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.
The place is ideal for families as well as young couples looking for some hide and seek with the flavor of romance on top of it. Manali is largely visited by the honeymoon couples (I did so, read my story Snow at Manali and Naggar | Honeymoon Trip) and in summers people from all walks of life (children to old) come to Manali to seek pleasant weather from hot burning lands of Northern India.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Manali Travel Guide
Manali is one of the oldest towns in Kullu Valley. The place surrounds with the aura of ROMANCE everywhere, right from the hustle-bustle of mall road to the very calm, traditional, foreigners dominated old Manali to the woods/villages around/beyond Manu temple to the walking path around Hadimba temple. It can easily be called one of the ROMANTIC destinations of India.
The Hadimba goddess runs the Manali town and is the center of worship of the people living at Manali. The mighty 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.
The weather in Manali offers a variety throughout the year. If you like the cold weather and snow, then you can enjoy winters from November to February. However, you can experience nice and pleasant Manali weather in summers from March to October.
I recommend that you avoid traveling to Manali in the month monsoons, late July to August and nowadays some part of September as well. Landslides and flooding are common on Delhi to Manali highway in monsoon time. You do not want to get stuck in the middle of it. Although July-August experience rainfall but this place has again, it’s unique beauty when it rains 🙂
Hence, the best time to visit Manali is March to June when the heat is burning the low lands of Northern India. Then during the autumn season from the middle of September to late October is also a nice time to visit it. However, during the Dusherra festival, the Kullu region gets very crowded.
If you are fond of snow or snowfall, then visit Manali from late December to March for enjoying the snow in Manali, Rohtang Pass, or Solang Valley. You may witness snowfall also in January and February, depending on the weather at the time of the visit.
No doubt it is one of the top places to see snowfall near Delhi in Himachal.
What is the best time to visit Manali
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. It’s almost you are in Trade Fair of Pragati Maidan, Delhi 😆
But if you enjoy it, then it’s an 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 in the Himalayas.
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 the weather on the current day of the year 🙂
What about Honeymoon in Manali?
For a honeymoon, of course, if you get married in winters, then late November to February is the best time to be in Manali. It is one of those places where you can find snow easily in winter months.
You get an additional benefit of the heavy discounts, being off-season topped with less number of tourists. Finally, you get to see similar love birds thronging the region of Manali and Solang Valley.
Hence, without any doubt, Manali does get to my list of best honeymoon places in Himachal.
What time to avoid?
Do avoid Durga Puja holidays mainly in October when the rush is at peak again, and people flood the Kullu Manali towns like anything. It is also the Dusherra Festival time in Kullu Valley with which also valley is under heavy tourist rush.
Also, there is an official HPTDC off-season at the time of monsoon and winters (usually mid-November to February) when they provide a 30% discount on their services.
How to reach Manali from Delhi
Manali is well connected by road from Delhi vis National Highways. You will find ample of public transport as well from Delhi to Manali or Chandigarh to Manali. Let us look into the various options of traveling to Manali by road.
The nearest airport to Manali is Bhunter about 50 km away. From Bhuntar-Kullu, you can hire a taxi to reach Manali in 90 minutes approximately. The fare of a taxi could be Rs 1000 – Rs 1200, depending upon the bargaining skills as well as season time.
Chandigarh is the closest major Railway Station from where it will take around 9 hours to reach Manali by bus or car. Apart from that Joginder Nagar railway station near Mandi can be considered as the nearest one. However, the connectivity can be limited to it from far-flung places in India.
The distance of Manali from Delhi is 570 km (approximately) and it takes around 12-14 hours to reach depending upon traffic and how you drive.
Generally, 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 PM every day from HPTDC Office, Janpath. These buses reach Manali the next morning around 8 AM. The fare is around Rs 1300-1400 for one side. The similar buses leave from Manali every evening at 5.30 PM and reaching Delhi by 7.00 AM the next morning. There are other daily buses available from HRTC as well from ordinary to Volvos that run between Delhi to Manali and Chandigarh to Manali.
