You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you. So you should climb it till you reach the top notch! – निधि
Traveling to places is always on my go-to list and this time, it was escaping the incredible Himalayas of Manali! If you follow me on Instagram @iamnidhipandey, you already got a glimpse of me exploring Manali for some days in this winters.
I departed for Manali from Delhi at late evening and took the HRTC Volvo bus from Majnu Ka Tila bus stand (Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station- Yellow Line) which I booked through Northern Travels that cost me Rs. 749/- only (Delhi to Manali). You can also download their app to avail some discounts! The journey took me exact 14 hours to reach out the destination and meanwhile I was busy in snapping the breathtaking view of Himachal!
Ways To Reach Manali From Delhi:
Distance from Delhi to Manali: 550 Km (approx.)
By Air: Bhuntar Airport (Kullu), located approx. 50 km away from Manali.
Time: Approx. 1.30 hrs
By Train: Joginder Nagar (Station Code- JDNX), Manali is 3-4 hours away.
Time: 19-22 hrs
By Bus: HRTC’s
Time: 12-14 hours
There was a time when Manali used to consider the backpacking capital of India where Manali to Kullu trek was part of the hippie trail. But today, Manali has become one of the most popular hill stations in India with tourists thronging to Manali in summers as well winters. Whether it’s a family bonding time, a couple seeking peace where they can sit, spend some valuable time to know each other more, solo travelers for some solitude or a group of friends for an adventure, Manali is the place that suits the need of every kind of travel mindset.
From the bumpy roads through the mountains to incredibly dramatic sunrises, it’s my 3rd time to back in Himachal after Narkanda, Shimla and Dharamshala but whatsoever, Himachal Pradesh is still closest to my heart ❤️. And I’ll always love to come back whenever I’ll get the chance.
But to be honest, one thing which I don’t like in Manali is overrated highly priced Hotels😞. It sometimes becomes a daunting task to search for quality and affordable stay in Manali. Either you’ll manage to get a good one but with hefty prices or you’ll end up with finding shady ones for cheap rates.
But somehow after surfing the internet for hours, I did manage to get a good deal with Manzana Woodlet Cottages at just Rs. 780/night (off-season) 😃!
Located in the arms of Himalayas on Leh-Rohtang pass road in New Manali, this property is the show stealer with an amazing view of both Himalayas and Beas River. What’s better than seeing mountains and river at the same time while waking up the next day, this cottage will suit all your needs.
Be it exploring the mall road which is 7-8 km (15 mins) from the Manzana Woodlet Cottages, spending some time at Beas River, having snacks and chillouts at cafes in Old Manali, you can be part of every fun and hangouts near this cottage.
Overall experience: 4.5 out of 5 (bearer service was not up to the mark)
Watch out the Manali Part 1 to know how I reached Manali, Cottage stay, and many more in detail!
Day 2 was all about witnessing the beauty of Gulaba while riding the Scooty through the narrow winding roads, treasuring some precious moments of peace and serenity. Packed with lush greens all around which slowly lead to snow, you’ll surely enjoy the road trip to Gulaba. It took me 1 hour from my cottage (New Manali) to reach out to this place 😍.
Named after Raja Gulab Singh of Kashmir, Gulaba is a small scenic spot for its untouched natural beauty and magical aura on the way to the Rohtang Pass. Generally dressed with snow from December to February, the view of the mountains are unreal 😍. Sports activity like Skiing also takes place in Gulaba where I was a part of it for the first time. Quite scary and adventurous but yet enjoyable 👍.
Rented Scooty: 800/2 days (excluding petrol)
Skiing– Rs 150/head
**Tip: Must carry an extra pair of hand gloves and caps as in winters, the temperature drops down to -15 Degree Celsius.
After Gulaba, I headed out to find a riverside restaurant for my hunger strike!
Day 3 was started and I was all set to signing in my day with the coffee and heading out to listen to Beas sing and spending some me time there.
What else do you need after sitting at the riverside listening to this gushing river that makes music with birdsong! Open a book or lay down somewhere on the river shore and be lost in it as the mountains lose themselves in the clouds.
Flows for some 470 Km, Beas River ended up with emerging to Satluj River before entering to Pakistan. Activities like River Rafting, River Rope Climbing also takes place on this river.
After Beas River exploration, I went to Manu Temple (Old Manali) where photos and cameras were not allowed ❌. You would be surprised to know that when I was managing to shoot a video and pictures for my Social Channels, there was a tourist priest who was the caretaker of the temple did understand Hindi and said, “Yahan pe pictures allowed nahi hain” and I was like, Koi Nahi 🙄🤦! So, somehow I managed to get a picture like this, though the temple was beautifully wooden crafted in traditional hill architecture.
**Fact: Manu temple is dedicated to sage Manu (Vaivasvata Manu) who is said to be the creator of the world by stepping very first on the earth. He was the first man of the world to be made by Lord Brahma. According to the devotees, Manu had spent 7 chakras of his life that were 7 births and 7 deaths in this area. He is also believed to be the first king to rule the earth and formed the basis of Hinduism. This temple is located on the banks of the Beas River in the Old Manali region and is 3 km away from the mall road.
After the temple, I was feeling a bit hungry so, i planned to move out to find a riverside café in Old Manali. And I found the beautiful wooden hidden café, the Lazy Dog Café. Furnished with the nice touristy knick-knack décor, the café has almost everything to offer. Be it Thai, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Indian cuisines, the Lazy Dog café also serves the decent lists of wines and beers.
Located on the banks of Beas River, this café has the ravishing outside seating area where you can chill out with your friends, families and loved ones. The vibe is amazing and unforgettable.
Average Cost: Rs. 800 for two people
- Free Wifi
- Live Music
- Indoor seating
- Outdoor seating
After the café, I went out to explore the streets of Mall road in Manali. Though I didn’t purchase anything but I enjoyed hanging around this place. You’ll get everything from antique piece to colorful junky jewels to food joints.
If you’re thinking to shop at mall road, you must check out their handmade leather slings, backpacks (starting from Rs. 1000/-) at the Tibetan stores, try out their noodles menu and eat some panipuri.
**Tip: Come at the night time to explore the Mall road as you’ll get those same things at lower prices.
Best Time to Visit Manali: Sep to June
So, this is how I explored the Himalayas and got to see their customs and spent some unforgettable moments in 3 days. Beyond all of this, be an explorer in your own town! Look beyond the obvious. You’ll find numerous trails all around Manali, so before getting invited to any such, ask any local first. Find how easy or difficult it is and where is it leading to. And after this above information, just follow your heart and this is what travel is all about.