The charming Beas meandering through the gorgeous valleys and the snow-capped Himalayan mountains make Himachal Pradesh a favorite destination for mountain enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
There are temples, hot springs, some of the world’s highest mountain passes, rich culture and gorgeous valleys — all around Kullu Manali. From high-altitude treks to adventure activities like skiing, paragliding, rafting and some precarious off-roading, people head over to Himachal to experience the adrenaline rush. Tourists throng the hill stations of Shimla, Kullu and Manali, especially during the hot Indian summers.
Places to see around Kullu Manali, Himachal Pradesh:
Perched at an average elevation of 1278mt above sea level and surrounded by the Pir Panjal range of the mighty Himalayas and majestic forests, the district of Kullu is pristine and picturesque. The name Kullu is derived from the word "Kulant Peeth", meaning "end of the habitable world". As per legends, during the Great Flood, Manu visited this valley, but he was unable to cross the Rohtang pass. He named the last settlement he found as Kulant Peeth.
To the north of Kullu, lies the town of Manali, which through the Rohtang pass leads onto the Lahaul and Spiti Valley. Manu had chosen to settle and meditate in what has now become the town of Manali (literally Manu's Place). Around 540km from the national capital, New Delhi and a mere 250 km from state capital Shimla, Manali is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations of India
The various tourist attractions are listed below:
1) Bijli Mahadev Temple - This “Kash” styled temple is so called because it is supposed to get struck by lightning (Bijli in Hindi) at least once every year. Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of a shivalingam here and the 60ft tall Trishul is the highlight of the temple. The high ground of the temple offers panoramic view of the Parvati and Kullu valley. Reaching this temple requires a 3 km moderately difficult uphill trek. The temple is situated around 6km from Kullu Bus stand.
2) Great Himalayan National Park - Covering a total area of 1171 Sq Km, this UNESCO world heritage site is characterized by high alpine peaks, meadows and riverine forests. The property includes an elevational range from high alpine peaks of over 6,000m (above sea level) to riverine forest at altitudes below 2,000m. The mountain trails offer all types of difficulties for amateur, average and experienced trekkers.
3) Raghunath Ji Temple - The chief deity of Kullu, Raghunath Ji is another name for Lord Rama. Built by Raja Jagat Singh in the 17th Century, this magnificent temple sits on a hillock situated around a km from Kullu Bus stand. There are a lot of stories around this ancient architecture which the guides narrate to the tourists.
4) Pandoh Dam - This 76 mt tall embankment dam is built on the feisty Beas before it meets the fierce Sutlej River. The dam was completed in 1977 and its primary purpose is hydroelectric power generation. Tourists may enjoy river rafting in the lower bed region of the catchment area. Pandoh Lake, created by the dam, is located about 19 km upstream from Mandi on the River Beas.
5) Chanderkhani Pass - This pass takes tourists to the famous village of Malana through a way between Pulag and Rumsa. Around 50km from Kullu town and situated at an elevation of 3660 mt asl, this spot is popular for the marvelous views, breathtaking landscapes and exclusive trails to follow. The pass acts as a bridge between Kullu and Parvati valley, which reveals the splendor of the Bara Bangal range in the west, the majestic Pir Panjal range in the north, and the lofty Parvati range in the east.
6) Dhakpo Shedrupling Monastery - This Buddhist place of worship was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in 2005. The elegant design of the building and the sprawling mountains forming the picturesque backdrop, make it one of the prime attractions of Kullu. The huge statue of Lord Budhha and the peaceful environment calms the mind of every devotee visiting the place.
7) Shringa Rishi Temple - Thousands of pilgrims visit the Shringa Rishi Temple located in Banjar area of Kullu every year. The temple houses an idol of Shringa Rishi, legendary saint of Saint Kashyapa's lineage and the ruling deity of Banjar valley. The temple, situated around 60km from the town of Kullu and 65km from Mandi., remains inaccessible due to cover of snow for most parts of the year.
8) Mahadevi Teerth Temple - Another Hindu shrine dedicated to Goddess Parvati is this temple built in the year 1966. As per the philosophy of niskaam seva (selfless service), this temple offers many services like free dispensary, all day free kitchen and library.
