Today we woke up little bit late. As yesterday was hectic and as we traveled from Shimla to Manali via Kullu, today we kept for Manali sightseeing. Settled in between the snow-capped hills of the Pir Panjal and the Dhauladhar ranges, Manali is one of the most popular hill stations in India. With jaw-dropping sights, lavish green forests, extensive meadows carpeted with flowers, flowing blue streams, a perpetual fairy-tale like mist lasting within the air, and a persistent fragrance of pines and deodar – Manali has been blessed with astonishing scenic beauty. From museums to temples, from picturesque little hippie hamlets to busy fashionable streets, river adventures to trekking trails, Manali has every reason to be the tourist magnet it is, all year round.
Every nook and corner of Manali was filled with outstanding natural beauty. Situated by the river Beas and the view surrounding the river was even more outstanding. It is located in the Kullu district, about 250 km from Shimla and 540 km from of Delhi. It serves as the gateway to Lahaul and Spiti district as well as Leh. Manali is named after the Hindu sage Manu. The name Manali is regarded as the derived of ‘Manu-Alaya’ which literally means ‘the abode of Manu’.
Today, Manali apple— along with plum and pear— is the best source of income for the majority of residents. This once silent village was transformed into a bustling town with various home stays as well as the occasional boutique hotel. Throughout the warmer summer months, cafes and restaurants can be seen doing good business.
How to reach Manali
The nearest airport is Bhuntar (Kullu) Airport (Tel: 01902-265052), 50 km from Manali, 10 km from Kullu, about 2 hours away. Air India flights to Kullu from Delhi and Chandigarh. However the services can be irregular and airfares can be high. It can be booked from their site. From the airport the best option to go to Manali is by Pre Paid taxi which is 100 meters from the airport. They have written prices with minimum ₹1800 to Manali. Alternatively just go to Kullu and take a frequent public bus (Rs 50).
Helicopter taxi service
Pawan Hans, the Government charter agency, delivers heli-taxi service connecting Shimla to Chandigarh, Kullu and Dharamshala. For online booking click link.
Manali is 540 km from Delhi, and there are buses linking the town with Delhi, Shimla, Dharamsala and Leh. For return journey from Manali to Delhi, tickets and reservations are often made at the Inter State Bus Terminus or the Himachal Tourism office on Safdar Hashmi Marg nearby Mandi House in New Delhi. You can book tickets online too. The estimated travel time from Delhi to Manali is 14 hours; from Ambala to Manali is 10 hours; from Chandigarh is 09 hours and from Kulu to Manali is 1.5 to 2 hours. Though these duration totally depend on weather and condition of road. Volvo buses—which depart in evening and arrive in the morning next day—are available from Delhi and are the best option in terms of comfort and value for money to reach Manali but you need to book tickets in advance.
The windows on Volvo buses are fixed and do not open. Carrying/ consuming a tablet for motion-sickness is advised before mountain journeys (Avomin/Domestal/Ondem are popular brands available over-the-counter. But before taking medicines consult one registered practitioner). You can take bag from Volvo conductors if you feel vomiting. You may relish a better view of the valley and the gorgeous Beas River if you book seats on the right side of bus while travelling from Delhi. Bus Tickets for Himachal Road Transport Corporation can be reserved online, as I already mentioned and I have also given the link. They have regular and deluxe Volvo buses. Best part is the HRTC website accepts foreign credit cards so you can avoid travel agents. Go to this link for online ticketing.
The adjacent Broad Gauge Rail Station is Ambala Cantt (200 km) or Chandigarh (250 km) from New Delhi. From Ambala you will get a bus for the 10 hour ride to Manali. Jogindernagar and Kalka are other, less desirable, rail stations for Manali.
The nearest broad gauge station is Kiratpur Sahib in Punjab nearby the city of Nangal. It lies in Ropar district of Punjab. The station lies on the Ambala Cantt – Una route of Indian Railways. From here you can simply get buses for Manali.
While booking a private taxi for Manali, one must ensure that the driver has adequate experience driving in hilly regions and does not have the habit of drinking alcohol. Also make certain the driver has made the trip at least once before and knows all the routes well. Also, you need to make sure that the driver is familiar to long, continuous driving routines.
Our Manali sightseeing
Morning post breakfast, we headed straight to the Hadimba Temple. Hadimba Temple is an exceptional shrine dedicated to Hadimba Devi, who was the wife of Bhima and mother of Ghatothkach. Encircled by gorgeous cedar forests, this attractive shrine is built on a rock which is believed to be in the image of goddess Hadimba herself. The creation style of the Hadimba Temple is entirely different from that of any of the other temples, with its wooden doorways, walls, and cone-shaped roof. I remembered the Hadimba Temple due to the scene of Arvind Swamy(Rishi in film) in film ‘Roja’ kidnapped by terrorists in this temple premises.
