Manali has always been a favorite among the Indian traveler. Along with Dharamshala and Shimla, Manali forms a triumvirate of the 3 most frequented vacation destinations in Himachal Pradesh.
What makes Manali so special among travelers across the board is that there’s something appealing for everyone. For the backpacker and the adventurers, the quaint cafes of Old Manali, pocket sized guesthouses and the hot water springs of Vashisht. Manali is also a gateway to some amazing treks and is a welcome pit stop on the arduous journey to Leh.
For the quintessential Indian traveler groups, family, friends and couples, Greater Manali presents an idyllic setting to vacation in. For the spiritual traveler, Manali boasts of more than a few yoga retreats and is also home to some truly beautiful Buddhist monasteries and temples.
If you’re planning a trip to this picturesque hill station, which we highly recommend, make sure that you read this Manali travel guide so that you know the best way to enjoy your holiday here!
History And Culture Of Manali
Manali gets its name from a Hindu sage Manu, and the name Manali is derived from ‘Manu-aalaya’, which literally translates into the home of Manu. The town, like the rest of Kullu district, is also closely linked with Lord Ram.
Legend has it Raja Jagat Singh, the erstwhile ruler of Manali, was cursed with leprosy. He was advised to bring an idol of Lord Raghunathji from Ayodhya. Once he did it, he was miraculously cured of his disease. A grateful Raja Jagat Singh installed the idol on the throne, essentially making Lord Raghunathji the ruler of Manali, and his successors followed suit.
A local temple that is frequented is the Hidimbi temple. Hidimbi was the wife of Bhima. Though she is believed to be of the Rakshasa (demon) clan, she is worshipped as a deity and huge crowds throng to the temple during Dussehra and Navratri to worship and pay their offering.
Manali also has a strong Buddhist influence and is home to a few monasteries. The Himalayan Nyinmapa Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in the new town of Manali is one of the most frequently visited due to its proximity to the markets of Manali. Tibetan and European influencers can also be found in the cafes and the German bakeries that can be spotted across all of Old Manali.
How To Get To Manali
By Air – The closest airport to Manali is the Kullu-Manali airport in Bhuntar, Kullu district which is a little under two hours away from Manali. The flight connectivity between Bhuntar and Chandigarh, Delhi and Shimla is extremely erratic and expensive. Flying into Chandigarh or Delhi is the safer option. Manali is about 16 hours away from Delhi and about 10 hours from Chandigarh
By Rail – Manali, like the rest of Himachal, is not well connected by trains. The best bet again is to take a train until Delhi or Chandigarh and then take a bus or hire a taxi to make the rest of the journey.
By Road – This is the primary mode of reaching Manali. Road connectivity from both Delhi and Chandigarh is great. While the distances are long and the roads full of hairpin turns, the quality of roads is really good and the journeys are smoother and not as taxing. And don’t get us started on the views on the way there!
Best Time To Travel To Manali
What makes Manali so special among travelers is the fact that it is accessible throughout the year. While most of the country prepares itself for the insufferable Indian summer, the weather gods shine upon Manali, making it a perfect time to visit this mountain town, to prepare for a hike, a yoga retreat or just to catch a break. Manali does not judge and welcomes all.
A word of caution, however: Manali can get overcrowded during Christmas and New Year’s Eve coupled with extremely cold weather and overpriced accommodation. A late December trip to Manali is best avoided.
Getting Around Manali
Manali is a really small town. So we recommend that you explore the hill station on foot, at your own leisure. However, there are taxis and bus services to go check out places on the outskirts. Within Manali, walking and auto rickshaws remain your best bet at transit.
Breaking Stereotypes About Manali
Manali is extremely touristic – Well it is true that New Manali and the Mall Road area is touristic and crowded and not very retreat in the mountain like. Old Manali however retains some of the old world charm and is more peaceful since it is relatively untouched. If Manali is on your list, spend as much time in Old Manali as possible.
Go Check Out
Hidimba Devi Temple – Built in the 16th century, Hidimba Devi Temple is a cave temple dedicated to the deity Hidimbi, the wife of Bhima from the Mahabharata. The temple is surrounded by a beautiful cedar forest and the temple holds a special place among the locals of Manali. Try visiting the temple, especially during Navratri or the Hidimba Devi fair that takes place in May.
Hampta Pass – An avid trekker’s favorite, the Hampta Pass crossover trek has so much to offer. For the uninitiated, the trek is moderately easy and can be covered over 5 days. The changes in the scenery that take place with every day of this trek, from forests to fjords to beautiful meadows make Hampta Pass a truly riveting experience.
Jogini Falls – The sparkling waters of the Jogini Falls is a sight to be seen when visiting Manali, preferably with your partner. The waterfall is located in the historical village of Vashisht, which is said to be founded by Guru Vashisht, Lord Rama’s teacher himself. A simple hour-long hike would take you through apple orchards and forests before you reach the base of the Jogini Falls – you’ll hear the waters beckoning to you before you see it, and the sight is one to behold!
How Many Days Are Enough To Visit Manali?
Manali has a lot to offer, so to get the full experience, consider a week-long trip. Dedicate one day each for exploring the city, a visit to Rohtang/Solang Pass, the Vashisht and Hidimba Temples and the hot water springs, and adventure activities including river rafting and ziplining across the Beas. You won’t know how fast time flies!
Which Month Is Best For Manali?
Manali is accessible and beautiful throughout the year. But the months between October to February is when the true beauty of Manali is unveiled.
Is Kullu And Manali Same?
While they’re used synonymously, Kullu and Manali are both separate towns and are about 40km apart. However, Manali is located in the Kullu Valley, which might be the reason for the confusion.
Is Shimla Better Or Manali?
Shimla can be a bit more crowded and the effects of commercialization is quite evident, while Manali is the quieter of the two. Shimla has beautiful colonial buildings and the major attractions are close to the city itself, and Manali offers you mesmerizing views of the lush landscape.
Is Ola Available In Manali?
Taxi services like Ola and Uber are not available in Manali. You can book local cabs though, and for sightseeing, Rajputana Cabs can be hired.
What Should We Do In Manali For 3 Days?
When in Manali for 3 days, make sure that you explore the town and go shopping (1 day), visit the Rohtang/Solang Pass (1 day), and for the adventurous souls, river rafting and ziplining over the Beas is a must-do (1 day)! We recommend that you stay here longer to experience all that Manali has to offer.
What Is The Best Location To Stay In Manali?
Being a popular hill station, Manali has no lack of amazing places to stay depending on your preferences and budget. Consider the Mastiff Grand Manali if you’d love to be serenaded by the Beas or lose yourself in nature at the Baikunth. Why not consider checking out Unstumbled’s curated list of hotels in Manali?
Is 2 Days Enough For Manali?
Considering all that Manali has to offer, we believe that you must stay here for a week to experience everything to the fullest.
Which Place Is Better Goa Or Manali?
Asking whether Goa or Manali is better is like comparing apples to oranges. Goa is the ‘it’ place when it comes to the sun, sandy beaches, and a vibrant nightlife while Manali is where you can relax in the cool mountain air and tap into your adventurous side with river rafting, trekking and paragliding!
What Is Off Season In Manali?
July to September is the off season in Manali, when the hill station experiences rainfall. But this also means less crowds, and you’ll also get great discounts!