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Manali – Nature’s Bounty at its Best

Manali is a place that will own you forever. Visit here once and the place will make you its own. When travellers visit Manali, they are not just restricted to Old Manali and New Manali (Yes there is a distinction) but also to various places around Manali that can be covered easily in the same trip. 

Manali: Traveler Facts

Location North India
State Himachal Pradesh
Best Time to Visit May end to October mid
Best Mode of External Transport HRTC Deluxe Buses, Buses
Best Mode of Internal Transport Shared Cab, Bikes
Budget Accommodation Home Stays, Guest Houses
Recommended Food Places Cafes, Budget Eateries
Cost Status of a 2-4 Day Trip Moderate

Manali: An Introduction for First Timers

Manali is a gorgeous valley in the north Indian state of Himachal. The snow clad mountain peaks, natural waterfalls, Pine Forests, icy waters of the Beas and the natural flora and fauna of the region make it a favourite among travellers.  Not to forget, the clear hearted local people and an environment of openness and non-judgement. 
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Gorgeous Manali; Picture captured by Arpit Aggarwal

Top Ten Places to Visit in and around Manali

Solang Valley

Solang Valley is the first spot you should plan to see, while in Manali. It is the adventure lover’s ideal destination. Snow-clad peaks of mountains make a sneak peek at it from various angles. The best part is that all these peaks can be seen closely as one goes to the top of the valley via a beautiful rope-way. You can choose to stay at top of the valley until evening. Just make sure you come down before the last ropeway ride which happens around 6 pm. 

If you want to try out some adventure sports, you have got to try Paragliding. The view will stay with you forever and I’m saying this with personal experience. Gather some courage and just do it. It will be an experience of a lifetime. Also, try Zorbing here. It is one fun activity to indulge in and is pretty safe. Sure, your head will spin a little but I guess that is ok.

How to Reach here

Shared cabs work best for reaching Solang Valley. They are nominal and suit well to a group of wayfarers. If you are an explorer by nature, rent a bike.

Cost

Sharing a cab of 4 people will cost you not more than Rs. 100-125 per head. 

There is no homogeneous pricing in renting a Bike. It will vary according to the agency you prefer.

 

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Right on top of Solang Valley; picture captured by Akriti Mattu

 

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Paragliding in Solang Valley; picture captured by Akriti Mattu

Jogini Falls

Jogini Falls lie amidst the lap of nature and mark the beginning of a beautiful Pine forest. The best way to capture the magnificence of the terrain around is by taking a trek. The trek is simple and quite doable for even a first timer. All you need are a pair of good shoes that will help you walk swiftly. The trek will begin with little huts of some local inhabitants (you might catch a few preparing sausages). Midway you will find narrow paths filled with greenery all around and the ice cold water from the Beas.

Finally, you will reach the Jogini Falls and would want to immerse yourself in the feeling. The falls emerge from between the rocks and fall directly below. I insist you take off your shoes, immerse your feet in the cold water (carefully though) and then head on to the next spot. Trekkers painting on whiteboards or writing poetry is a common site here. 

How to Reach here

On your way back from Solang Valley towards Manali, ask any local person about the route to Jogini Falls. You will have to trek till Jogini Falls. You will have to park your bike (in case that is your mode of transportation) at the initial spot of the trek.

Personally speaking, I would advise you to share a cab while going off to Solang Valley and then let go of it once you reach the initial spot of the trek. This way you can trek your way back right up til Manali covering Vashisht in the way. Else, you’ll be taking a separate tour for Vashisht the next day. Not to forget, all the scenic valley that you could have witnessed will be missed by you.

While amidst the mountains, walk as much as you can. That is the best way to explore Manali.

Cost

 Rs. 0 if trekking



Vashisht

Vashisht is known for its rich Sulphur deposits which imparts warmth to water at certain geographical spots. Two of these spots have been converted into the open bath. At Jogini Falls, you found ice cold water. Well, here you’ll find boiling hot water. But there is nothing to worry, taps with running cold water have been put in various places so as to create a balance. 

The naturally flowing hot water in these baths is therapeutic in nature. It has known to ward off tanning, mild skin diseases and even dandruff. On my visit, I had my feet immersed in the bath for a full one hour. The feeling of comfort just plays on you. The only flip side to these baths is that some folks (women included)  can be found naked so that becomes awkward. But I mean if they don’t care, why should we?

