Snow clad peaks, peaceful environs, amazing flora and fauna, beautiful apple orchards, audacious activities, chilled out cafes, bars and lots and lots of shopping- that’s what Manali is all about.
The lovely hill station is perched on the northern edge of the Kullu Valley - just 40 kms away from Kullu, at an altitude of 1,926 metres, and makes a wonderful holiday destination ideal for a family vacation, a honeymoon or on your own. The mighty River Beas hurtling through Manali adds a dramatic tone and you can spend hours watching the river rush by.
Over the last few years Manali has developed into a major hill resort, chock-a-block with modern hotels and tourist lodges. The Mall or main bazaar in Manali is the hub of activity, flooded with shops, restaurants, trekking and mountaineering outfits and wayside food stalls.
Manali’s rapid ascent as a major tourist destination has been accelerated mainly by its tranquil and verdant surroundings- travellers who wish to seek solace come to the tiny hamlet to get soaked up in the environment and admire its spectacular landscapes, lush green valleys, and meadows along with its mystical mountain lakes and rivers.
The excellent combination of wooded forests, snow covered slopes, lush green valleys and the swirling waters of the mighty Beas make Manali an ideal destination for treks and mountaineering expeditions into the Solang Valley and over the Rohtang Pass into Lahaul-Spiti.
It is also the beginning of the epic two-day trans-Himalayan journey up to the cold desert town of Leh in Ladakh, connected by the Leh-Manali highway. Manali comes alive in winter with immense skiing and ice skating opportunities- it is often called The Land of Snowballs and Skiing!
So travel to Manali and explore the natural beauty of Manali.
How to Reach Manali?
By Air : Manali does not have an airport of its own and the nearest airport is at Bhuntar (KUU Bhuntar Aiport), near Kullu and is 50 kms, and 40 minutes away from Manali. Airlines connecting Manali from Delhi, Mumbai are Kingfisher Airlines and Indian Airlines. From Kullu airport, take a pre- paid taxi from right outside the airport terminal or take a regular bus (tickets are very reasonable) to get to the main town of Manali. If you have too much luggage on you then it is well advised to take a taxi to the town as it is more convenient than taking a bus. The taxis have fixed fares so don’t hesitate asking as the taxi drivers tend to over charge for a ride to the town. Taking a taxi from the airport is quite convenient as you can enjoy the overview of the hills and descending valleys.
By Rail : If you are planning to take a train, the nearest railhead to Manali is on the narrow gauge line at Joginder Nagar 95 kms away. The Joginder Nagar Railway Station is well connected to all other Indian cities via Chandigarh. From the railhead, you can take a bus to Kullu first and then from there get on the bus which departs for Manali. The bus services from Kullu to Manali are very regular and depart daily throughout the day. The distance between Kullu town and Manali is about 40 kms.
By Road : Manali is well connected with direct bus services from all cities of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Depending on which route you take, road distances from various Northern cities in India can vary. However, the closest distance from some cities is as follows: Kullu is 40 km, Shimla- 257 km, Chandigarh- 288 km, Delhi- 543 km, Pathankot- 299 km and Dharamshala- 217 km. The road connections are quite good and computerized reservation facilities are available at the bus stand itself. Regular deluxe buses and Volvos ply to and from Delhi and Chandigarh daily and usually run overnight. The Manali bus stand is in the centre of town on the Mall Road.
Best Time to Visit Manali
Manali is a beautiful destination with plenty to offer, but the climatic conditions make some part of the year win over the others. The best time to visit Manali is usually between the summer and autumn months from May through October, barring the monsoon season which arrive in July and August when rainfall perpetuates landslides. The summer months of May and June receive maximum tourist influx in Manali and is a great time for trekking/hiking, paragliding, mountain sports, rafting and zorbing. The Hadimba Devi Temple also hosts the Hadimba Devi Festival in the month of May, attracting a number of devoted pilgrims to its doors.
