When you find yourself surrounded by majestic snow-capped mountains, in the lap of lush green valleys with the sparkling blue waters of the Beas River burbling away and cool clouds bowing down to create a mesmerizing landscape – you know that you have arrived in Manali. From adventure activities to romantic getaways, Manali is akin to a perennial carnival that offers a plethora of experiences – any time of the year. Here is a list of the best places to visit in Manali:
Rohtang Pass (3978 metres)
Located on the Manali-Leh Highway at a distance of 51kms from Manali, Rohtang Pass is one of the highest pass and the most popular attraction in Manali. During winter, this pass is completely covered in snow and hence closed from October to May. However, in summer one will find it swarming with tourists, especially adventure seekers and nature lovers. Hence, it is always preferred to reach Rohtang early in the morning to avoid both the traffic and crowd. The thick blanket of snow on the slopes becomes the perfect place for skiing and snow scooter riding. Also, this pass is famous for para-gliding and mountain biking.
Solang Valley (2560 metres)
Solang Valley, lying 14kms away from Manali, is a sheer treat to the eyes with its spectacular views of glaciers, snow-capped peaks and “nullahs” (water streams). In summer, this valley becomes a playground for various activities such as trekking, paragliding, parachuting, zorbing, Jeep safaris and horse riding. In winter each year, Solang Valley turns into a skiing hub as a popular ski resort hosts a skiing festival complete with various skiing lessons and workshops for travelers. Similar to Rohtang Pass, Solang valley is just a day-trip / drive away from Manali, the drive being extremely picturesque.
Read Here : 12 Ultimate places to visit in Nainital
Beas Kund Trek
If you love trekking or want to give it a try, then the trek to Beas Kund is a good place to start. The trek follows the Beas river up to its origin and provides beautiful panoramic views of the Pir Panjal range. Sacred to the Hindus and starting point of the 470-kilometre long Beas river, Beas Kund derives its name from “Sage Vyas” (author of Mahabharata). It is believed that Rishi Vyas used to take his daily bath in this lake (kund) and hence the name. Apart from attracting devotees, this place also holds appeal for trekking since it also serves as a base camp for treks to nearby peaks.
Apart from the Beas Kund, the other link to Mahabharata is the Hadimba Temple which is reminiscent of Hadimba – the wife of Bhima, one of the five Pandava brothers. Located 2.5 kilometers away from the hullabaloo of Manali, this temple is a peaceful sanctuary in the Dhoongri forest. Built in 1553 on a single large rock, this 24-metre tall temple follows the Pagoda-style architecture. The roof of the temple has a brass cone on the top followed by three tiers of Pagodas, all housing a Brass image of Hadimba Devi and an intricately carved wooden doo
Following the sequence of Hindu Mythology, another location of religious significance is the Manu Temple. Situated on the banks of the Beas river, this ancient temple is dedicated to Sage Manu – who is believed to be the creator of human race. It lies 3 kilometers away from Manali and you can opt for a trek to this temple. Surrounded by lush green forests, this serene place offers some spectacular views of the mountains and the valley. This temple too, follows the pagoda-style architecture and provides a fascinating glimpse into our history with its scriptures and carvings.
Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa
Manali’s spiritual significance is not only limited to the Hindu mythology but it also accommodates the Buddhist culture. This is evident by the number of small and colorful monasteries sprinkled around Manali and the most popular among these is the Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa. This monastery was built in 1960s by Tibetan refugees and even now, after all these years, it welcomes everyone to its peaceful corridors. Following the pagoda-style of architecture, this monastery boasts of images of Buddha and exquisite murals that depict the Buddhist philosophy of non-violence. If you are looking for great souvenirs, then you can find beautiful Tibetan handicrafts here.
Another monastery worth visiting is the Himalayan Nyingmapa Gompa, located near Market square.
