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Manali

Travel Guide Asia India Himachal Pradesh Manali

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Introduction

Manali valley 2

Manali valley 2

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Manali, at about 2,000 metres above sea level, is one of the most popular mountain resorts in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Though it lacks the colonial characteristics of Shimla, 250 kilometres away, it has grown over the years into a major hill resort with numerous hotels, lodges, resorts and offers a range of adventure sports activities. Situated along the Beas River, it offers breathtaking views of the surrounding snow-capped mountain peaks. Originally known as Manu-alaya, the name was later simplified to Manali. Manali is split into two distinct areas: Old Manali and New Manali. New Manali is where both the public bus station and the tourist bus station are located and is the area with most shopping and larger hotels to cater for Indian tastes. Old Manali is more western tourist orientated, located 2 kilometres up a narrow lane from New Manali. Take a Tuk tuk for approximately Rs.50 or walk through the beautiful pristine forest of Nehru Park.

Manali also serves as a base camp for trekking and mountaineering expeditions into the Solang Valley and over the Rohtang Pass into the Lahaul-Spiti region. It is also the starting point of the epic 2-day Trans Himalayan journey to the cold desert region of Ladakh, connected by the Leh-Manali highway.

Traditionally Manali is a Hindu town with the important shrine dedicated to the Goddess Hidimba and the Temple of Manu. However, in recent times a large population of Tibetan refugees has set up a mini-township with "Gompas" and prayer flags fluttering across the houses.

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History

Manali is named after the Brahmin law-giver Manu. The word Manali literally means "the abode of Manu". Legend has it that sage Manu stepped off his ark in Manali to recreate human life after a great flood had deluged the world. The Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh in which Manali can be found is also known as the "Valley of the Gods". The Old Manali village has an ancient temple dedicated to sage Manu.

It is also believed that the Hidimba Devi lived in the jungles of Manali. The story of Hidimba Devi is recorded in Mahabharata, a famous holy book of the Hindus. The Hidimba Devi Temple in Manali is the most famous temple dedicated to Hidimba.

The British introduced apple trees and trout, which were not native to Manali flora and fauna. It is said that when apple trees were first planted the fruits were so plentiful that often branches, unable to bear the weight, would collapse. To this day, apple - along with plum and pear - remains the best source of income for the majority of its inhabitants.

In the last 20 to 30 years Manali became famous and the town began to spread and grow in size. Initially there were only few shops and not a single hotel in Manali. Today, this once quiet village has transformed into a bustling town with many hotels and restaurants.

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Sights and Activities

Hadimba Temple, Manali

Hadimba Temple, Manali

© All Rights Reserved runah

Some of the important sites of tourist importance in the city are:

  • Hadimba Devi Temple was constructed in the 16th century and is dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Hidimba, wife of Pandav prince Bhim. This temple has been built in the style of a 4-tiered pagoda with exquisite wooden carvings. A major festival is held here usually in the month of May.
  • Godhan Thekchokling Gompa, built in 1969, has a prominent yellow colored pagoda roof and bright frescoes on the walls. The monastery is maintained by donations and the sale of carpets woven by the lamas within the temple workshop.
  • Manu Temple is dedicated to Manu, the Hindu law-giver who is believed to have lived here in the 2nd century BC. His book, "Manusmriti" is the foundation of Hindu law and forms the basis of the rigid caste system which is still prevalent in many parts of India.
  • Government Recreation Centre is situated along the Beas river and offers lots of sports activities, as well as a bar and restaurant.

Some of the excursions that can be undertaken are:

  • Rohtang Pass is one of the most popular day excursions available from Manali. It is about 50 kilometres from Manali and due to the altitude of nearly 4,000 metres, it can be cold even on a summer day. The pass remains open to vehicular traffic from July to September and is the gateway to the cold desert region of Lahaul-Spiti and Leh-Ladakh. The source of Beas River which flows through Manali, can also be found close by.
  • Solang Valley, situated approximately 14 kilometres from Manali, is known for adventure sport activities and also for its enchanting beauty with snow covered peaks and pine forests.
  • Vashisht, around 3 kilometres from Manali, is famous for its hot sulphur springs. The government tourism department built one public bath which is connected to the hot springs, this is for males only. Inside the adjacent temple are separate baths for men and women
  • Rahala Waterfalls, located about 26 kilometres from Manali on the Rohtang Pass road, are beautiful and well worth a stop.
  • The Naggar Castle and the Nicholas Roerich art gallery are located at approximately 35 kilometres south from Manali, en route to Kullu, in Naggar.

