Manali is one of the most beautiful and attractive tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh showcasing the beauty of snow-capped mountains; Kullu river flowing within the town and Dhauladhar mountain ranges. It serves as the only gateway to many beautiful destinations within Himachal such as Leh, Spiti, and Lahaul valley. The road to Ladakh through Rohtang Pass is one of the most amazing road trips one would want in his lifetime. Narrow mountain roads from Old Manali to Solang Valley passing through beautiful apple orchards in mountains gives a mesmerizing view.
Best Time To Visit
Visiting Manali between October and February will give you amazing views and chills of the snow-capped mountains. The town witnesses its first snowfall at the end of December and attracts many tourists within the next couple of months. Manali is the center for all major destinations in Himachal; connecting to Leh and Spiti. However, Rohtang pass gets closed in the mid of November every year due to heavy snowfall blocking the traffic. The best time to witness the beauty of Rohtang pass and its destinations: Leh; Spiti is between May and October.
Every year, winters turn Manali white, making it one of the most loved places in India. One could relax in the peaceful mountains every winter and yet not get bored of the place. There are many villages in the Manali district located on the cliff and deep into the woods and mountains.
Manali witnesses the coldest nights in the winter with the temperature dropping to as low as -7 degree celsius and with heavy snowfalls in the months of January and February. It also provides colorful views of the mountains covered with trees and flowers during the summers, showers affection in the monsoon that soaks up the spirit of the travelers, and also ensures that tourists chill out to the best when they land on its chilly terrains in winters.
The other connecting routes from Manali to popular valleys such as Leh and Spiti remain closed during December-February. These high altitude places can give jaw-dropping chills with the temperature reaching as low as -25 degrees celsius.
How To Reach
With the best on-road views, Manali is one of the finest places to be visited by road. The commute to and from Manali can be made either through Air, train or by road. The road is the best option as the nearest Railway station from Manali is located about 200 miles away, while Airport being one and a half-hour drive.
The connectivity of roads to Manali is quite good and you will find hundreds of buses dropping by thousands of passengers in the peak season into this magical valley.
Air India offers regular flights to the Bhuntar Airport (also known as Kullu Manali Airport) from New Delhi. The Kullu Airport is located about 50 kms away from Manali district and one would have to take a taxi from there to reach the destination.
The road commute being the best of all; crossing between three National Highways of the country from New Delhi- NH1 until Ambala; connecting NH22 until Chandigarh and following with NH21 connecting major places of Himachal Pradesh. Located at a distance of 571 kms from Delhi; there are overnight buses running on a daily basis to/ from New Delhi.
Best Places To Visit
1. Solang Valley
Located about 30 mins drive from the Manali district; it is the home to the snow activities and one of the famous tourist attractions in the district. You could do paragliding over the mountains; snowboarding; skiing and finally rest yourself in the middle of the snowy mountains with fresh and warm air to breathe into. The activities not costing much gives a wonderful experience making you enjoy the view of the place from a much higher altitude.
2. Rohtang Pass
Connecting the Kullu Valley (Manali) to Lahaul and Spiti valley, this pass holds an ancient connection serving as the only trade route between the two valleys as both the Lahaul and Spiti Valley are located in remote locations with no other road routes for trade. You will find thousands of travelers visiting the Rohtang Pass to witness the beauty of the connecting road and the amazing view alongside. Located about 51 kms away from the center of Manali; one could easily find a taxi to/ from the Manali bus stand.
3. Hadimba Devi Temple
Constructed in the 16th century on the top of a hill in the middle of the Deodar forests, the temple is a shrine dedicated to Hidimba Devi (wife of Bhima). The history and heritage meets between the peacefulness and beauty of the hills and the forests. The place offers mesmerizing views and making it one of the major tourist attractions near Manali. Hidimba was a demoness married to Bhima; but unlike other demons/ demoness, she was kind and wanted to get rid of her demonic identity after marrying and having a son (Ghatothkach) with Bhima. She left the throne and went to live the rest of her life in the forests when Bhima had returned back to his kingdom. After several years of worship, she lost her demonic identity and was regarded as a Goddess. To honor her dedication & beliefs and for the demonic identity she overcome, the temple was built in 1553 on this rock to remind people that good can overcome and turn even a demoness to a Goddess if the beliefs are true. This temple lies only 2 kilometers away from the main city center of Manali, and you can access this destination via bus, taxi or also on foot.
4. Manikaran Gurudwara
Located in the Parvati valley along the banks of Parvati river; it is one of the most religious places among Sikh and Hindu devotees. This place is a must visit to have a bath in the hot water springs and taste the langar (free food) being offered by the Gurudwara baked in these hot water springs itself. As per the Sikh beliefs, Guru Nanak Dev Ji (The founder of the Sikh religion) when was passing through the mountains along with his devotees; asked something to eat from nearby people and got some pulses but had nowhere to prepare the food. He asked the devotees to pull out one rock and the hot water springs emerged. They cooked the food by tying the pulses in a cloth and baking it over the hot springs. The hot water is known to be auspicious. Rice, pulses, and chickpeas are put in a linen-bag and cooked by dipping in this boiling water till this date. This is then served as langar. The temperature of these rocks keeps on increasing due to the existence of geothermal energy hence the water here never cools down. The water in these springs contains sulphur which is capable of curing diseases. It is considered as a religious and holy place among the Hindu and Sikh community.
