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The desirable Himalayan hill station of Manali
Located in the southern reaches of the Himalayas in the state of Himachal Pradesh, the hill station of Manali is one of the most northerly located in India. As a result, temperatures reach the minus figures during winter, but summers there are mild and can provide a comfortable retreat from Indian summer heat. Many visitors come to enjoy trekking and rock climbing, or simply just to relax in the majestic tranquillity of the surrounding mountains. However, the town of Manali also contains an assortment of cultural delights including several impressive temples and a multitude of local eateries and market places.
Finding your bearings in the mountains
Manali lies around 600km north of Delhi and thus is a considerable drive from the Indian capital. Bus is the most common option for visitors wishing to arrive by public transport, there are regular connections to multiple nearby cities, including Dharamshala, Palampur and Kullu, as well as to Delhi itself. Kullu is the home of the closest airport to Manali and there are daily domestic flights to a range of Indian destinations, with onward bus connections to Manali. Train is a less convenient option as the nearest stations are over 200km away and thus still require a long onward bus journey. Of course, many domestic tourists choose to drive to Manali and there are many scenic spots to enjoy along the winding mountain pass that links Manali to the outside world. Most arrivals will first come through the southern edge of the town and there are dozens of Manali hotels located here, offering the most convenient position to the access road. From here the urban area stretches north running alongside the Beas River, cumulating at the northern point of the town where the bulk of commercial activity is located.
A busy town centre with peaceful surroundings
The town centre of Manali is also where the bus depot is located and thus most visitors arrive directly into the heart of the town. From here there a variety of accommodation options within walking distance including many of the smaller, family-run hotels at Manali. As with most Indian towns, central Manali is a frantic affair, full of small and crowded streets that are alive with scooters, pedestrians and of course cows. Away from the centre and into hillsides, the atmosphere becomes much more relaxed and it is here that some of the area’s finest temples are located. Hadimba Temple Road leads to its namesake ancient cave temple dating back to the sixteenth century. Situated in the Himalayan foothills, it is surrounded by cedar forest and offers a threefold appeal of scenic, spiritual and architectural wonder. In addition, the nearby Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art offers an overview of the state’s historic and artistic dimensions.There are an array of hotels in Manali found in this quieter area, offering a more peaceful stay with stunning views of the valley, yet just a short drive into Manali town centre.
Natural springs and majestic waterfalls
One of Manali’s most well-known attractions is its natural sulphur springs located at various points in the surrounding countryside. Vashist Hot Water Springs are the closest to the town centre, just three kilometres north of Manali in the village of Vashist. Regular local buses provide easy access to the spring complex which houses modern bathhouses and Turkish style showers, with separated women areas. There are also a variety of temples around Vashist village, plus a short two-kilometre trek to Jogini Falls starts from this district of the valley. Kalath Hot Water Springs lie a little further south from Manali, again alongside the Beas River. There are public and private bathing areas available here, allowing visitors to purchase a little more privacy than at Vashist. The other major waterfalls in close proximity to Manali are the Rahala Falls and Rozy Falls, located sixteen kilometres north at the start of the Rohtang Pass. Indeed, Rohtang Pass is one of the real highlights of the entire state of Himachal, almost four thousand metres above sea level, the picturesque pass is the highest point on the road to Keylong.
Exploring the encircling nature and nearby villages
For many visitors, the town of Manali is predominantly a base to adventure further into the mountains and valleys below. Trekking is the most common activity and there are a host of paths and summits to be undertaken, but there are also multiple other outdoor activities on offer in the region. Guests head out on tours of paragliding, rock climbing, river rafting, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, amongst others. There are a multitude of Manali based tour operators in these fields, offering trips that will additionally provide transport to and from any hotel in Manali. Along the valley there are also several other smaller villages which demonstrate everyday life for locals in the mountains, as well as presenting an opportunity to witness other smaller temples, marketplaces and a mix of local cuisine. Such villages include Naggar, Thava, Zana and Kothi, many of these also contain a great deal of Tibet influence.