9) Raison - At a distance of around 14 km from Kullu and 27 km from Manali, Raison is a small cluster of villages on the banks of Beas River which has vast camping grounds maintained by Himachal Pradesh Tourism. The place is ideal for a taste of adventure and a delicious cuisine of Trott fish. Numerous apple orchards and fruit gardens of plums and apricots add to the natural beauty of the place. Long tracks of rafting and the best air for Paragliding attract adventure enthusiasts to this spot.
10) Basheshwar Mahadev Temple, Bajaura - One of the most charming temples in the Kullu valley, this temple is renowned for its intricate stone carvings. The amazing architecture of the temple saved it from getting damaged during the devastating earthquake of 1905. It is believed to have been built by the Pandavas during their period of exile.
11) Manikaran - This place is famous for hot water springs which are considered sacred. Located on the banks of River Parvati, 35km from Kullu. Manikaran houses temples of Lord Rama, Vishnu and Krishna. This holy place for Hindus is also considered pious for the Sikh Community as Guru Nanak is believed to have visited the place himself. A community kitchen offers sumptuous meal to devotees here. Manikaran Sahib is a gurudwara that welcomes hundreds of Hindu and Sikh devotees throughout the year. At the peak of Manikaran Sahib originates a hot spring that flows through the temple premises.
12) Bhrigu Lake - This attractive high-altitude lake to the east of Rohtang Pass that attracts trekking enthusiasts for weekend getaways, involved moderate trek to reach. On the first day of the captivating trek, backwoods trails from Gulaba to Rola Kholi outdoors grounds take tourists through old towns, welcoming apple plantations, clear rivulets and green meadows. On the following day, travelers are greeted by stunning views of the Kullu Valley. The 26km long trek leads the tourist through unparalleled breathtaking views of Seven Sister Peaks, Deo Tibba, Indrasan, Hanuman Tibba and the outstretched Pir Panjal ranges which soothe the senses with unbounded natural beauty.
13) Hadimba Devi Temple - This ancient temple is perhaps the most celebrated place of Hindu worship in Manali. Dedicated to Hidimba Devi from the Mahabharata, this three-tiered square tower rises 24mt high. Amidst the beautiful forest of cedar this is a serene and spiritual retreat.
14) Mall Road - The Mall Road is the heart and soul of Manali and a shoppers' paradise. This is a perfect place to pick up souvenirs and handicrafts items like Tibetan shawls, rugs and woollen caps among other things. One can also taste and sample local cuisines and catch the pulse of Manali. Local Tibetan handicrafts including shawls, prayer wheels and Buddhist paintings are recommended at the Tibetan Market.
15) Jogini Falls - This beautiful waterfall is located around 7.5 kms from Manali bus stand and around 4 kms from Vashisht Temple. One can trek from Vashisht temple till the waterfall which will take around 1.5 hours one way. The entire trek is quite scenic with the best views of Manali town. Around 5 kms from Old Manali, Vashisht Temple is a 4000-year-old temple dedicated to the Indian sage Vashisht who was the Guru of Ram and Lakshman. This temple is known for its hot water springs which is considered sacred and believed to have skin healing properties. There are separate Turkish styled bathing enclosures for men and women.
16) Rohtang Pass - Situated about 50 km from Manali, Rohtang Pass offers spellbinding views of snowcapped mountains. The area within the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas, is usually covered under heavy snow between October and March. This is a prominent destination for all nature enthusiasts and thrill seekers. Tourists may enjoy snow scooter riding or skiing here.
17) Atal Tunnel - Atal Tunnel happens to be the world’s longest highway tunnel. The experience of entering the tunnel (from its south Portal near Manali) from Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas to exiting into Dhauladhar Range is exceptional and awesome!
18) Hamta Valley - Hamta Valley, home to the popular Hamta Pass trek, is another popular tourist destination in Manali. The Snow Point in Hamta Valley is the closest of all popular snow destinations near Manali, which remains open throughout the year offering tourists an ideal location to try snow activities during the winter season when Rohtang Pass remains closed. It is possible to drive all the way to the snow point in Hamta Valley, which is located about 20km from Manali Mall Road. One can moreover stay in a village in Hamta Valley called ‘Sethan’. Sethan is also popular for the unique Igloo stay experience.
