What To Keep In Mind When Traveling To Manali During Covid
When one thinks of hill stations in North India, Manali is sure to be one of them. And why wouldn’t it? With a pleasant climate, the alpine meadows and forests, and the many leisure and thrilling activities this town offers, Manali has it all.
But like everywhere else, Manali also faced the brunt of the Covid lockdown. Things are slowly opening up now, but is traveling to Manali during Covid a good idea? We won’t deny that traveling during Covid is risky, but there are ways to go about it and rules to be followed so that it’s as safe as possible. Here are the ways you can reach Manali.
How To Travel To Manali During Covid
Manali is a destination that’s fairly easy to reach, but the Covid pandemic has changed almost every aspect of travel. As of June 3, Himachal Pradesh has extended its Covid curbs up until June 7. A partial lockdown has been imposed, and travelers to the state need to have an approved ePass and a negative RT-PCR test.
Getting To Manali By Air
At around 50 kilometers from the town, the Kullu Manali Airport is the nearest to Manali. Of course, there are Covid rules before you can enter Himachal Pradesh:
International passengers will have to submit a Covid self-declaration form at least 72 hours prior to departure. The institutional quarantine may be avoided by submitting a negative RT-PCR test result (taken within 96 hours before departure). However, home quarantine of 14 days cannot be avoided.
Domestic passengers aren’t required to submit a self-declaration form, but no entrance will be granted without the ePass. They’ll be in institutional quarantine for 14 days if they’re arriving from a Red Zone outside Himachal Pradesh or if they show Covid symptoms. If those arriving from the Red Zones have a Covid negative test report that was taken 48 hours before departure, they can avoid institutional quarantine, but will be home quarantined for 14 days.
Whether international or domestic, both will be thermally screened upon arrival. They must have the Aarogya Setu app installed on their phones.
Getting To Manali By Train
Joginder Nagar Railway Station is the closest railway station to Manali, about 47 kilometers away. This railway station is connected to some important cities. However, owing to Covid safety, most trains won’t have a pantry car, so you’ll have to bring your own food. From Joginder Nagar, you’ll get enough cabs and buses to Manali.
Getting To Manali By Road
Reaching Manali by road shouldn’t be a big hassle. The interstate and intrastate buses are running at 50% occupancy which will ensure social distancing. Even so, traveling in your personal vehicle or a cab would be much safer as you won’t be in contact with too many people.
If you’ve been planning to visit the Spiti Valley, please note that you need a valid negative RT-PCR test.
Places To Visit In Manali
The sparkling waters of the Jogini Falls are a sight to be seen when visiting Manali, preferably with your partner. The waterfall is located in the historical village of Vashisht, said to be founded by Lord Rama’s teacher Guru Vashisht himself.
Starting from the ancient Vashisht Temple (about 4,000 years old!), which is known for its hot water springs, you can set out on a hike towards the Jogini Falls. It’s a relatively easy hike, and you’ll take about an hour to reach the base of the waterfall. But it’ll also take you through the apple orchards and pristine forests that will definitely leave you mesmerized. The more adventurous traveler can also take the longer trail by the Beas River to reach Jogini Falls.
Along the way, you’ll hear the waterfall before seeing it – cascading down a cliff from over 150 feet. You can even hike to the top of the waterfall should you want to, or take a dip in the pool that is formed at the base of the Jogini Falls.
Jagatsukh is located about 12 kilometers away from Manali. It may be a small village now, but back in the day, it was the capital of the Kullu region. The temples and architecture seen in Jagatsukh serve as a testament to the past glory of the village.
Particularly noteworthy in Jagatsukh is the temple of Lord Shiva which was built in a typical Shikhara-style architecture in the 8th century. Also, you cannot miss the Sandhya Gayatri temple, the stones, sculptures, and unusual architecture of which continue to mystify archaeologists.
If you’re a traveler who’s looking for a place to relax in the mountains, Jagatsukh is perfect. You can stroll along the apple orchards of Jagatsukh while taking in mesmerizing views of the Himalayas. On the other hand, the hardcore adventurer should make their way to Jagatsukh as well. This village is from where the trek to the base of the Deo Tibba mountain begins. It’s a trek that’s for amateurs but is also explored by veterans to experience the beauty of the Himalayas.
About 16 kilometers away from Manali is the village of Soyal, a place with a blend of Himachali and Tibetan culture. It is also relatively off the tourist radar, so you can experience peace and tranquility while at Soyal.
Typical of the landscape in and around Manali, Soyal is surrounded by dense forests of pine and deodar. Reaching the village also means a short hike, which means that you get to enjoy nature to its fullest on your way. The village is very small, with a tiny population living in a vast land of greenery, which of course, turns to pristine white during the winter.
