Manali is a place that will own you forever. Visit here once and the place will make you it’s own.
When travellers visit Manali, they are not just restricted to Old Manali and New Manali (Yes there is a distinction) but also to various places around Manali that can be covered easily in the same trip.
Manali: An Introduction for First-Timers
Manali is a gorgeous valley in the north Indian state of Himachal. The snow-clad mountain peaks, natural waterfalls, Pine Forests, icy waters of the Beas and the natural flora and fauna of the region make it a favourite among travellers.
Not to forget, the clear hearted local people and an environment of openness and non-judgment.
|Himachal Pradesh, North India|
|Best Time to Visit|
|May end to October mid|
|Best Mode of External Transport|
|HRTC Deluxe Buses, Buses|
|Best Mode of Internal Transport|
|Shared Cab, Bikes|
|Home Stays, Guest Houses|
|Recommended Food Places|
|Cafes, Budget Eateries|
|Cost Status of a 2-4 Day Trip|
Top 12 Places to Visit in and around Manali
There are a lot of places that can be covered in Manali. As a first time visitor to this beautiful town, I would suggest that you definitely cover these amazing spots.
1. Solang Valley
Solang Valley is the first spot you should plan to see, while in Manali. It is the adventure lover’s ideal destination. Snow-clad peaks of mountains make a sneak peek at it from various angles. The best part is that all these peaks can be seen closely as one goes to the top of the valley via a beautiful rope-way. You can choose to stay at top of the valley until evening. Just make sure you come down before the last ropeway ride which happens around 6 pm.
If you want to try out some adventure sports, you have got to try Paragliding. The view will stay with you forever and I’m saying this from personal experience. Gather some courage and just do it. It will be an experience of a lifetime. Also, try Zorbing here. It is one fun activity to indulge in and is pretty safe. Sure, your head will spin a little but I guess that is ok.
|How to Reach here Solang Valley?|
|Shared cabs work best for reaching Solang Valley. They are nominal and suit well to a group of wayfarers. If you are an explorer by nature, rent a bike.|
|Sharing a cab of 4 people will cost you not more than Rs. 100-125 per head.
There is no homogeneous pricing in renting a Bike. It will vary according to the agency you prefer.
2. Jogini Falls
Jogini Falls lie amidst the lap of nature and mark the beginning of a beautiful Pine forest. The best way to capture the magnificence of the terrain around is by taking a trek. The trek is simple and quite doable for even a first-timer. All you need are a pair of good shoes that will help you walk swiftly. The trek will begin with little huts of some local inhabitants (you might catch a few preparing sausages). Midway you will find narrow paths filled with greenery all around and the ice-cold water from the Beas.
Finally, you will reach the Jogini Falls and would want to immerse yourself in the feeling. The falls emerge from between the rocks and fall directly below. I insist you take off your shoes, immerse your feet in the cold water (carefully though) and then head on to the next spot. Trekkers painting on whiteboards or writing poetry is a common site here.
|How to Reach here|
|On your way back from Solang Valley towards Manali, ask any local person about the route to Jogini Falls. You will have to trek to Jogini Falls. You will have to park your bike (in case that is your mode of transportation) at the initial spot of the trek.
Personally speaking, I would advise you to share a cab while going off to Solang Valley and then let go of it once you reach the initial spot of the trek. This way you can trek your way back right up til Manali covering Vashisht along the way. Else, you’ll be taking a separate tour for Vashisht the next day. Not to forget, all the scenic valleys that you could have witnessed will be missed by you.
While amidst the mountains, walk as much as you can. That is the best way to explore Manali.
|₹ 0 if trekking|
Vashisht is known for its rich Sulphur deposits which impart warmth to water at certain geographical spots. Two of these spots have been converted into open baths. At Jogini Falls, you found ice-cold water. Well, here you’ll find boiling hot water. But there is nothing to worry about, taps with running cold water have been put in various places so as to create a balance.
The naturally flowing hot water in these baths is therapeutic in nature. It has known to ward off tanning, mild skin diseases and even dandruff. On my visit, I had my feet immersed in the bath for a full hour. The feeling of comfort just plays on you. The only flip side to these baths is that some folks (women included) can be found naked so that becomes awkward. But I mean if they don’t care, why should we?
|How to Reach here|
|Continuing your trek from Jogini Falls, Vashisht should be your next destination. It will not take more than 45 minutes. You can plan a fresh trip as well but I do not recommend it.|
|₹ 0 if trekking|
4. Rohtang Pass
If I were to describe Rohtang Pass in just one word, it would be – Spellbinding. My god, the route between Manali and Rohtang is gorgeous. The Himalayas literally own you. Once you reach here, your vehicle will make its way through huge blocks of ice on either side of the road to finally reach the open space i.e the pass.
I can vouch for the fact that once you reach here, you would definitely want to head straight to Chandratal Lake, which is about 50 km from here (keep this spot reserved for your next trip). You just want to go on and on deeper in the interiors of Himachal. From Solo Travelers to groupies to honeymoon couples, you’ll find every kind of tourist here. You will need warm clothing if you plan to visit this place. So I insist, you rent a Jacket or a warm fur coat. Simple windcheaters and pullovers won’t work because you will head out to Rohtang as early as 5 am. The early you go, the sooner you’ll return. Else, you’ll be stuck up in a traffic jam for hours (because the road is one way).
All thanks to the National Green Tribunal’s directives, tourists are no longer allowed to pollute and loiter here. Also, the number of vehicles (buses, small cars and bikes) is limited to a fixed number per day. So you should make a booking around 24 hours in advance. Also, you should have a permit (which you can get on the Mall Road, Manali. Without this permit, you will not be able to visit Rohtang.