19) Solang Valley - While tourists engage in paragliding and parachuting in summers, the beautiful Solang Valley offers skiing during winters. However, Solang Valley is a year-round magnet for adventure seekers of all types, be it paragliding, zorbing or zip-lining.
20) Naggar - Naggar is a small village near Manali, which was the capital of Kullu for 1400 years. The Gauri Shankar Temple on the hilltop and a 16th century stone and wood castle are the main highlights of Naggar. Built in 1460, this castle is an amalgamation of Himalayan and European influence. It is now being run as a hotel by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism. Naggar also has three other old shrines and many old pagoda shali temple also there.
21) Chandrataal Lake - Also known as "Moon Lake", this is the source of the Chandra River. It is one of the most popular trekking trails near Manali. Situated at an elevation of 4300 m, Chandra Tal Lake is only 6 km far from the Kunzum Pass in Spiti.
Best things to do in Kullu Manali, Himachal Pradesh:
When in Kullu Manali, indulge in activities and make memories for a lifetime.
Trekking : Manali is probably the most popular hill station that attracts amateurs and pros alike for trekking. Hamta Pass, Bhrigu Lake, Beas Kund and Kheerganga are the famous treks that are available to be undertaken in Manali.
River Rafting : White water rafting may be enjoyed in River Beas. Trips generally start at Pirdi and continue 14 km down to Jhiri. The currents of the Beas River are always abundant and perennial. Hence the sport is extremely adventurous and thrilling! River- rafting facilities are offered by private operators at Pirdi near Kullu where a water sports center has been set up to provide one stop water sports adventure experience for the tourists.
Skiing : There are many tourist places in Manali where one can learn snowboarding or skiing. Hamta Valley, located at less than 15km from Mall read, for example, is considered to be one of the best places to learn snowboarding in the winters.
Festivals in Kullu Manali
Kullu Dussera – The State government has accorded the status of International festival to the Kullu Dussehra, which attracts tourists in large numbers. About 200 local deities come to pay homage to Lord Raghunath. This is a time when the valley is at its colourful best.
Holi – The festival of colors is celebrated for two days in Kullu. Its unique feature is that people of the town gather in temples and proceed to houses of town people singing sacred songs and exchanging sweets, pakoras and other foods.
Lhosar – This is a very festival among the Negi's of Kullu. People Gather with firesticks and go house to house singing and dancing.
How to reach Kullu Manali?
By Air – The nearest airport is at Bhuntar town, situated on NH21, around 10km from Kullu town. Chandigarh is the busier (international) airport which is situated 275km away.
By Rail – The nearest Railway station is at Chandigarh. Tourists may book cabs or travel in buses therefrom.
By Road – Kullu can be reached from Delhi via national highway NH1 up to Chandigarh and then NH21 that passes through Bilaspur, Sundernagar and Mandi towns. The total road distance from Delhi to Kullu thus is little over 500km and it takes 12 hours’ journey.
Where to stay in Kullu Manali?
Being a popular tourist destination, Kullu Manali offers wide range of accommodations. The few names to be mentioned are:
Apple Valley Resort (Kullu), Sandhya Resort and Spa (Manali), The Orchard (Manali), Apple Country Resorts (Manali), Snow Valley Resorts and Spa (Manali), Honeymoon Inn (Manali), Royal Kalinga Cottages (Manali), Hotel Smugglers Mountain View (Manali) are few worth mentioning.
A more comprehensive list of resorts and hostels in Manali may be found here.
Best Time to visit Kullu Manali:
Winter is a great time to see top tourist places in Manali covered in snow, including the popular Mall road. Manali is literally transformed into a winter fairyland between the months of November and February. Monsoons in the mountains must be avoided for obvious reasons.
Thus, the the most enjoyable season is the Indian Summer, which is practically between mid-March and Mid-June. With vacation in most schools, this is the most favored season for travel to Kullu Manali. So, pack your bags, check out the tickets and create memories for a lifetime.
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