Manali is a beautiful hilly destination located on the Beas River’s banks. Often referred to as the ‘Honeymoon Capital of India’, it has always remained a romantic spot for newly-wed couples. After all, it is one of the best hill stations in Himachal Pradesh, gifted with natural beauty, including breathtaking scenic views of snow-capped Pir Panjal Range & Dhauladhar Ranges. What attracts tourists to this evergreen heaven is its serene environment, pristine air, pleasant climate, adventure activities, & lots more. So, if you have any travel plans to visit this hill station, we bring you a complete travel guide for Manali for your ultimate trip.
Before moving further, let us brief you about the history of this charming hill beauty. Starting from how it got its name, the answer for this is sage Manu, the first man who began the evolution of the human race on earth. He wrote Manusmriti, depicting multiple human values & laws. Going by a mythological fact, it is said sage Manu was so amazed by the beauty of Manali that he decided to begin human life in this heavenly town. Earlier, it was called Manu-Alaya, but later it became Manali. A temple dedicated to the sage Manu signifies Manali as his abode.
In modern history, Manali was ruled by King Jagat Singh in the 17th century. It is said that he once brought a statue of Lord Raghunath for the well-being of his kingdom. Since then, Lord Raghunath has become the ruling deity of Manali. Then, in the 20th century, when the British Empire ruled India, Manali became a preferred holiday spot for the Britishers, who loved its pleasant weather. Leaving aside their brutality, the hill town underwent many developments under their rule, ranging from well-structured roads, restaurants, and churches, & to introducing adventure sports like skating, snow racing, etc. The credit for planting the first apple trees in 1865 goes to them.
Top Places to visit in Manali: Introducing complete travel guide for Manali
Manali is a blissful city that powers Himachal tourism with its natural beauty & other things. Below are the top attractions in Manali that must be explored for a joyous hill trip.
Manu temple is one of the ancient holy shrines to visit in Manali. This sacred town is named after sage Manu, to whom this temple is dedicated. According to legend, the present-day temple is where sage Manu meditated. This revered edifice in Manali is visited by countless devotees who are rejuvenated with mental & spiritual energy.
- Distance from Manali – 3 km
Hadimba Devi Temple
Hadimba Devi Temple is another famous shrine among several temples of Manali. The temple is dedicated to Hadimba Devi, a demoness who married the mighty Pandava prince, Bhim, after he killed Hidimb, fulfilling her vow. This temple is worth admiring for its spectacular Pagoda-style architecture. Add it to your Manali itinerary plan.
- Distance from Manali – 3 km
Rohtang Pass is famous for its scenic beauty and mesmerising views of glaciers, peaks, Lahaul Valley, & the Chandra River. It was once a part of an ancient trade route for the people residing in the Pir Panjal region. During winter, it is covered with a massive blanket of snow. Hence, it is closed from October & reopens in May.
- Distance from Manali – 35.6 km
Solang Valley is one of the best places to visit in Manali. It is a must-visit for its scenic wonders & for partaking in the Winter Skiing Festival, plus enjoying multiple adventure activities like zorbing, horse riding, paragliding, skiing, sledging, mountaineering, parachuting, & trekking.
- Distance from Manali – 13 km
Atal Tunnel also joins the list of popular tourist places in the hill town. It is the longest highway tunnel known in the world, constructed at the height of 10,000 ft. Passing through the verdant green forests, providing a striking view of mountain peaks & flowing rivers on either side, is a visual treat for vacationers. The tunnel is named after the former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
- Distance from Manali – 24 km
Jogini Falls is a fantastic spot for travellers with a beautiful view of a cascading waterfall falling from 160 ft. To visit this popular tourist attraction, you must begin trekking from Vashisht Village, where you will spot pine trees & orchards on your way. Jogini Falls is a delightful sight for nature lovers, trekkers & backpackers.
- Distance from Manali – 5 km
Vashisht Temple & Hot springs
Vashisht Temple is an ancient holy shrine that attracts tourists with its appealing interiors, wooden carvings, paintings, & antique figures. As the name suggests, this temple is dedicated to sage Vashisht, a royal priest of the Raghu clan, & the master of Lord Ram & his brothers. Besides divinity, this place is also acknowledged for its hot water springs that have medical properties to heal skin diseases.
