Destination Point: Manali
One of the most popular tourist places in Northern India is situated in Kullu District, Himachal Pradesh on the banks of Beas River and at an altitude of 1950 Meters or 6500 Feet (approximately) Manali, Valley of Gods. The term stands for Manu (Manu Rishi) + Aali (Home) and I bet you his home (Manali ;)) is just MAGICAL in nature. Manali is one of the oldest towns of Kullu Valley. The place surrounds with the the aura of ROMANCE everywhere, right from the hustle-bustle of mall road to the very calm, traditional, firang (foreigners) dominated old Manali to the woods/villages around/beyond Manu temple to the walk path around Hadimba temple. It can easily be called one of the ROMANTIC destinations of India. The place is ideal for families as well as young couple looking for some hide and seek with the flavor of romance on top of it. Manali is largely visited by the honeymoon couples (me did so 😉 Read story Snow at Manali and Naggar | Honeymoon Trip ) and in summers people from all walks of life (children to old) run to seek pleasant weather from low hot burning lands of Northern India. The Hadimba goddess runs the Manali town and is the center of worship of the people living at Manali. The almighty goddess also governs the tall mountains along with raw nature and it’s only after her permission that one gets to enjoy this beautiful place to the core. When people think of Manali the second keyword that comes is of course Rohtang Pass which no doubt is a must visit place if you go to Manali.
Climate in Manali is almost nice throughout the year (if you like chill ;)) where you can enjoy chilling cold in winters (December-February) and nice pleasant cool weather in summers. The best time although to visit Manali is April to June when heat is burning the low lands of Northern India. July-August may experience rainfall but this place has again it’s unique beauty when it rains :). Snowfall may also occur in the months of January and February.
Best Time to Visit
April to June is the best time to visit Manali but do keep in mind that in summers (April-June) people from most Northern parts of India invade this place like anything and seeing the Mall road in the evening can cause serious shiver in your Head :D. It’s almost you are in Trade Fair of Pragati Maidan, Delhi 😆 But if you enjoy it, then it’s really awesome time to visit Manali. Also, you can take the shelter in Old Manali in such extreme cases which is far off from the hustle bustle of the (over) crowd. Right from accommodation to food to shopping to taxi / auto fares, everything is costly in this peak season summer holidays.
For honeymoon, of course if you get married in winters then Mid-November to February end is the best time as you get an additional benefit of heavy discount, being off-season topped with less number of tourists or at least you see similar love birds.
If you are looking for adventure sports then, hit for skiing December to February season is the best time and for rafting May to September would do good. All of you who seeks Paragliding in Manali, it’s always dependent on weather on the current day of the year 🙂
Do avoid Durga Puja holidays mainly in October when the rush is at peak again and people flood the Kullu Manali towns like anything :D… It is also the Dusherra Festival time in Kullu Valley with which also valley is under heavy tourist rush.
Also, there is official HPTDC off-season at the time of monsoon and winters (usually mid November-February) when they provide 30% discount on their services
How to reach Manali
Nearest Airport is Bhunter near Kullu about 50 KM away. From Kullu, you can hire a taxi to reach Manali in 90 minutes approximately. The fare of taxi could be Rs 600- Rs 800, depending upon the bargaining skills as well as season time.
Chandigarh is the closest major Railway Station from where it would take anywhere around 9-10 Hours to reach Manali by bus/car.
Manali is about 570 KM from Delhi (approximately) and takes around 12-14 Hours to reach.
Generaly the route followed for Manali from Delhi by road is –
Delhi – Ambala (188 KM) – Chandigarh – Roopnagar (282 KM) – Kiratpur – Bilaspur (371 KM) – Sunder Nagar – Mandi (440 KM) – Pandoh – Aut (481 KM) – Kullu – Manali (570 KM)
HPTDC Volvo Buses also run from Delhi at 6 P.M. everyday from HPTDC Office, Janpath and reaches Manali next morning around 8 AM. The fare is around Rs 990 on side. The similar buses leaves from Manali every evening 5.30 PM and reaching Delhi by 7.00 AM next morning.
Delhi to Manali roads run on NH-21 and NH-1 highways and are pretty much in great shape being a highway. In the entire route there are one or two rough patches so that you never loose your concentration, specially the drive from Kiratpur to Sunder Nagar is horrible with with trucks running madly all over the road on both sides, slowing you down terribly. A slight Chandigarh to Roopnagar stretch is also in bad shape but rest of the road conditions are pure bliss to drive.
For updated road conditions of Delhi to Manali, please refer the DoW Community thread: Delhi – Manali Road Conditions
Best way is to take your car/bike and hit the road as there is no such specialty required in the vehicle be it 2X2 or 4X4. You can take it as long as its engine runs and fuel exists 😉
Bus Service from Delhi – Manali
As per HRTC FB Page, HRTC & HPTDC operates 6 daily Volvo buses from Manali to Delhi. While HRTC charges ₹1283- for this service, HPTDC charges ₹1300/-. Travel time is roughly 13.5-14 hours (592 kms).
