A destination where Indian families come for their first taste of snow, couples for their honeymoon, adventure enthusiasts for some thrill, nature lovers for peace and college-goers for IVs and 'trips' (if you know what I mean), Manali, without doubt, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India.
But then surely it's popular for the right reasons! Snow-clad mountains, scenic landscapes, alpine meadows, gushing streams and foremost of all, tranquility and oneness with nature, Manali is every traveler's dream come true. So come along as we at Curly Tales take you on a 3-day trip to the Valley Of Gods!
How To Reach:By Air: The nearest airport to Manali is the 'Kullu Manali Airport' at Bhuntar. Situated at a distance of approximately 50 km from Manali, regular flights operate from Delhi, Chandigarh and Pathankot. If you're coming from any other state, you have to travel to Delhi/Chandigarh first and then proceed to take another connecting flight from there. Once you reach the airport, you can hire a prepaid taxi to reach Manali.
By Road: Manali has good connectivity by road with cities like Delhi and Chandigarh if you're self-driving. A number of private bus services also ply frequently from Delhi to Manali. Besides, Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) also offers services from New Delhi to Manali and various other places in Himachal Pradesh.
We took a bus from Delhi's Connaught Place area, which costed us INR 700 per seat. The journey is 13-hour long but is picturesque and worth the travel time.
The closest railway station to Manali is Chandigarh or Pathankot. Both the railway stations are well-connected with major Indian cities. One you reach either of these stations, you can hail a bus or a cab service till Manali.
Travelling Within Manali: You can either book private cabs or a bike to travel around. We took a private cab since we wanted to take in all that beauty without having to concentrate on driving.
Best Time To Visit: The peak season lasts from March to June where one can indulge in a host of adventure activities and the pleasant weather makes it enjoyable for all tourists. Winter months in Manali extend from October to February and are less-touristy. Although the weather gets exceedingly cold, it is the best time to engage in snow-based activities.
Where To Stay: Manali has a plethora of stay options for all kinds of travelers. You can choose to stay in a hostel, homestay, cottage or a hotel, whatever suits your pocket best. But, remember to choose a room which will give you a breathtaking view of the valley! Because waking up the gorgeous view every morning is the best feeling ever!
What To Wear: While this would depend on the season you're visiting, carrying woolen clothes, jackets, mufflers and gloves is a must during winters. But Manali can get chilly even during summer, so make sure you carry a mix of warm and cool clothing for the same. Also, do not forget to carry a pair of sturdy shoes as you will be walking/trekking a lot!
3-Day Itinerary To Manali
Day 1: Hadimba Temple, Mall Road
Our first stop for the day was Hadimba Temple, a 16th-century temple, that preserves the footprints of Goddess Devi Hadimba, the presiding deity of Manali. The temple is beautiful and its shikhar rises as high as the denoar trees that surround it. The temple reverberates with serenity and makes for the perfect spot to start your trip with!
One will have to climb steps to reach the temple, and the breathtaking view while climbing upwards makes you feel like you're climbing straight into heaven's door.
During the Dhungri Mela festival, which takes place in mid-May, idols of deities decked up in clothes and ornate jewelry are carried to the temple in elaborate processions. The festival brings about a carnival-like ambiance to the atmosphere, and you must part take in it if you happen to be there.
Mall Road: Just walking around this bustling Manali market can make your soul happy. Here, you will find some trendy shops selling some great winter wear at affordable prices. Indulge if you must!
Apart from that, there are some great restaurants for food too! We zeroed in at Chopstick, a rather popular place in Mall Road, known for its lip-smacking momos, and ended our meal with a rainbow-colored softie, reliving our childhood days and taking in Mall Road's bustle!
Day 2: Rohtang Pass, Solang Valley
One of Manali's ace tourist attractions, Rohtang Pass is about 51 km away from Manali. The to and fro journey along with the time spent there can take up more than half a day, so keep this in mind while planning. The roads to the pass are really bad too, so ensure you're carrying all the high-altitude sickness medication you need.
To reach to the tip of the Rohtang Valley, you can either walk/trek it out or horseride all the way up. While we personally prefer walking it out, horseriding is quite adventurous too. Also, on the way to the Rohtang Pass, you will have to make a pit stop to rent boots and jackets, etc. so carry adequate cash for the same.
But once you make it to the top, the feeling is unparalleled. You'll be surrounded by snow and it is no less than magical. First time or not, it will bring out the kid in you. So get ready to throw snowballs, receive some hits back in return, create a snowman and even make snow angels. You can also enjoy adventure activities like skiing, trekking and even paragliding here.
After a wonderful magical time in the snow, it was time for some adrenaline rush. So we rushed to Solang Valley. Solang is a popular tourist spot for a number of adventure sporting activities like quad-bike rides, zorbing, rock climbing, mountaineering, paragliding, bungee jumping, gondola (ropeway) and even camping.
Since we visited Manali in September, it was off season and the only activity available was ATV bike rides. While we were sad at the prospect of missing some of the adventure activities, the ATV bike ride experience was beautiful and we were so satisfied by the end of it.
Also Read: A 2-Day Itinerary To The Culturally Rich City Of BhubaneswarDay 3: Kullu, Johnson's Cafe
On the third and last day of our travel, we set off to Kullu, which is a quiet town set on the banks of the river Beas. With the Greater Himalayas in the backdrop, Kulu makes for a serene place to just calm down and meditate. And we did just that! We spent our last day in Manali just taking in the beauty of this place. And trust us, it brought us calm like no other.
Johnsons's Cafe is one of the most popular cafes of Manali and is known for its continental cuisine. It looks like a nice cutesy cafe from outside, but turns into a nice quaint European cafe as soon as you enter inside. Equally popular as a breakfast joint and a party hub, it must make it to your list when in Manali.
While our trip ended here, you can also go to some of the other places in Manali. These include:
Naggar: About 22 km away from Manali, Naggar is home to a number of monuments, temples and the 500-year-old-Naggar palace, which is now converted into a museum. One can visit the Nicholas Roerich Art Gallery, Vasuki Nag Temple and the Gauri Shankar Temple.
Naggar is the one of the quickest places to get off the travel grid and find solace in art, history and local culture.
Manali Wildlife Santuary: This woodland of deodars, walnut and maple trees is a haven for nature lovers. About 2 km away from Manali, it is an excellent place to observe Manali's rich wildlife.
Nehru Kund: Often visited by late PM Nehru, this fresh water spring is fed by sacred waters of the Brighu lake and is on the way to Rohtang Pass.
Parvati Valley: Again, one of the most visited tourist regions, Parvati Valley is beautiful. Here, one can visit Kasol the ‘Little Israel’ of India and indulge in Israeli food like shakshuka, falafal, hummus, etc. You can also viist Manikaran and Kheerganga for their famous hot water springs or the ancient old village of Malana.
But you know what's the best thing about Manali? No wonder how many times you travel to this beautiful destination, you will always feel like going back! The soothing sound of the rivers, the magnificent mountains and the breathtaking landscape will charm you back! And you will find yourself giving in, every time!
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