A lot has already been said about Manali, about its beauty, about its look and feel and more…yet there is an inherent charm to this hill station that makes it worth visiting again and again
Being multi-cultural in its essence, Manali offers you equal opportunities to let your hair down as well as introspect in natural solitude. The hill station is painted in a hue where the old meets new in an enchanting way.
In the town’s nomenclature, you’ll find plenty of mythological references; ‘Valley of Gods’ is what it is famously called. Head to the nearby village of Naggar and you’ll get an insight into what made Manali a painter’s muse. If the famous Russian artist, Nicholas Roerich, were alive (and accessible), we would have loved to get his perspective on what made him fall in love with the mountains of Naggar, that he didn’t find anywhere else.
From stories about Lord Shiva to being home to people with different nationalities throughout, Manali exposes you to a world of immense possibilities. From traditional Himachali Siddu to authentic lasagnas, the food experience in the city is equally satisfying. At any given point of time, you will find people with varied backgrounds and different nationalities trotting the same streets.
Over the years, Manali has evolved in two parts – an era gone by (Old Manali with its rustic charm) and the developed Manali town around Mall Road. What connects the two worlds, literally, is an old bridge over Manalsu River (as seen in the topmost image).
Any trip to Manali is incomplete without a visit to Old Manali, be it for its vintage streets and wooden houses, for an escape from city life or simply to try the food at its numerous themed cafes. If you like home-made noodles forget everything and head to Tibetan Kitchen. Then there’s Casa Belle Vista for vegetarians who are all for Spanish food and wine. Those seeking a delicious serving of Trout must try Johnson’s Cafe which is open through the year.
Vashisht village set on a steep hill opposite Old Manali is popular for hot springs and old temples, as well as pocket-friendly restaurants and home stays. If you are in mood for a trek through the woods, an eight-hour hike from Vashisht to Pandu Ropa (11,480 feet above sea level) is a perfectly adventurous idea. And we suggest you take local guidance and support to make the best of this long hike.
July to September is the harvest season and apple-plucking is a must-do experience. Some kind-hearted residents allow you to pick apples, pears and plums for free, others may charge a small amount for this lovely exercise. It might be of interest to note that the apple orchards in Manali were initiated by our colonizers.
However popular or travelled-to Manali is, it never ceases to amaze with its own share of history as well as natural glory. With the tinted Beas River flowing through, verdant valleys and picturesque snow-laden peaks all around, the town owns a slice of heaven.
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