- Distance from Manali – 3 km
Once popular with the hippie crowd, Old Manali continues to charm its travellers with its green forests, apple orchards, rustic homestays, endearing cafes, & things from a bygone era. Besides being a quaint town of Manali, it still holds its relevance among the tourists who prefer strolling on its streets, & shopping for woollens, souvenirs, & lots more.
- Distance from Manali – 3 km
Manali is not just a retreat for nature lovers & adrenaline junkies but also welcomes wildlife enthusiasts who can experience the wilderness at Manali Sanctuary. Sprawling at 31.8 sq ft, this sanctuary houses endangered & rare wildlife species, including leopards, snow leopards, musk deer, brown bears & many others. Herds of Ibex can also be spotted migrating in the glacier zone during summer.
- Distance from Manali – 2 km
Nehru Kund is a natural spring in Manali named after the first Prime Minister of India, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. It is said that he made a frequent visit to this place & drank water from it. While making your way towards Rohtang Pass, Nehru Kund does make an ideal stop for its pristine waters & view of serene Himalayan landscapes. It is a perfect spot to embrace nature & exploit your photography skills.
- Distance from Manali – 5.2 km
Add thrill to your Manali tour with adventure activities
To make your hilly trip more intriguing, there are many adventure activities to do in Manali. Experience everything to keep yourself elated & active. Find the best options given below.
River rafting is one of the best adventure activities to explore in Manali. It takes place on the Beas River. If you have the skills to conquer the gushing waves with your firm grip on oars, take up this water challenge sport. Before beginning it, you will be given a brief overview of it & to warn you about the lurking dangers you may encounter.
Mountain biking is also a popular adventure sport to experience in this charming hill station. If you have confidence in your riding skills, then mountain biking is an ideal sport for you. In this sport, you will go through rough terrains, where you must use your balancing skills best.
If you visit Manali in winter, then take advantage of trying skiing. It gives great pleasure when gliding on the snow powder with your safety equipment on. If you are an amateur, do it under expert guidance to avoid unwanted mishaps. Enjoy this adventure sport when planning a honeymoon in Manali.
Camping is one of the best activities to experience in the fully loaded tented accommodation provided by campsites in Manali. Here, you feel the chilly winds touching your skin, sipping on hot beverages, & spending quality time with your friends chatting, laughing, & singing.
Trekking is best for those who are capable of taking long walks. If you are one of them, experience this adventure when planning your Manali tour. The hill station has many trekking trails to make your trekking experience memorable. Trekking at Beas Kund lets you enjoy the breathtaking views of the Pir Panjal Mountain range over the Beas River.
If you dream of flying like a bird, the paragliding sport awaits you at Manali. The more intriguing it seems, this adventure sport is also very challenging. So do experience this activity when you are completely assured. If you are doing it for the first time, do it under an expert’s guidance.
Have you ever imagined yourself in a circular transparent ball? If not, experience it in reality by participating in zorbing, a popular adventure activity in Manali. In this, you will be put inside a giant rolling ball to make you view the world turning upside down. It can be experienced by adults & kids both.
Savouring local yet popular delicacies in Manali
When visiting Manali for vacation, don’t confine your journey merely to picturesque vistas, tourist spots, talking with locals, & adventure fun. You should also be tasting the local delicacies that are very popular among locals. Below is the list of top traditional dishes that you must try in this evergreen hill station.
Siddu is one of the famous foods in Manali that you must try. This traditional delicacy is made with wheat flour dough. It is a bun shaped meal which is filled with vegetable or mutton stuffing. To bring its taste, it is roasted & then steamed later. When it becomes ready for savouring it is served on the table.
Babru might seem similar to Kachori, a famous dish in North India, but somewhere, there is a difference in their preparation. And that’s true, because Babru is made with flattened bread with wheat flour. With the filling of flavourful black gram paste, the taste of this famous Himachali dish becomes worth savouring. You can have it with chutney & a hot cup of tea to keep yourself warm in the freezing temperature of Manali.
Chha Gosht comes as an ultimate treat for non-veg lovers. It is also a well-known dish in Manali, prepared with marinated lamb meat. The ingredients used for its cooking include gram flour, yoghurt, ginger-garlic paste, & flavoured Indian spices – cardamom powder, red chilli powder, asafoetida, & bay leaf.
When listing top Himachali dishes, Madra is important, as it is served commonly & in festive seasons. This heartfelt dish is prepared with chickpeas or vegetables, with Indian spices including turmeric powder, coriander powder, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, & cloves to add flavour. Madra can be savoured with rice, chapati, & even with Babru.