How to Reach here

Continuing your trek from Jogini Falls, Vashisht should be your next destination. It will not take more than 45 minutes. You can plan a fresh trip as well but I do not recommend it. 

Cost

Rs. 0 if trekking
 

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Surrounded by nature on the way to Vashisht; picture captured by Akriti Mattu

 

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BFF selfie outside the Sulphur pool in Vashist; picture captured by Akriti Mattu

Rohtang Pass

If I were to describe Rohtang Pass in just one word, it would be – Spellbinding. My god, the route between Manali and Rohtang is gorgeous. The Himalayas literally own you. Once you reach here, your vehicle will make its way through huge blocks of ice on either side of the road to finally reach the open space i.e the pass.

I can vouch for the fact that once you reach here, you would definitely want to head straight to the Chandratal Lake, which is about 50 km from here (keep this spot reserved for your next trip). You just want to go on and on deeper in the interiors of Himachal. From Solo Travelers to groupies to honeymoon couples, you’ll find every kind of tourist here. You will need warm clothing if you plan to visit this place. So I insist, you rent a Jacket or a warm fur coat. Simple windcheaters and pullovers won’t work because you will head out to Rohtang as early as 5 am. The early you go, the sooner you’ll return. Else, you’ll be stuck up in a traffic jam for hours (because the road is one way).

All thanks to the National Green Tribunal’s directives, tourists are no longer allowed to pollute and loiter here. Also, the number of vehicles (buses, small cars and bikes) are limited to a fixed number per day. So you should make a  booking around 24 hours in advance. Also, you should have a permit (which you can get on the Mall Road, Manali. Without this permit, you will not be able to visit Rohtang.

The Rohtang Pass is open only during fixed months in a year (which generally lie between June and October). The rest of the year, it is covered completely in ice and the route is cut off from the rest of the region. So if possible, plan your trip to Manali only during these months.

How to Reach here

Buses and shared cabs are the best option here, both in terms of price and safety.

Cost

Rs. 1200 for the entire vehicle (private cabs)

Rs. 310 per person (HPTDC bus)

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Zero Point, Rohtang Pass; Picture captured by Abakash Adhikary

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People frolicking at Rohtang Pass; Picture captured by Abakash Adhikary

Beas Kund

Beas Kund is the origin of the mighty Beas river. In essence, it is an alpine glacial lake. Beas Kund can be accessed only if you trek. Once you reach, owing to the exertion, you would want to camp.  So it is probable that you might have to make an exclusive trip only for exploring this place. In case you’re on a short trip, you’ll have to skip it. Personally, I would surely insist that you give Beas Kund a visit especially if you’re visiting Rohtang.

The trek isn’t very challenging. The level is moderate and the landscape around is mesmerizing. You might want to stay here longer once you reach. The trek starts from Solang Valley and continues right up to this place called Bakar Thach. There is a lot of mythical references associated with Beas Kund. The local people will tell you all about it.

 

 

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Beas Kund – the source of the mighty Beas; picture captured by Akhalesh Maurya

 

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Camps near Beas Kund; picture captured by Vishal

Hidimba Devi Temple

Hidimba should be visited not just by religious folks but any traveller for it is an architectural marvel situated amidst the pine forest. Dedicated to Hidmba – the demon goddess of the Pandavas, this temple is more than 800 years old. 

It is at a distance of roughly half a kilometre from the Mall Road and can be easily accessed on foot. Don’t go inside if you don’t have faith but surely be around the place and observe. On the outside of the campus, there are local women holding Angora rabbits. My god, they’re cute and fluffy. You will also spot the Himalayan yak here. You can take a picture with them for a mere 20 rupees.

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Hidimba Devi Temple; picture captured by Neeraj Dhiman

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A woman handing me an Angora Rabbit at Hidimba Devi Temple premises; picture captured by Divya Sarjolta

Manali Club House

Manali Club House is a place of entertainment for tourists. If you prefer indoor games along with the sound of gushing waters of the Beas and some light snacks, visit the place. From my experience, I can safely say that it isn’t the Club House by itself which will entertain you but the activities outside like river crossing, boating etc. It is a bit over pricey so even if you skip it, you won’t miss out on much.

