Situated in Himachal Pradesh, The resort town of Manali is a picturesque location that enjoys tourists from all over India as well as the world especially during the height of summer. Nestling between the ice capped mountainous ranges of Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal, Manali is indeed a sight for sore eyes. Known for its scenic beauty and adventure sports for the young crowd, it is a tranquil place that gladdens the heart and soothes the mind simultaneously.
Manali had once been considered to be the end of civilization. Not anymore though. In fact, it has gradually upgraded itself to become a haven for honeymooning couples who are spellbound by the beautiful locale and snow capped mountain peaks. A fairy tale scenario of green valleys and clear blue streams along with wide meadows carpeted with a profusion of wild flowers makes the visitors gape at the amazing beauty that nature has in store here. The fresh scent from the tall pine, eucalyptus and other coniferous trees make it perfect for walking along the winding paths amidst nature, well clad in warm garments.
That does not mean that there is no opportunity of going sightseeing here though. There are a number of temples and museums to marvel at and quaint hippie villages that stand apart amidst the surroundings. The visitors are pleasantly surprised to find delicious local dishes at affordable rates at the small, wayside eateries. Old Manali is sure to delight everyone with its deep calm and serenity broken only by the twittering birds and the gushing Kullu River.
The city is believed to have been named after the seventh Manu who is credited with building an Ark to shelter the seven sages from the deluge that engulfed earth. The Ark came to rest on the hilly areas as the waters subsided lending its name to this beautiful region. History buffs also make sure to visit the Naggar castle, the erstwhile home of Raja Sidh Singh, the ruler of Kullu. No visitor can pass through Manali without visiting the magnificent Solang valley either. The expansive valley is indeed breathtaking but its slopes happen to be the best area for skiing while paragliding is highly coveted by the adventure loving crowd in summers. However, the top draw is the Rohtang Pass that connects the Lahul and Kullu valleys together.
Thousands of tourists are seen visiting the pass throughout the year for admiring its scenic beauty. The photographers click away in delight with the adventure enthusiasts eager to slide along the snow covered slopes on mountain bikes.
The highly popular hill station is well known for its chilly climate. It is therefore natural for people to remain indoors as evening falls. That does not mean that there is no nightlife in Manali at all. Check out the following exciting places to drop into after sundown and have a rip roaring time.
Be prepared to jive and shake your leg at the Chelsea Club that has an amazing discotheque as well. You are sure to enjoy the late hours as the place remains open until the wee hours of morning. Yet another exciting place to venture into happens to be The Buzz. The dancing floor is almost always crowded so be sure to get in early. Try their stupendous cocktails along with yummy finger foods and you will be able to enjoy your trip to the fullest. Head out to the main market of Model town if you are in the mood for liquor and snacks. Zing Zing Bar and restaurant will fulfill your culinary dreams and more while you enjoy the cold weather on its rooftop bar. Enjoy a brisk evening walk down Mall Road and eat the freshly baked goods from the street. You can also do a round of shopping while biting into an ice cream cone. It is indeed a crazy way to enjoy the best of Manali at night. You simply cannot ignore Cafe 1947 in Old Manali when you are looking for lilting music and cheap beer along with delicious food. The gushing sound of River Beas flowing past adds to its attraction making it a must-visit after dusk.
Best Restaurants and Foods
Nature reveals its best side in Manali. From the snow clad mountains to the gushing rivers and picturesque valleys there is nothing else to wish for when one visits this hill station. However, you are going to be in for a surprise i.e. the Himachali Cuisine. Feel free to savor the street delicacies or enter the top restaurants in Manali for a taste of the best local food. You would definitely not want to miss the Madra that is made with spicy chickpeas. It is a dish that is sure to be included in restaurants, at home dinners and during festivals. You will not want to give the traditional Himachali thali known as Dhaam a miss either. The platter comes to you chock-a-block with rice, lentils, rajma (red kidney beans), curd and the traditional boor ki kadi. The dish, Aktori happens to be confined to the Himachal while the trout from the Kullu river and marinated lamb curry known as chaa gosht delights the heart of every non vegetarian visiting Manali.
While the Mall Road happens to be the main street in Manali, the restaurants are not limited to the area. You would find many quaint eateries located in remote regions as well as Old Manali. However, you would find it hard to resist the following restaurants when hungry…
Khyber- It is located in the center of the town and offers just about everything from Indian to Chinese and Continental fare. The trout dishes happens to be a specialty here though.
