Summary : The small, picturesque hill-town of Manali lies at the head of the Kulu valley.
The small, picturesque hill-town of Manali lies at the head of the Kulu valley. encloosed on three sides by calm mountains, it is surrounded by some of the loveliest meadows and orchards, rivers and terraced fields in Himachal Pradesh. Though a moderD-day resort, it has been a holy site for over 1000 years and pilgrims still come in large numbers, both to visit the shrine of the saint ‘Moni’ in old Manali village, and to :Cave a sacred dip in the nearby sulphur springs of Vashisht.
the name ‘Manali’ was a British creation. The Irish Banon family arrived in the I 70s and up until 1938 it was known as Dana Bazaar. Later, in the 1960s, the hippies found i (more accurately they found its high-quality dope), but it remained just a sleepy backwoods village until the late 1970s, when its tourist potential was discovered Then a new town grew up, built downstream from Old Manali village, and a ssmall ron bridge was built to connect them. Today, the new Manali is rapidly developing into a full-blown Indian holiday town, with ‘Hot Byte’ fast-food joints, jo iny video parlours, screching tanoyed music, and convoys of cars jeps ful tot party people. The tourist office, inundated with tourists from all over India, has little tire for foreigners. It does them all a big favour by packing them off to Old Manali,where it supposes ‘hippies’ belong.
Nobody objects. Out of the noisy new town, Manali is still one of the most picturesque spots in India—a peaceful vista of dense woodland, yellow mustard meadows and red saffron rice paddies, inhabited by an exotic array of different hill and mountain peoples. In the spring, the valley is indescribably beautiful: there are rippling streams, pine-scented forests, meadows of violets and blue speedwell, and fields full of wild raspberries and strawberries. Thee is a lot to see, do and buy in Manali, and the walks and treks in this region really take some beating.
Manali has a long tourist season. The flowers and meadows are at their best from mid-April to June; the tourist season is during the school holidays from mid-May to the end of June. High-level trekking takes place between July and mid-November mountain views are clearest during October and November, following the monsoons and the skiing season is from December to February, culminating in the Win: Carnival of February. The most colourful occasion of the year is the big Dussehra festival of September-October—when people from all over the valley turn cup, bringing their gods with them, for a riotous 10-day carnival of music, song and danced . Somewhat akin to an English country show, it’s a great opportunity to see the wid variety of peoples inhabiting the Kulu valley, decked out in all their tradition: costumes.
Air Both Vayudoot and Jagson Airlines fly daily between Delhi (Rs2040) and Bhuntai . airport, 50 km (31 1/4 miles) from Manali. At Bhuntar, you have a choice of a local bus (from bus-stop 50 m from the terminal building) or taxi (takes up to 5 persons) toe Manali.
Road In season, Manali has daily buses to and from Delhi. The journey takes a long 16/18 hours, and most buses have screeching videos. ‘We supply video purely complimentary!’, beams the Manali tourist officer. See p.205 for details Manali/Shimla buses.
WHAT TO SEE
Manali new town has just one main street, the Mall, which contains the tourist office market, better restaurants, and handicrafts shops. The road up to Old Man. (15 minutes on foot) starts from the top of the Mall, and is lined with hotels. There : are a few taxis who take parties of visitors to Vashisht, Old Manali, and other interest spots—off the meter. But Manali is essentially a place for bracing, beautiful: walks and for relaxation. The suggested sightseeing routes can be done in two day but everybody stays longer—either to trek, or to shop, or to do nothing at all.old Manali has a large population of long-stay travellers, who have refined the art doing nothing.