Road Conditions from Delhi to Manali
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 lose your concentration.
Especially, the drive from Kiratpur to Sunder Nagar is horrible 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 the rest of the road conditions are pure bliss to drive.
For updated road conditions of Delhi to Manali, please refer to the DoW Community thread: Delhi – Manali Road Conditions.
The 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 😉
An alternate route to Manali from Delhi
The regular route to Manali via NH-21, that is Manali – Chandigarh Highway, is mostly in pathetic condition from Kiratpur Sahib to Bilaspur. The beelines of slow-moving trucks, chaotic overtaking of these overloaded trucks, and deep crater-sized potholes all around on almost 70 km of stretch. The journey becomes so tiring and frustrating…
For the last few times when I went to Tirthan Valley from Delhi, we took the route as
Kiratpur Sahib > Anandpur Sahib > Nangal > Una > then turn right towards Bhota > then again right towards Jahu > at T-Point, turn left towards Ner Chowk. Don’t go towards Sunder Nagar as you will lose a couple of hours then.
This is a bit longer route, maybe 55-60 km, but the time difference is almost about 40-45 minutes only. However, roads are super smooth all the way to cruise upon apart from last average roads of 25 km after Jahu to Ner Chowk. It does save you from all the frustration and risks of accidents.
So, better avoid the NH-21 route and take this route via Una – Bhota to reach Manali or beyond Mandi to Himachal.
Bus Service from Delhi – Manali
As per HRTC FB Page, both HRTC & HPTDC operates a total of six daily Volvo buses from Manali to Delhi. While HRTC charges ₹1283- for this service, HPTDC charges ₹1300/-. Travel time is roughly 14 hours (580 km).
Bus Timings from Manali: 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:00 pm, 5:30 pm, 6:00 pm, and 6:30 pm.
Bus 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.
Travel Tip: If you are interested in some treks, you may also check these easy treks in Himachal.
Common Itinerary for Manali Trip in 3 Days
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 the majority of this place. I would also provide some add-on or pop-up day tours which you can include exclude as you like.
Day 0 / Night – Overnight from Manali to Delhi
Leave Delhi in the evening to reach Manali the next morning either by car/or Volvo bus. You can take a morning flight to Kullu as well which takes you to the first day.
Day 1 – Manali Local Sightseeing
Check-in at the hotel in Manali, rest for a few hours and go on for local sightseeing. This sightseeing 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. You can have dinner at one of the traditional/western cuisine restaurants at Old Manali. Come back to the hotel for the rest.
Day 2 – Visit Rohtang Pass or Snow Points
Leave for Rohtang Pass early in the morning to avoid traffic jams. Mind it; it can be the worse jam of the trip, so be prepared. It is always better to avoid by leaving for Rohtang Pass from Manali early morning maybe 7 AM Come back to the hotel by the evening at around 4 PM to rest at the hotel and enjoy the mall road in the evening/night.
Day 3 – Visit Solang Valley
Visit Solang Valley if you want to do some adventure sports and enjoy the day there. Come back in the evening. Leave for the home in the night, either by taking the evening Volvo or by your own car.
Trip to Manali in 5 Days
Continuing the above 3-day itinerary of Manali trip for those who have more days in hand.
Day 4 – Visit Nagar Castle – Jagatsukh
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 are 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 a honeymoon, it’s one of the best places to stay and must-visit for couples looking for an 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 the 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.
Jagatsukh comes on the way as well and it is one of the offbeat places in Himachal.
Day 5 – Visit Parvati Valley (Manali to Kasol)
Another set of places you may include on your Manali trip 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 an ample amount of time. Just it would be great if you can do it on the way back home towards Delhi or a similar route.
Reach Kullu, shop in the market and head towards Kasol & 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 to Kasol and try to enjoy the environment to the core besides the Parvati River.
Leave for Delhi in the evening and reach by morning.
