Manali is perhaps the main tourist center of the state of Himachal Pardesh. Thronged by the likes of honeymooners, hippies, trekkers and local tourists, Manali has emerged as one of the main hill stations (term coined for places in hills that people tend to go to during summer in India).
It seems everyone has their own reason to visit Manali. The local tourist come here to escape the summer heat or even to see mountains clad with snow, to experience that moment that they might not have ever seen experienced in a tropical surroundings.
Manali Facts and Figures :
- State : Himachal Pardesh
- Location : Manali on the Beas River valley, is an important hill station in the Himalayan mountains of the state of Himachal Pradesh. It is located near the northern end of the Kullu Valley. It is administratively a part of the Kullu District.
- Climate : Summer: 13 °C to 18 °C, Winter: 8°C Max – 0°C Min
- Altitude : 8700 feet
- Average annual rainfall : 3 inches
- Best time to visit : May to October
- Population : 35,000
- Languages spoken: Hindi, English and Himachali
Places to Visit in Manali
The Hadimba Temple:
Hadimba temple is Manali’s oldest shrine and it is located north-west of the Mall (the center in Manali). About twenty minutes of steep walk along the Hadimba Road or a five-minute drive, takes you up to this temple dedicated to Hadimba ( the wife of Bhima, the protagonist from the renowned Indian epic Mahabharata).
Hadimba is considered to be an incarnation of goddess Kali in Hindu mythology. Legend has it that the kingdom was presented to earlier Rajas (kings) of Kullu and hence in respect to this day Hadimba is referred as ‘grandmother’. The structure of the temple is three tiered rectangular dome-like wooden construction with wonderful carvings of elephants, crocodiles and folk deities on its façade.
The small door leads you to a little gloomy worship place with a hollow in the middle, which as per the belief carries Lord Vishnu’s footprints. One of the stones inside also serves as the platter for sacrificing goats and buffalos during important rituals.
Old Manali and The Manu temple:
Old Manali, as the name suggests is the older part of the town that gave birth to its new namesake ‘Manali’, lies north-east of the Mall and still returns traditional feel, along with its architecture of the old Pahari style houses with stone roof and wooden balconies.
A walk thru the village takes you across a string of small guesthouses and cafes. At around the center of the village lies a new temple dedicated to sage Manu. Manu, the author of widely read Hindu law book ‘Manu Smriti’ is also considered the father of caste system in India.
- The Monastery or The Gompas:
Manali has perhaps the highest concentration of Tibetan refugees in the area, hence a religious place is not a surprise. The monastery structure stands out with its bright yellow colored roof of the Gadhan Kehhokling Gompa. The monastery was built in 1969 and is largely maintained thru local community donations and the sale of carpets hand-woven in the temple workshop.
- Vasisht Village and Vasisht Temple:
Vasisht village is about 3 kms outside Manali. It is famous for its sweeping valley views and its sulphurous hot water spring. The village is considered the epicenter of budget travelers by some (however we would suggest it to be more of a back-packers center).
The village also has some fine shops of Tibetan and Kashmiri arts along with a wide selection of jewelry.The Vasisht temple stands above the main square in the village and there lies two stoned temples built with elaborate wood carvings. The place also hosts a hot soak bathing pools (separate for men and woman, and of no charge).
Shopping in Manali
Shopping in Manali Tourism is mainly restricted to Tibetan and Kashmiri arts and handicrafts. Manali provides a great souvenir shopping opportunity with its wide variety of local stores selling shawls (Kullu and Kashmiri) and other jewelry and embroidered stuff.
The village Vasisht boasts of a Gem store (owner named Shafi) that deals in semi-precious stones, unset stones, silver ornaments,carpets, rugs and shawls. This corner shop just below the main square in the village will suffice all your jewelry shopping needs in this region.
With wide variety of shawls and stoles, both Kullu pattern (cheaper in price but with distinct pattern) and Kashmiri style (hand – embroidered are a delight) theplace is packed with stores. Remember ‘BARGAINING’ is the name of the game. No matter what anyone says the only person to beat the price is going to be you. So put on yours ‘Shopping hat’ and enjoy the leisure. Even though we would like to suggest you of shops to buy shawls from, all we would recommend is to look around the Mall and the road off Hadimba Road to search for your prized possessions.
How to Reach Manali ?
- How to Reach Manali By Bus
A distance of about 550 km from Delhi, buses connects Manali with Delhi, Shimla, Dharamsala and Leh. It takes around 18 hours to travel Manali from Delhi. From Ambala, the distance to Manali is about 10 hours; and from Kullu to Manali it takes just about 1.5 to 3 hours.
- How to Reach Manali By Private Taxi
Private taxis also ply to Manali provided the driver is well acquainted with the hilly areas. Knowing the roads is absolutely essential while going through the hilly regions.
- How to Reach Manali By Train
The nearby Broad Gauge Rail Head is Ambala Cantt (200 km) or Chandigarh (250 km) from Delhi.
- How to Reach Manali By Air
The adjoining airport is Bhuntar Airport just about 50 km from Manali, 10 km from Kullu, and takes only about two hours to travel. The airliners that take you to this Airport are Indian Airlines, Kingfisher airlines, MDLR Airlines andJagson Airlines, operating flights from Delhi and Chandigarh to Kullu.