Once called the "end of the habitable world," Manali is an important hill station of northern India and is the destination of thousands of tourists every year. Its cool atmosphereprovides a perfect haven for the ones afflicted by the hot Indian summers. Besides offering quite a few places for sightseeing, Manali is also famous for adventure sports like skiing, hiking, mountaineering, paragliding, rafting, trekking, kayaking, and mountain biking. In brief, Manali-the veritable "valley of the Gods"-is an ideal place for the ones in search of both adventure and comfort. The other way inside story of Manali means the 'Home of Manu'. Legend has it that when a flood deluged the earth, Manu and the gods were towed to dry ground by a giant fish, which was the seventh `avatar' of the god Vishnu. The area where Manu eventually found refuge was Manali. He then came to Manali and recreated human life. Thus, the area of Manali is sacred and Hindus treat the temples over here as pilgrimage and its name finds mention in various epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata as well as Vishnu Purana.
The temperature can drop to freezing point in winter advised to be with heavy woolens are required. Summer climate is mild and light woolens/cottons are recommended.
Wondering what else lies hidden in the Himalayas around Manalij? If yes, you are in for some surprises for there are a lot of places to visit around Manali. Town is surrounded by some famous as well offbeat places, leaving you with plenty to pick from. Manali has wide range of sightseeing options for tourists which contains Hadimba Mata Temple, Manu Rishi Temple, Old Manali Town, Hot Spring Water, Atal Tunnel, Rohtang, Van Vihar Park, Naggar, Nyinmapa Buddhist Temple, Waterfalls, Nature Reserve, Lord Ram Temple, Solang Valley etc. The destination itself has a bouquet of diversified mélange of different races, cultural, spiritual and meditation practices under one roof. Visit here to discover or feel the beauty lied with nature and return home with ‘Belle Souvenir’.
Distance 1km The Mall, or main road of Manali is the hub of activity in this tourist town, lined with hotels, restaurants, shops, bus station. Though it carries the same British epithet as its counterpart in Shimla, the Mall of Manali has an entirely different character from the colonial flavour of the former. It is more of a busy commercial street with modern concrete blocks of hotels that spills over with tourists in the peak season. Most of the hotels overlooking the foaming Beas River, however, do offer pleasant views of the valley, green terraced fields and the surrounding orchards.
Distance 1.5km to get a more authentic flavour of the area, take a half-hour walk from the Mall across the Manalsu nala to reach the village of old Manali. Also known as Manaligarh, the village has a ruined fort and a cluster of houses built in the Pahari style - with heavy stone roofs and wooden balconies projecting out of the first floor. According to popular belief it is here that Manu, the lawmaker lived around the 2nd century BC. His treatise, the 'Manusmriti' is the foundations of Hindu law and of the rigid caste system based on varna or profession. Considered one of the most orthodox Hindu texts with strict role definitions based on gender and class, the Manusmriti continues to be followed by many devout Hindus even today. In the centre of the village is the Manu Maharishi temple, a relatively new shrine dedicated to Manu. The village itself is an idyllic break from the rush of main Manali, surrounded by terraced maize fields and apple orchards. There are several guesthouses and cafes lining the path to the village.
Distance 300meters Hadimba or Dhungiri temple in Manali is one of the most important temples in the region. This four story wooden temple is located in the middle of a forest called the Dhungiri Van Vihar a 2 km walk from the Tourist office in Manali. Maharaja Bahadur Singh built the present wooden pagoda-like temple in 1553 after forest fires burned down earlier structures. Standing on a stone platform surrounded by old deodar trees, the three-tiered temple is crowned with pennants, brass bells and a trident. Carvings of animals, plants and folk deities adorn the temple, while hunting trophies hang over its entrance.