Timings from Manali: 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:00 pm, 5:30 pm, 6:00 pm and 6:30 pm
Timings from Delhi: HPTDC (from Himachal bhawan)- 6:30 pm, 7:30 pm; HRTC (from Delhi ISBT)- 7:35 pm, 8:00 pm, 8:25 pm and 9:03 pm
From Delhi to visit Manali you require at least 3 Nights, 4 Days and it would be great if you have more 🙂 But ideally in 3 Nights / 4 Days you can cover majority of this place. I would also provide some add-on or pop-up day tours which you can include exclude as you like.
Night – 1: Leave Delhi in the evening to reach Manali next morning either by car/or Volvo bus. You can take a morning flight to Kullu as well which takes you to first day.
Day – 1: Check-in at the hotel, rest for few hours and go on for Local Sightseeing. This may include Mall road (which of course you can’t avoid any day), Local Monastery, Hadimba Devi Temple, Manu Rishi Temple in the evening through the streets of old Manali. Have Dinner at one of the traditional / western cuisine restaurant at Old Manali. Come back to hotel for the rest.
Day – 2: Leave for Rohtang Pass early in the morning to avoid traffic JAM. Mind it, it’s worse JAM of the trip so be prepared and it’s always better to avoid by shooting for Rohtang early morning may be 7 A.M. Come back to hotel by evening or around 4 PM to rest at the hotel and enjoy the Mall road in the evening / night.
Day – 3: Leave for Solang Valley if you want to do some adventure sports and enjoy the day there. Come back in the evening. Leave for home in the night, either by taking the evening Volvo or by you own car.
Day – 4: If you are not interested in visiting a unique place then include Naggar Castle in your trip with a night stay at Naggar Castle. Well the views it offers is just breathtaking. So you can also opt for Naggar in place of Solang if you don’t like adventure sports then replace this day with the trip to Naggar Castle, just 30 odd KM from Manali. For honeymoon it’s one of the best place to stay and must visit for couples looking for ideal romantic point.
To get the glimpses of the views from Naggar Castle, check these links of my visit to this beautiful place.
You may take a day trip to Naggar and leave for Manali same day if you don’t like much but better include a night stay at this lovely Hotel. Next morning you can leave to Delhi from Naggar itself.
Day – 5/6: Another set of location you may include is that you leave for Kullu or Kasol in the evening if it’s the penultimate day of the trip or early morning on any day if you have ample amount of time. Just it would be great if you can do it on the way back to home towards Delhi or similar route.
Reach Kullu, shop in the market and head towards Manikaran. Visit this holy place and leave for Kasol where you can enjoy the evening in nice Israeli flavor. If you have time then dedicate a day for Kasol and try to enjoy the environment to the core besides the Parvati River. If you have ever been to Goa (Check My Goa Valentines Trip), you would say it’s almost a mini form of it without bikinis ;)…
Leave for Delhi in the evening and reach by morning.
There are a lot of Hotel options available in Manali for accommodation ranging from luxury Hotels to budget range Hotels. Well I have been to all three kinds on my previous trips to Manali and this is what I felt a nice list to narrow down the choices. Of course I would say these are just Hotels either known to me or I have taken feedback from my family members who have stayed there 🙂
- HPTDC, Kunzum: Hotel Kunzum is just on the Mall road provides you with ample facilities being on the Mall road. Everything is so near by and I would really recommend it for families with children. Kids tends to demand this and that every now and then which makes Hotel Kunzum a good choice as everything you get in Manali is so near by. Range is Rs 1700 – Rs 3000
- HPTDC, Hadimba Cottages / Log / Hamta Huts: These huts ideal for honeymoon lovers are located a bit isolated towards Old Manali, again which is what love birds seek. But, don’t catch it into very off – season as it may also scare a bit out of you being alone. At least we felt so when we stayed and moreover food is not that good quality. You can check the entire review Hadimba Cottages, Manali | Hotel Review
- Johnson’s: Located near Circuit House is very famous for it’s cuisines. The rooms are really comfortable and worth the money. Even if you don’t stay do have a meal or two in it’s restaurant. Range is Rs 2200- Rs4000.
- Picaddily Resort: This is at the start of Mall road and not at all a budget hotel. We stayed here in very off season and still we got a room for 1500 😯 I believe. But I must say the money was worth it as the Hotel have all sorts of deserving offerings one would like.
- HPTDC, Rohtang Manalsu & The Beas: This hotel is a bit away from hustle bustle of town but very moderate budget hotels. Range is 650-2000 and you can always stay here if you are short on budget.