Manali is famous for adventure activities like paragliding, trekking, skiing, river rafting, rock climbing etc.

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Events, Culture and Festivals

manali waterfall

manali waterfall

© All Rights Reserved ggithens

Manali, and all of the Kullu Valley, has a rich culture with a Hindu festival or mela taking place every few weeks, and they shouldn't be missed. The fairs, customs, food habits, beliefs, attire and occupation explicate the hard-earned lifestyle of the aborigines. The people of Kullu believe in simple living and perseverance. They worship deities who are sages, snake gods and other powerful gods and goddesses mentioned in ancient Indian scriptures. Every village has beautiful temples dedicated to these deities.

Famous festivals include:

  • Winter Carnival of Himachal Pradesh takes place in February, and a long and colorful procession sets out from the temple of Goddess Hidimba at Dhugri to Manu Rangshala on the first day of the carnival.
  • Pipal Jatra (Spring Festival) starts on the 16th day of Baisakh (28th April) and runs for 3 days. It is hosted at the fairgrounds of Kullu's Dhalpur, approximately 33 kilometres to the south of Manali.
  • The Dungri Mela (also known as Dungri Jatra) is held every May at Hidimba Devi Temple, 5 kilometres to the north of Manali. Gods and Goddesses are carried in on palanquins and the local gaur (shaman or oracle) goes into a trance to communicate with the divine.
  • Navratri is a 9-day festival to worship nine forms of Shakti/Devi, starting on the 1st of Ashwin (usually in September or October).
  • Dasara (also known as Dussehra) takes place on the 10th of Ashwin (usually in September or October) to mark the victory of good over evil. It also signifies the end of Navratri.

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Weather

In summer the maximum temperature reaches as high as 35 °C, though averages around 24-27 °C from May to early September. The average minimum temperatures are in the 10-15 °C range during these months. These are the average highs in winter, from December to February, when nights can get chilly and average slightly below zero. The rainy season starts in the month of July and ends in August. During the rainy season, the heavy rainfall damages roads and causes landslides. In the winter, the snow line reaches Manali and the temperatures can be expected to be below freezing point at night. Most snowfall occurs later in winter, from late January to early March.

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Getting There

River Beas

River Beas

© All Rights Reserved rahulr

By Plane

The nearest airport is at Bhuntar (Airport Code: KUU), 10 kilometres from Kullu and 50 kilometres from Manali. Direct flights are available from Delhi on Kingfisher Airlines and Indian Airlines. Regular bus services are available from the airport to Kullu and Manali. Taxis are also available but they usually operate on a fixed fare basis.

By Train

The nearest railhead is Jogindernagar, which is around 135 kilometres from Manali. Train timings, fare and availability of berths can be checked at the official Indian Railways website.

By Bus

Manali is well connected by road to most of the North Indian towns. The bus stand is right in the centre of the town and frequent buses are available from Manali to other important towns like Shimla, Kullu, Chandigarh, Delhi, etc. State Transport Corporation has recently inducted modern air conditioned buses on important routes like Manali-Shimla and Manali-Delhi.

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Getting Around

By Taxi

A variety of taxi hire is available to bring visitors to all the sight-seeing spots in and around Manali (Rohtang, Manikaran etc). It costs about Rs. 1,500 per day, or a little over Rs. 3,000 if booked for 3 consecutive days (in the peak season).

By Public Transport

Public transport is cheap but infrequent. Visitors staying for longer time period should get familiar with the timetable and use the bus network, as other modes of public transport are exorbitant compared to bus. e.g. auto rickshaw costs Rs. 200 from Manali Mall Road to Solang Valley, while the bus for the same journey costs only Rs. 10.

By Bike

The second most common way to get around is to hire a motorcycle. There are many places where bikes can be hired (easy to find - just ask around), and it is the most common mode of transport for foreigners. Both cruiser bikes like the Enfield Bullet and sport bikes from Honda, Bajaj, Yamaha etc are easily available, though Bullet is the most commonly seen one on the roads. Rates around Rs. 500-800 per day in the peak season, but discounted at other times.