Inside the shrine is the brass icon of the goddess, surprisingly tiny compared to the huge temple structure and the legendary prowess associated with her. The shrine is within a natural cave formation dominated by huge rock. A set of enlarged footprints on the rocks is believed to be of Hadimba, herself. In mid-July the idol from old Manali is brought to this temple for a major festival. As part of the frenzied celebrations, several animals including a buffalo and a goat are sacrificed to the goddess. The blood falling on the stones is channeled to the mouth of goddess Hadimba. Not for the faint-hearted, this ancient ritual draws large crowds, along with some pickpockets who take advantage of the spellbound mobs.
Distance 2km This Gompa dominates the Tibetan area around the bottom of the Mall in Manali. The Tibetan refugees built the Gompa in the late 1960's. The Gompa is covered with brightly coloured frescoes and a mid size Buddhist statue. It also carries a list of the martyrs killed in occupation of Tibet of 1987 to 1989. Inside the brightly painted prayer hall is a statue of Shakyamuni (form of Buddha). The monastery is maintained through donations and the sale of carpets woven by the lamas within the temple workshop. A smaller gompha near the market has a large gold-faced image of Buddha, which is best viewed from its first floor verandah. Monks can be seen printing prayer flags in the open terrace.
The museum has display of Kangra Valley arts, crafts, artifacts, manuscripts, costumes, jewelry and coins of the 5th century. It includes a gallery of Kangra’s famous miniature painting as well a representative collection of sculptures, pottery and anthropological items. Distance from hotel is 4km.
Distance 2km Tibetans have a base in Manali too. There is a large modern Tibetan temple to the South of the bus stand and also a small handicrafts centre.
Distance 1.5km The old Manali area is located some 3-km from the present day Manali. The old Manali is covered with guesthouses, which look ancient now, and orchards where the livestock move at will.
Distance 4.5km This small village near Manali is famous for its scenic beauty. The village has a temple dedicated to Lord Rama and Vashishta Muni. The village has some hot water springs, which are said to carry medicinal properties. It is a picturesque little place, 3-km out of Manali but on foot the distance is a bit shorter.
HDistance 6km The Mountaineering Institute located at Manali provides training facilities for basic and advance climbing both for Indian nationals and foreigners. This institute also conducts other adventurous sports activities like high altitude trekking, minor mountaineering, rock-climbing, skiing, and high altitude rescue and relief courses. The institute has sufficient lodging and boarding arrangements and equipment can be hired for trekking purposes.
Distance 50km Rohtang Pass is the highest point, 4,112m, on the Manali-Keylong road, 51-km from Manali town. It provides a wide panoramic view of mountains rising far above clouds, which is a sight truly breath-taking.
Distance 5km on the left bank of the Beas, 5-km from Manali near the village of Prini, is the 'Arjun Gufa' or the cave of Arjuna. In here Arjuna practiced austerities to get Pashupata Ashtra or weapon from Lord Indra.
Distance 50km It is the source of river Beas, at the Rohtang Pass and is easily accessible. The great sage, Vyas performed `Tapa' here during the Mahabharat times. The place is still hallowed by the celestial light. It was because of this that the river got the present name of Beas.
Distance 6km It is one of the biggest villages in Kullu district. About 6-km from Manali, Jagatsukh is famous for its Shiva temple that is built in "shikhara" style and nearby is the old and interesting Devi Sharvati temple.
Distance 12km it is a pretty little village, near Manali on the Keylong road at the foot of Rohtang Pass. There are very fine views from Kothi, and the Beas River flows through a very deep and narrow gorge at this point. The well-situated Public Works Department (PWD) Resthouse is a popular place for overnight stays. Close to the rest house is an awe-inspiring gorge where Beas enters a chasm about 61m deep and just few metres broad.
Distance 14km northwest of Manali in the Solang Valley, this place offers Himachal Pradesh's best ski slopes. The Mountaineering and Allied Sports Institute operates a 300m high ski lift and the month of February is the best month to ski over here. HPTDC runs seven-day package for ski courses with accommodation in the Hotel Rohtang Manaslu in Manali. Courses are also offered by the Mountaineering and Allied Sports Institute and the North Face Ski School.
Around 16km from Manali and 4-km away from Kothi, at the start of the climb to the Rohtang Pass, are the beautiful Rahalla Falls at an altitude of 2,501m.
