Table of Contents
- Best time to Visit
- How to reach
- Places to Visit in Manali
- Things to do
- Places to Eat
- Popular Places to visit near Manali
- Hotels and Resorts
The quaint little town of Manali is a colourful hotspot for tourists and nature lovers, tucked in the hills of the upper Himalayas. A picturesque place to spend some time away from the humdrum of the cities, the town offers something for every kind of traveller. The town is located about 270 KM from the state capital of Shimla, and 544KM from the national capital, Delhi.
Manali sits northward from the Kullu Valley, formed into a fertile basin by the Beas River that cuts through it. Once a trading town, the region evolved into a prosperous community. It is the starting point of the ancient trade that goes over the Karakoram Pass, cutting through Lahaul and Ladakh, and ending in Yarkand and Hotan in the Tarim Basic in China. The hill town also serves as an entry point into the Lahaul and Spiti districts and the Leh city of Ladakh.
The history of Manali dates back to the Vedic age. The town is named after Manu – the archetypal man in Hindu mythology. The word Manali is a derivation of Manu and Alaya or translated as the abode of Manu. It is believed that Manu recreated human life after the great flood. In the present, there is an old temple here dedicated to Manu. The Kullu Valley, where Manali sits is also called the Valley of the Gods, owing to its association with mythological stories of ancient Hindu gods and goddesses, evidence of which can be found in its temples and shrines.
Best time to Visit Manali
The weather here can be defined as classic mountain weather, with chilly and snowy winters and pleasant, warm summers. The rainy season, between July and September, sees heavy rainfall and floods in the region, causing landslides and roadblocks. So, depending on your travel goals, you can visit Manali either in summer or winter. If you want to experience snowfall, then the period between December and February is the best time to visit. Otherwise, to enjoy all outdoor activities, the spring-summer months are better, when the temperature is very conducive. The snowfall time here can vary year on year, so check the forecast before travelling.
How to reach Manali
Manali has no direct train services. The nearest railway station is in Kalka, near Shimla, about 280 KM away. From Kalka, you have to take the local bus or rent a cab to reach Manali. Alternatively, you can take the single gauge train from Kalka to Shimla and from Shimla, take the local bus or rent a car to Manali.
Manali is well-connected by roads from all parts of Himachal Pradesh like Bilaspur, Sundernagar, Mandi, Kullu, and Naggar, via NH21, but most importantly from nearest cities like Delhi and NCR region, Chandigarh, Ambala, etc. via NH 1. There are regular state-run and private buses from these cities to Manali. But the best way to travel would be to hire a private car or rent a cab from Delhi or nearby cities and do a road trip to Manali.
There is no direct flight to Manali. The nearest airstrip is at Bhuntar Airport or Kullu-Manali Airport (KUU), about 50KM from Manali town. There are some flights to Kullu from major cities and towns in north India. But these flights are not regular, so check for flight availability before planning your trip. You can also fly to Shimla airport, about 244 KM away. From either of the airports, you can take a cab to travel to Manali.
Places to visit in Manali
With abundant natural beauty, ethnic flavours, and adventure options, it offers endless options for sightseeing. Here are some of the best places to visit in Manali –
- Hadimba Temple – The 15th-century temple is located inside a pine forest and is dedicated to Hadimba, a local deity, who is also a significant character in the epic Mahabharata. The temple also hosts native festivals to commemorate her powers.
- Manali Gompa – The local Buddhist monasteries are some of the most sought-after places to visit and reflect the Tibetan influence on the local culture. Of all, the Manali Gompa is the most iconic and popular. You can also do a complete monastery tour by also visiting Gadhan Thekchoking Gompa and the Himalayan Nyingamapa Gompa.
- Vashist Temple and Hotsprings – This tourist spot is known for both its religious and natural significance. The temple is an ancient pilgrimage site that houses a natural hot spring. The spring water rich in glacial minerals is considered holy and has medicinal values, so people flock there to cure ailments and diseases.
