It was a much-needed break from work when we headed north to rejuvenate ourselves in search of peace & adventure. This time our destination was Manali – A stunning hill station surrounded by massive snow-clad mountains and thick pinewood forests. It also has the twisty Beas River as its centrepiece which adds to its spellbinding beauty. There are multiple options for sightseeing in Manali like cabs, scooters, bikes, auto-rickshaw. We opted to take a Honda Activa from Scooter Rentals which is owned by Tenzin. You can also opt for the stylish Royal Enfield motorcycle.
On Day 1 we started on a religious note exploring the temples in Manali. The first stop on our list was the famous Hidimba Temple. Surrounded by the towering Cedar forest, lies the 15th century Hidimba Temple, built to honour Hidimba Devi, the wife of Bhim from Mahabharat. The wood and stonework are reminiscent of the Japanese pagodas. Located downhill was the Siyali Mahadev Temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It’s a beautiful architect temple with a stunning backdrop.
The next temple on our list was Manu Temple which has great historical and religious significance because it is dedicated to sadhu Manu, who is believed to be the creator of the human race in the world. From here we went straight to Vashist Hot Spring. These are natural sulfur springs that spout hot water all year long having medicinal properties.
Day 2 was our adventure day, so we headed towards Solang Valley. It is popular for adventure activities like – skiing, trekking, zorbing, paragliding and much more. Our primary goal was to do paragliding. Make sure that you do a weather check before visiting because the wind plays a crucial role in paragliding. After completing paragliding by noon it was time to finish lunch and head towards Gulaba. On the way, we stopped at the enchanting Rahala Falls, situated at an altitude of 2500 m above the plains. After a steep climb, our Activa finally made it to Gulaba.
Gulaba is a picturesque spot flanked by snow-covered mountain peaks and graced with grasslands, waterfalls ooze beauty at every turn. To our surprise, we found our favourite Maggi at such a high altitude. Well, we couldn’t resist our temptation and took a 2 min Maggi break. Ahead of Gulaba is Rohtang, which was closed in April. Locals informed the way opens only in May end or June after the snow melts. So, if you want to visit Rohtang, plan accordingly.
Since the day we arrived, Beas river tempted us with its gushing sound. So, on Day 3 it was time to feel the icy cold water and experience river rafting. So we headed towards Kullu. The Beas river which is also known as Vipasha in Sanskrit is one of the holiest rivers in India. Carrying with it years of history & legends, it is one of the longest rivers in the northern provinces of India flowing for a total of 470km in its
entire course and length. On the way towards Kullu, you will find multiple counters for rafting. A full raft typically ranges from Rs 1000 to 2000. You have to bargain to get a good deal. Don’t forget to keep extra clothes to enjoy this thrilling adventure.
Now it was time to grab some lunch and a restaurant which deserved a place on our checklist was the famous “Bella River Banks”. Located on banks of river Beas, this restaurant is famous for grilled trout (a local fish). The food was simply finger-licking and we ended up overeating. From here we started for our next destination, Dhakpo Monastery. It is a beautiful, peaceful & serene monastery located in Kais village of Kullu District and is also known as Kais Monastery.
Next stop was Naggar Castle, however, we stopped at Jana Falls. Surrounded by deodar and pine trees, apple orchards and spectacular snow-covered mountain peaks Jana fall is a charming picnic spot.
Naggar Castle is a medieval stone and wood castle which was once the seat of the King of Kullu and now a popular hotel. Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu built this castle around 1460 A.D. It overlooks the Kullu valley and apart from the spectacular view and superb location, this has an essence of the western Himalayan architecture. This castle picturized the famous Bollywood movie song from “Jab We Met”. Day 3 was quite a big one and we went to bed early to relax after a long tiring but very satisfying day.
On Day 4 we planned to cover the remaining attractions in Manali. Built-in 1960 by Tibetan refugees, Thekchhokling Gompa is a renowned Buddhist monastery that attracts countless tourists from all corners of India. The monastery flaunts a majestic facade complemented with the pagoda-style yellow roof. Inside the gompa, you will find a large image of Buddha and exquisite murals. Another beautiful Monastery located just nearby is Himalayan Nyingamapa Gompa. Though small in area, it has beautifully decorated interiors along with an impressive statue of Lord Buddha. The tranquil surroundings of these monasteries act as a great stress buster so do include in your travel itineraries.
Near the banks of Beas river and preferable location of mall road, lies Van Vihar – A municipal garden. We had a peaceful and relaxed time amongst giant Deodar trees and boating around the simple pond.
At the end of our trip, it was time for shopping. Buying gifts and souvenirs for family & friends. And Mall Road is the best places for it. You will find a lot of street shops selling authentic Manali products cheap. But if you are planning to shop here, be ready for some hefty bargains.
Well, that was our first trip to Manali. We left some destinations like Spiti, Dharamshala, Manikaran and much more for our next trip. Do share your Manali trip experience in the comment section of this blog.