Manali shares the same story as the Noah's Ark. It is said that Vaivastava cared for a small fish which grew so big that it had to be ultimately be released into the sea. Before departing, the fish warned the seventh Manu of a deluge when the entire world would be submerged and bade him to build a sea worthy ark. When the floods came the Vaivastava and the seven sages were saved. As the waters subsided , Manu's ark rested on a hillside and the place was named Manali. Thus, Manali grew into a place of breathtaking beauty, a place where according to legend, life began again.
Manali is quite different from Shimla. Manali is essentially a tourist spot having a tourist popluation greater than the local population during most time of the year. I was charmed by the Tibetian people who have settled in Manali and the nearby areas after China conquered Tibet. The abode of his Highness Dalai Lama, Dharmasala is also accessable from Manali. The Solang Valley and the Gulaba Valley are totally awesome. The Gulaba Valley is full of beautiful wild yellow flowers which run down towards the base of the mountain. Solang Valley has good ski slopes and also the closest glacier to Manali. Manali is an adventuresome tourists' paradise. Para gliding, skiing, rock climbing etc. are few activities organised by the Manali based Mountaineering Institute. It was a beautiful experience to see clouds descend completely on the valley during evening and cover up the surrounding mountains and snow covered peaks. A wonderful place but hard to bargain prices while shopping.
Losar - Tibetan New Year McLeod Ganj, Rewalsar Lake - Feb/Mar - Teachings by the Dalai Lama & Buddhist pilgrimages
Sui Mata Chamba - Mar/Apr - Hindu procession & dancing
Opera Festival McLeod Ganj - Apr - Music, folk dancing & theatre
Dhungri festival Dhungri Temple, Manali - May - Hindu sacrifices
Mashobra Fair Mashobra - May - Village Fair
TIPA Anniversary McLeod Ganj, Baijnath - 27th May - 3 day anniversary celebration
Manimahesh Yatra Brahmaur - Jul/Aug - Hindu fair & pilgrimage
Renuka Renuka Lake - Nov - Hindu procession, bathing & dancing
Lavi Fair Rampur - Nov - Horse and local produce trade fair
Places to see in Manali
4kms. from Manali towards Naggar, the cave is situated near Prini village 1km. above the road where Arjun had meditated. This is good 1/2 a day excursion with charming view of the brilliant mountains.
6 Kms. from Manali located on the left bank on Beas on the road to Naggar. The place is famous for very old temples of Lord Shiva and Sandhya Gayatri in Shikhara style, these are worth a visit.
Rahala water falls
16 kms. on way to Rohtang pass. If one goes to Marhi on foot from Kothi from the old road, the sight of the falls is fascinating. It is a good picnic spot as well.
Rohtang pass (3979 m) is 51kms. from Manali on highway to Keylong/Leh. It offers a panorama and spectacular mountain view. The pass is open from June to October each year although trekkers can cross it earlier. It is a gateway to Lahaul Spiti, Pangi and Leh valley just as Zojila pass is a gatway to Ladakh. There are a beautiful sight of glaciers, peaks and Chandra river flows down in the Lahaul valley. Slightly to the left are the twin peaks of the Geypan. During summer(mid June to October) regular buses ply between Manali-Keylong/Darcha, Udaipur, Spiti and Leh.
Situated on the road to Rohtang pass, a picturesque spot, Kothi is 12kms. from Manali. A PWD rest house is situated on a ridge overlooking a narrow valley with a very good view of mountains and valleys. Large number of films (movies) have been picturised at this place and is the ideal resting resorts of poets, writers and the lovers of peaceful environs.
5 kms. on National Highway to Leh,a natural spring of cold clear water named after Pt. Jwahar Lal Nehru, who used to drink water from this spring during his stay in Manali. This spring is believed to originate from the Bhrigu lake situated high-up in the mountains.
13 kms. is a splendid valley between Solang village and Beas Kund. 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. Located here is a hut and guest house of the Mountaineering and Allied sports Institute, Manali. Now a few hotels have also come up. The winter skiing festival is organised here. Training in skiing is imparted at this place.
Vashist hot water springs and temples
Vashist, a small village located on the left bank of river Beas towards Rohtang pass is worth a visit. It is renowned for its hot springs and temples. Nearby is the pyramidal stone temple dedicated to Vashist Muni. There is another Temple of Lord Ram here. Natural hot sulphur springs with two separate bathing tanks for gents and ladies are always full of tourists. Turkish style showers fitted baths have also been built nearby. Hot water from the nearby spring is provided for bathing.
Mountaineering Institute, Manali
Located 3 km on the left bank of river Beas towards Kullu, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports Manali, organises basic & advance training courses, in trekking, mountaineering, skiing and water sports. Skiing and trekking equipments can be hired from here by booking in advance. Tourists can visit an interesting showroom here.
There are 3 newly constructed colorful monasteries, where visitors can buy carpets and other Tibetan handicrafts. Two are located in the town and one at Aleo on the left bank of Beas river.
2 kms. from the town, club house has indoor games facilities which has been located on the left bank of Manalsu Nallah. There are some picnic spots near it.
3 kms. from the main bazar in old Manali lies the temple of MANU RISHI. It is believed that this is the only temple of Manu in India, who was the creator of human race on the earth.
Manali has many attractions but the chief centre of interest, historically and archeologically, is undoubtedly the DHOONGRI TEMPLE dedicated to goddess Hidimba, the Bhim of Mahabharat fame. It has four-tiered Pagoda shaped roof and the doorway is carved with legendary figures and symbols. This temple located amidst wooden forest of deodar is about 2.5 kms. from the tourist office. It is a pleasant experience to stroll in the temple complex which was built in 1533 A.D. A large festival is held here in May.
Great Himalayan National Park
The National Park with an area of 754 sq. km. is located in Kullu District and has the representative area of temperate and alpine forests of Himachal. It has some the virgin coniferous forests of the State. Vast areas of alpine pastures and glaciers cap this park. This area has many important wildlife species of Western Himalayas, like Musk deer, Brown bear, Goral, Thar, Leopard, Snow leopard, Bharal, Serow, Monal, Kalij, Koklas, Cheer, Tragopan, Snow cock etc. Trekking of Rakti-Sar, origin of Sainj river and camping in alpine pastures is unforgettable. Similar is the trekking route to Tirath the origin of Tirthan river. Visitors can contact Director, Great Himalayan National Park at Shamshi or Range Officer wildlife at Sainj or Range Officer Wild Life at Sai Ropa (Banjar) for assistance and guidance. Camping equipment and guides are provided by the Forests Department.
This sanctuary starts about 2 km from Manali town. ItLeopard forms the catchment of Manalsu khad. A bridle path from Manali log huts/ Dhungri temple passes through dense Deodar, Kail, Horse chestnut, Walnut and Maple forests. Night stay in tents at Lambadug or Gallant thatch is an unforgettable experience. Alpine lush green pastures and glaciers beyond Galant thatch are a romantic attraction for the enthusiastic but enduring visitors. One may see Musk deer, Monal and Brown bear digging or ploughing the land and also pug marks with scent of Leopard or Snow leopard. Those who venture up to snows can see herds of Ibex in the glacier zone in summers.