A slice of heaven in the midst of some seriously spreading urbanization around the area, Manali offers that perfect mix of cultural serenity in a rapidly growing town. Usually the base for high-altitude trekking and mountaineering, Manali now offers much in the way of adventure tourism with splendid opportunities for mountain biking, paragliding, rafting and skiing in the right seasons. Much like most hill stations, at over 2000 metres above mean sea level, Manali tends to get rather crowded at peak season. Expect the usual snail-paced uphill traffic all the way to Manali during this touristy period as well. If you are travelling at in summer, Manali is the perfect stopover as you head to Ladakh and Spiti Valley. Drop in at Bob Dylan’s café in the heart of Manali for some lip-smacking cookies and
If you are travelling at in summer, Manali is the perfect stopover as you head to Ladakh and Spiti Valley. Drop in at Bob Dylan’s café in the heart of Manali for some lip-smacking cookies and healthy dose of Dylan’s music. A short drive away from town would lead you to lovely hot water springs (at Kalath and Vashisht), fascinating waterfalls and ancient temples as well as those renowned orchards. Vashisht and Old Manali, however, have now developed to cater to people in search of some old-world charm and picturesque vistas to escape the bustling crowd of Mall Road in Manali.
un[travel]’s Top Picks in Manali
Lamaduk Meadow Hike
Far from the madding crowd, away from the general hustle of this fascinating hill station, lies the ancient Hadimba Temple. Hike up a gradual, easy-paced climb from the temple, up 1000 meters, through thick forests of deodar and fig with stunning vistas of the Kullu Valley and Manali town below. Spot each peak across in the horizon with fantastic photo opportunities. A good 4-hour climb would lead you to the lush green meadows of Lamadug. Scenic views of Manali’s renowned peaks, Hanuman Tibba, DeoTibba and Indrasen greet you when you finally take that deep breath of fresh mountain air. Post lunch at Lamadug, walk down to spend more time at the ancient Hadimba Temple– a perfectly peaceful end to this serene hike.
Cycle to Solang Valley Past Old Manali
Cycle to Solang Valley
Hop on the mountain bike and cycle through the tapered lanes and bazaars, past the orchards beyond Old Manali. One of the best places to hang out later in the evening, stop for a nibble of ‘yak cheese’ at any of the eateries in Old Manali before you move on. The trail narrows down as you get to the next three villages, Goshal, Shanag and Burua. Generally known for their Himachal apple cultivation, the numerous sprawling orchards along the trail through these villages reinforce the main livelihood of this area. Coupled with fascinating views, the stony trail past the village of Burua leads you across the Solang-Nallah to the open fields of Solang Valley. Now the adventure-tourist’s hot-spot for paragliding, horse-riding and zorbing with a newly constructed ropeway; Solang, in winter, is covered in a thick sheet of white of snow, the skiing destination of choice.
Handicrafts and Kullu Shawls
Hand Crafted Kullu Shawl
Whether you’re artistically inclined or just plain curious, step into to a weaver’s house for a couple of minutes well spent. The impressive weaving process is mesmerizing to behold as you watch intricate designs come to life under the well-trained hands of a local weaver. Watch these colourful shawls get made and listen to the weaver talk about his craft and life in the village. Don’t forget to buy your own handcrafted shawl before you leave Kullu.
Angora Rabbit Breeding Farm Visit
There’s not much beyond Angora wool that makes you think ‘soft, light and warm’ on chilly winter mornings. Considered some of the finest in warm fibres, a visit to the Angora Rabbit Breeding farm here in Bhuntar is a fun visit for children and adults as well. Get to know more about the process that goes into getting those hand-woven shawls and sweaters we all love. From clipping and carding to spinning and weaving, there’s a lot more that makes the super-soft mufflers the bestsellers they are today.
Momos and More
Momos at Manali
Generally renowned for the apple orchards on its outskirts, Manali town itself is a treasure-trove of hidden flavours with its myriad cafes and eateries. Let your taste buds come alive, as you begin the ‘food walk’ from Manu market in New Manali with its fascinating Tibetan food stalls. Get a couple of tips on herbs and spices before moving on to Old Manali’s numerous cafes and restaurant.
Usually ‘the’ place to hang out in the evening, grab a taste of yak cheese at any of the eateries here. Eclectic music at quaint cafes overlooking the Beas river mark restaurants from all over the world here in Old Manali. From Spanish and Italian to Korean and Thai or just basic Indian ‘butter chicken’, there’s something for everyone. End your walk at ‘Dylan’s Café’, with a perfect cup of hot chocolate and freshly baked chocolate cookies as Bob Dylan gently wafts through the cool mountain breeze.
When to un[travel] Manali
Winter falls between September and February and sees a fair amount of snowfall with temperatures falling as low as -1 degrees C.
Summer (March to June), however, is pleasant with temperatures ranging from 10-25 degrees.
Both these times have their own allure and activities with the monsoons of July and August the only season to be avoided with potential landslides.
un[pack] That Bag
Pack as light as possible given the amount of road travel involved here.
• Cotton clothing for summer and a light jacket would work for when evenings get cooler. If you’re un[travel]ling in winter, warmer clothes complete with thick socks and warmer jackets. Carry your windcheater and umbrella if you’re here in the monsoons as well.
• Sturdy walking shoes, mandatory if you’re hiking, make sense given the amount of walking involved here.
• Sunscreen, especially if you’re going up to the higher reaches. Usual prescription medications.
• Mobile and tablet electronic chargers.
un[travel]’s Top 5 Places to Stay
• Baikunth Magnolia
• Larisa Resort
• Solang Valley Resort
• Banon Resort