The Kullu valley has an ancient town in its lap called Manali. Surrounded by towering peaks at an arm length, Manali's major asset is its proximity to the snowline. It is a flourishing orchard industry, a popular honeymoon destination and trailhead for numerous treks as well as a great countryside ideal for adventure sport lovers.
Manali literally means the 'Home of Manu'. Manu is the mythological character who is supposed to have survived when the world was drowned in Flood. He then came to Manali and recreated human life. Thus, the area of Manali is sacred and Hindus treat the temples over here as pilgrimage.
Prime Attractions of Manali
Heli Skiing: For high mountain thrills perhaps nothing can surpass the magic of heli- skiing. The sport is available in the area abound by the Hanuman Tibba, Rohtang Pass, Deo Tibba and Chanderkhani Pass near Manali.
Hidimba Devi Temple: Hadimba or Dhungiri temple in Manali is one of the most important temples in the region. This four story wooden temple is located in the middle of a forest called the Dhungiri Van Vihar.
Mountaineering: Himachal Pradesh has some challenging peaks and each year expeditions are organised by the Mountaineering Institute at Manali. The Mountaineering Institute has regional centres at Dharamsala, Bharmour and Jispa, which organise adventure courses as well.
Gadhan Thekchoking Gompa: This Gompa dominates the Tibetan area around the bottom of the Mall in Manali. The Tibetan refugees built the Gompa in the late 1960's. The Gompa is covered with brightly coloured frescoes and a mid size Buddhist statute. It also carries a list of the martyrs killed in occupation of Tibet of 1987 to 1989.
Gulaba Camp: 20-km from Manali, is this beautiful place famous for sightseeing, picnic and photography.
Malana Valley: In the valleys of Kullu and Manali below Chanderkhani Pass, situated at an altitude of 2,76m is a little hub of hundred houses. The village, which consists of 1,000 tribals, has an immaculate system of self-governance.
Manali Sanctuary: This sanctuary is located in District Kullu's nearest town, Manali. The area of this sanctuary is 3,180 hectares. The sanctuary wasnotified on 26th February 1954, under the Punjab Birds and Wild Animals Protection Act, 1933.
Mountaineering Institute: The Mountaineering Institute located at Manali provides training facilities for basic and advance climbing both for Indian nationals and foreigners. This institute also conducts other adventurous sports activities like high altitude trekking, minor mountaineering, rock-climbing, skiing, and high altitude rescue and relief courses. The institute has sufficient lodging and boarding arrangements and equipment can be hired for trekking purposes.
Naggar: Taken as an excursion from Kullu or Manali, Nagar also known as Naggar, is a very lovely village set on a hill surrounded by forests. Naggar was the capital of Kullu valley in the 16th century and the monuments in the region are witnesses to the glory it had once lived in.
Nehru Kund: It is a spring of clear, cold water, named after the late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and is 6-km from Manali on Keylong road.
Temple Of Manu: Slippery stones paths lead through the old village houses up to the temple of Manu. Manali is named after the sage Manu who meditated when he came in this area.
Tibetan Temple: Tibetans have a base in Manali too. There is a large modern Tibetan temple to the South of the bus stand and also a small handicrafts centre.
Vashisth Village: Famous for the sweeping valley views and sulphurous hot-water springs, the large settlement of Vashisht, formerly known as Bashist, just 3km from Manali, is an amorphous jumble of traditional timber houses and modern concrete cubes, divided by paved courtyards and narrow muddy lanes.
Winter Carnival: Snow continues to play a major part in February's festivals and Himachal's Winter Carnival is also held this month. Ski slopes of Kufri, Manali and Narkanda come to life with adventure seekers competing their way downhill. For daredevils, Manali, as a base camp, offers best opportunity for Heli-Skiing.
Excursions from Manali
Rohtang Pass: Rohtang Pass is the highest point, 4,112m, on the Manali-Keylong road, 51-km from Manali town. It provides a wide panoramic view of mountains rising far above clouds, which is a sight truly breath-taking.
