Manali

High up about 6,500 feet in the hills, Manali charms visitors with its great views of the snowcapped Himalayan peaks. The place is breathtaking in its beauty and adds to this the lure of the fresh mountain air! For so many years, families have visited Manali and enjoyed their summer breaks.

Even as that hasn't stopped, a new breed of travelers has started to flock Manali. It's the younger crowd that's suddenly realized the potential of Manali and its surroundings as adventure destinations. Today there are several operators who'd lead you to an adventures experience in the Hills. The best part about this small town is its easy accessibility by road from all parts of the North India, including Leh in Ladakh. The routes to Lahaul-Spiti, Baspa, Sangala and Pin Valley are through Manali. In summer (May, June), this town is full to the brim, so make your booking early. The same is the case during Christmas and New Year.

Manali (alt. 1,950 m or 6,398 ft) in the Beas River valley is an important hill station in the Himalayan Mountains of Himachal Pradesh, India, near the northern end of the Kullu Valley. It is administratively a part of the Kullu District. The population is approx.

30,000. The small town was the beginning of an ancient trade route to Ladakh and, from there, over the Karakoram Pass on to Yarkland and Khotan in the Tarim Basin. Manali and its surrounding areas are of great significance to the Indian culture and heritage as it was the home and abode of the Saptarshi or seven sages. The ancient cave temple, Hidimba Devi Temple, is not far from town. In ancient times, the valley was sparsely populated by nomadic hunters known as "rakshas".

The next arrivals were the shepherds who arrived from the Kangra valley and settled to take up agriculture. Some of the earliest inhabitants of the region are the 'naur' or 'nar' which is a caste unique to the Kullu valley. Only a few naur families are known to exist now. A naur family in the village Soyal near Haripur on the west bank of Manali was famous for the vast land they owned and their practice of having 'rakshas' as their labourers.

The British were responsible for introducing apples and trout which were not native to Manali. It is said that when apple trees were first planted the fruits were so plentiful that often branches, unable to bear the weight would collapse. To this day apple along with plum and pear remains the best source of income for the majority of its inhabitants. Tourism in Manali received a real boost after the rise of militancy in Kashmir in the late 1980s. This once quiet village was transformed into a bustling town with hundreds of hotels and restaurants.

Places to see in Manali

Kothi
12 km. A quiet but picturesque spot. The Rest House overlooks the narrow valley and commands views of the mountains. Below Kothi, for more than a kilometre the river Beas flows through a deep gorge, almost a subterranean passage, 30 metres or more in depth, and the cliffs which flank both sides of the canyon are a favourite haunt for rock pigeons. The site of the bridge provides an interesting historical episode in the early annals of Kullu.

Solang Valley
13 km. A splendid valley between Manali and Kothi which offers views of the glaciers and snow-capped mountain peaks. The plateau is frequently used for holding camps by the trekking parties. Good skiing slopes of the Mountaineering Institute. Venue of annual winter carnival from February 10-14. Bus service upto Palchan village (10 km) and then by jeep or on foot.

Rahla Falls
2 km from Kothi. Here the river Beas hurtles down from a height of about 50 metres. Charming spot for picnics.

Manali Sanctuary
A bridle path from the Manali log huts goes past the Dhoongri Temple and wanders into the dense deodar, kail, horse chestnut, walnut and maple forest which is a part of this sanctuary. Camping overnight in tents at Lambadug or Galiani Thatch is possible.

Lush green alpine pastures and glaciers lie beyond Galiani Thatch. Musk deer, monal and brown bear are often spotted. For those who venture still further into the glacier zone in summer, there are herds of ibex.

Around Manali

Rohtang Pass
51 km. At an altitude of 4,112 metres on the highway to Keylong, the pass affords a wide-spread panorama of mountain scenery. In place of the pinnacled hills, sheltered valleys and cultivated tracts, the eye meets a range of precipitous cliffs, huge glaciers and piled Moraine, and deep ravines. Almost directly opposite is the well defined Sonepani glacier, slightly to the left are the twin peaks of the Geypang, jagged pyramids of rock, snow streaked and snow crowned.

The Beas river rises near the crest of Rohtang from a block of Mica-Schist. The pass normally opens for traffic after mid-June and officially closes in November. To its left, 200 metres higher, is the little lake of Sarkund (Dashair) visited by a number of people, the general belief being that a bath in these waters effects a cure of all bodily ailments-real or imaginary. 10 km before Rohtang is the barren-landscape of Marhi which hums with activity during summer and autumn months because almost everyone stops here for refreshments.

Keylong
117 km. A fair sized village amidst green fields of barley and buckwheat, Keylong is the headquarters of the Lahaul and Spiti district, surrounded with brown hills and snowy heights. Karding Monastery overlooks Keylong and is 3.5 km across the Chandra river while Shashur Monastery is about 1 km. HPTDC Tourist Bungalow.

Triloknath and Udeypur
These are two important places of pilgrimage in Pattan Valley. At Triloknath is a six armed image in white marble of Avalokiteshvara, Bodhisattava. Visitors will enjoy crossing the Chandra-Bhaga river and the trek of 3 km to reach the destination. The temple of Marikula at Udeypur is highly remarkable for its wood carvings. Udeypur is 166 km from Manali.
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