- Van Vihar – A small nature park in the middle of the town, with abundant greenery and towering alpine trees. Sitting amidst cedar and pine groves, there’s a small man-made lake, which is open to boating for visitors.
- Mall Road – The busiest and the only commercial hub of the town, the Mall Road is dotted with shops, restaurants, pubs, and cafes, making it a popular neighbourhood to shop, dine, or just explore on foot.
[Also Read: #60DaysOfSummer – Paragliding in Manali]
Things to do in Manali
Manali tour is not limited to the popular tourist places. For a complete vacation, you can take part in exciting activities and experience the town like a local. With a travel package, you can do adventures, sightseeing, and more and have a wholesome trip.
- Manali trekking is one of the best things to do in the town and also a great way to explore the hills and valleys of the Himalayas. The town serves as a base for some of the most exotic trek routes like the Beas Kund Trek, Chandrakhani Trek, Hampta Pass Trek, Deo Tibba Trek, Kheerganga Trek, and other shorter treks through Parvati Valley.
- Go camping. Camping in this town is one of the most incredible experiences to have. You can camp at the alpine meadows, pine forests, by the lakes, or the base of snowy mountains. Beas River, Tirthan Valley, Solang Valley, Bhuntar, Sarai and Kothi village are some of the most scenic camping spots.
- Drive or trek through the Rohtang Pass – A legendary mountain pass, this road connects the Kullu Valley to Lahaul and Spiti Valleys and offers incredible views of the snow-capped peaks and slopes of the Pir Panjal Range.
- Enjoy adventure sports in Solang Valley. About 12 KM north of the town, Solang Valley is the best destination for mountain sports. Depending on the time of the year, you can try skiing, paragliding, snowboarding, zorbing, cable car riding, and snow sledging.
- Walkthrough the streets at night and try café/pub hopping. The mix of a native and international crowd of the town makes for a mystical and vibrant collage of cultures. Or walk through the ethnic bazaars and flea markets and shop for trinkets, souvenirs, and other keepsakes to carry back home.
Best Places to eat in Manali
Here are some of the top-rated restaurants you must try out on your trip –
- Chopsticks, Mall Road.
- Lazy Dog, Manu Temple Road, Old Manali
- Café Nirvana, Old Manali.
- Drifter’s Café, Manu Temple Road, Old Manali.
- People Art Café &Lounge, Manu Temple Road, Old Manali.
- Johnson’s Café, Circuit House Road.
- Café 1947, Near Nehru Kund, Bahang.
Popular Places to visit near Manali
Besides the popular visiting places, you can also explore other scenic locales nearby. With a tour package, you can do a combined trip of Shimla-Kullu-Manali or visit these places standalone –
- Kullu, 42 KM – Manali’s sister town, Kullu is the nearest major district and an equally popular destination. The town offers as the base for treks to Mandi and Prashar Lake. It is also famous for Great Himalayan National Park, Bijli Mahadev Temple trek, mountain resorts with views, outdoor adventures, local bazaars.
- Naggar, 24KM – A sleepy historical town set against majestic mountains and greenery, Naggar is amongst the most beautiful places to visit near Manali. The town is famous for the ancient Naggar Castle which is also a popular destination for local treks, along with village tours of Soil, Sajla etc.
- Gulaba – One of the most gorgeous locales to explore around Manali, the quaint village of Gulaba is a must-visit. You can just drive through the picturesque highways or explore the villages, walk the nearby trails, ride a yak or simply soak in the mountain views.
Best hotels and resorts in Manali
From upscale mountain resorts to budget hotels, hostels, and cosy cottages, you will find all kinds of stay options here. There are plenty of places in Old Manali but staying on the outer edges of the town will give you a more peaceful and scenic experience.
Check out some of the best resorts –
- Fog Hills
- Apple Country Resort
- The Blue Magpie
- The Manali Inn
- The Orchard Greens