Do keep in mind that if you are travelling during the peak season, its best to book a hotel well in advance. Then, if you travel during lean seasons or just before or after the rush you can get away by paying sometimes less than half of peak prices.
For winter activities like skiing and ice skating, its best to come in the winters months between November and February, though the mountain air can be bone chilling at this time.
Here's a tip, to avoid the high season and yet get your share of the weather in Manali, the spring months of March and April are a good time visit too. The months after the monsoons between September and November are equally soothing with the town looking vibrant and colourful.
Things to do in Manali
Manali features a plethora of things to do. Check out the old village settlement, various temples, Tibetan monasteries or try something different by taking a day trip on foot to nearby hot sulphur springs. Enjoy the panoramic view of beautiful nature and try some adventure by taking up various treks, jeep safaris, white water rafting, paragliding, heli-skiing, mountain biking and fishing-- Manali boasts of an endless list for adventure enthusiasts.
Shop till you drop at the Mall or Tibetan Bazaar and gratify your hunger by trying a variety of cuisines in local restaurants, bars and cafes sprinkled all over the place. Simply stroll down amidst nature in Manali or pack a picnic basket and head to nearby places like Kothi or Solang Valley to enjoy alpine meadows and glacier with ski slopes.
Places Near Manali
Some of the interesting places near Manali are Kothi, Solang Valley, Beas Kund, and Arjun Gufa that you can visit while you are here.
The tiny hamlet of Kothi, 12 kilometres from Manali, makes a quiet and beautiful picnic spot amidst alpine meadows. It is located on a hill top at an altitude of 2500 meters and boasts beautiful deep gorges. It is easy to get to Kothi, unless you are walking!
The slopes are very steep and after you get off from your taxi/ jeep or bus, you will have to walk it up to the village. Actually, the village serves as a good hiking and trekking base for adventure buffs- so start your trek at Kothi. You can spend a night at the PWD Rest House and then continue your journey the next day.
Solang Valley at 2,480 metres lies about 14 kms from Manali is the closest glacier with ski slopes and perennial snow cover. You will find excellent thermal sources up here and the best time to make an excursion to this place is in the months of January and February. You can hire a jeep to get to the valley; it will take you an hour to get up there. While you’re here, do head for the snowy slopes that are best for skiing.
Beas Kund, the source of the Beas River lies at the head of the Solang Nala and can be reached from Manali after a two-day trek. The Beas Kund Trek is the most popular and amazing trek for all age groups. Stikage Tour and Potala Adventures will organise a safe and an enjoyable trek for you and also provide with the necessary trekking equipments. Best season to start your trek here is in months between April and October. Summer and winter games are also very popular at the Beas Kund.
Arjun Gufa another interesting spot worth a visit, just 15 kilometres from the main town. It is where the Pandava Arjun is said to have performed penance and Jagatsukh the ancient capital of Kullu. You can walk it to the caves on foot or else take a taxi from the main Mall in Manali.
Surrounded by thick pine, deodar, and birch forests, the Rahalla Falls lie 16 kilometres away from Manali. The falls, located at a height of 9,500 feet and is a result of the steep rocks and melting glaciers. Nature lovers- it is a place worth visiting!
The Rohtang La or the Rohtang Pass, 51 kms from Manali at 3,980 metres is the gateway to the desert lands of Lahaul-Spiti. The Pass remains open to traffic between June and November as they are considered to be the safest months for a travel up here. Be careful of the unexpected snow storms and blizzards.
The wonderful views of the mountain pass and its environs will surely grip you. You can book a car/jeep or a minibus or take a shared taxi to Rohtang Pass. There are taxi operators around Mall Road in Manali who will cater to your needs. You can even hop on a local bus that departs to Rohtang Pass daily.
Hotels in Manali – Choice is Yours
There are numerous hotels in Manali ranging from 3-star, 4-star and 5-star deluxe to budget hotels.