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Manali

Manali is situated at an altitude of 1,829 m in Himachal Pradesh. It is the main tourist destination of the Kullu Valley. Suggested clothing - heavy/light woolens in winter & summer. It receives an annual rainfall of 1,780 mm. In summer Manali Manaliis packed with Pahari speaking Kullus, Lahaulis, Nepali labourers, Tibetan refugees and foreign and Indian tourists. Apple growing has been the mainstay of the local economy. Manali is the centre of a flourished orchard industry. A host of small shops, restaurants and small hohotels provide the necessities of daily life. Every year more hotels are opened in and around Manali.

Manali offers the best of northwestern Himalayan beauty, second only to Kashmir valley. The twin towns of Kullu and Manali, approximately 40 km apart lie on the Beas River valley. The Beas River is snow fed by scores of tributaries originating in the glacial peaks surrounding the valley. The highest peaks average 6000 to 6500 m above sea level.

Manali is well connected by road to Delhi through NH-21 which goes on the Leh and is the world's highest motorable road. Leading up to Manali from New Delhi are the towns of Panipat and Ambala in Haryana, Chandigarh and Ropar in Punjab, and Bilaspur, Sundernagar, and Mandi in Himachal. The road to Manali features a gradual change in flora, fauna, lifestyle, and language. Despite being at high altitudes, the twin towns are still at the bottom of the valley. Past Manali, the change in climate and lifestyle is abrupt, moving further and higher into the mountains at the periphery of the windward side led by high mountain passes on to the dry plateau type leeward side. The road from Manali to Leh features a strong Buddhist influence, with frequent Buddhist gompas and stupas along the arid stretch.

Manali has a pre-historic legend behind its name. Vaivasvata, the seventh incarnation of Manu, the first creation according to Hindu mythology, found a tiny fish in his bathing water. The fish told him to look after it with devotion, for one day it would do him a great service. The seventh Manu cared for the fish until it grew so huge that he released it into the sea. Before departing, the fish warned Manu of an impending deluge when the entire world would be submerged and bade him to build a seaworthy ark. When the flood came, Matsya (fish), the first avatar of Lord Vishnu, towed Vaivasvata and the Seven Sages to safety. As the waters subsided, the seventh Manu's ark came to rest on a hillside and the place was named Manali after him.

Sightseeing
  • Hadimba Temple
    Built in 1550 AD in a forest grove, Hadimba Devi's temple is a four storeyed with a pagoda shaped roof and a front doorway covered with figures and symbols. The temple is 2 km pleasant walk from the tourist office. There is a steep footpath to the temple or a longer motorable road. Outside hang deer antlers and markhor horns donated by local hunters. Hadimba is supposed to be the wife of Bhima in the epic of Mahabharata. Also known as the Dhungri temple, it's site of a major festival held in May.
  • Buddhist Monasteries
    Manali is known for its shiny gompas or Buddhist monasteries. With the highest concentration of Tibetan refugees in the entire Kullu valley, it is famous for its Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa, built in 1969. The monastery is maintained by donations from the local community and through the sale of hand-woven carpets in the temple workshop.
  • Manalsu River
    An interesting walk is along the north bank of the Manalsu river, west of old village, which flows into the Beas. Relatively easy mule track with more adventurous tracks leading from it. Across the river lies old Manali, the original village.
  • Arjun Gufa
    On the left bank of the Beas, five kms from Manali near the village of Prini, is the Arjun Gufa or the cave of Arjuna. One of the heroes of the Mahabharata, Arjuna is said to have performed penence here.
How to Reach Manali
  • Air
    Nearest airport is at Bhuntar, 50 km away. Archana Airways and Jagson Airlines operate daily flights from Delhi to Kullu. U.P Airways flights are seasonal.
  • Rail
    Upto Chandigarh or Shimla from Delhi, or via Pathankot to Jogindernagar, and then bus transfers.
  • Road
    Himachal Tourism runs deluxe/ordinary buses and private operators are available during the season. The bus terminal is well organised and the ticket office is computerised. Deluxe buses are booked, and leave from, the tourist office, while semideluxe are handled from the bus terminal itself.


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