April 07, 2020
Go for the locales, stay for the tranquillity – this should be the tagline for Manali. It is a gorgeous little spot located near the banks of the Beas River, in the Himalayan mountain range. It is a preferred location for backpacking, mountain climbing and trekking. If you are planning a family vacation to a charming location this year, we suggest you go to Manali.
Surprisingly, past visitors to Manali and even the local residents will tell you that the best time for a Manali holiday is during the winter months of October to February. But this applies to you only if you enjoy the cold weather and don’t mind the chilling temperatures – expect near zero degree temperatures during the months of December and January, when the region receives some snowfall as well. However, the popular tourist time for families is the summer season, between the months of March and June. We recommend this season if you are visiting with your family, so that you can enjoy sightseeing and a lot of adventure sports together. The monsoon season is best avoided because landslides and road cave-ins are common during the heavy rainfall periods.
There are three ways to reach Manali, viz:
* By Air: The nearest airport is located at Bhuntar, which is about 50 km away from Manali and 10 km from Kullu. There are regular services from cities like Shimla, Chandigarh, Leh and Delhi. You can get connecting flights to Bhuntar via these cities, from your hometown. Expect flight delays and cancellations during the monsoon season.
* By Road: Most people arriving at Manali by road do so via Chandigarh or Delhi. Do note that the distance between Manali and Delhi is about 522 km, so it’s a long but scenic drive. If you wish to drive down to Manali, you can access it via Dalhousie, Shimla, Chandigarh and Ambala as well. Or you can take a Himachal Pradesh State Transport bus; there are daily services to Kullu and Manali regularly.
* By Railway: Manali does not have its own railway station. The terrain is hilly and not easy to lay a train line on. However, the nearest rail head is at Kullu, about 40 km away. There is another railway station at Shimla as well. You can take a train from Delhi or Chandigarh and arrive at either of these railway stations. From there, you can hire a cab or have your Manali resort send you transport.
Now that you have an idea of when to visit Manali and how to get there, let’s get you started on the best places to visit in Manali this year:
Now that you are holidaying in Manali and have an idea of which spots to see, you should start with its oldest and most interesting quarters: Old Manali. It is one of the most important places to visit in Manali, because it has its earliest settlements and villages. With houses built in traditional style, there are only about a few hundred residents living there today. Modernity in the rest of the world has left this corner largely untouched, though tourists are welcomed by the presence of a few cafes and little shops selling souvenirs and trinkets. You can eat some authentic Chinese, Tibetan and North Indian food in the little eateries here.
Most people coming to Manali make a beeline for Rohtang Pass, that snowy and most place to visit in Manali. It is one of the few places in India to get dense snowfall, so many snow adventure and games activities are possible here in winter. The snowfall starts in winter and continues – but thins out – up to summer. The winter is quite severe here, so bundle up in warm clothing and hire skiing and sledding equipment from reputed tour operators only. Once you are done frolicking in the snow, you can go to the top of the Pass to visit the Beas Kund, considered a holy site for Hindus.
Kullu is so synonymous with Manali, that most visitors say they are going on a Kullu-Manali holiday! Kullu is about 40 km from Manali, and one of the most charming and picturesque hill stations in the area. Geographically smaller than Manali, it is really pretty and welcoming of tourists. Check out updated Manali tourism guidebooks to know what to see there. Kullu is famous for kulhad chai, excellent shopping, street stall eateries, town squares, old temples and shrines, and some adventure activities, too.
Like Kullu, there are other places of interest outside Manali such as Solang Valley. It is the best place to visit in the summer season, when the entire valley is in full bloom and full of different flowers and leaves. The Valley carries a lovely scent due to the many varieties of flowering trees and plants here, and you can take a ropeway ride over it to see its spectacular beauty from a vantage point. Another advantage of visiting the valley is that you can enjoy snowboarding in the winter and early summer months, and also go paragliding. In the summer, the valley hosts many zorbing, cable car rides and even ATV rides for tourists.
Continuing on with our list of the best places to visit in Manali, let’s visit the fearsome Chandrakhani Pass. It is located between the roaring Parvati River and valley. This is an ancient trekking trail that is not for the faint-hearted: even seasoned trekkers think twice before traversing it. We would suggest taking this trail with an experienced guide and while wearing sturdy boots with a rubber sole grip. If you would rather not trek, especially if there are young children and/or senior citizens with you, then you can just have your Manali resort pack a picnic lunch and pick a good spot to feast your eyes and explore the area. The Pass is capped by snow for at least 8 months in the year, and is hauntingly beautiful.
Another must-visit place in Manali is the small and picturesque town of Manikaran. There’s not much to do here, but the photo opportunities to update your social media feeds are tremendous. Every turn here looks like a painting, and you can capture some stunning photographs here. Located between the famous Beas and Parvati rivers, it is green all year round and does not experience much snowfall even in the height of winter. Do visit the famous Manikaran Sahib gurudwara and partake of some delicious langar after offering prayers.
Those who are spiritually inclined must certainly include the famous Vashist Temple as one of the important places to visit in Manali. The temple houses the famous Vashist Baths – these are said to have medicinal properties that cleanse you of all sin. The water in the baths contains hot sulphur which have exceptional medicinal properties. If you or a family member suffers from skin or hair ailments, you must certainly take a dip in the springs to see if you can get a cure. The Manali Tourism Board has made separate bathing and changing areas for men and women. If you’re not interestedin the baths, then you can walk around the temple precinct, which is entirely made of sandstone.
Another excellent place to visit in Manali, and one of its most famous attractions, is the Jogini Waterfall. It is located about two kilometres outside Manali town, and you can even reach it on foot from the Vashist Temple. Trust us when we say that it is one of the most splendid waterfalls you may have seen anywhere in the world – the waters are snow white and gush down in a noisy froth about 160 feet above you. You can take an easy trail to the top of the Jogini Falls, looking at small streams and narrow alleys on your way. You can even see a part of the Rohtang hills from here.
While in Manali, don’t forget to admire the animal kingdom. One of the best places to visit in Manali for fauna lovers is Manali Sanctuary, which houses some rare birds and animals. In fact, it is the only place in all of Himachal Pradesh where you can see the Himachal Pradesh State bird, the Mona. Apart from several migratory and domestic bird species, there are many other animals like the snow leopard, musk deer, and Indian bears. Keep your camera at the ready, but maintain total silence so that you don’t startle the animals and birds.
The natural beauty of Manali will prod you to explore it further, but if you want a chance to mingle with other tourists and residents, then you must head to Van Vihar, a locally managed park located in the heart of Mall Road. The park has a jogging and walking track, landscaped green areas for walking barefoot or sitting on, and a small artificial pond with boating opportunities. This is a great place to visit if there are young children in the group and they want to play away their nervous energy instead of just sightseeing.
We recommend staying at the plush Club Mahindra resorts at White Meadows or Kandaghat, both located at Manali. With easy access, stunning locations and superb room décor, you will be glad you booked yourself for a stay at Club Mahindra in Manali. It features the most premium restaurants in Manali, apart from thoughtfully designed recreation spaces for adults and children. When not sightseeing, you can explore the property on foot and even step out to the local markets to shop and snack.
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL), a part of Leisure and Hospitality sector of the Mahindra Group, offers quality family holidays primarily through vacation ownership memberships and brings to the industry values such as reliability, trust and customer satisfaction. Started in 1996, the company's flagship brand ‘Club Mahindra’, today has over 250,000 members , who can holiday at 100+ resorts in India and abroad.