The Rohtang Pass is open only during fixed months in a year (which generally lie between June and October). For the rest of the year, it is covered completely in ice and the route is cut off from the rest of the region. So if possible, plan your trip to Manali only during these months.
|How to Reach here|
|Buses and shared cabs are the best options here, both in terms of price and safety.|
|₹ 1200 for the entire vehicle (private cabs) and ₹ 310 per person (HPTDC bus)|
5. Beas Kund
6. Hidimba Devi Temple
Hidimba should be visited not just by religious folks but any traveller for it is an architectural marvel situated amidst the pine forest. Dedicated to Hidmba – the demon goddess of the Pandavas, this temple is more than 800 years old.
It is at a distance of roughly half a kilometre from the Mall Road and can be easily accessed on foot. Don’t go inside if you don’t have faith but surely be around the place and observe. On the outside of the campus, there are local women holding Angora rabbits. My god, they’re cute and fluffy. You will also spot the Himalayan yak here. You can take a picture with them for a mere 20 rupees.
7. Manali Club House
Manali Club House is a place of entertainment for tourists. If you prefer indoor games along with the sound of gushing waters of the Beas and some light snacks, visit the place. From my experience, I can safely say that it isn’t the Club House by itself which will entertain you but the activities outside like river crossing, boating etc. It is a bit over pricey so even if you skip it, you won’t miss out on much.
8. Naggar Castle
Naggar Castle isn’t exactly located in Manali. It is located on the way to Manali from Kullu. The fact that it is so close to Manali puts it on the to-see list on a trip to Manali itself. Previously a castle, it has now been transformed into a hotel by Himachal Tourism. The artefacts still remain so does the castle architecture but you get food and drinks additionally. The Naggar Castle is built with wood and stones.
One of the song sequences of the Bollywood movie Jab We Met was shot here so you might know this place from the celluloid. One can witness an aerial view of Kullu valley from here. It’s beautiful. The castle also houses a museum. Do check it out.
9. Manali Mall Road & Van Vihar
Located centrally in Manali, Mall Road is a traveller’s hangout spot here. No matter what direction you come from, you eventually land up here. Van Vihar is a small forest park located on the outer lines of Mall Road. Once you’ve covered all the faraway spots on your Manali trip, you can immerse yourself here amidst the Deodar forests and even go boating if you want.
In the park, you can pose yourself in a local costume which is available for both men and women. There are numerous eating stalls here. My personal favourites were the stalls serving chana kulcha and miniature gulab jamuns. On the Mall Road, enjoy a light meal at numerous cafes that have sprung up in recent times. Also, go shopping if you want. Maybe buy a wooden artefact or an ancient carving.
10. Gauri Shankar Temple
This stone Temple is located near Naggar Castle. The temple was built in the 12th century and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. To me, the most wonderful aspect of the temple is its beautiful architecture and carvings.
11. Dagpo Shedrupling Monastery
Another wonderful and not to miss spot in Naggar that you can visit on your visit is the Dagpo Shedrupling Monastery. The monastery is located in a beautiful setting and gives you an insight into the lifestyle of Tibetan Monks.
12. Old Manali
Famous for its hippie culture, old Manali is a laid back art of Manali that is dotted with cafes and budget stays fr backpackers. The best way to explore this part is by walking on foot and exploring various shops and trying international cuisine. I would definitely recommend shopping here if you are interested in some Boho shopping.
Ideal 4 Day Itinerary for Manali
Day 1 in Manali
|Hadimba Devi Temple|
|Visit the temple and observe nature and the architecture of the temple. Get yourself clicked with some Angora Rabbits.|
|After breakfast, head straight towards Solang Valley and enjoy adventure sports there. If you’re not an adventure sports fan, just enjoy the place by taking a ropeway ride and spending a good 2-3 hours there. Have lunch at the cafe on the other side of the ropeway.|
|On your way back from Solang Valley, a little towards Manali, start trekking and reach Jogini Falls. Enjoy the water and the view, spend some time and then march ahead.|
|Reach Vashisht while trekking from Jogini Falls. Enjoy a natural hot bath. Eat some light snacks at a cafe and then trek right up to Manali. Stroll a little, have dinner and sleep early.|
Day 2 in Manali
|Places to Visit|
|Start early morning. Actually, you’ll have to as per your permit. Enjoy the spellbound terrain and see it transforming from green to white. Reach Rohtang. Indulge paragliding if you missed it at Solang Valley. Click lots of pictures. Have lunch.|
|Anybody who visits Rohtang should definitely visit Beas Kund. In case you want to skip, return to Manali. If not, trek your way ahead, camp at night and then return to Manali.|
Day 3 in Manali
|Places to Visit|
|Naggar Castle, Uruswati Museum|
|Take a short drive on the outskirts of Manali and reach Naggar Castle. Go straight for Himachali lunch there and visit the Uruswati Museum located close by.|
|Gauri Shankar Temple & Dagpo Shedrupling Monastery|
|The temple and monastery mentioned alongside are situated very close to Naggar Castle. So you can easily visit them while going to Naggar Castle.|
Day 4 in Manali
|Hit the Club House. Try some river crossing. Else play a few indoor games and enjoy a light snack with some desi chai|
|Mall Road is centrally located. So you can visit it anytime. Try out a lot of cafes and eateries. Do some local shopping.|
Himachal, they say is Dev Bhoomi. Once you visit Manali and mingle with the people and the environment you’ll understand the gist of this statement.
Happy Wayfaring 🙂
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