Where to stay in Manali
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 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 nearby, and I would recommend it for families with children. Kids tend to demand this, and that now and then, which makes Hotel Kunzum a good choice as everything you get in Manali is so nearby. The 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 offseason as it may also scare a bit out of you being alone. At least we felt so when we stayed, and 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 its cuisines. The rooms are comfortable and worth the money. Even if you don’t stay, do have a meal or two in its restaurant. The range is Rs 2200- Rs4000.
- Picadilly Resort: This is at the start of Mall road and not at all a budget hotel. We stayed here in the very offseason, and still, we got a room for 1500 😯 I believe. But I must say the money was worth it as the hotel has all sorts of deserving offerings one would like.
- HPTDC, Rohtang Manalsu & The Beas: This hotel is a bit away from the hustle-bustle of town but very moderate budget hotels. The range is 650-2000, and you can always stay here if you are short on budget.
So, if you are no short of the budget go for Johnson’s or Picaddily Resorts, although there are more luxury Hotels also available which you may check for sure.
If you are short on a 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 excellent deals for some cheap hotels in Manali.
HPTDC is always a safe bet if you are in a dilemma for a cheap hotel, I believe.
Budget 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 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
Where to eat
- Johnson’s, located near Circuit House is very famous for its 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 the trip, we just had our meal in 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 (the original one) is also a good food joint although I have never been there due to long queues 😀
You should always carry your water bottle and refill it as many times as you need water. It will not only keep you hydrated always, but you will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage. Remember, every tiny step counts and your step in this direction can help save the Himalayas too !! 🙂 🙂
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 for helping 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 full 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 Christmas – 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%.
- Please check out the list of things to carry for a Himalayan trip.
Manali Tourist Attractions
There are several tourist places around Manali and inside Manali town which a tourist can visit. These places can be photographed clicked for some great memories in life. I will enlist some of them below.
Manali Local Sightseeing
Let us start with local sightseeing in Manali. You can check the below destinations within Manali town or quite nearby.
You can enjoy food and shop on 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 the fun of its own kind.
As you cross through the streets of lovely Old Manali, you will reach this temple. Chingu is what you will hear all over as you start entering the road. Don’t fall into the trap of salesman of buying it, most of them are duplicate makes.
The local monastery is situated just a few 200 odd meters from the bus stand at Mall road. You can surely buy some souvenirs 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 a total waste of time.
Trekking Trails near Manali
Other trails in the woods through local villages and old Manali can be enjoyed as well.
- There is a trek from Old Manali, Manu Temple that goes to Goshal village about a couple of km. You can extend this trek further to Solang Valley which is about 10 km from there.
- Then there is a trek to Lamadugh meadows, which starts from Hadimba Temple. It will take about 2-3 hrs for this trek and you will get to see snow-clad peaks and Manali town down below.
- You may also travel to Bijli Mahadev from Kullu.
At the altitude 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 points of 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 wish to head Leh Ladakh. It will help you avoid AMS.
Naggar is just an amazing place that I have already explained in the itinerary section. 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 lies at the banks of Beas river. The airport Bhunter is just 10 km from this place, and you will find ample place to shop.
42 km from Kullu, Kasol situated at the banks of Parvati river is yet another place that is a must-visit and provides a unique experience with Israeli atmosphere dominating the air. It’s a hub of backpackers, and what they are after, you very well know. Do not forget to check my comprehensive travel guide of Parvati Valley.
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 a couple of hours given to this holy place is worth enough.
Hot water springs about 10 km before Manali on the roadside itself. Thanks to Ajay for sharing this place with us at the comment here, will check next time I visit up there.
In the end, Manali and its nearby locations are a complete package for any vacation. The place suits a wide range of tourists with an even wider taste of spending time in the mountain. You get the romance, the adventure, the rejuvenation, the offbeat and the mad rush of tourists, all nearby Manali.
If you ever have been to Manali, then please share your 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.
If you know your friends or family are planning a trip to Manali, do share this article with them to help them make a memorable Manali trip.