Two years back I enjoyed a week long pleasure trip with friends and travelled to some famous Indian hill stations, and Manali is one of those beautiful hill stations that I liked the most. For me, it was a fun-filled and refreshing weekend trip; lots of cherishing memories I brought back home from my Manali trip. Manali is located in Indian state Himachal Pradesh, about 270 kms north of the state capital ‘Shimla’, Manali is a beautiful small town in the ‘Beas River Valley’ and mountains of Himachal Pradesh, almost 40 kms away from Kullu to the north, near the end of the Valley on the National Highway leading to ‘Leh’.
Manali is preferred honeymoon destination in India and also known as ‘Switzerland of India’. Photo from Flickr
Manali is a travel destination that is easily accessible by air, rail or by road. Nearest convenient railheads are Chandigarh, Pathankot and Kalka. By road it is well connected from Delhi, Shimla, Dharmshala, Chamba/Dalhousie, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Haridwar and Ambala. Regular buses ply between these stations. It is also connected with Leh during the months of July to October. Tourists can also take flights that connect many cities to the nearest airport located at Bhunter, which is 50 kms away from Manali. The best time to visit Manali is between May and October. I visited Manali in the month of June and reached there by a tourist bus from Delhi. The temperature in winters can drop to below freezing point, so heavy woolens are required to be packed and temperature is mild in summers so light woolens should be carried in summers also if planning a trip to Manali.
There are numerous hotels and resorts in Manali for accommodation and even home stay options are also available. There is option of rooms or cottages for stay at resorts. Manali is preferred honeymoon destination in India and also known as ‘Switzerland of India’. Manali and its surrounding area is considered of great significance to Indian culture and heritage as it is known to be the home of the Saptrishi, or Seven Sages. This town is part of the Kullu district and not a much populated place, its population is approx 30,000. People from different part of India live and have settled here.
Town is named after famous Hindu rishi(sage) ‘Manu’ who was Brahama’s appointed lawgiver and is said to have arrived in this region to begin the seventh cycle of creation and destruction.. The name Manali is regarded as a changed version of original name ‘Manu-Alaya’ which literally means house or abode of Manu. The region is also said to be the home of the seven great sages of the Hindu religion. According to legend, sage Manu stepped off his ark in Manali to recreate human life after a great flood had deluged the world. Manali is also often referred to as the “Valley of the Gods”. The Old Manali village has an ancient temple dedicated to sage Manu. In ancient times, the valley was sparsely populated by nomadic hunters known as ‘rakshas’ ,then the shepherds arrived who came from Kangra Valley and settled to take up agriculture as their occupation. Some of the earliest inhabitants of the region are the ‘naurs’ or ‘nars’ , which is a caste unique to the Kullu valley. The British introduced apple trees and trout, which were not native to Manali flora and fauna but these days in Manali, apple along with plum and pear are the best source of income for the majority of its inhabitants.
As an important hill station and tourist destination of India, Manali offers much in terms of natural and scenic beauty such as panoramic views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains, deodar and pine trees, tiny fields, flower gardens, and fruit orchards with green and red apples; places such as ‘Solang Valley’ known as a winter sports location; the ‘ Nehru Kund’ which is a clear water spring; the Kothi Village, offering views of a deep gorge through which river Beas flows and the famous Rahala Falls. Apart from being a hill station, there are also several other attractions that are an integral part of Manali tour. There are many options in Manali for sightseeing, adventure sports, shopping and various other activities, there are many famous temples also where religious minded people must visit and worship, located in the middle of a forest called the Dhungiri Van Vihar, Hadimba Temple is one of the most important temples in the region, ‘ Hadimba temple’ was built in 1533 AD is dedicated to Hadimba, the wife of Bhima who was one of the Pandavas. The ‘Manu Temple’ dedicated to the sage and lawgiver Manu is located in old Manali. Manu Temple enshrines Manu, who landed and settled down in Manali after the great floods and became the progenitor of human beings.Gauri Shankar Temple, located in Jagatsukh. There are a few old temples dedicated to Lord ‘Shiva’ and Goddess ‘Parvati’ in nearby town of Jagatsukh. On the bank of River Beas, is the Vashisht Village, which is famous for a temple known as ‘The Vashishtha temple’ dedicated to Lord Rama and sage Vashishtha and is famous for its hot springs that is known to have medicinal and healing properties, Malana, a hamlet across River Parvati, is believed to have been inhabited by the descendants of the Greeks who that came as Alexander’s army. Located at a distance of 20 km from Manali, the Roerich Art Gallery and Uruswati Museum contain paintings of the famous Russian painter, Nicholas Roerich. The sanctity of the Manikaran Gurudwara stems from the belief that Guru Nanak Dev once visited this place, accompanied by his disciple Bhai Mardana. Situated at Shooru Village. Sharvali Devi Temple that is believed to be built by the Pandavas, the characters in the epic Mahabharata. Trekking trails in the region enable tourists to pass through Beas Kund, Manali-Hamta Pass, Pin Parvati Pass and Kinner Kailash Circuit. During the treks, tourists can also explore Sar Pass, Chanderkhani Pass, Deo Tibba Base Camp, Chandertal Lake, Bal Taal Lake and Barlachala.
Manali is also a heaven for adventure sports enthusiasts. It is an excellent place for a fun-filled holiday and a favorite resort for trekkers to Lahaul, Spiti, Bara Bhangal(Kangra), and Zanskar ranges. The hill station offers ample opportunities for tourists to participate in adventurous activities like paragliding, trekking, skiing, river rafting and fishing. Many Manali holiday packages also include the above mentioned sightseeing attractions and activities.
For food , there are many roadside eateries, cafes and restaurants in Manali. All North Indian food is easily available at these eateries. Both in Old Manali and the city market, shops selling chaats, sweets as well hot momos, is a common sight. As for shopping, tourists can buy woolens, local products like jams and preserves, dry fruits, nuts, baked goodies and souvenirs. At various places, himachali dress is available on rent that tourists can wear and get their photographs clicked, also tourists get themselves clicked in a riding yak pose. I bought some shawls with kullu pattern embroidery, dry fruits and a box of green apples before riding the bus back home.