When sound of exhilaration seems to be coming far above from sky and only colorful para-gliders could be spotted above head, the site is most probably Solang Valley of Manali Hill Station, which has a uniqueness that stands out from any other paragliding site in India. What more this is one facet of this hill city, like honeymooner trying to pose wearing ski gears rather than actually willing to try the fun of skiing. Add to that elders on some sort of minor pilgrimage to various temples in Manali, individual getting holy dip in hot water springs, families bonding in picnic spots and many other images, and this hill city comes alive in front of eyes.
A part of Beas River Valley, Manali is situated at an altitude of more than 2000 m from where the eyes fall on the views of forests, orchards, river, mountains ranges and more, for nothing but sheer visual delight. The place once used to serve trade purposes via Manal - Leh route; now the same route is used for the purpose of adventure mainly for the bikers and jeep riders.
Having invitingly secured its history in its name, Manali is associated with legends of King Manu who had the responsibility to protect human civilization after the great flood meant to destroy the world; which he successfully shouldered. If unfolding stories entwined in myths and legend is a loved way to spend holidays, Manali rouses the need to explore the Himalayas with even more intensity.
Spirit of tourism is far from fading even after the consequence of popularity. Be it pleasantly cool months or duration of snowfall during the New Year or Christmas, this hill destination is revered by everyone with the intention or for the experience of Manali tourism.
As the popularity of the place would have it, people can have varied tastes- some appealing to the sense, others exceeding all fantasies. The lingering serenity of a prayer place is a blessing. Couple it with the silent watch of Nature over mere mortals in Manali and the wish to stay in here gets deeper. Following are prime places that begin form foundation of a beautiful trip here-
Places of Worship
Hidimba Temple - Also referred to as Dhoongri temple, the temple is dedicated to Goddess Hadimba who was wife of mightiest of the five Pandavas - Bhim. Amidst Indian Cedar Forest, the temple is a must-see.
Manu Maharaj Temple Dedicated to the Rishi Manu after whom the town is named, it attracts people because of being one of its type. There are no temples dedicated to Him except for this.
Himalayan Nyinmapa Buddhist Temple Exhibiting two-storey statue of Shakyamuni (the historical Budhha) attracts people from everywhere irrespective of their religious faith.
Lord Ram Temple - Located near Vashisht Hot Water Spring, the temple has Lord Ram, the upholder of Dharma as its prime deity. People bath in holy waters and worship Lord and Nature for such gifts.
In addition to these, there are few temples that could be visited at Jagatsukha. Shiva Temple, Gayatri Devi Temple and Devi Sarvali are some of the ancient temples where tourists bound in their faith and devotion pay visit. At Thava, there is a Krishna temple; being among very few tourists to this destination is another magic. Gauri Shankar Temple at Dashal is another treat for religious and spiritual tourists.
Van Vihar Park - Good place to have an evening break with family and kids, it has a children's park and a small pond for boating experience.
Nature Reserve - If avifauna interest a tourist to Manali, this is best to enjoy some of the colors in wings and sky. Deodars on the bank of Beas River only add to the ambience for the birds and tourists to stay longer.
Falls -The waterfalls like Jogini, Rozy, Zana and Rahala in different place make for excellent clicks, bringing out the photographers hidden in individuals on trip.
Solang Valley - Ski lovers know the place very well but so does those who know the best vantage point to get some tremendous views of imposing Himalayas. This valet is also known as Snow Point and has ski lifts.
Hot Water Springs - Beas Kund, Vashist, Kalath and Nehru Kund are the natural springs with traces of Sulphur known for treating skin ailments.
Great Himalayan National Park, Manali Sanctuary, Rohtang Pass, etc are some other places where Nature lures the petty human senses like casting spell.
Old Manali - The place is well known for holding onto some time away from crowd which is the case of new town. Orchards are of special interests to tourists just as the old guesthouses located in the area.
Naggar - Somewhere in between Kullu and Manali lies a small village Naggar, which have an old castle of historical importance that is now converted to a hotel.
Some other places of interest are Museum Himachal Culture, Folk Art and Arjun Gufa.
Places around Manali
The fun of having these places in addition to the touring Manali is otherworldly. Have a look.s
Kullu - Just 40 Km away, the place more often than not is clubbed with Manali tour packages. The place has its own specialties to see.
Shimla - Slightly more than 200 Km away from Manali, the capital of Himachal Pradesh has its own charm. Taking a long break and visiting Shimla along with Manali greatly appeals tourists when possible.
Kothi - Very near to Rohtang Pass, the place has best of the Nature's grandeur.
Things to do
Manali is adventure freak's heaven and not without reason. Most of the extreme sports that are popular in India could be participated in this hill town. Most of the trekking routes in Himachal start from Manali; some of which lead to Hampta Pass, Deo Tibba base camp, Friendship Peak, etc. Paragliding is another adventure activity for which Manali has gained a reputation. People from everywhere come here to take off and be air-borne. Skiing is the winter fun that is brings professionals and novices from everywhere. When snow melts and water level of River Beas rises, tourists can enjoy rafting spells as well. Manali-Leh road opens another door of adventure on bikes; riders that accept the challenge can tell better.
In addition to these, other highly enjoyed activities are rock climbing, River rafting, zorbing, snow scootering and river crossing. Depending upon the season in which visit to Manali is being made, tour packages could include any of the above packages on demand.
Manali is a destination of popularity and thus a flurry of accommodations is available for every pocket side and need. Booking one of the hotels in Manali beforehand is a commonsense, especially if the plan to visit the place is made in peak season. Some tourists might prefer to stay in odd seasons when crowd is not as punishing as it gets in summers. Another reason is the sharp rise in accommodation prices.
Some of the well known names in hospitality here are Holiday Inn, Manu Allaya, Johnson Lodge, The Manali Inn, Hotel Manali Heights, Hotel Snow Park, Hotel Sitara International, Shrinagar Regency, Honeymoon Inn, Apple Green Resort, Acharya Cottage, Tiger's Eye, Blue Guest House, Himkund Cottage, Tree House Cottage, Silmog Garden, Ramgarh Heritage Villa, etc.
The list has hotels and resorts with luxury suites, deluxe and budget rooms. Tourism as it is in Manali has give freedom of option to every visitor.
With December and January as the coldest months of the year, Manali is in completely different shade of climate and buzz during April to June with soothing Alpine summers. Monsoons during July to mid September are wet months of year.
So, being prepared with many layers of clothing while enjoying view of snow with steaming hot coffee is one extreme. The other end exhibiting pleasant weather is beyond the definition of the word "beauty". Monsoons are another story altogether when they wash away dirt to bring out the venerated beauty of forests in valley and every scenery looks fresh, but fear of inconvenience or being stuck remains.
Best time to visit
Summers are the most recommended season to visit Manali for a family bonding time. Adventurous people can take to the winters for adventure sports.
How to reach there
Air : Nearest Airport is in Bhuntar, which is 50 Km. One can decide to visit Kullu which is 10 Km away from this airport and then travel Manali as combined Kullu Manali package.
Rail : To reach to Manali by train, Joginder Nagar station is nearest, only 50 Km away. This distance could be covered by taxi.
Road : Manali is connected with road, and loving Nature on road is another gift people can enjoy in car or bus. Bus services are available from many cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Shimla, etc. Hiring a jeep or car or taxi could also be an idea of road trip to Manali.