The magnificent Hadimba Temple holds immense importance to Hindu pilgrims because it is a part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Even apart from that, the Hadimba Temple is no less of marvel to nature lovers. The Hadimba Temple is enticing tourists from all over the country to its doors where history and heritage meet natural beauty. The temple premise is quiet vast. We spent some time around the temple premises. There are green fields encompassing all around the temple, with tall deodar trees. Beautiful small shops present puja material line up the entrance of the temple. The temple is very ancient and beautiful. You can click your photos with rabbits or yaks. It will cost about Rs.10-20 for a single photo. One can also enjoy paddle boating in a amusing park near Hidimba temple.
Then we moved to Manu Temple. Manu Temple, a beautiful temple dedicated to Sage Manu, is situated in the hypnotic valley of Manali. As one travels the region, they are sure to notice the calmness around the beautiful Manu Temple. Absorb the serenity as you breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the pleasant greenery around.
The temple is a pagoda structure that offers a hint into history and spirituality through its captivating architecture. The name Manali was derived from the Sage’s name who is believed to be the creator of the human race as per hindu mythology.
Some may find it problematic to reach Manu Temple because there is only a narrow road that leads to the shrine; however, the journey is certainly enjoyable. You’d be delighted on making it to the magnificent temple and surely will feel blessed at the sight of the idol.
As per my opinion the key purpose of any trip is to relax and enjoy. Relaxing is one of the best ways to experience a place. Manali’s weather is soothing and it’ll revitalize you! The Beas River in Manali originated from the Himalayas, passes through the evergreen forests and hills and ends at Punjab. It holds with the Satluj River, before entering Pakistan. The river is the source of drinking water for the people in Kullu, Manali and Kangra areas.
The river has a calm environment which has provoked many sages like Vashisht, Narad, Vyas, Parshuram and others into meditation in the ancient times. The River Beas, even today is claimed to possess holy water, appealing tourists and pilgrims from everywhere India.
Photographers can visit the place to capture the background of the large clear water river, surrounded by forested Hills. The nature lovers must visit the river. The poets can visit the river to think of in the peaceful setting.
Our next point is Jogini Falls. At a distance of 7.5 Km from Manali Bus Stand, Jogini Falls is a attractive waterfall located near Vashisht Village in Himachal Pradesh. The fall is formed by a stream which is combined in to Beas River in the downstream. It is among popular places to visit in Manali. The waterfall cascades down from a height of around 150 feet through multiple levels. There is a small pool at the base formed by the fall and visitors can take a plunge in the water and spend some time. The flow of the water is increasing in monsoons and suggested not to adventure into the water during this time. Jogini mata temple is at the base of the waterfall. It is a holy site to the surrounding villages.
On the way few restaurants and guest houses are also available. A gentle walk will take 1 hour to reach the base of waterfall. Top point of the waterfall can be reached by a walk of another 15 minutes. This is nice gentle trek which can be completed in 3 hours from Vashisht Temple. The whole trek route is very scenic through beautiful villages associated with the rambling valleys. This is one of the best short treks in Manali to enjoy local scenic beauty and village life in Himalayas.
The Club House in Manali
Then we headed to our next destination – The Club House in Manali. The Club House in Manali is an enjoyment and adventure retreat found out on the banks of the Manalsu canal, a branch of the Beas River. It is one place in the Manali Valley that has something for the entire family – whether it is indoor games/sports, entertainment or fun activities. There is also a restaurant where delicious local and international cuisine is served along with an auditorium, library and a video game center.
The adventurists can pamper in river crossing here. Other than recreational activities, tourists can also shop in the Government Shops at the Club House where one can find attractive handicraft at decent rates.
Mall Road & Monastery
Next we went to Mall road, Manali. This is the chief commercial hub of the town of Manali. After walking from one end to another, looking on the offerings, we settled for lunch at one of the restaurant. Post lunch, we headed to the monastery next to the mall road. This is a beautiful, colorful small monastery right next to the Mall road of Manali. You can ask locals for direction to the Monastery. As you reach nearby it, you will see threads of wire. Several colorful papers are hanging on these threads, marking the presence of a Monastery. After visiting this Monastery we crossed the mall road once again to head towards our hotel. On our way, we peeped into some of the shops. The woolen outfits and dress materials in this market seem to be truly worth a buy. The cost of material is very rational while the quality seems decent.
Finally, from here, we returned back to our hotel as it had started drizzleing a little. We decided to gather in our father’s room and ordered coffee as it was getting cold. The hotel had an exceptional view of snow clad mountain peaks through the full glass window of each room. While we were chatting, we observed that slowly it had been actually snowing on the upper slopes of the hills. Steadily the whole area was getting covered in a fresh blanket of snow. It was such a pleasure to watch. Tonight it had turned quite chilled in Manali; there were cold waves blowing and rainfall steadily happening all through the night. In hot and humid Indian weather you got much cold waves and rain from me. Now go to your bed for a sweet dream. Good night….
Also read HIMACHAL DIARIES-PART III