Arjun Gufa: On the left bank of the Beas, 5-km from Manali near the village of Prini, is the 'Arjun Gufa' or the cave of Arjuna. In here Arjuna practised austerities to get Pashupata Ashtra or weapon from Lord Indra.
Beas Kund: It is the source of river Beas, at the Rohtang Pass and is easily accessible. The great sage, Vyas performed `Tapa' here during the Mahabharat times. The place is still hallowed by the celestial light. It was because of this that the river got the present name of Beas.
Jagatsukh Temple: It is one of the biggest villages in Kullu district. About 6-km from Manali, Jagatsukh is famous for its Shiva temple that is built in "shikhara" style and nearby is the old and interesting Devi Sharvati temple.
Kothi: It is a pretty little village, 12-km from Manali on the Keylong road at the foot of Rohtang Pass. There are very fine views from Kothi, and the Beas River flows through a very deep and narrow gorge at this point. The well-situated Public Works Department (PWD) Resthouse is a popular place for overnight stays. Close to the rest house is an awe-inspiring gorge where Beas enters a chasm about 61m deep and just few metres broad.
Old Manali: The old Manali area is located some 3-km from the present day Manali. The old Manali is covered with guesthouses, which look ancient now, and orchards where the livestock move at will.
Rahalla Falls: About 16-km from Manali and 4-km away from Kothi, at the start of the climb to the Rohtang Pass, are the beautiful Rahalla Falls at an altitude of 2,501m.
Solang Nullah: 14-km northwest of Manali in the Solang Valley, this place offers Himachal Pradesh's best ski slopes. The Mountaineering and Allied Sports Institute operates a 300m high ski lift and the month of February is the best month to ski over here. HPTDC runs seven-day package for ski courses with accommodation in the Hotel Rohtang Manaslu in Manali. Courses are also offered by the Mountaineering and Allied Sports Institute and the North Face Ski School.
Vashisth Hot Sulphur Springs: This small village near Manali is famous for its scenic beauty. The village has a temple dedicated to Lord Rama and Vashisth Muni. The village has some hot water springs, which are said to carry medicinal properties. It is a picturesque little place, 3-km out of Manali but on foot the distance is a bit shorter.
Leisure - Manali
Shopping: The Mall in Manali offers many interesting items to be purchased, from cloths to decorative pieces and gift items. Woollen goods are the town's real forte, particularly the brilliantly patterned shawls for which it is known for. The NSC or 'New Shopping Centre' Market near the bus stand sells a good selection. Another reliable emporium is the government - sponsored Bhutico, which has an outlet on the Mall, just opposite the tourist office. Around the bazaar there are innumerable stalls stacked with hand-woven goods and pillbox Kullu Topis. Manali's other specialty is Himalayan handicrafts, mainly assorted Tibetan curios such as prayer wheels, amulets, dorjees or thunderbolts, masks, musical instruments, jewellery and thangkas.
How To Get There - Manali
The Trans Himalayas is at once stark and forbidding and yet, its lunar like landscape has a strong fascination and a haunting beauty. The route to Leh starts from Manali, and is along the second highest highway in the world. The first of the high passes on the road is the Rohtang La. Past it are the racing waters of the river Chandra. Then the flat roofed houses of Khoksar provide a glimpse of living in these areas.
The Hidden Attractions: Keylong is the district headquarters of Lahaul and here lies the fork for Ladakh and Leh. Keylong acts as a good base for visiting several Buddhist monasteries in the area - Guru Ghantal, Kardang, Shashur Tayul and Gemur are some of the more famous ones. Further a field lie several more - Trilokinath, Udaipur, Lindur, Bokar, Gumrang, Tinna, Kolong, Jispa, Tingal, Darcha, Dongma, Lapchang, Thola Pyasu, Piukar, Jholing, Khinang, Jagdang and Othang.