La Plage- This is definitely the place to be in when you are looking for French food. The small restaurant is surrounded by apple orchards where you can eat the best desserts of France in a serene and inviting atmosphere.
Chopsticks- You are sure to find Tibetan people everywhere in Manali. Do take a step further and drop into this beautiful restaurant that specializes in Far Eastern cuisine. You will find momos (dumplings) & thenthuk (Tibetan soup) along with a host of delectable Japanese, Chinese and Continental dishes at affordable rates.
How to Reach
By Air– Bhuntar Airport also known as the Kullu-Manali Airport connect the town to Delhi & Chandigarh.
By Rail– Jogindernagar is the nearest railway station located 143 km away from Manali.
By Road– It is possible to take a state transport buses or hire a private cab to Manali from Delhi, Leh, Kullu, Simla, and Dharamsala.
Best Time to Visit
March to June is the peak season when the temperature is cool and pleasant. The winters are exceedingly cold but it is also the best time for winter sports enthusiasts to visit Manali. However, a trip to Manali should be avoided in monsoon as the area sees a lot of landslides during July-August.
What you will like
The magnificent locale and extraordinary scenic beauty.
The delectable food.
Meeting people from across the world.
What you might not like
Cruelty to animals.
Steep climbs and slippery road.
Marijuana smoke emanating from the hippie villages.
Manali is ideal for couples on their honeymoon, nature lovers, photography buffs, winter sportspersons, and people looking to escape the intense heat of the plains.
While the beautiful hill station of Manali is likened to paradise, the tourists do not tire of the magnificent mountains, spectacular valleys and its pleasant climate even when they are on a weeklong tour. However, time is usually of constraint and it is equally possible to see most of the sights within a short period of 2-3 days.
Day 1- Reach Manali early in the morning and go out immediately after freshening up. Start by visiting the ancient Hidimba temple dedicated to the wife of Bhima, the second Pandava. The stone carvings are eye catching while the tranquil surroundings amidst the lofty pine trees makes one feel at peace. Do steal some time away to shop for Himachali shawls. Head to the main market area thereafter and enjoy a delicious brunch at one of the top restaurants. Walk to the end of the market to find the Van Vihar, a protected forest as well as a children’s park. Feel free to enjoy a quiet sojourn or go boating in the manmade lake. Walk back to the market to catch an auto rickshaw for Old Manali. Enjoy the serene surroundings amid the apple orchards and coniferous trees and have dinner at any of the popular eateries there. Return to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.
Day 2- Get up bright and early and prepare yourself for an extensive tour as you partake a heavy breakfast. Head straight to the Rohtang Pass if you happen to be in Manali during April – October. The 2 hour journey would be totally justified. You will be flabbergasted to find the entire area covered with snow and a chilly wind blowing sharply. Be sure to head up the winding path for a part of the way unless you are determined to complete a trekking tour. You might also consider rafting if you are feeling particularly adventurous. No issues if Rohtang Pass is closed though. You can take off to Solang Valley instead. The scenic beauty of the mountains all around the valley will take away your breath anew. You can try your hand at paragliding or zorbing along with horse riding here. Otherwise, simply carry a big picnic basket packed by your hotel and enjoy a lazy day in spectacular surroundings watching nature at its best. The trip back will delight you once again by the sheer beauty en route your hotel. You are welcome to walk in the evening if so inclined and turn in after an early dinner.
Day 3- Begin the last day in Manali on a lazy note. Order a sumptuous breakfast and head over to the Vashisht hot springs to take a dip in the hot sulphur spring. The water is supposed to have medicinal qualities that bring people from all over the world here hoping to be cured of skin ailments. The adjoining temple of the sage Vashisht is memorable for its mythological value and cultural diversity. Do a bit of souvenir shopping for trinkets and Tibetan jewelry. Come back to Manali and join the local boys for a round of galli cricket. Remember to visit the Club House at Old Manali for indulging in video games or gokarting. You are welcome to cross the river with the help of professional guides. Enjoy the solitude by sitting besides the gushing waters of the Beas River while contemplating on your future. Have your dinner by the river or go to your hotel and pack as your trip to Manali comes to an end.