In our previous post, we have discussed about the different route options to your dream destination, Ladakh. We are now discussing more about the Manali-Leh Highway in this post and in the upcoming posts covering various destinations on the route to Leh, distances and travel time to reach them. The first leg of journey involves reaching Manali. Distance between Delhi to Manali is 537km by road, and which is also connected by air.
Drive from Delhi to Manali
With an early 5 a.m. start and some driving stamina, (which in any case is a required condition further on), this journey can be completed within a day and one can expect to check in at the hotel in Manali before sunset. For those wanting to keep a more leisurely pace and break the journey, Chandigarh, at 260km/4 hours, is a convenient night halt with the next day’s drive being reduced to 6-7 hours.
Another option is to spend the night in, or around, Shimla and take the road via Mandi, which will also take approximately the same time. Since Manali is probably going to only be a brief pit stop, the sights and things to do are being dealt with somewhat interesting.
With this trip in all likelihood being undertaken sometime between late June and mid-September, a couple of things have to be kept in mind. Although Manali, at 6725ft/2050m, lies at the head of an extremely beautiful valley with the Beas River rushing through and spectacular snow peaks in the near distance.
All said and done, we would suggest spending a full day here at Manali to rest and relax before beginning your journey to the higher reaches of the Himalayas and beyond.
Places to visit in Kullu Manali
Since the city is small and due to heavy tourists, traffic jams in both Manali and at Rohtang Pass being a common feature in the summer months. Meanwhile you can have a quick visits to side valleys of Tirthan and Parvati, with its hot springs at Manikaran.
The land untouched and mysterious beauty, Tirthan Valley is a destination filled with excessive amount of pleasure and adventure. Located nearly 95 km from Manali and 3 kms from the entrance of Great Himalayan National Park, this place is full of adventurous activities and a heaven for nature lovers.
The great Himalayas with snow covered peaks looking over the Tirthan River, the valley is best known for its trout fishing and for surprisingly high number of foreign tourists. Magical atmosphere and lush green paths leading to nearby small and attractive villages accompanied by amazing weather throughout the year, Tirthan valley is great for those holiday makers who seek adventure as well as peace.
Parvati Valley, located 75 kms from Manali is a breathtaking beautiful valley stretches back up to the hot springs at Manikaran and beyond into the 5000m heights of the Great Himalayan Range. The Parvati River enters the Beas just above Bhuntar. Like Manali, the Parvati is a favourite destination along the ‘hummus trail’ followed by post–military service Israeli travelers. It’s also increasingly popular among young Indians. Most popular of the spot here is Kasol where you will get both Hotels and tented accommodations, one can enjoy a camp and a bonfire here at Kasol.
There are some beautiful treks in the area, including over the Chandrakani Pass to/from Naggar, or the Pin-Parvati Pass to/from Spiti. For safety reasons, solo trekking is not recommended.
For those interested in some sightseeing a visit to Naggar is recommended. Located 20km out of the Manali, it has some interesting eleventh century temples including the Gauri Shankar Temple near the market place and the Tripura Sundari Temple further up. The Naggar castle is strategically located with the great views of the valley and the snow peaks and while it has operated as a hotel for many years, it has now been renovated with some intricately carved wooden panels and pillars and has a temple and museum in its premises. The Roerich Art Gallery is worth a visit, especially for those interested in art.
Solang Valley or Solang Nala, derives its name from two words Solang (Nearby village) and Nullah (water stream). Solang Valley, 10km ahead of Manali and on the route to Rohtang Pass. Giant slopes of lawn comprise Solang Valley and provide its reputation as a popular ski resort. A few ski agencies offering courses and equipment reside here and operate only during winters. Snow melts during the summer months starting May and skiing is then replaced by zorbing (a giant ball with room for 2 people which is rolled down a 200 meter hill), paragliding, parachuting and horse riding. A ropeway was recently opened. Going to the summit can be possible by ATVs, Ropeway or Climbing (Trekking)
Hadimba Devi Temple
In Manali, the Hadimba Temple built over 400 years ago, with beautiful wooden carvings. The temple is located above the township and is surrounded by a rich deodar forest, also known as Hidimbi Devi Temple and is dedicated to Hidimbi Devi, wife of Bhima, a figure in the Indian epic Mahābhārata. The temple is built over a huge rock extended out of the ground which was worshiped as an image of the deity. The temple was built in 1553.
Other Attractions in Manali
The Manu Maharishi temple lies in old Manali, surrounded by apple orchards, and is worth a quick visit. The village of Vashisht, 4km away on the opposite bank, is famous for its hot springs.
Manali is last point before Leh to stock up or add to your supplies of food and medicine, not forgetting the essential jerry can for fuel reserves – so shop here if you need to.