Past the little settlements of Jispa, Istingri, Darcha And Patseo, comes the 8-km long Baralacha pass. The river Bhaga flows out of the Suraj Tal that lies by the pass. Sarchu rests in stark splendour and the scenery past it is remarkable. Enroute to Leh also come the high passes of Lachlang La And Tanglang La - and miles of flat lands. Sarchu has a tented colony and hotels.
Leh: Leh, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, rests at the head of a triangular plateau and apart from its own attractions, it forms the base for several excursions. The major Buddhist monasteries easily accessible from Leh are the Hemis Gompa, Lamayuru, Likir Gompa, Phiyang Gompa, Samkar Gompa and Shey Gompa. Within the town lie several monasteries, the Stok Palace Museum and the Leh Palace.
Journey Via Delhi: From Delhi, one can fly into Manali and fly back from Leh. With no sightseeing en route, plan for two days of steady driving with the overnight stopover at Sarchu. Tour buses and jeeps for the route are available at Manali and at Leh. Good health is essential for crossing the high passes.
By Air: The nearest airport to Manali is that of Bhuntar, which is 52-km from Manali. From Bhuntar one can take a taxi or a bus to Manali.
By Rail: The nearest railhead is that of Joginder Nagar and this narrow gauze railway station is 95-km from Kullu. The scenic beauty of Kullu while going to Manali can best be enjoyed on a bus or a taxi. It is better to take a taxi, which one can stop and enjoy the nature at will.
By Road: The road to Manali passes through the picturesque valley of Kullu. The motorable roads to Manali connect the town with other major tourist places in Himachal as well as in the nearby states. At the Manali bus stand there are two booths, which do computerised reservation for buses. The reservations can be made one month in advance. Both private and state government buses are in service over here.
Places To Stay - Manali
There are dozens of places to stay in Manali, including Hotel Tourist, Jhon Banon'n Guesthouse, Sunshine Guest House, Sunshine Guest House, Hotel Highlands, Pinewood Hotel, Hotel Chetna, Beas Hotel and Hotel Rohtang Manalsu. HPTDC runs several places and bookings can be made at the HTPDC Marketing Office on the Mall.
Climate - Manali
The climate of Manali is very cold as it is located in the Himalayas and the snow line is not far from the place. The altitude of Manali gives it a climate, which is loved by one and all. The summers are cool and the winters prove to be very harsh. During the winters the snow line comes down and there is snowfall in the region and heavy woollen cloths are required. During the monsoon months due to heavy rainfall there are landslides, which hamper movement. The best time to visit Manali is May and October but one can visit this place during winters too.
General Information - Manali
May To October.
Vashisth Hot Sulphur Spring, Rohtang Pass, Hadimba Temple
RAFTING: The Beas River flowing through Kullu valley is suitable for not only white water rafting but is ideal for canoeing and kayaking too. The Beas River from the Manaki to Jhiri near Bajaura in Kullu district has become very popular among the lovers of river rafting and many competitions have been organised in the same.
The trip starts from Mohal and covers a total distance 10-kms. The season normally starts from May to mid-June and rest depends on the arrival of monsoon. The various clubs provide the basic equipment required for the water sports.
SKIING: Near Manali there are some slopes, which have been rated the best for skiing in the world. The Solang Nullah, Patalsu, Kothi, Marhi and Rohtang slopes are very good for skiing in the winters as well as in summers. In fact Patalsu and Rohtang slopes are the only places where one can do summer skiing. The slopes are being further developed to accommodate more trainees and tourists.
The national level skiing competition is held on the slopes of Solang Nullah and the winter carnival is organised at Manali. The place has immense potential to offer some world-class ski slopes and they are being developed on the same lines. There are private organisations that provide training as well as equipment for skiing. The Mountaineering Institute has put up a small ski lift at Solang Nullah.
PARAGLIDING: Paragliding is a combination of hang gliding and parachuting. In parachuting one has to jump from an aircraft whereas in paragliding one has to run down hill. The slopes of Solang Nullah provide just the right kind of slopes for paragliding during summers. There are organisations, which offer packages for paragliding. One can hire equipment from the private organisations in Manali and around.