So, if you are no short of budget go for Johnson’s or Picaddily Resorts, although there are more luxury Hotel also available which you may check for sure.
If you are short on budget either choose HPTDC, Rohtang Manalsu or HPTDC, The Beas or else you can very well walk to the streets of Old Manali where you will get very good deals for some cheap hotels in Manali.
HPTDC is always a safe bet if you are in dilemma for cheap hotel, I believe.
Budgest Hotels in Manali
You can find lots of budget hotels around Manali in Vashishth, Old Manali and hotels on the Manali – Naggar road near Beas Bridge. The one at Manali – Naggar road named The River View and one just before that hotel are real good and economic options of stay in Manali. Read the complete review of The River View hotel at the below link: The River View, Manali | Hotel Review
- Johnson’s,located near Circuit House is very famous for it’s cuisines. A meal here is a must for us whenever we go to Manali.
- Chopsticks, located at Mall road, has a great variety of Chinese dishes topped with great taste.
- Grozy, located just at the start of Mall road shops is also quite good in food quality. In fact on of the trip we just had our meal on this restaurant only.
- IL Forno is by far the best place for Pizzas in Manali. If you love Pizzas then do not forget to check this awesome place.
- Sher-e-Punjab or Shan – e -Punjab (original one) is also a good food joint although I have never been there due to long queues 😀
Tips to travel in winters
- Do take heavy woolens with you especially a heavy woolen jacket.
- Do take 2-3 pairs of inner thermals cots
- Do take woolen long socks. Airtight shoes would be perfect to help you avoid freezing feet.
- Do not exert yourself too much and try to keep your body hydrated on the day when visiting snow points.
- Take at least one complete day rest in Manali before venturing further heights. i.e. snow points in Solang or Gulaba. DO NOT go to snow points on the very first day you reach Manali region.
- In Winters (except xmas – new year week) HPTDC runs about 30% off season discounts [also valid for Naggar Castle], if you like to stay in their hotels. All other private hotels can offer as much as 40-50%
There are ample of places around Manali and inside Manali town which as a tourist can be visited and clicked for some great memories in life. I will try to enlist some of them below –
You can check below destinations within Manali town –
Manali Mall Road
You can enjoy food and shopping at this very road. There are few Hotels as well on the road including Hotel Kunzum, HPTDC. There is one Temple as well at the Mall road just aside Bus and Taxi Stand
It’s near Circuit House approximately 15-20 minutes walk. Autos run all time in Manali to take you to the local tourist joints but charge a bit high. I feel walking down to these places has fun of it’s own kind.
As you cross through the streets of lovely Old Manali you will reach this temple. Chingu Chingu is what you will hear all over as you start entering the road. Don’t fall into the trap of sales man of buying it, most of them are duplicate makes.
Local monastery is situated just few 200 odd Meters from the bus stand at Mall road. You can surely buy some souvenir from the shops in front of the local Manali monastery.
Vashishth Hot Water Springs
Personally I didn’t like this place at all and considered it as total waste of time.
Other trails in the woods through local villages and old Manali which can be enjoyed as well.
At an height of 13,051 feet or 3978 Meters, this Pir Panjal Range pass is a must visit for every tourist who goes to Manali. You can find snow throughout the year at this place and is reachable from May End – October It connects the Kullu Valley to Lahaul-Spiti Valley and is one of the main blockage point of Delhi-Manali-Leh Ladakh connectivity.
Mountaineering and Allied sports Institute, Manali conducts various courses on Skiing at this place and if you love adventure sports you may find this place very exciting. Along with this, it also offers snow capped views of glaciers and even snow in winters. The place also helps in proper acclimatization if you are wishing to head Leh Ladakh.
This is just amazing place which I have already explained in the Itinerary section and if you are really looking for some romantic joint, Naggar Castle is surely the place to be. Do read more at Naggar Castle, Naggar
It’s a major district of Himachal Pradesh and is located at the banks of Beas River. The Airport Bhunter is just 10 KMs from this place and you will find ample of place to shop.
42 KM from Kullu, Kasol situated at the banks of Parvati River is yet another place which is a must visit and provides a completely unique experience with Israeli atmosphere dominating the air.It’s an hub of backpackers and what they are after, you very well know.
It’s a Hindu and Sikh pilgrimage center located between the Beas and Parvati Rivers. Well you may like it or you may not like it. It’s a matter of taste but couple of hours giving to this place is worth enough.
A hot water spring about 10 KMs before Manali on the road side itself. Thanks to Ajay for sharing this place with us at the comment here, will check next time I visit up there.
If you ever have been to Manali then please share you valuable thoughts and suggestion as well so that it can help other fellow travelers to plan their journey to Manali accordingly. I will be looking forward to your comments and suggestions.