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Eat

buddhist temple in manali

buddhist temple in manali

© All Rights Reserved leahkreger

Manali market is the key place for eatables. Right from chat to Indian (vegetarian/non-vegetarian) to international cuisine like Italian/Chinese are available in the main market which is just opposite the Manali Bus stand. The Mall Road has a variety of eating options ranging from stalls and dhabas to fancy restaurants. Deeper into the lanes of the town, one can find more local eateries, catering to special tastes and habits ranging from Tibetan food, to Vaishnavi Dhabhas.

Old Manali is one of the best places to hang out in the evening. It has a great collection of restaurants/bars and shops. It is also not crowded like the Mall Road, with the crowd consisting mostly of foreigners.

  • Bob Dylan's Cafe (also known as Roasted and Toasted) is in the heart of old Manali. It serves the most delicious cookies and sandwiches. With an extremely good menu and pocket friendly price, it remains one of the most popular destinations after a day's sight-seeing. Also, at no extra cost, there is a very comfortable movie theater where some 100 movie titles are available to watch as you munch on those delicious cookies. And yes, they do play Bob Dylan's songs and it is worth a visit.
  • Pizza Olive has the best pizza in town and is worth the trek to Old Manali. Also try the fabulous tiramisu.
  • Green Forest Cafe lies on the Hidimba-Temple Old Manali Road, only a few hundred meters from the temple. It is also a very popular destination for both locals and foreigners, serving Tibetan soups, vegetable dumplings and other sandwiches and snacks.
  • Drifters' Inn and Cafe situated in Old Manali has great food, wi-fi internet and friendly atmosphere.
  • Lazy Dog also in Old Manali has an extensive multi-cuisine menu. The food is quite good and the ambience is great.
  • Apple Blossoms at Manali Heights Resort (near log huts area) is a must-visit to savour the best of local Himachali menu as well as delectable Indian, European and Oriental cuisines.
  • Johnson's Bar and Cafe located 5 minutes walk up from the Mall Road is is a great place to hangout in the evening. The food and service is quite good which has made this place quite popular.
  • Chopsticks (opposite the bus stand) serves really good Tibetan food.
  • Mayur Restaurant can be found in a lane opposite the upper end of the bus stand.
  • Vaishnao Dhaba is located in the market adjacent to the bus stand.
  • Valley View Restaurant at Snow Valley Resorts is known for beautiful view and good homely buffet food.
  • Madras Mess is a popular joint serving authentic South Indian meals and unlimited meals in a thali is available for Rs. 50.
  • Il Forno, approximately 100 metres from the Hidimba Temple in the direction of New Manali, has original Italian pizza prepared by an Italian chef. Prices are higher than Indian average but still cheap for an authentic Italian treat.
  • Cafe Zeppelin at Kothi village (13 kilometres from Manali, on the way to Rohtang Pass) is the last café on leaving Manali and heading towards Rohtang Pass. It is run by young enterpreneurs for their love of life in the mountains and music. They serve good pizza, pasta, sandwiches and momos. They also play excellent rock music from the 60's and the 70's. Most paragliders will land by the café and enjoy their services while waiting for their friends or families to pick them up.
  • Dawat & Aangan at Hotel Sunpark.
  • Cafe Bella Vista serves vegetarian Spanish cuisine.

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Drink

For non-alcoholic beverages, spring water and freshly pressed apple juice are in abundant supply.

The locals drink two kinds of alcoholic beverages:

  • Lugdi (plains) or Chang (Himalayan), a kind of crude beer made from fermented rice or barley;
  • Sharab (plains) or Arak (Himalayan), an alcoholic drink distilled from lugdi/chang.

Arak can also be made from jaggery or apples or any other fruit. It might be an interesting experience to visit a local home when the ladies make arak quite regularly. Sit in the fields where the ladies make it, have hot water from the distilling to wash with and "test" the product at frequent intervals.

