You wonder how the religions are connected? You will understand if you know the origin of the word – ‘Manali’. It has come from two Sanskrit words – ‘Manu’ & ‘Alaya’ – the city was the home of ‘Manu’ – the wise sage and the ‘first man’ who recreated humanity on the earth after the great flood – Yes! you read it right – ‘The Great Flood’ and just like the ‘Ark of Noah’ ended up in the Mountains of Ararat – Manu’s boat landed at Manali.
Manali is one of the most beautiful cities of the Himachal. Its beautiful apple orchards, the mighty Beas, and the snow-crowned mountains around the city have attracted tourist from all over the world. You are sure to expect fabulous weather in Manali throughout the year. Manali has always been a great attraction for people seeking adventure because of Solang Valley. The mall road of Manali is also an extremely popular place for shopping.
How to Reach:
If you are in Delhi or Chandigarh, you can drive all the way to Manali – it will take about 15 hours. You can also drive from Shimla (Check the Pictures of the beautiful drive).
If you want to avail public transport, you get frequent buses from Delhi, Chandigarh & Shimla.
Most people take own vehicle to Manali however public transport within Manali is easier than Shimla because there are plenty of 3-wheeler Autos.
Best Time to Visit:
Between November to February, the season is ideal and you are very likely to see a lot of snow. The summer months are also ideal to get a few days relief from the scorching heat.
Must Visit Places:
The Mall Road: In fact, you are most likely to stay here because most of Manali’s Hotels are located on the Mall. The Mall of Manali has a large number of shops where you can buy, wooden items, woollen items & dry fruits. Manali has a very strong Buddhist & Tibetan influence which makes it a very different place from Shimla.
The Temples: The temples of Manali are must visit for all not just because of their uniqueness in terms of mythology but also architecture. Where most of the country has temples dedicated to the Gods of Hinduism Manali is a place where the Sages are more important. The Vasishisth Temple, Manu Temple & the Hadimba Temple – none are of a common Hindu God. While Vashishth and Manu were sages, Hadimba, a demon lady, is believed to be the wife of Bhima, the great warrior of Mahabharata. Apart from this fact, what I most liked about these temples are their Architecture. All these beautiful temples are actually built with timber and extensive craft work fill the walls – exterior and interior of the temples. I was truly mesmerised seeing the beautiful pieces of works in these temples. Though none of these is gigantic, they are truly beautiful. The Manu Temple is partially constructed of stones but it is one of the best in Manali.
In fact, for the first instance, the temples might not look like temples. these tower temples, which were previously used for security purpose also are indigenous to this region.
The Beas: Though it is not recommended, you can actually go to the river bed and touch the flowing water. Be sure you take care of yourself and your children the current is extremely steady and the water extremely cold. The pebbles, that you have step on, are also slippery. There are many locations in the city from where the river can be accessed, just stop your car and give it a try.
The Club House: The clubhouse is more like a mall we see in the metros. it is a place where you can have your lunch, do some shopping and spend some leisure time playing fun and adventure games. You can enjoy zip lining here. But if you are in a real treasure hunt and want to explore only the important pieces, the place will not attract you.
The Tibetan Monastery: It is certainly not like the one you see in Spiti Valley or Ladakh – neither that picturesque nor that grand. Though if want to feel the serenity of the monastery and Tibetan architecture, you can visit the place.
The Van Vihar: It is an urban park with playing area for children. As a family, you can sit there and spend some time while the children enjoy themselves but there nothing much to visit. The paddle boat is also not very exciting. \
Though if you have a craze for wildlife photography, you can spend the entire day here. move away from the crowded place and wait for some little-known birds to appear. The Van Vihar forest has a lot of wild bird and animals which can be photographed. The river can also be reached from here.
What to Eat?
Manali has a special item which is not available anywhere else. if you are a vegetarian you are unlucky. The trout fish of Beas is only available here and is an extremely tasty fish. You can ask for the grilled or fried variation and both taste superb. The fish is little costly but is worth giving a try.
You can also try the authentic Himachali food here but there are not many. We searched a lot and found only one – Vibes near the SBI, to serve that. As I said, Manali has a strong influence of Tibetan Culture and you can actually get very good Tibetan and Chinese food here. I tried Chopsticks located at the Mall and was very satisfied.
What to Buy?
For its proximity with Kullu, The woollens in Manali is cheaper than that in Shimla. It is also a very good place to buy dry fruits – especially walnut, dry apple, dry plums and almonds. There are few shops along the mall road where you will find men doing beautiful painting on wooden plates and there you can actually buy customised memento for your family back home.