Manali is also known as the Queen of the Himalayas. Manali, nestled cozily in the Himalayas, also has the beauty of the River Beas to add to its enchantment. It is an ideal combination of the lively spirit of the simple mountain folks and their rich folk culture and handicrafts and the adventure of the trekking across the rough mountain terrains and skiing across the think snow-covered mountain slopes. Kullu is a valley town and a picturesque hill station and draws in tourists from all corners of the globe. The wild flowers, the green grassy meadows, the quaint little villages are a balm to the tired hearts and minds.
Manali derived its name from Manavalaya or in other words meaning the abode of Manu. Manu is a legendary figure as he was the sole survivor of Mahajal Pralay. Manu is also known as the law giver and after the great flood is believed to have fathered and recreated the human race. Manali, or the valley of the Gods, has still maintained its charm and beauty of the ancient times.
[caption id="attachment_963" align="alignright" width="384" caption="Paragliding in Solang Valley near Manali."][/caption]
How to reach
Kullu-Manali is well connected by roads to all major cities such as Delhi, Chandigarh, and Shimla.
Kulu-Manali is about 570 kms from Delhi. The nearest major railhead is Chandigarh, which is around 365 kms from Kullu-Manali. There is also the narrow gauge train to Shimla, which is another 265 kms from Kullu-Manali.
The nearest airport to Kullu is Bhuntar, which is about 10 kms away from Kullu and another 50 kms away from Manali. Both public and private transports such as buses and taxis are available to reach the city.
Places to see
Raghunath Temple, Bijii Mahadev Temple, Vaishno Devi Temple, Basheshwar Mahadev Temple, and Jagannathi Devi Temple are some religious destinations in and around Kullu. Manali too has its share of religious places such as the Hadimba Temple, Jagatsukh Temple, and the Tibetan Monastery. Rohtang Pass remains snow covered all through the year and is open to tourists for just four months. The majesty of the snow-clad mountains, the panoramic view of the Lahaul-Spiti valley, the exquisiteness of the Sonapani glacier can all be enjoyed from this height of around 3979 meters about 51 kms from Manali. Solang Valley is about 13 kms from Manali and offers an excellent opportunity for paragliding and skiing to the tourists. Manikaran, is associated with the legend of Manu and is a sacred place for Hindus and Sikhs. It has hot water springs oozing out having healing properties to ailments and is surrounded by temples and gurdwaras.
Famous spots you must not miss
Rahalla Falls (16 kms), Tibetan Market and mall and Van Vihar within the Manali Town, Kothi a picturesque spot offering views of gorges, glaciers, and snow-covered peaks (12 kms), Marrhi (35 kms), Rani Mala glacier point (46 kms), Naggar Castle (22 kms) are some major tourist spots not to be missed while your stay at Manali. Sultanpur Palace, architectural marvel with Kullu style miniature paintings; Kasol, the lush green meadows on the banks of River Parvati; Shoja, a beautiful spot on the mountain offering magnificent views of the Kullu beauty; and Raison, a very popular camping site are some of the major tourist attractions of Kullu tour.
Things to do
The beautiful winding paths across the mountains flanked by the sheer magnificence of the Himalayas and the cool serene beauty of the River Beas are ideal for trekking. The treacherous waters of Beas gushing down the mountain slopes are a favorite for rafters who love adventure sports and also for angling and fishing. Manali gets a decent amount of snowfall in the winters and is ideal for skiing and also helicopter skiing. A cool walk across the lush green meadows or a jeep safari can be very invigorating. Trout fishing, river rafting, trekking, and mountaineering are also very popular among the Kullu tourists.
Manali can be a shopper’s paradise only if you like clothes and decorative pieces. Souvenirs and gift items are available in plenty. Woolen clothes come in an astonishing variety and reasonable prices. There are shopping centers such as the New Shopping Centre Market near the bus stand and government emporiums and Bhutico, famous for hand-woven shawls and the famous Kullu Topis. Curios such as prayer wheels, amulets, dorjees, masks, and other small items such as musical instruments, junk jewellery, and thangkas are specially sought after by tourists.
Places to stay
Kullu Manali is an extremely popular destination for honeymoon couples and offers hundreds of holiday packages all over the year for tourists of all types. It has a host of good hotels that remain busy all round the year. To name some: Hotel Gilbert, Hotel Renuka, IBEX Hotel, Hotel Mountain Top, Heritage Village Resort, Snow Valley Resorts, New Shivalik Hotel, Hotel Rising Star, Hotel Ocean Inn, Hotel Green Fields, Royal Park Resort, Hotel Snow Princess, Hotel Preet, River Country Resorts, Hotel Honeymoon Inn, Sarthak Resorts, Glacier Resorts, Snow Crest Manor and many more.
Best time to visit
The summer months from April and May are the best time for visiting Kullu-Manali. Dusshera festival in Kullu is famous and sees a lot of crowd. Both the hill stations draw in tourists all through the year.
Kullu-Manali, both being hill stations have mild summers and freezing cold winters with Manali getting a fair share of snow fall.