Around 28km on the left bank of the Beas and about three hundred metres above the river, Naggar is delightfully situated on a wooded slope and commands an extensive view, especially of the north west of the valley. It is an excellent place for a longer stay. Naggar was the capital of the Kullu Rajas for about 1,400 years. There are a large number of famous temples in and around Naggar. Artist Nicholas Roerich's art gallery is also worth a visit. Cars and jeeps can easily go up to the Naggar Castle, which is now Himachal Tourism's well-furnished Hotel Castle.
Around 45km on the trekking route to Pulga and Pin Parvati pass, Manikaran is famous for its hot springs. Thousands of people take a dip in its hot waters. The water is so hot that dal (pulses); rice etc. can be boiled in it. It is also a well known pilgrimage centre and there is an ancient Hindu temple and a gurudwara here. According to a legend, Manikaran is also associated with Lord Shiva and his divine consort, Parvati, who lost and recovered her earring here.
The Bijli Mahadev temple one of the most striking temple is set on a spur, and is famous for its 60 ft high staff, which periodically attracts lightning that shatters the Shivalinga. Each time this happens, it is pieced together by the temple priest.
Situated on the banks of Parvati river, Kasol in the Parvati valley makes a good holiday destination. Charmingly located in an open space, which slopes down to a broad expanse of clear white sand at the edge of the river. The place is known for trout fishing.
Aound 28 km up to Naggar by bus and then 20 km by on walk. A little ahead off the beautiful Chandrakhani pass lies the tiny village of Malana, famous for the temple of Jamlu and its distinct social and cultural life. Reputed to be the oldest democracy in the world in existence where all the inhabitants of the village take part in managing its affairs. An exciting place for trekking.
The Beas River flowing through Kullu valley is suitable for not only white water rafting but is ideal for canoeing and kayaking too. Open between May to September.
Near Manali there are some slopes, which have been rated the best for skiing in the world. The Solang Nullah, Patalsu, Kothi, Marhi and Rohtang slopes are very good for skiing in the winters as well as in summers.
For high mountain thrills perhaps nothing can surpass the magic of heli-skiing. The sport is available in the area abound by the Hanuman Tibba, Rohtang Pass, Deo Tibba and Chanderkhani Pass near Manali.
The woodlands of Kullu preserve a variety of wildlife. The district has five wildlife sanctuaries of which Manali, Kais, Kanawar, Khokhan are in Kullu Valley and the Great Himalayan National Park is in Sainj valley. These sanctuaries preserve animals like Musk Deer, Common Fox, Leopard, Ibex, Himalayan Tahr, Porcupine, Bear (black & brown), Goral (Nemorhaedus goral), Himalayan Yellow Throated Marten, Langur and Flying Squirrel etc. and pheasants like Cheer Pheasant, Monal, Western Tragopan etc.
The Great Himalayan National Park is situated in the Sainj valley of Kullu district. The park harbors more than 300 species of birds and over 30 species of mammals. The park provides habitat for some of the highly endangered species like western tragopan, snow leopard and musk deer.
Manali sanctuary is located 1 km away from the international hill resort Manali. The main species of animals found in the sanctuary are leopard, musk deer, black bear, brown bear, and Himalayan ibex. The birds found in the sanctuary are monal, koklas, chakor, tree creepers, snow pigeon, kingfisher etc. Snakes and lizards are also found.
These sanctuaries are rich in trees like Oak (Quercus incana), Fir (Abies pindrow), Kail , Spruce (Pices smithiana), Deodar (Cedrus deodara), Bras (Rhododendron arborium), Maple (Acer pictum), Walnut (Juglans regia), Fig (Ficus spp), Poplar (Populus ciliata), Pine (Pinus roxburghii), Aesculus (Aesculus indica) etc.
The best time to visit these sanctuaries is April to June and September to October. During this period the weather and visibility is suitable for spotting animals and the high reaches are easily accessible. The nature is also at it's festive best.