Manali - Introduction
One of the most beautiful adventure destinations of India, Manali is basically a small town in the Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh. Termed sometimes as the cradle between the lesser Himalayas, Manali is extremely popular with the tourists for its lavish display of un-spoilt natural beauty. Rich in its scenic splendor, Manali draws a good number of tourists from within the country and abroad every year.
The patches of green surround the town as it has an ascending elevation towards the Himalayas from its southwestern end. Though irregular in formation, the entire valley gives probably the best scenic view in the country.
Manali - Location
Manali is situated at an altitude of 1,926 meters and is spread over an area of 12.5 sq km It is also an ideal place for the adventure sports like the skiing, hiking and trekking etc. As it is just 40 km away from Kullu, one can visit this site anytime of the year though it is advisable to avoid the monsoon season, which falls in the months of July and August. Due to its cool and comfortable climate, natural bounty, and the snowy white peaks, Manali remains busy welcoming tourists all round the year.
Manali - Past
In old times, the name of Manali used to be Dana. Later, it was renamed as Duff-Dunbar after a European resident of the town. But today, the main town is far away from the original Duff-Dunbar village situated at the banks of the river Manalsu. However, even today the inhabitants of this place like to call themselves the residents of Duff-Dunbar.
According to a legend, the great Hindu lawgiver, Manu, first stepped on land here after the great deluge. Thus, it is said that the name Manali came from the term Manu-Alaya meaning the home of Manu. With the passage of time, the name Manali evolved.
Like the rest of India, Manali was also ruled by the British and owing to its picturesque location several British settlements sprung up here within a short span of time. During the 1970s-80s, the craze to visit Manali was at peak especially among the western hippies not only for the pleasing view but also for the high quality marijuana that is grown in this area. This also made many of the hippies settle down in and around Manali, which has changed the face of the city.
Manali - Sites Worth Visiting
While in Manali you may visit the religious sports like Hadimba Devi temple, Manu Temple, Tibetan Monastery and the Vashisht Spring. The scenic spots of Nehru Kund and Rahalla Falls are also worth visiting
Manali - Best Time To Visit
Though there isn't any specific time that one could define as the best for visiting this charming city, the months when a good number of tourists visit this place are between June and October. As during this time the summer become unbearable in the tropical plains, Manali naturally becomes the ideal getaway. If one wishes to see the snowfall on the high mountain peaks, one has to visit this place during winters i.e. between the months of November and February.
Manali - After Hours
Being a small adventure destination one cannot expect to have an extravaganza in the after hours. But, one can definitely savour what the local market and the small town have to offer. Taking a lazy walk in the town area gives one a real taste of the town and its pulse. It gives an idea of the life style, behaviour, and way of the people there.
Manali - What to Buy
While shopping in Manali, locally made woollen products are definitely a must buy. The famous Kullu cap is a favourite for everybody and quite useful too. Besides, there are those famous Kullu shawls with delicate, bright borders.
Besides, the local Manali market also has some exotic handicrafts to offer. One can definitely opt for a few items as memorabilia of the visit to this wonderful adventure destination. Around the bazaar, innumerable stalls are stacked with hand-woven goods and pillbox Kullu topis (caps). Other local specialties are Himalayan handicrafts, which are mainly assorted Tibetan curios such as prayer wheels, amulets, dorjes (thunderbolts), masks, musical instruments and thangkas (picture or representation of a deity on cloth).
Manali - Adventure Sports
The best thing to do during the visit to the quiet adventure destination of Manali would be to visit the beautiful picturesque sites in and around the city. There are a number of temple, monasteries, passes, waterfalls, landscapes etc. Besides one can also opt for the various adventure sports organized here every year.
Skiing is a major pastime in Manali. Facilities for skiing are available at Solang Nullah (January-March) and Rohtang Pass (during summer). The Mountaineering Institute at Solang Nullah is a good training ground for mountaineering enthusiasts. Heli skiing is possible in the deep snowfields. The Mountaineering Institute and Allied Sports is about three km from the Mall and offers mountaineering and kayaking courses. Kayaking is possible on the Beas River.
There are several good hikes from Manali. The 12-km hike up the western banks of the Beas to the Solang Valley is worth all the efforts made. Lama Dugh meadow is a six-km hike up to the Manalsu Nala, west of Manali town.
In the summers, several travel agencies organize paragliding on the slopes of the Solang Nullah. The charges generally include accommodation, food, equipment, and a guide, but not transport.
From May to July and, depending on the monsoons, from mid-September to mid-October, some basic rafting is possible on the Beas. The trips generally begin at Pirdi and continue 16 km down to Jhiri.
The Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation provides day permits for fishing. Permits can be obtained also at Patlikhul. Angling in the Kullu valley is possible at Larji, Katrain and Kasol.
Manali - How to Reach
Manali is connected by air to some of the important cities in the region through regular flights from its nearest airport at Bhuntar, 52 km south of the town. There are flights to Delhi via Shimla.
Manali is well connected by trains to most of the important places in the region. The closest narrow-gauge railhead is at Jogindernagar, 135 km away. The closest broad-gauge railheads are Chandigarh (310 km) and Ambala (355 km).
The distance from Delhi via Mandi is 585 km, and from Shimla it is 270 km From Shimla, Chandigarh and Delhi, the Himachal Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) plies luxury buses to Manali. Moreover, the state transport corporation buses connect almost all the major places of the entire valley. Taxis are also available to make visit to different places easier for the tourist. Private tour operators also run scheduled tourist coaches that take one around almost all the places of importance within a fixed time.
Auto rickshaws and buses are the commonest and most preferred modes of transport for travel in and around the town area. Private tour operators offer tour packages too. Taxis are also available, but the charges of these are on the higher side.
Manali - Where to Stay
A number of lodging options are available in the main Manali town. Tourist can choose from the various ranges that the hotels and lodges offer.
Manali - Fairs and Festival
Though almost all the festivals are celebrated with zest and devotion, Dussehra gets special attention all over the valley. The festival is celebrated in the month of October during the autumn season when the rest of the country celebrates Durga Puja and Vijaya Dashami. The celebration goes on for a few days when all the people of the Kullu valley take part enthusiastically.
The Hadimba Devi fair is another important event in this place and a rather big fair is organized in the Hadimba Devi temple complex. People from in and around the countryside come to visit this fair, which is held during the spring season when the valley is at its spectacular and colourful best.
The Doongri Forest festival, which is basically organized by the women folks of this place, is another major event of this place. Moreover, the winter sport carnival held in the mid-February draws a good number of tourists from all over the country and abroad.