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One of the most popular hill stations in India, lies amidst the slopes of the Manali Mountains, with spell-binding views, charming streams, fairy tale-like small hidden cottages around the fog and a fragrant scent of pine and freshness. The huge influx of tourists has led to the exploitation of Manali as a tourist destination, although the surrounding areas are still relatively untouched. Nevertheless, this is a place that should definitely be on your bucket list.

Photo by Ales Krivec / Unsplash

1 What are the must see places in Manali?

Solang Valley - Solang Valley is quiet and is best approached by road. The drive up to Solang is extremely picturesque. Once you get there, enjoy some Chinese food along the local roadside and enjoy the scenery.

Old Manali - Autonomous Eucalyptus, lovely streets, sweet little eateries, small bookmark marketplaces, and cafes that serve your favorite continental food at incredibly low prices, the serenity of Old Manali is only the tweet of birds and the sound of gongs Is upset with Kullu River.

Rohtang Pass - A beautiful and popular place in Manali with over 2.5 million visitors every year. In winter, the mountains at Rohtang Pass are completely covered with snow and it is impossible to get there. Therefore, the pass remains closed during the winter (from October) and usually reopens in May.

Naggar Castle - Situated in the town of Naggar, amidst the forested hills, Naggar Castle is a magnificent historical building. Once the residence of King Siddha Singh of Kullu, this palace is an amalgamation of European and Himalayan architecture. Fireplaces, fitting staircases, and magnificent stone and wood embellish the interiors of the palace.

Manu Temple - This religious procession is visited by countless devotees every year. According to legends, Manu saved the holy Vedas and the seven sages from the great flood and later made Manali his home. A visit to this revered temple will definitely rejuvenate you mentally and spiritually.

2 What can I do in Manali?

Trekking - Manali is an absolute pleasure for adventurers to take on the jagged hills. A great base camp for treks, the Mountaineering Institute of Manali offers a variety of hiking and rock climbing opportunities.

Yoga-it is another unique concept that combines spiritual well-being with material well-being and has become a rage between both adventurous and spiritual seekers.

Skiing - An adventure for adventure lovers visiting Manali as they can indulge in some high adrenaline skiing sessions in the snow-capped mountains that surround the hill station. Want something even more thrilling? Go for heli-skiing or yak-skiing to make your experience unforgettable.

River-Rafting - The River Beas River turns out to be an ideal avenue to indulge in some spectacular rafting action for adventure between Grade II and III rapids. Get your adrenaline with water adventure activities like canoeing, kayaking and of course, white water rafting.

Zorbing - Zorbing is a kind of adventure game in which a person slides into a huge transparent plastic Zorb ball which is then rolled up a hill slope. While living in Manali this is definitely not a memory.

Himalayan Caravan Adventure - The Himalayan Caravan Adventure offers you many adventure activities ranging from trekking to paragliding, mountain biking, jeep safaris and rafting. With customized tours and tailor made holiday packages, this company attracts countless adventure seekers every year.

Red highlands
Photo by JOHN TOWNER / Unsplash

3 What are the best places to eat ?

Casa Bella Vista - Amidst the lush panoramas of Manali, Casa Bella Vista is a casual cafe that serves lip-Spanish and Italian cuisine. On their freshly-cooked gorge, toss a thin-crusted wooden oven pizza with hand-cut beer or your favorite mocktail.

Cafe 1947 - This vintage and traditional Italian café is set to become the first music café in Manali and is located on the banks of the Manalsu River. Abandon your meal, read a book, play your favorite tunes or even start a spoiled gig, Cafe 1947 will surely be a part of some of your best moments in Manali.

Dylan's Toasted Rooster - Originally known as Double Vision, the cafe had a wall dedicated to Bob Dylan's portrait. Fans and music lovers of Bob Dylan liked it so much that they coined a new name for the cafe and hence it was called Dylan's toasted and roasted.

Khyber - A multi-cuisine restaurant, Khyber serves delectable Chinese, Continental, Indian and Mughlai dishes. Drinks are reasonably priced, and booths are a good location.

Johnson Bar & Restaurant - Johnson Bar & Restaurant is a charming Italian joint in Manali. The restaurant features a talented Italian chef, good food and a well-stocked bar offering a good selection of wines, liquor, exotic cocktails and shooters.

4 When is the best time to go?

Whether to escape from blistering heat or enjoy the white winters, here's a monthly breakup of Manali's climatic conditions so that you can plan accordingly:

September to February – The monsoons draw to an end in September and winter starts setting in from October. The temperature in winter months can go down to -1 °C, so make sure you carry enough woollens to keep yourself warm.

December end to January – a time to enjoy snowfall and the spectacular scenic white views of the surrounding mountains, making it a favourite with the honeymooners. This is the ideal time for adventure enthusiasts who want to go skiing.

March to June –  Summer steps in from March but the weather is still pleasant. The temperatures during these summer months usually vary between 10°C to 25°C, so you might still need light woollens during the night. This is the perfect time to indulge in outdoor activities such as paragliding, rafting, trekking and mountain adventures in the Solang Valley. This is also the time when the region’s flora is in full bloom lending it the most pristine natural beauty.

July to August –  Monsoons in Manali can be tricky as the region experiences heavy rainfall, which can also sometimes lead to landslides. But considering a lot of tourists don’t prefer to travel during this time, the prices of hotels tend to drop.

Wet mountain valley
Photo by Kalen Emsley / Unsplash

5 How to Reach?

By Air – The nearest airport is at Bhuntar, located approximately 50 kilometres away from Manali. Domestic flights connect Bhuntar with Delhi and Chandigarh. Once at the airport, you can take a pre-paid taxi to Manali. However, owing to weather conditions, flights are not the most reliable option for getting to or out of Manali.

By Bus – Manali is very well-connected to important tourist destinations like Leh, Shimla, Kullu, Dharamshala and New Delhi by means of a network of state-run as well as private buses. The bus journey from Delhi to Manali is 550 kilometres, and it is advisable to book your tickets in the air-conditioned Volvo coaches, as the buses are more comfortable than ordinary ones, keeping in mind the long distance of the journey.

By Road/ Self Drive – The drive up to Manali is simply breath-taking! You can catch scenic glimpses of the adjoining mountains and valleys from almost every turn that the twisty uphill road throws you. Though a lot of tourists prefer a self-drive up to Manali, it is advisable to hire a taxi in case you are not comfortable with driving in mountainous regions.

Drawing swarms of wandering wayfarers from all around the country (and the world), Manali, which is now a prominent tourist town came up as a business route to Ladakh and further beyond. So be it family, friends, that special someone, or all alone, Manali has something for everyone.