Sunday, October 23, 2016

Manali, Valley of the Gods

Being one of the most famous hill stations of the country, Manali also known as "Valley of the Gods," offers a bunch of adventure activities such as paragliding, skiing, river rafting, horse riding, etc.

Manali's Snow Capped Mountains
Good to know: Manali is named after Maharshi (sage) Manu, who recreated human life after the great  floods.


Manali is like the go to hill station for me and my wife. We have been to Manali several times in the last six years and it never fails to surprise us. In these trips, we have seen different versions of the hill station. The first time was in 2010 (summer), which also is the peak season (as they call it). Later was in January 2012 and November 2014 (winter). In this blog, I am sharing the combined experiences of our trips to Manali.

There are daily buses (volvo) from New Delhi to Manali, both state transport and privately operated. We boarded the bus around 5:30 pm near Connaught Place. The bus takes atleast a couple of hours picking up passengers from all over the city before embarking on NH1.

The route is New Delhi - Panipat - Ambala - Chandigarh - Rupnagar - Sundernagar - Mandi - Kullu - Manali.

Our first trip to Manali was an unplanned one and we had to go through multiple negotiations and waiting before we got our room. Our other two trips were better planned.

The ease of making reservations online and knowing the "to do" in Manali helped in planning the trip the second and third time. Below are some of the key attractions in Manali.

Rohtang Pass (Read my blog on Rohtang Pass)
Situated on the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas, Rohtang Pass is at a height of 13,050 feet. By far, it is on top of the list for places to visit from Manali. You can hire a personal or shared taxi to visit Rohtang. The distance between Manali and Rohtang is about 55 kms. However, due to the narrow road conditions, it may take upto three hours or more to reach there.

A view from a cliff @Rohtang
It is recommended that you start early in the morning to avoid traffic jams. You should also inquire about the permit requirements, if you are traveling in your own vehicle. The route is full of scenic beauty and some mind blowing landscapes. Irrespective of the season, you will find snow in Rohtang. If you want to have fun in snow, you will be required to rent a snow dress and snow shoes from the local shops that come on the way. The driver can guide you for this.
Somewhere in Rohtang
A glimpse of the Sun set 
You can try your hand at skiing and other snow sports here. During the peak winter season, the pass is closed for tourists and the attraction shifts a bit downhill to "Snow Point."

@ Snowpoint
We have been fortunate to see snow fall in Rohtang. Some of the views from here are breath taking. We were amazed at the grandeur of the place. Simply incredible! Soon we realized that the beauty of this place can't be captured in camera. We still tried to do the best. :)

Solang Valley
A football size playground with a lot of activities such as quad bike, horse rides, paragliding and cable car is the Solang Valley. You can visit Solang on the way back from Rohtang. Or you can also choose to be there in the morning if you want to do all activities. It is under half an hour drive from the Manali bus stand.
Quad Bike Ride

The Mall Road
Like every hill stations, Manali also has The Mall Road. Basic amenities such as Banks, Restaurants, Adventure activities/travel bookings are all on this road. One of my favorite restaurant in Manali is the Chopsticks (@ Mall Road). I and my wife had our lunch here everyday. We tried different variety of local trout fish along with rice and a local wine. I would also recommend to try the momos here.

A Panorama view of the Mall Road
There is a little something for everyone. If shopping is your thing then you go to the local market which is also on the Mall Road. You can get jackets, caps, gloves, footwear, handcrafted stuff and artificial jewelry from this market. Every now and then there will be someone trying to sell Kesar (saffron) and Shilajit (asphaltum or mineral pitch). DO NOT BUY it from these sellers. If you want to purchase this, ask the locals and visit an authentic shop to buy it.
Spotted a Yak on the street
Van Vihar National Park
For an entry ticket of INR10 per head, one can enjoy the wide spread jungle with sky high trees and the Beas river by the side for the entire day.

Random @ Van Vihar
A mini pond in Van Vihar
@ Banks of The Beas
 The walk to the river bank is through the park. There is a small artificial water body with small boats. If one continues to walk downhill, you will reach the bank of the Beas. For a moment all you will hear is the gushing sound of water. The water is ice cold and dipping hands in it means making them senseless for a few seconds.
Banks of the Beas
You could spend hours there looking at the river and enjoy some maggi and a cup of tea.

Hidimba Devi Temple
Most of us would have heard of the Pandava's exile from Mahabharata. During their exile,  Bhima killed a demon called hidimb and married his sister Hidimba. After the Pandava's exile, Hidimba did not return with Bhima. She stayed back to do tapasya (meditation) and eventually attained the status of a goddess. This current structure was made in the year 1553 and in honor of goddess Hidimba. It is a very calm place with cedar forest all around.
Hidimba Devi Temple
It is said that you cannot cover everything in one go. There must be somethings left for the next time.
There are many more things to do and places to visit around Manali, such as Manu Maharishi Temple, Raghunath Temple, Bijli Mahadev Temple, Manikaran Gurudwara and Kasol. (Read my blog on Kasol and Manikaran)


Best time to visit: You could go to Manali literally all round the year. The peak season is from May to early July. The only recommendation would be to avoid Manali during rainy season as their are landslides and cloud bursts that may result in blockages on the route.

How to reach: You can take a bus from New Delhi (both private or government) or take the flight to Bhuntar (nearest airport to Manali).

16 comments:

  1. Nice writeup :-)

    What's the best hotel to stay there?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Chetna.
      The city is divided into two parts broadly - Old Manali (other side of the river) and New Manali (around the Mall road).
      I would recommend staying in any of the hotels that are after the Hidimba Devi temple. There is a uphill climb involved but the view from each is amazing and if you book in time they are reasonably priced as well.
      There are 5 star hotels costing between 7000 to 15000 per night.

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  2. Nice Abhay... you will be our tour consultant when ever we plan a trip to Manali

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Done, Neha.
      I am just a call away.
      Regards,
      Abhay

      Delete
  3. Nice write-up. Will definitely get in touch with you for any future trips.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mansi. Give me a call when you are planning your next trip.
      Regards,
      Abhay

      Delete
  4. Very well written and revived my Manali memories. Beautifully captured.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks Himanshu.
    Regards,
    Abhay

    ReplyDelete
  6. So well researched and equally well crafted. Makes for a brilliant read.

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  7. Nice write-up abhay,it's like watching "yeh jawani hai diwani 2" would like to fly for manali after reading this

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  8. Manali most usually known as the "ruler of slope station" is completely honored with the normal excellence from each heading. manali packages

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  9. Manali is one of the popular destinations to enjoy trip with friends or family or colleagues. Every spot will give you something to know more about the Manali secrets. Lots of https://www.imanali.in/manali-tour-package-mumbai secrets are hidden in the heart of Manali. Summers are the best time to explore them. Hence it is a must visiting destination.

    ReplyDelete