One of the most popular hill stations up north, Manali is famous for its apple orchards, snowy peaks and pretty slate houses. Named after the great sage Manu, it is a bustling town along the Beas River, with snow-capped peaks providing the perfect backdrop to its fruit orchards and hillsides covered with dark green pine trees.
A must-see for all those, who love nature and especially for the adventure sport enthusiast, this is one of the few places in India, where you can do river rafting to your hearts content, enroll for rock-climbing and in the winter, do a lot of skiing.
Though it is an ancient site, Manali lacks the colonial history or charm of Shimla, and the culture and spectacular setting of Lahaul, Spiti and Kinnaur. But according to Hindu Mythology, legend has it that Manu, Hinduisms Noah, stepped off a boat in Manali, to recreate human life, after floods had devastated the world.
Manali thus means Home of Manu. Closely situated Malnali is a picturesque village, whose villagers are believed to be the descendants of the Greek army of Alexander. They have a democratic assembly, which takes care of the administrative matters of the village.
Set amidst picturesque apple orchards, Manali is packed with Pahari speaking Kullus, Lahaulis, Nepali laborers and enterprising Tibetan refugees, who have opened guesthouses, restaurants and craft shops.
Handicrafts, typical of the hills, like heavily embroidered shawls, wooden crafts, woolen caps, firans and inlaid silver jewellery in turquoise and coral and the weaving of pashmina shawls is part of the culture here.
Chinese and Japanese Cuisine available here.
You can shop around for handicrafts typical of the hills like heavily embroidered shawls, wooden crafts, pillbox woollen caps. Tibetan curios can be found in all the markets in Manali. Pick up some firans and inlaid silver jewellery in turquoise and coral from shops along the Mall. Most of these things, barring the pashmina, can be bought at affordable prices under one roof, at the New Shopping Centre at the Mall, Manali.
Shivratri is celebrated with great gusto in Manali.
40 km from Kullu, Manali is at a height of 2,050 m.
Jagson Airlines and Archana Airways fly from Delhi. Airport: The nearest airport is at Bhuntar ( Kullu ) , 77 km from Manali.
The closest railheads from here are Pathankot and Chandigarh, from where you can take the narrow gauge train to Jogindernagar. Usually the most convenient way is to take a taxi from either of these places to Manali. Railway station: Pathankot and Chandigarh are the closest railheads.
Take a taxi from Kullu (Rs 450-Rs 500) to cover the 67 km stretch.
The summers, with lots of sunshine, are pleasant in Manali. But if you love snowfall, this is the place to be in to enjoy. Although it is bitterly cold during winters, it is still one of the most beautiful places in the country.
( 51 km. ) At an altitude of 3,978 metres on the highway to Keylong, the mass affords a wide-spread panorama of mountain scenery. Here eye meets a range of precipitous cliffs, huge glaciers and piled moraine and deep ravines. To the opposite is the well defined 'Sonepani Glacier' slightly to the left are the twin peaks of the Geyphang snow crowned. The Beas river rises near the crest of Rohtang from a block of Mica-Schist. To its left, 200 metres higher, is the little lake of 'Sarkund' ( Dashahr ) visited by a large number of people every year. The bath in the water of Sarkund lake effects cure of all bodily ailments or imaginary. The pass is open from June to October each year although trekkers can cross it earlier. It is the gateway to Lahaul-Spiti, Pangi and Leh valley.
3 kms. from the Main Bazar in Old Manali, lies the Temple of MANU RISHI. It is believed that this is the only temple of Manu Rishi in India, and Manu Rishi was the creator of human race on the earth.
Situated on the left bank of river Beas, Naggar was the capital of Kullu for approx. 1400 years. Nestling on a wooded slope, it commands a splendid and extensive view of the valley. The paintings of late Nicholas Roerich should be seen at the Roerich museum in a white washed villa set in a jewel like garden. Naggar Castle built in the sixteenth century is a huge building and is a great tourist attraction. Naggar has a number of famous temples, the important ones being Gaurishankra temple, Vishnu temple and Krishna temple.
1.5 km from main Manali, the Dhungri or Hadimba Devi Temple, is a four storey wooden building, in the middle of lovely forested parkland, known as the Dhungri Van Vihar. Erected in 1553, it has a 4-tier pagoda-shaped roof, with an intricately carved doorway and sculptures depicting Indian mythology. Every May, there is a major festival at the temple in honor of goddess Hadimba, to whom the temple is dedicated. The surrounding woods are very scenic, and you'll find, plenty of locals, ready to let you photograph them in their local attire. You can even hop onto a yak and get your photograph taken.
Vashist, a small village located on the Left Bank of River Beas in Manali towards Rohtang pass is worth a visit. Vashist Hot Water Springs and Temple is renowned for it's Hot Water Springs and Temples. Nearby is the Pyramidal Stone Temple dedicated to Vashist Muni. There is another Temple of Lord Ram as well. Natural Hot Sulphur Water Springs with two separate bathing tanks for Gents and Ladies, which are always full of tourists. Turkish Style Showers fitted baths have also been built nearby. Hot water from the nearby Spring is provided for bathing.
There are 3 newly constructed colorful Monasteries in Manali. The Tibetans living around these Monasteries in Manali offer a vide range of Tibetan Handicrafts and Carpets to the visitors to buy. Two of these Monasteries are located in the main down-town of Manali and one Monastery in Aleo. Aleo is located on the Left Bank of River Beas in Manali.
( 13 km. ) A beautiful valley between Manali and Kothi which offers views of the glaciers and snow covered mountain peaks. The plateau is frequently used for holding camps by the trekking parties. The surrounding areas of Manali from 3 to 20 km. are suitable for rock climbing. The winter skiing festival is organised here as well as training in skiing is imparted at this place.
This institute imparts training in basic and advanced courses of mountaineering. Institute speedily gaining prominence for conducting adventurous sports - rock climbing, high altitude trekking and skiing. It was set up in 1961 A.D.
16 kms. on way to Rohtang pass. If one goes to Marhi on foot from Kothi from the old road, the sight of the falls is fascinating. It is a good picnic spot as well.
( 39 km. ) A barren landscape offering extensive views of the valley and the mountains. 15 km. short of the 13,050 feet high Rohatang Pass on the Manali-Leh road lies one of the most picturesque places in Manali region. Marhi - a mountain plateau surrounded by lush green meadows strewn with myriad wild flowers. The place remains a stopover for transit visitors and tourists during summer and autumn seasons and a transit place for the people to wait for the ferocious weather to improve at Rohtang Pass to cross over to Lahaul and Spiti valley, during the winter months.
( 6 km. ) A natural spring of clean cold water named after the late Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, who used to drink water from this spring during his stay in Manali. It is located on the Manali-Keylong road. This spring is believed to be coming from 'Bhrigu Lake'.