Often known as the “Valley of the Gods”, Manali is said to be named after the Lawgiver Lord Manu, who according to Hindu mythology is the writer and recreator of humankind. Situated at the northern end of the picturesque Kullu Valley, it is one of the most prominent tourist spots in Himachal Pradesh.
Manali, which also means the ‘resting place of Manu’, or the ‘abode of Manu’ has the reputation of being a lovers’ paradise and attracts tourists from India and across the globe. Located at a height of 2050 m in the mighty Himalayas, Manali is known for its cool climate and scenic beauty. The surreal snow-capped hills and splashing Beas River look like a work of fantasy art. The history of this town is connected to the chronicles of Mahabharata. It is said that the Pandavas, while on a 14-year exile, took shelter in Manali for some time. With its rich history, Manali is known for its culture and heritage, which intrigues people of all ages.
More recently, Manali has evolved into an adventure sport destination and is a favourite destination among younger travellers. It is also a great place for a “workcation”, where you experience the peaceful Himalayas. If you want to wake up to a scenic view, Manali is your answer.
WHAT TO SEE
Hidimba Devi Temple: Built in 1553 CE by Maharaja Bahadur Singh, the Hidimba Devi temple, locally known as Dhungri temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess/demoness Hidimbi. She was the mother of Ghatotkach and wife of Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata. Legend has it that Hidimbi meditated inside the ancient cave temple after Bhima left the forest. It is an epic story of love and sacrifice. Nestled amid a beautiful cedar forest in the foothills of Himalayas, the four storeyed temple is constructed over a rock that protrudes from the ground.
Our Tip: The temple is open on all days of the week, from 8 am to 6 pm, and is just 100 m away from mall road. You can take any local conveyance, from an autorickshaw to a taxi, to reach the temple. The place is surrounded by yaks, so don’t forget to take a yak ride.
Beas River: The historical River Beas flows amidst the snow-capped mountains of the mighty Himalayas here, passing through dense forest of deodar and pine and is a major tourist attraction in Manali. It offers a stunning view of the Himalayas and attracts nature lovers and adventure junkies.
Our Tip: You can visit the river anytime of the year. However, monsoon is the best time if you want to have a lifetime of adventure. Rafting, cycling, and trekking are some of the activities you can take part in to make the experience more fun. Go camping or have a riverside picnic, This place won’t disappoint you.
Solang Valley: Solang Valley, also known as Solang Nullah, is the epitome of beauty. It is a side valley at the top of Kullu valley. During the winter, it offers a scenic view of the valley covered with thick milky white snow. Loved by both adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers, it looks like a piece of art, and you fall in love with its beauty. Solang Valley never disappoints you when it comes to fun and adventure due to its many adventure sports like skiing and paragliding.
Our Tip: Check the weather before proceeding with your plan to visit Solang Valley, especially during the winter. Keep warm clothes with you as the weather gets very cold there. Also, make sure to get your Gondola ride when you visit Solang Valley. It gives you the most stunning view of the entire valley.
Vashisht Temple: Situated about 3 km away from Manali, a beautiful village named after Sage Vashisht, located east of the Beas River, is the site of the temple. The temple is said to be at least 4000 years old and is dedicated to Sage Vashisht, who was the guru of Lord Rama. It is believed that Sage Vashisht and his entire clan resided in the village for some time. The temple also houses the Vashisht Bath, a hot water spring believed to possess healing powers. Many tourists visit the temple to take a bathe in the holy water to rid themselves of certain infections and skin diseases. Both men and women are assigned different bathing areas.
Our Tip: It is preferable to visit the temple from 8 am to 6 pm and you could use a taxi or any other public transport to travel from Manali City to Vashisht Village.
WHAT TO DO
Nestled in the lap of Himalayas, Manali has a lot to offer to its visitors. A trip to Manali is incomplete without trekking, which not only gives you a stunning view of the mountains covered with snow, but also gives you a chance to try your hands at skiing, paragliding, river rafting, horse riding, and yak riding. Solang Valley, also referred to as adventure valley, is the best place to visit in Manali if you are an adventure enthusiast and as well as a nature lover. Once you have ticked off all adventurous things from your bucket list, do make a visit to Mall Road, also known as the heart of Manali for a shopping spree and authentic Himachali cuisine.
What to eat: When in Manali, one must try Himachali cuisine. The best place for authentic Himachali cuisine is VIBES in New Manali. Their thali is a must have and will leave you in awe of Himachali cuisine. If you have a sweet tooth, then you must try hot jalebis and gulab jamun in the cold weather of Manali. Mall road is the right place for delicious sweets and you will find many good options there.
What to buy: Manali has a rich culture and heritage, which is represented in its artifacts. You can consider buying is antiques, accessories, and handicrafts from Tibetan Market. You would also want to buy Himachal’s woollen apparel, especially Kullu shawls and cardigans.
Getting around: While rickshaws and autos are available, it is preferable to hire a taxi for most part of your stay, especially for sightseeing in and around Manali.
Where to stay: If you want a beautiful view from the balcony, and if you are a food lover or a shopping enthusiast, then booking accommodation at Mall Road is advisable. Staying there would be a hassle-free experience for most.
The best time to visit: While there is a charm to Manali throughout the year, the summer months between March and June, are traditionally viewed as the best time to visit.
How to get there: Manali is connected to the rest of India by road. The nearest airport is at Bhuntar, which is 50 kilometers away from Manali. Most travellers commute between Bhuntar and Manali in a prepaid taxi. Buses are available too, but they are less reliable.