A bustling resort town in the Himalayas, Manali towers above the northern part of Himachal Pradesh and is a haven for monasteries, temples and wildlife sanctuaries. Adventure enthusiasts flock to the area for skiing, paragliding and river rafting.
Things to do
The entire Solang Valley surrounding Manali beckons with snowy terrain ideal for skiing and ice skating. When the weather warms, the valley transforms into wildflower meadows and skies filled with people paragliding and parachuting. It’s also a favourite Indian destination for zorbing, which involves bouncing down hillsides inside an enormous unbreakable ball.
Within 10 kilometres of Manali, you can soak in natural sulphurous hot springs at Kalath Springs and Vashist Hot Water Springs, which are resort-style bathhouses with Turkish showers. At the Vashist springs, you’ll also find ancient stone temples and wood carvings devoted to the local saint Vashista. For a fascinating look at Tibetan culture, stop by the Tibetan Handicraft Center.
Old Town Manali is a mish-mash of traditional and modern culture, known for its colourful tattoo parlours tucked between family-owned cafes on narrow winding lanes. Not far from Old Town, you’ll find the Manali Wildlife Sanctuary, which harbours exotic birds, kokla and kingfishers in verdant canopied forests with streams.
Cap off your visit to Manali with a hike or drive up Rohtang Pass, the highest point of the curving Manali-Keylong road. You’ll get a stunning panoramic view of mountains piercing the clouds.
You can pick up a rental car in Manali or at Bhuntar Airport, about 50 kilometres away. It’s easy to get around using taxis, motorbikes, bicycles or the local buses.