After a bit of a bumpy ride and dusty air, the ride gets smooth and haziness is blown away by the enchanting view of Deodar clad mountains and roaring Beas river. Trip to Manali, a mystical hill station, by the banks of river Beas would definitely charm you.
What’s in the name?
There is an interesting story behind the name Manali. It is believed that Sage Manu, the first man created by God, got off his ark at this place after severe flood and recreated human life. Thus, the name Manali, meaning ‘the abode of Manu’. Manali is a sacred city that finds its link to epics like Mahabharat and Ramayan.
Manali has varied facets to it and is endeared by all kinds of people. Those yearning for pilgrimage or for adventure seekers or for spirituality, or just relaxing in the lap of breathtaking views.
Manali valley has abundant hot water springs in the area. The sulphrous hot water coming from underground is considered to have health benefits and cures many diseases.
Manali, a city in Kullu valley is enchanting with green meadows and deodars.
Things to do in Manali
Manali is a very popular destination, especially during summers. Depending upon your interests, there are multiple things to do and choose from during your trip to Manali:
1. Hadimba temple
This is the most popular attraction in the valley. This ancient temple around 500 years old is dedicated to Hadimba Devi. Trip to Manali would not be complete without a visit to this temple.
During the era of Mahabharat, Hadimba was a demoness who lived in the forests of Manali with her brother Hadimb. She had vowed to get married to a fearless and brave person who would defeat her powerful brother.
During the exile of Pandavas, Bhima, the strongest Pandava defeated Hadimb and ultimately married Hadimba. They had a son named Ghatotkacha. Hadimba, later meditated in a cave and attained the status of a goddess.
The beautiful wooden temple is built around the cave. Inside the small temple, is the cave under which are the footprints of the goddess that are worshiped. We visited the temple during the Dussehra and were lucky to view the deity of Hadimba Devi ready for the Kullu Dussehra.
Engulfed by the cedar trees, this temple has a conical 4 story wooden roof. The entrance door is made of wood with exquisite carvings.
Do visit the Ghatotkacha temple a few meters away. There is an idol under the peepal tree that is worshipped.
Note: There is limited parking outside the temple. There are 2 private parking areas ahead in the market, but they charge a high amount of INR 100.
Be Careful: The road leading to the temple is pretty steep and narrow.
2. Vashisht temple & hot water spring
This 4000-year-old temple is dedicated to Sage Vashisht, who was the guru of Lord Ram and Lakshman.
These temples have been covered by beautifully carved wood structures.
There is a hot water spring in the temple called the Vashisht Kund. The legend says that Lord Lakshman did not want his guru to bathe in cold water in winters, so he fired a fire arrow in the ground from where the hot waters erupted.
It is considered that dipping in these holy water will refresh you from your tiredness and cure diseases.
Note : There are separate bathing areas for men and women.
There is a stone temple of Lord Ram in the complex as well.
3. Solang Valley
About 13 km north of Manali is the picturesque Solang Valley. This place is popular all year round with adventure junkies and nature lovers.
Summer is the time to soar high with paragliding. Kids and adults can also indulge in Zorbing. Zorbing? What’s that? Basically you are enclosed in a giant inflated ball that rolls down the slope. It reminded me how we as kids would roll down the grassy slopes and have a ball.
There are ATV’s as well to ride on. But mostly you would be the pillion with the driver zipping you around.
With the influx of tourists, there is commercialization and people running behind you for various activities.
For people like us who want to enjoy the breathtaking views of the valley, there is the Solang Valley ropeway.
Ticket for the ropeway: INR 650 per person. (Kids under 5 are free)
You could even save the money by hiking to the top and indulge in breathtaking views.
Solang valley is a skiing paradise in winters.
4. Mall Road
Just like any hill station in India, there is the famous Mall Road, the focal point of Manali. Buzzing with tourists, there are ample shopping options and eating joints.
Head over to explore Tibetan cuisine or the famous chaat or the 6-in-1 ice cream. Mind the crowds around you.
5. Manu temple
There is a temple dedicated to sage Manu, after whom Manali gets its name. This is believed to be the place where Sage Manu meditated.
This is the only temple in the world dedicated to Sage Manu.
6. Rafting & Para Gliding
Manali is a magnet that pulls all adventure lovers from around the world. The rapids in the Beas river are apt for rafting and is one of the best spots.
The valley is a perfect place to para-glide and soar to see magnificent views.
Note: There are many shacks around the city that promote rafting and paragliding. But we would only recommend going with the provider who is registered and has license to do so with all safety equipment.
