to Manali to beat the city heat and have a memorable trip. What are you waiting for?