Naggar & Naggar Castle
If you are looking to unwind and rejuvenate yourself, then Naggar is the perfect little town in Kullu district. Located on the banks of Beas, this scenic town is just a short drive away from Manali. The top tourist attraction here is the Naggar castle, which is now a Heritage Hotel. Inside this castle, you will find the Nicholas Roerich Art Gallery which houses gorgeous paintings by the Russian artist of the same name. Apart from the castle, this picturesque town also boasts of a hot water spring and fascinating temples (Tripura Sundri Temple, Jagatipatti Temple and Gauri Shankar Temple)
Isolated from the world, Malana is a small village worth visiting for its unusual culture and way of living. Proclaiming to be direct descendants of Alexander, The Great, the residents of Malana claim Greek ancestry and speak in a local language “Kanashi”. Fiercely proud of their heritage, the locals worship a deity – Jamblu Devta and do not appreciate physical contact. Overlooking the Deotiba and Chanderkhaini mountain peaks, this small village has an ethereal beauty to it. But perhaps the most famous thing for which this village is known globally is the “Malana Cream”, which is believed to be the most exotic and most pure strain of hash.
Famous for its natural hot water springs, Manikaran is a small town located along the banks of the River Parvati. In addition to the belief that Manu (Noah of Hindu Mythology) recreated life after the great flood in Manikaran, there also exist temples of the Hindu deities of Vishnu, Rama, Shiva and Krishna. Also, Hindu legends associate the hot water springs in this place with Lord Shiva and Parvati. Another important place of worship is the Manikaran Gurudwara, where, it is believed that, Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji arrived with his disciple. As a result, Manikaran draws huge number of pilgrims – both Hindus and Sikhs.
Chandrakhani Pass (3660 meters) and Parvati Valley
On your way to Malana, you will pass through the Chandrakhani Pass which is one of the most beautiful passes in the Kullu Valley. This pass is famous for its trekking trail and for the immensely drool worthy views of the different mountain ranges that it offers. Most of the treks start from Naggar and continue up to Malana. The Chandrakhani Pass and the villages of Manikaran, Malana, Kasol, Tosh are all nestled in the Parvati Valley. Home to the confluence of the Parvati and Beas river, Parvati Valley is also known as “Amsterdam of India”, attracting a lot of hippie travelers. However, the quaint little villages here worth exploring.
Completed in 1977, the Pandoh Dam attracts huge crowds because of its picturesque backdrop and the wonderful views of the river and the fauna around. This dam is built on the Beas river for generating hydroelectric power, however, as a result of this dam a beautiful lake – Pandoh Lake is formed. The lush green surroundings combined with the deep blue waters of this lake make it an ideal setting for day-trips. A lot of water-based activities are available here from October to May each year, White Water rafting being the most popular among them
Bhrigu Lake (4240 meters)
While at Vashist, trekkers might be tempted to undertake the trek to Bhrigu Lake which is located to the south-east of Rohtang. Known as “Pool of the Gods”, this lake is surrounded by majestic mountains on all the sides and all covered in snow. While this lake never freezes over completely in winter, during summer, the clear blue water is a sight to behold. This lake too, holds religious significance for Hindus, thus attracting, a lot of pilgrims. The trek to Bhrigu takes two days from Manali making it an ideal weekend trekking destination. However, understand the difficulty level of the trek before embarking on it.
The Bhrigu Lake feeds the natural cold-water spring of Nehru Kund – which is located around 5 kilometers away from Manali on the Manali-Leh highway. Since this highway is open only from the months of May to October, it is best to visit Nehru Kund during these months. This kund is named after the first prime minister of India – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It is believed that whenever Pandit Nehru would stay in Manali, he would drink water from this kund. This place provides the perfect setting for great photographs and hence attracts photographers and nature lovers alike.
The Great Himalayan National Park
The Great Himalayan National Park (GNHP) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts a variety of flora and more than 375 species of fauna. Spread over almost 1171 sq. kilometers and an altitude of between 1500 and 6000 meters, this huge biodiverse park is a must visit for everyone. While there are numerous trails for trek, you can also camp inside the park. In addition to the wide variety of Flora and fauna, the park offers amazing views of the nearby mountain ranges. The best time to visit the park is from April to June and then from September to October.
Vashist Hot Water Springs
If you are in the mood for detox and rejuvenation, then head towards the Vashist Hot Water Springs. These natural springs are located in the village “Vashist” which is around 6 kilometers away from Manali. These hot Sulphur springs possess medicinal values and hence are very famous with the visitors. Special and separate bathing arrangements providing Turkish-style showers have been made for men and women. For a minimal entrance fee, you can enjoy the shower for half an hour (30 minutes). Along with these springs, you can also visit a number of ancient stone temples in this village.