Because there are apple orchards all around Manali, apple cider is also readily available. Beside this, there is plenty of other alcohol available in bars, larger restaurants and hotels. Purchased liquor has high taxes levied in this state.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Hotel Holiday VillageKatrain KulluHotel-
Sarthak ResortsVillage and post office Khakhnal Tehsil Manali District Kullu Himachal PradeshHotel78
Solang Valley Camp Retreat1st Campsite, Solang Valley, Manali, Himachal Prad Ambeji House, d-1-64,janak puriCampsite-
Hadimba CottageNear Hadimba Temple ,manali-
Kalpna by R C HospitalityLog Huts AreaHOTEL-
Hotel ClassicNew ManaliHotel-
Snow Valley Resorts ManaliLog Hut AreaHOTEL-
Hotel DevlokHadimba RoadHotel-
Hotel Snow ParkNear IBP Petrol Pump Aleo New ManaliHotel-
Swiss HutskatrainGuesthouse-
Residential CottagesKatrainApartment-
Harmony Hotel ManaliKanyal Road, Rangri Tehsil Manali, Distt Kullu Himachal PradeshHotel-
Shuru CottagesVill. Shuru, P.o. Prini ManaliApartment-
Kishor GuesthouseManu Temple Road Old ManaliGuesthouse-
Flamingo ResortKaniyal Road Sinsa, Near Dream View RestaurentHotel-
Royal Park HotelNaggar Road PriniHotel-
Hotel Park ResidencyAleo, Manali Dist. Kullu (H.P)Hotel-
Hotel Status Innleft bank naggar, aleo new manali distt- kullu himachal pradeshHotel-
Hotel Manali Majesticopp Beas Bridge near Mall Road Rohtang RoadHOTEL-
Maya Bodh Niwas GuesthouseVashisht, Manali Himachal PradeshGUESTHOUSE-
Sparsh ResortLoghuts Area, Behind Hotel Conifer Near Old Manali. Dist.- KulluGUESTHOUSE-
Manali Jain CottageVashisht Road ManaliHOTEL-

Upscale / Resorts

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Work

The main occupations of the Manali people are farming and tourism.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There's good coverage over most of India for Internet cafes. However, following the recent terror attacks in Mumbai and some other cities, all internet cafes have been instructed by the authorities to maintain a register and note down the identification details of all persons using internet. Sify iWay is a reliable and cheap cafe with over 1,600 cafes over India. iWay also allows you to open a pre-paid account that you can use all over India. Whenever you have Internet access probably the best and cheapest way to call family and friends at home is software that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet such as Skype.

Wifi hotspots in India are, for most part, limited. The major airports and stations do offer paid wifi at around RS.60-100 an hour. Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai are the only cities with decent wifi coverage. At Mumbai airport, you get to use WiFi internet free, for an hour or so.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country code for India is 91. To dial outside the country from India, prefix the country code with 00.

The general emergency number is 100 (emergency response police & fire), while for ambulance you should dial 102 or 112, though some regions have 108 for this emergency. 108 is used in in the Indian states of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Goa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha,Assam, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. 108 can be called for medical, crime, fire, or any other emergency from any phone.

Local phone numbers can be anywhere from 5-8 digits long. But when the area code is included, all landline phone numbers in India are 10 digits long. Cellphone numbers usually start with '9', '8', or '7'. Toll-free numbers start with 1-800.

If staying longterm it is probably wise to think about investing in a mobile phone. You'll possibly need to provide a photocopy of your passport and itinerary, so come prepared. Make sure you arrange it upon arrival in a big city, as it can sometimes be difficult to organise with language barriers and such in more regional areas. You can buy a cheap nokia for about RS.1,200 with a pre-paid plan. Airtel is a good carrier to think about as they have great coverage, and constant offers for cheaper calling. To recharge, most shop vendors with phone carrier signs can do it via their own phone. You give them your mobile number, they put it in their phone and you'll both get messages as to whether or not the recharge has been successful. Also, if possible, buy the phone in the state where you do the most travelling as the charges are higher in the states where you did not originally buy the phone.

Over the entire country there are plenty of public phones, even in the middle of the countryside. Although most of the time these phones are not very well maintained and have horrible connections. Therefore remember when using one of these public phones one must be extremely patient.
For international calls from payphones, you'll have to visit a reputable internet cafe with a phone-booth. Mobile phones are usually a better and cheaper option.

Post

India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost RS.50 to 200. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.

If you want to send bigger packages/parcels, it might be better, faster and sometimes even cheaper, to contact a private company like DHL, TNT or UPS.

Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 32.286171
  • Longitude: 77.161377

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This is version 59. Last edited at 13:36 on Feb 5, 14 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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