5. Jogini Waterfalls
At a distance of 7.5 kms from the Manali bus stand, the waterfall cascades down from a height of 150 feet through multiple levels. It forms a small pool at the bottom allowing the travelers to spend some quality and peaceful time enjoying the nature and the beauty of the falls between the hills. The trek to Jogini Falls is among the best short treks near Manali. The one hour trek goes through the Apple orchards, tall pine trees and small water streams. The whole trek route is very scenic through beautiful villages aligned with the sprawling valleys.
Best Things To Do
1. River Rafting
Rafting in Manali is done in the Manaki to Jhiri section, near Bajaura, in district Kullu. The other river rafting section from Pirdi going all the way 14 km down towards Jhiri. The waters of Beas are ideal for beginner as well as expert rafters.The thrill which river rafting offers in Manali is nowhere to be found in India. It is one of the best places to be considered for river rafting purpose. The total cost of rafting in Kullu-Manali ranges from INR 500 to INR 2000 per person.
Situated at a distance of 15 km from Manali, Solang Valley is the most popular paragliding spot in Manali. The spot is located at a lush green landscape which is surrounded by the majestic view of mountain peaks. Solang Valley offers a short paragliding experience (lasting 5-10 minutes); costing between 800-1500 INR per person. To have a better experience, one can try the thrills of paragliding between the route to Kasol which lasts about 15-20 minutes and can cost between 2500-5000 INR depending on the altitude. One would need to jump off the cliff from a height of more than 3000 meters and experience the thrills and scenic views of the mountains from such heights.
3. Skiing in Solang Valley
The valley features high mountain slopes that turn milky white in December when it snows here, making it a popular skiing destination in India. The trainers here are certified from renowned institutions and the thick sheet of snow in the valley is just the perfect place to try this at. The cost for Skiing starts from 300 INR; prices varying with the duration of the sport.
4. Riverside camping
Beas River stretching for about 470 kilometers, serves as one of the best sites in Manali for riverside camping. Providing you with an opportunity to stay in the middle of raw nature; the camps have the perfect setting for a memorable adventure. Sounds of chirping birds and flowing water will keep your mind occupied throughout the stay. They provide you bonfire area, BBQ area, souvenir shops, outdoor pavilion and more. This allows you to have an amazing camping experience without compromising on safety, convenience and comfort. The basic package for camping ranges between 1500-2500 INR per person per day. It gives you with an all-day view of beautiful mountains and a clear sky along with the sound of the water flowing in nights.
The beautiful destination offers great trekking trails, set amid the panoramic sights of the snow-capped Himalayas. The most popular trails are Rohtang pass to snowline, Bhrigu Lake Trek, Chanderkhani Pass, etc. Witnessing the trekking routes can give you some jaw-dropping views. With the routes all over Manali, you can easily pick your favorite depending on the choice of location and difficulty level. Most of the trails in Manali and beyond this region are once in a lifetime experience. These treks are also popular as winter treks in India wherein the narrow mountain trails make it an absolutely thrilling experience for adventurers.
6. Tibetan Monastery
Pay A Visit For Peace and Pleasure- There are two famous monasteries in Manali which attract tourists in large number. These Tibetan monasteries truly define the Buddhist culture and give immense peace and pleasure to the visitors. Local people sell various colorful handicrafts and other artistic items right outside these monasteries at very reasonable prices.
Best Places To Eat
1. The Corner House
Located at the Mall Road in Manali famous for its Italian and Chinese cuisines; this place serves the best pizza in the town. The establishment is over 100 years old and has now got several outlets in the city.
2. Cafe 1947
Located at Village Bahang Near Nehru Kund, Manali. The name of the cafe symbolizes freedom, as India got independence in 1947. They provide the most exquisite Italian dishes prepared with ethnic Italian cheese and spices. The menu comprises diverse choices giving the customers a variety to choose from. The vibes are perfect for a fun evening out with friends. Famous for its pizza, pasta, pan-grilled Bassa, masala chai and bruschettas, the place even offers a full bar allowing you to relax and chill with your friends and spend a perfect evening.
3. Kilta Cafe
Located at the Naggar Road in Manali, a must-visit cafe just before the hustle and bustle of Manali. It is run by an extremely pleasant American couple Robert and Grace and got the perfect cup of coffee and baked sweets! There are only a few bakery items available to eat and hot dogs. The hot dog is pretty amazing and they have the option of chicken and pork. The service is prompt and personalized. Everything, except the desserts, is made to order. The best part of all, this luxurious experience (for coffee people), comes at a pittance of a price starting at only 50 INR.
