Manali is an important hill station of northern India and is the destination of thousands of tourists every year.Manali derived its name from Manavalaya meaning the abode of Manu or "Home of Manu" and here, the temples are treated as pilgrimages. Its cool atmosphere provides a perfect haven for the ones afflicted by the hot Indian summers. Manali is also famous for adventure sports like skiing, hiking, mountaineering, para gliding, rafting, trekking, kayaking, and mountain biking.
Manali has a pre-historic legend behind its name. Vaivasvata, the seventh incarnation of Manu, the first creation according to Hindu mythology, found a tiny fish in his bathing water. The fish told him to look after it with devotion, for one day it would do him a great service. The seventh Manu cared for the fish until it grew so huge that he released it into the sea. Before departing, the fish warned Manu of an impending deluge when the entire world would be submerged and bade him to build a seaworthy ark. When the flood came, Matsya (fish), the first avatar of Lord Vishnu, towed Vaivasvata and the Seven Sages to safety. As the waters subsided, the seventh Manu's ark came to rest on a hillside and the place was named Manali after him.
Manali is situated in the central parts of Himachal Pradesh, Manali is 32 km from Kullu valley, 280 km north of the state capital Shimla and 108 km from Mandi. Manali is located at an altitude of 2050 meters above sea level and is spread along the banks of the river Beas.
In winters, the temperature can drop below freezing point when heavy woolens are required. Summer temperatures are mild and light woolens/cottons are recommended. In Manali, one can find high mountains shrouded by silent snows and deep boulder strewn gorges. There are thick forests, filled with cool breezes and bird song.
Places to see in Manali
On the left bank of the river Beas, near Prini village, is the "Arjun Gufa" or the cave of Arjuna. It is believed that Arjuna practiced austerities to get Pashupata Ashtra or weapon from Lord Indra.
Built in 1553, this four-story wooden Hadimba or Dhungiri temple is famous for its exquisitely caved doorway. It is located in the middle of a forest called the Dhungiri Van Vihar.
About 6 kms. from Manali is the famous Shiva Temple in "shikara" style. It houses temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Sandhya Gayatri.
This is a quiet but picturesque spot, at the foot of the Rohtang pass, 12 kms. away from Manali town. It offers a magnificent view of the snow-capped peaks and glaciers.
Manali is named after the sage Manu who was the creator of human race on the earth and it is believed that he meditated here. This is supposed to be the only temple of Manu in India.
Manali is known for its shiny gompas or Buddhist monasteries. It is maintained by donations from the local community and by sale of hand-woven carpets in the temple workshop.
About 16 km from Manali at the start of the climb to the Rohtang Pass, are the beautiful Rahalla Falls at an altitude of 2,501 m.
Rohtang Pass (3979 m) is the highest point on the Manali-Keylong road. It provides a wide panoramic view of mountains rising far above clouds, which is truly a breath taking sight.
Solang valley offers the view of glaciers and snow capped mountains and peaks. It has fine ski slopes. The Mountaineering Institute has installed a ski lift for training purpose. The 12-km hike up the western banks of the Beas to the Solang Valley is noteworthy.
Vashist Hot Water Springs and Temple
Across the Beas river is Vashist, a small village with natural sulphur springs. Modern bathhouses, with Turkish-style showers, have the hot water piped into them for the convenience of the visitors who come here to benefit from the medicinal properties. There is a pyramidal stone temple dedicated to Vashist Muni and another Temple of Lord Ram.
Manali - Adventure Activities
Skiing is a major pastime in Manali. Facilities for skiing are available at Solang Nullah (January-March) and Rohtang La (during summer). The Mountaineering Institute at Solang Nullah is a good training institute. Heli skiing is possible at the deep snowfields.The Mountaineering Institute and Allied Sports is about 3 km from the Mall and offers mountaineering and kayaking courses.
There are several good hikes from Manali. The 12-km hike up the western banks of the Beas to the Solang Valley is noteworthy. Lama Dugh meadow is a 6-km hike up to the Manalsu Nala, west of Manali town.
Manali - Shopping
Woolen goods are the town's real forte, particularly the brilliantly patterned shawls. The New Shopping Center (NSC) near the bus stand has a good selection. A good place to familiarize oneself with fair prices is the Shawl Factory Shop, just off the Mall south of the bus stand, which sells high-quality shawls at fixed rates. Elsewhere around the bazaar, innumerable stalls are stacked with hand-woven goods and pillbox Kullu topis or caps. Manali's other specialty is Himalayan handicrafts: mainly assorted Tibetan curios such as prayer wheels, amulets, dorjes (thunderbolts), masks, musical instruments and thangkas.
Manali - How to Get There
The nearest airport is Bhuntar, 52 km south of Manali. There are flights to Delhi via Shimla. The closest narrow-gauge railhead is at Jogindernagar, 135 km away. The closest broad-gauge railheads are Chandigarh (310 km) and Ambala (355 km). By road, the distance from Delhi via Mandi is 585 km, and from Shimla the distance is 270 km.
Manali - Accommodation
There are number of hotels from luxury to budget class in manali which suits to every traveller's pocket
Languages : Hindi, Himachali, English
Best Time to visit : Throughout the year
Tour and Service End