Manali, in Himachal Pradesh, is a very popular hill station situated at a height of 2050m (6398 ft) on the Beas river andnear its source and with a superb view of Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges. Manali also serves as the gateway to the nomadic and breathtaking land of Ladakh through Manali-Leh Highway crossing Keylong, Sarchu and Darcha. Manali is also the starting point of many treks and expeditions to the higher mountain ranger. The Pin Parvati Pass, Hampta Pass and Chandrakhani Pass along with climb of Hanuman Tibba and Deo Tibba begins from this town in full earnest. Trip TypeHill StationFamous CitiesHow to get thereThe nearest airport is at Bhuntar town, situated on NH21 about 50 km south of Manali and 10 km south of Kullu town. The airport is also known as Kullu-Manaliairport and has more than a kilometre long runway. Indian Airlines and some private airlines have regular flights to the airport. On the Way
The nearest broad gauge rail head is Ambala Cantt (200km) or Chandigarh (250km) from Indian Capital New Delhi. Ambala Cantt is on the Delhi - Amritsar and Delhi - Jammu main lines and is well served by rail. Jogindernagar and Kalka are other, less preferable, rail heads for Manali.The nearest broad gauge station is Kiratpur Sahib in Punjab near the city of Nangal. It lies in Ropar district of Punjab. The station lies on the Ambala Cantt - Una route of Indian Railways. From here one can easily get buses for Manali.
Manali is 570km fromDelhi, the capital of India, and there are buses connecting the town with Delhi, Shimla, Dharamshala and Leh. For bus service from Delhi to Manali and back, tickets and reservations can be made at the Inter State Bus Terminus or the Himachal Tourism office on Safdar Hashmi Marg near Mandi House in New Delhi. The approximate travel time from Delhi is 14 hours; from Ambala it’s 10 hours; from Chandigarh it’s 08 hours and from Kulu it’s 1.5 hours. Volvo buses which depart around 17:00 and arrive at 10:00 the next day are available from Delhi and are the best option in terms of comfort and value for money to reach Manali but one needs to book these in advance.
Where to stay
There are innumerable places to stay in and around Mall road in Manali. Tariffs start from 500 even in hotels on the stepsof the Mall road. There are also good amount of places to stay in Old Manali away from the hustle and bustle of the regular tourists. The stay here gives one the experience of a quaint hill side time inthe lap of nature.There are many budget hotel options available in the Vashisht Temple area also.
Places of Interest
Hidimba Temple:- It is an ancient cave temple dedicated to Hidimba Devi, who was a character in the Indian epic, Mahābhārata. The temple is surrounded by a beautiful cedar forest (Dhungri Van Vihar) at the foot of the Himālayas. The sanctuary is built over a huge rock juttingout of the ground, which was worshipped as an image of the deity. The structure was built in the year 1553. The temple is towards the Old Manali way, about 3 kms from the Mall road. Hundreds of devotees throng this are from morning till evening every day. There is also an opportunity to click handsome pictures with large white rabbits carried by the local people at the entrance of this temple.
Manu Temple:-There is another temple dedicated to Manu, considered in Hindu mythology as the progenitor of humanity.According to these traditions, the current time period is ruled by the seventh Manu called the Vaivasvata Manu. This temple is situated at the end of the winding and rising road in Old Manali. The surroundings of the temple are extremely well maintained and the cleanliness is considered a virtue here. The interiors are built of solid mahogany wood and make the optimum us of natural light available. The courtyard hosts two benches and also a large open verandah adds to the charm of this place.
Van Vihar:-Just at the corner of the turn from the Mall road, lies a huge forest area full of tall deodar and pine trees estimated to be worth 2700 crore rupees in market. There is a way inside the forest through which one can reach old manali rather than following the concrete roads outside. The amazing canopy of the trees is a sight to behold with even sunlight finding it a bit difficult to pierce them. The beas river flows at the other side of this magnificent forest and the vantage Nehru Kund is visible from that side all along.
Old Manali:- Old Manali carries a special aroma of its own that is hard to ignore. The European style cafes are the toast ofthis place with good amount of foreignerssticking to this part of the city rather than the Mall road. We enjoyed a good dinner in one of those cafes known as Lazy Dog. A small band of 3-4 people performs at each of these cafes and the atmosphere is kept lively by the flow of the river beas just at the backside.
Vashisht Temple:-There is a temple dedicated to sage vashisht, about 10 kms from the Mall road in Manali. There is a hot geyser pool for bathing and segregated for male and female by the wall of the temple complex. The temple courtyard is squeaky clean and maintained well for the local pilgrims andthe tourists. A lot of foreigners throng this place and spend lazy afternoons and beautiful evenings on this side of Manali. A lot of staying options are available and cater mostly to the budget travelers in general.
Solang Valley:Solang Nala (Valley) is a side valley at the top of the Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh, India 14 km northwest of the resort town Manali on the way to Rohtang Pass. This picturesquevalley also holds adventure sports like paragliding and skiing. The winter skiing festival is organized here. Training in skiing is imparted at this place. A small ropeway ride is also available here which provides wonderful views of the snow capped glaciers and the mountain peaks. However the valley area is not well maintained and the pathetic condition ofthe horses is definitely sore and painful to nature lovers.
Manali over the years has captured the imagination of young and the old in terms of the verdant pine trees and silver firs which invariably dot the skylineof this beautiful town nestled high in the mountains. Though its popularity is waning with the coming up of many new small towns like Jispa, Keylong, Sarchu and Darcha on the route to Leh yet it has slowly grown much more finer like an old wine and continues to astonish the nature lovers.