Located at the Mall road in Manali, the place provides the best North Indian/ Punjabi cuisines in the town and witnesses hundreds of travelers crossing by each day to have a taste of the delicious chicken shorba and the mouth-watering Dal Makhani served with Naan. The restaurant is one of the many branches of the original Sher-E-Punjab and they established this one in the year 1972 providing the best north Indian cuisines within the budget.
5. The Johnson’s Cafe
One of the most famous and expensive cafes in Manali. Located very near mall road restaurant has been family owned and operated for over 45 years. A nicely decorated cafè with beautiful woodwork and both indoor/outdoor seating options. It offers one of the best European and Italian cuisines in the town within a budget range.
Best Places To Stay
1. Whistling Pines Resorts And Spa
This resort is a mere 15 minutes drive from the Mall Road Manali. It is among the best resorts in Manali with rooms bathed in natural light, with splendid views of snow-capped peaks. The laughing red colors and abundant fresh air make the resort a cheerful and efficient place to stay in. Surrounded by apple orchids and furnished with state-of-the-art amenities, a stay at this resort will surely leave an unforgettable mark on your heart.
Location: Naggar Highway, Shuru Road Manali, Jagatsukh, Manali Tehsil 175143
2. Retro Valley Camping Resort
Nestled in the heart of the charming city of Manali, this resort provides breathtaking views of the lush green valleys, snow-capped mountains, and meandering rivers. It provides with well maintained, furnished, and clean rooms along with nature activities hiking, bonfire, and even spa. Relish the chance of camping at one of the best new resorts in Kullu Manali surrounded by apple orchards and the sparkling Beas River.
Location: Aleo, New Manali, Manali, Manali Tehsil 175131
3. Quality Inn and Suites River Country Resort
Overlooking the stunning river Beas, this resort features 54 lavishly decorated and fully furnished rooms. One of the best resorts in Manali, Quality Inn Resort boasts of luxurious facilities like a bar, tea lounge, multi-cuisine restaurant, conference room, gymnasium, a specialty Spa, and a recreational area for kids.
Location: Nh – 21, District Kullu, Himachal Pradesh., Manali, Manali Tehsil, 175131
4. Solang Valley Resort
Overlooking the serpentine Beas River and red apple and green pine forest, Hotel Solang Valley Resort is another name for heaven. Located at a distance of only 8km from the Inter-State Bus Terminus, the hotel has 50 specially facilitated rooms.
A perfect getaway option away from the bustling city life, it gives you a soothing feel and washes away the anxiety of mundane metro life.
5. Hotel Banon Tree
Located at a distance of only 500 m from Manali town and 50 km from Bhuntar Airport in Kullu, the resort can be the best cottage to stay in during your romantic holiday trip to Manali. Artistically built living spaces are spacious and are erected with impressively carved wooden walls and floor which keeps them warm. The magnetic view of snow-packed Himalaya and apple orchards generate a soothing effect. All the guestrooms are air-conditioned and have a mini-bar attached. For global tourists, the hotel serves a variety of cuisines starting from Indian, Chinese and European in the restaurant.
6. Manuallaya– The Resort Spa In The Himalayas
Manu Allaya Resort and Spa is the most preferred 5-star resort for families with kids, couples, and friends. The most attractive thing about Manu Allaya is the picturesque views of the river Beas and the Himalayas from all the rooms of this resort. Don’t miss the spa and the complimentary massage which would indeed refresh your senses and send you into a trance. You can pick from a variety of rooms like the deluxe suite, royal suite, or the sunny side cottage. With Solang Valley a mere walking distance from here, it’s one of the best resorts in Manali for adventure seekers.
Location: Sunny Side, Chadiyari, Manali, Manali Tehsil 175131
Shopping In Manali
1. Old Manali Market
The old charm of this popular market of Manali has something different which attracts almost every tourist visiting the place. Find your way through the narrow roads to find colourful streets of this market where you can buy t-shirts, stylish woollen clothes, and much more. The buzz in the streets and coolers all around will make you fall in love with this market.
2. Tibetan Market
This is the place where you can feel the peace and calmly spend the quality time with your family or friends. This relaxation spot for the shoppers is another one of the best shopping places in Manali. The Tibetan market is the best option for those who are looking to buy Tibetan stuff. You can walk in the streets of these markets and see different products on both sides of the road which connects with the Tibetan culture and tradition.
3. The Mall Road
Mall Road is one of the top places to shop in Manali. It is also one of the most visited destinations of the hill station which attracts the number of tourists. Different activities throughout the day, exploring the street shops while shopping makes it a famous spot to shop in Manali. The shops on both sides of the road are neatly lined and offer many attractive products. You can find a huge range of products on Mall Road- shawls, sarees, books, antique items, and lot more. You will also see many spots where you can give a delightful treat to your taste buds.
4. Manu Market
Located at the mall, this is a small but one of the busiest shopping places of Manali. Manu Market can be found in the list of preferred places of local people as well as the tourists. As you enter this market, there are various attractive colourful products which will definitely grab your attention. Different products you can get from this place includes clothes, footwear, handloom items, crockery, artificial jewellery, etc. You can also have some delicious food from different vendors at this place.