Soyal isn’t a location for adventure tourism. It’s a perfect place to relax and unwind. You can visit an ancient temple of Goddess Parvati, who is the daughter of the Himalayas. You can also go trout fishing in the stream that flows through Soyal. However, you’ll need to get permission from the authorities before that. If you get hold of a fish, you can even get it made for yourself from one of the many restaurants around Soyal.
Things To Remember
After months of being at home due to the lockdown, traveling to Manali during Covid might help you escape the monotony of life. However, you cannot take the pandemic lightly, so here are things that’ll help you travel safely:
Masks and social distancing – these are Covid Safety 101. You shouldn’t be going out without a mask and always keep your distance from others. Also, sanitize your hands regularly with a sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.
Travel with a small group of people. If you can, go in your own vehicle to reduce the risk of infection.
Avoid interacting with strangers. If you must, do so by following social distancing norms.
Opt for cashless transactions wherever possible.
Look for accommodations that are Covid-ready and are compliant with the SOPs issued by the government.
Depending on the cases, the Covid rules may be relaxed or made more stringent. So you’ll need to keep yourself updated with the latest Covid rules of Himachal Pradesh and your home state.
Those below 10 and above 65 years of age, and those with underlying medical conditions should avoid traveling during Covid.
If you develop symptoms during or after the trip, get medical help immediately and inform your accommodation staff and travel buddies, so that everyone can take precautionary measures.
Have a responsible and fun holiday by prioritizing safety over everything else.
Is It Safe To Travel During The Covid-19 Pandemic?
Ideally, travel should be avoided during the Covid-19 pandemic unless absolutely necessary or unavoidable. Traveling puts you and all the people you come in contact with at the risk of contracting the virus, especially since it spreads easily. Nonetheless, if you’re traveling, ensure you follow Covid safety norms and report any illness or symptoms to the authorities.
Is Himachal Pradesh Open For Tourism?
Yes, Himachal Pradesh is open for tourism, but no tourists can enter the state without an approved ePass and a valid Covid-19 negative RT-PCR test. Plus, Spiti Valley requires you to have a valid negative test, which means unless you enter Spiti Valley on the first or second day of your trip, you’ll have to take another test in Himachal Pradesh itself.
Is It Safe To Visit Manali?
Yes, Manali is a fairly safe destination to visit. In terms of natural disasters, it isn’t known for any tragic incidents. However, heavy rains or snowfall should always elicit caution and safety. In terms of the coronavirus, Himachal has tightened their restrictions, so it could be better to wait it out and plan a trip once restrictions ease and numbers drop across the country.
Which Is The Best Time To Visit Manali?
Generally, Manali enjoys pleasant temperatures year round. However, Manali is best experienced during the summer months of March to June. Spring is in the air, the flowers and trees are in full bloom and the cool weather makes sightseeing an enjoyable experience.
How Many Days Are Enough To Visit Manali?
Three to four days is sufficient time to explore Manali. This gives you enough time to see all the sights it has to offer without rushing or tiring yourself out. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from staying for longer and truly discovering the hill station inside out.
Is Ola Available In Manali?
Yes, Ola cabs are available in Manali, as are Uber services. However, several of Manali’s roads are narrow and winding, which is why it doesn’t make much sense to navigate the city by car. You can make use of these services when going sightseeing to places that are at a distance from the city.
Is There A Covid Lockdown In Manali?
No, Manali and Himachal Pradesh haven’t officially closed their borders to tourism. However, the strict Covid SOPs and the danger of the virus have kept tourists away. Heading to Himachal for tourism means getting an approved ePass (by a deputy commissioner) and also having a valid negative RT-PCR test.
Is It Safe To Travel To Manali By Car?
Yes, traveling to Manali by car is quite safe. The increase in tourism over the years has led to the development of the highways and roads that wind their way to hill stations like Manali. Plus, you’ll also have other cars and buses on the road with you. The important thing to remember is to drive slowly and carefully when you reach the ghats and the hairpin turns.
Can Travel Lead To The Spread Of Covid-19?
Yes, traveling can lead to the spread of Covid-19. This is why it’s important to only travel when urgent, and to travel as safely as possible, leaving leisure travel to days when the numbers drop. Always ensure you have a well-fitting mask on, and preferably double-mask yourself. Constantly sanitize your hands and avoid touching your face and eyes at all costs.
How Soon Should I Get A Covid-19 Test Before Travelling?
This would depend on the validity of your test according to the destination you plan on going to. Several countries and destinations require a valid Covid-negative test i.e. taken within 4 days or 96 hours before arrival. Ideally take it 3 to 4 days before you will reach, since taking it any earlier will render the result invalid.
A Guide To Traveling To Manali During CovidTraveling To Manali During The Coronavirus Pandemic