 Naggar Castle

Naggar Castle isn’t exactly located in Manali. It is located on the way to Manali from Kullu. The fact that it is so close to Manali puts it on the to-see list on a trip to Manali itself. Previously a castle, it has now been transformed into a hotel by Himachal Tourism. The artefacts still remain so does the castle architecture but you get food and drinks additionally. The Naggar Castle is built with wood and stones.

One of the song sequences of the Bollywood movie Jab We Met was shot here so you might know this place from the celluloid. One can witness an aerial view of Kullu valley from here. It’s beautiful. The castle also houses a museum. Do check it out.

 

 

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Naggar Castle; picture captured by Akriti Mattu

 

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Ancient temples on the way to Naggar Castle; picture captured by Akriti Mattu

Mall Road and Van Vihar

 Located centrally in Manali, the Mall Road is a traveller’s hangout spot here. No matter what direction you come from, you eventually land up here. Van Vihar is a small forest park located on the outer lines of the Mall Road. Once you’ve covered all the far away spots on your Manali trip, you can immerse yourself here amidst the Deodar forests and even go boating if you want. 

In the park, you can pose yourself in a local costume which is available for both men and women. There are numerous eating stalls here. My personal favourites were the stalls serving chana kulcha and miniature gulab jamuns. On the Mall Road, enjoy a light meal at numerous cafes that have sprung up in recent times. Also, go shopping if you want. Maybe buy a wooden artefact or an ancient carving.



Ideal 4 Day Itinerary for Manali

Day 1 in Manali

Places to Visit Activities to Do
Hadimba Devi Temple  Visit the temple, observe nature and the architecture of the temple. Get yourself clicked with some Angora Rabbits.
Solang Valley  After breakfast, head straight towards Solang Valley and enjoy adventure sports there. If you’re not an adventure sports fan, just enjoy the place by taking a ropeway ride and spending a good 2-3 hours there. Have lunch at the cafe on the other side of the ropeway.
Jogini Falls  On your way back from Solang Valley, a little towards Manali, start trekking and reach Jogini Falls. Enjoy the water and the view, spend some time and then march ahead.
Vashisht  Reach Vashisht while trekking from Jogini Falls. Enjoy a natural hot bath. Eat some light snacks at a cafe and then trek right up to Manali. Stroll a little, have dinner and sleep early.

Day 2 in Manali

Places to Visit Activities to Do
Rohtang Pass Start early morning. Actually, you’ll have to as per your permit. Enjoy the spellbound terrain and see it transforming from green to white. Reach Rohtang. Indulge paragliding if you missed it at Solang Valley. Click lots of pictures. Have lunch.
Beas Kund Anybody who visits Rohtang should definitely visit Beas Kund. In case you want to skip, return to Manali. If not, trek your way ahead, camp at night and then return to Manali.

Day 3 in Manali

Places to Visit Activities to Do
Naggar Castle, Uruswati Museum Take a short drive on the outskirts of Manali and reach Naggar Castle. Go straight for Himachali lunch there and visit the Uruswati Museum located close by.

Gauri Shankar Temple, Dagpo Shedrupling Monastery

The temple and monastery mentioned alongside are situated very close to Naggar Castle. So you can easily visit them while going to Naggar Castle.

Day 4 in Manali

Places to Visit Activities to Do
Old Manali Hit the Club House. Try some river crossing. Else play a few indoor games and enjoy a light snack with some desi chai
Mall Road Mall Road is centrally located. So you can visit it anytime. Try out a lot of cafes and eateries. Do some local shopping.


Himachal, they say is Dev Bhoomi. Once you visit Manali and mingle with the people and the environment you’ll understand the gist of this statement.

Happy Wayfaring 🙂

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A maverick by nature, Akriti Mattu is a widely travelled individual who aims to explore new destinations each year. Hailing from the dreamy town of Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, she has her roots in Kashmir and is currently settled in Bangalore. A two time Gold Medalist in English Literature, Winner of National Level Fellowships, Successful Ex Civil Services Qualifier, Lyricist at Paramount Pictures – Hollywood, Digital Marketing Professional,  Published Author at multiple platforms and Contributor to more than 10 Online and Offline startups, she believes in living it real. 

She also happens to be the Founder of Budget Wayfarers.

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