Vashisht is located in Old Manali and is popular for it’s hot springs and the Vashishta temple. A standard afternoon includes backpackers washing their clothes in the hot water attached via a pipeline, children running their fingers through the intricate woodwork on the Vashista temple, foreigners lounging in cheap cafes and elderly men dressed impeccably with a Kulu hat and a cane, standing on the by lanes. It also faces the Beas river framed by the Dhauladar ranges.
You’ll grab on to your dear life as the cold wind attempts to freeze your face off on the rickety ATV that carries you to the Solang Valley. You’ll step onto that fresh layer of snow leave the first muddy footprints of the day if you are early enough. You’ll forget to feel cold and feel humbled and exhilarated as the mountains tower over you. Women adorned in Pattu (traditional dress of Manali) will huddle around you and ask you to pose like Madhuri Dixit in Dil To Pagal Hain while they photograph you. Donkeys carrying huffing tourists are fed carrots by curious foreigners and first time skiers attempt to not embarrass themselves in Solang Valley. Honeymooners ask passers-by to take photographs of them and thrill-seeking adventurers scream themselves hoarse while paragliding. Solang Valley is the biggest tourist attraction in Manali and it has its reasons.
While the term Mandir might put off a few, this quaint little temple is not just for the religious. There is a sudden drop in the temperature as you enter the premises of the temple and slowly descend downwards. Ancient deodar trees shudder behind the cold mist and the pagoda style roof the temple emerges behind them. The temple made entirely out of wood has the skulls of various animals adorning its walls, adding to its rustic appeal. The sanctum sanctorum is a cave and the pujaris here don’t greet you with a sugary smile but a solemn glance. An excellent place to unwind, Hidimba Mandir is a place you must not miss while visiting Manali.
Hanging precariously on a Cliffside, this Italian restaurant –popularised by the TV show Highway on My Plate (HOMP) happens to serve decent wood-fire, thin crust pizzas. Salty beers and bitter espressos can also accompany your piping hot Italian meal of Calzones, Pastas and Salad.