7. Relaxing by the river Beas
There is one thing that will never leave your company in Manali is river Beas. With the stream gushing at places and serene at some, you can choose to sit by the banks and enjoy the cold waters.
So grab a corn cob or a plate of hot Maggi and enjoy it by the rocky banks.
Beware: The current of the river is very fast and the river is very deep, so please be careful and don’t become adventurous.
Another way to enjoy the beauty and explore the untouched beauty is by hiking. There are many popular hiking routes from Manali that take from 1 day to 6 days.
Trek to Beas Kund, Hampta Pass or to Bhrigu lake gives a chance to unravel the natural beauty.
If you are looking for a short trek, then head over to Jogini waterfalls trek to see amazing waterfalls or to Bijli Mahadev trek.
9. Rohtang pass
The beautiful and shimmering views of snow-capped mountains become reality when you reach Rohtang Pass. It’s a feeling hard to describe. You can see the child in everyone jumping out at the sight of the snow.
Rohtang Pass, located at an elevation of 13,050 ft is around 50 km from Manali. Although the distance is just 50 km, but the narrow mountain road and traffic snarls take up time.
Note: Visiting the Rohtang Pass will be a day trip.
Mind the treacherous roads. Adventure junkies love to ride the bike all the way to Rohtang Pass and even ahead. We did see a pack of bikers with enthusiasts from other countries satisfying their adventure pangs.
And take buffer for travel time as roads are narrow at many spots allowing a single vehicle to pass through. During the peak tourist season, there have been times when people were stuck for long hours. To avoid traffic, try leaving early morning.
Advice against going to Rohtang Pass during summer peak time.
To visit the pass, a permit is required that can be taken online. There is a separate permit for petrol and diesel vehicles. The purpose of permit is to restrict the number of vehicles entering the pass. The permit is checked at Gulaba checkpoint.
Around 80 km from Manali, in the lush green Parvati Valley, is the small town of Manikaran, famous for its hot water springs.
Manikaran is a sacred place for both Hindus and Sikhs, with a temple and gurudwara built next to each other.
As you enter, you see steam popping out of the water. There are separate bathing areas for men and women. There is a hot cave in the basement of the gurudwara, which gets hot by the heat from the hot springs below it. Be careful, the floors are quite hot in some places.
While visiting the gurudwara, don’t forget to eat the langar, the free meal served in the community kitchens of gurudwaras.
A very special thing about this meal is that it is not cooked on fire but in the hot spring waters. Yes, the rice and the dal are entirely cooked in the hot water.
Right next to the Gurudwara is the Shiva temple. There is a way from the basement of the gurudwara towards the temple. When you visit the Shiva temple, you can buy a pouch of rice or beans to be cooked in the water. Leave it for 15-30 mins and voila, it’s ready to be eaten.
Note: There is a multi level parking of the gurudwara that is free to use.
How to reach Manali
The nearest airport is Bhunter airport in Kullu about 10 km away. It is connected by direct flights from Delhi and Chandigarh. The other cities are connected by connecting flights.
Manali does not have direct rail connectivity. The nearest station is at Jogindernagar which is about 160 km away. From Jogindernagar, either a cab or bus can be the option to reach Manali.
Most of the people travel to Manali by road. State-run Volvos (by HPTDC and HRTC) are a convenient way to reach. They have a high frequency from Delhi and Chandigarh.
Note: During summer, it is better to book tickets well in advance to avoid last-minute glitches.
Click here to book Volvo tickets online at HPTDC.
Another way is to drive or hire a cab to reach Manali.
Note: Vehicles that are not registered in the state of Himachal Pradesh entering Manali need to pay Green tax ranging from INR 100 – INR 500 that is valid for 7 days.
Best places to stay in Manali
Snow Valley Resort
Great place to stay with breakfast included. They even have a duplex room that are convenient for families. The best part is ample activities for kids, including a park and a game room with billiards table, table football, chess, carom, and other board games.
The buffet spread at breakfast and dinner is great and the food is delicious.
Read the reviews at Tripadvisor
Click to book the hotel.
Johnson Lodge & Spa
This hotel is great in terms of its proximity to Mall road and other attractions. It also has a great restaurant.
Read the reviews at Tripadvisor.
Click to book the hotel.
Holiday Inn / White Meadows by Club Mahindra
Quality Inn River Country resort
This resort is located off the main city overlooking the Beas river. For those seeking serenity and great views, this is the place to be.
Sun Park Resort Manali
Have you visited this devbhoomi? How was your trip to Manali? Do share your experience. We would love to hear it out. Did we miss something? Let us know and we will be happy to update.
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