Kaale Chane Ka Khatta
If you want to taste some spicy food to beat Manali’s freezing cold, we suggest you try Kaale Chane Ka Khatta. Locals prepare this sour & spicy Himachali treat with boiled black chickpeas & then cook it by adding spices, including salt, fennel seeds, mint powder, cumin seeds, coriander powder, & asafoetida. To enhance its taste, green chilli & tamarind are added to it.
Bhey is a crispy, popular Himachali dish you must try when visiting Manali for vacation. Locals prepare it with lotus stem cooked with other elements, including gram flour, ginger, garlic, onion, & other Indian spices to make it more tasty. You can enjoy savouring Bhey with rice, paratha, or roti. Just have one bite, & you will crave to have more.
Tibetan thukpa is a kind of noodle that comes with both options – vegetarian & non-vegetarian. In the former case, it comes with tomatoes, onions, cabbage, & carrots. One cup of Tibetan thukpa will help keep your body warm from freezing weather.
Aktori is a pancake dish which originates from Spiti Valley & is a staple dish among locals in Himachal Pradesh. The ingredients to make it are baking soda, sugar, buckwheat leaves, milk, & water. The dish is prepared very quickly & tastes fantastic when eaten. If you wish to taste this mouth-watering sweet, head to Spiti Valley.
Kullu Trout Fish
If you wish to have a non-vegetarian dish for lunch or dinner, try Kullu trout fish. This dish is prepared with marinated meat of fish & basic Indian spices to bring the actual flavour of the latter fish. It is fried in mustard oil & lemon-onion sauce to get an additional taste. Kullu trout fish is served with vegetables for a healthy treat.
Dhaam is one such popular food. Last on the list is dharma, which comes loaded with various nutrients & flavours. It comprises boor ki kadhi, aromatic rice, red kidney beans, fried dal, jaggery, sweets, curd, & salad. Not only on a usual basis, Dhaam is also served when planning a destination wedding in Manali or any other special occasion. Besides Manali, you can savour the flavoured dhaam in Chamba, too.
Shopping for items at the best marketplaces of Manali
When it’s time to return to your hometown, then do not go empty-handed. Stuff some items as a token of memories of your visit to this lovely hilly destination. There are many things you can prefer shopping at Manali’s top marketplaces. Let us bring down the list of those.
Tibetan Market, as the name suggests, is a marketplace where you can shop for Tibetan items, including handicrafts & souvenirs. Owing to its popularity, you can shop for Buddhist paintings, & items for home decoration. Every product here you buy, whether it is the rarest Buddhist prayer wheels, prayer flags, handmade products, bamboo items, or singing bowls, will reflect Buddhist culture in Manali. Jewellery, clothing, & Buddha idols are other options to shop here.
Bhuttico in Manali is a revered marketplace, as it was awarded the National Award in 1993-94 by the Ministry of Textiles. There is no question of counterfeiting, as every handicraft item you buy here is certified with ISO mark. Also, the items purchased here carry quality certificates. Scarves, shawls, Himachali caps, jackets, & other winter wear are some items you can shop in the Bhuttico market.
Old Manali Market
The Old Manali Market is a popular shopping place for jewellery, souvenirs, woollen clothes, t-shirts, & many other items. There are handmade toys for your kids, or you can imprint a tattoo on your body at tattoo shops. After getting tired of strolling on the streets, you can dine out at nearby cafes & restaurants.
If you want to shop for traditional items, then Akhara Bazaar is a marketplace to stop at. You can shop for many items here, including wooden toys, jewellery, footwear, decorative items, Himachali caps, woollen clothes, etc. Rugs & carpets are also worth purchasing from this marketplace, as they come with traditional Himachali patterns with striking designs.
Himachal Emporium is a perfect market destination for purchasing pashmina shawls, woollen sweaters, Himachali caps, pottery items, local jewellery, & Kangra silks. Your attention will also be drawn towards the exquisite products that reflect the hard work & artistic skills of artisans & tribal people of Himachal.
Like the famous Manu Temple, the Manu Market in Manali is equally worth visiting to shop for products like crockeries, electronic devices, jewellery, handloom products, Buddhist paintings, shawls, books, woollen garments, carpets, rugs, utensils, Himachali caps, & much more. Ensure your stay at a nearby luxury resort in Manali to explore this marketplace.
Do you wish to adorn your home wall with a classic Buddhist painting? If yes, visit Sultanpur Market in Manali, as you will find the beautiful Thangka paintings here. Besides that, there are many other things to shop for, including antique items, shawls, sweaters, home decor items, Kullu caps, traditional jewellery, & many more.
Yes, there is a Mall Road market in Manali other than Shimla. It is a popular marketplace where people love to shop for items, including Pashmina shawls, paintings, Himachali caps, Tibetan handicraft items, shoes, home decor items, & food products like pickles, jams, & fruit syrups. The market is thronged with tourists all day & night, which makes it a popular stop with scenic backdrops of mountains & valleys.
Best time to visit Manali
Manali is a great place to enjoy your vacation with family, friends, partners, or yourself. However, more than merely planning a visit to this hill station is required. Before going to this evergreen hill station, one must know the climatic conditions. So let us find out which season is the best for visiting Manali.
Summer (April to June)
Visiting Manali in summer from April to June is the ideal time to enjoy your vacation, as the weather here is still pleasant, with temperatures ranging between 10°C to 25°C, which is better than cities that face humid temperatures. This is the best time to indulge in activities like rafting, trekking, paragliding, & mountaineering. Ensure you are ready with the lighter woollens; the temperature is cool at night.
Monsoon (July to September)
If you feel like vacationing in Manali during the monsoon period, let us warn you it can be perilous. We are saying this because, during this time, the region witnesses heavy rainfall that may trigger the possibility of landslides. The only benefit here is that the prices of luxury accommodations go down. But overall, we suggest you don’t let your travel experience become awful.
Winter (October to March)
Besides summer, winter from October to March is the best time to explore the hilly town when it is covered with a thick blanket of snow. It is when you get a chance to indulge in skiing & other range of activities. Manali is truly an idyllic destination for honeymoon couples to experience romance.
How to reach Manali
After getting an overview of top attractions, adventure activities, shopping places, & local cuisines, now it is essential to know how to plan your Manali trip. For this, there are three given travel options mentioned below. You can schedule your visit to this hilly paradise at your convenience.
Bhuntar Airport is the nearest airport to visit Manali, at a distance of 50 km. After descending from the airport, you can take a taxi or public transport to reach your desired destination.
Since Manali has no railway station, you must board a train for Joginder Nagar Railway Station. It is the nearest railway station from the hill town at 147 km. However, there is no direct connectivity with the major cities of India.
Manali has a good roadway network with Delhi, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Haridwar, Shimla, Dharamshala, & Chamba through inter-state Volvo buses that terminate at Manali Bus Depot. You can also take a taxi or an auto to reach your desired place in this hill city.
Enjoy extreme luxury & comfort at Bookmark Resorts, Manali
If you want to make your Manali trip reminiscing with beautiful memories, then Bookmark Resorts, Manali, is the optimum choice. It is one of the top luxury resorts in Manali that has all reason to boast its speciality in proving itself as a luxury vacation for its guests in terms of all facilities. Located at a high altitude of 7000 ft. It lies between the Dhauladhar & Pir Panjal mountains of the Himalayas, giving a fantastic panoramic view of Rohtang La. It comes equipped with 39 comfy accommodations added with world-class amenities. In its 22 rooms, you can view Rohtang Pass & Hampta Pass. In its 17 rooms, you will get a fantastic view of the Deodar forests.
The one central plus point to book this opulent resort is its proximity to Hadimba Temple, Manu Temple, Mall Road, & Old Manali, some of the top attractions driving maximum tourist footfall. Now, to experience dining, the resort has one of the best restaurants in Manali that is featured with all kinds of facilities, including communal hi-tea, synced menu for well-being programs, tea lounge areas, complimentary flavoured water, cocktail hours, in-house bakery, availability of nutritious bites including multi-grain laddoo, & more.
Besides comfy rooms & dining facilities, Bookmark Resorts, Manali, is also at its best in letting its guests experience rejuvenating sessions at its spa with two treatment rooms, steam, sauna, & specially curated aromas and oils. The other miscellaneous services you can expect here include a library, private yoga sessions, a fitness centre, a recreational area for kids & adults, & lots more.
So this ends our travel guide for Manali with all the information presented in this blog, including tourist places, adventure sports, marketplaces, local delicacies, & ways to plan your Manali trip. But other than that, we also suggest the best staycation at Bookmark Resorts, Manali, which is equipped with all sorts of luxury facilities & amenities that are enough to make your stay memorable. Overall, Manali makes an ideal travel destination to escape from your bustling city life.