Manali is a spectacular hilltop station nestled in the mountains with an array of attractions including Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries, adventure sports and splendid scenery.
It was built at the start of an ancient trade route to Ladakh, which continued from there over the Karakoram Pass on to Yarkand and Khotan in the Tarim Basin, Tibet. Manali and its surrounds are also of great significance to Indian culture because the town was believed to be the home of the Saptarishi The Seven Sages.
British settlers, who came later, were inspired by the fertility and climate of the area to introduce apple trees and fresh water trout. To this day, apples, plums and pears remain the primary source of income for the majority of Manali’s residents. The increasing popularity of the town as a holiday resort for local and international visitors has led to many excellent hotels and restaurants. The modern buildings sit alongside ancient temples such as Manu Temple, Vashishta Temple and Hadimba Temple with its superbly crafted four-tiered pagoda roof.
Situated in the middle of Manali, in front of the Tibetan market, is Van Vihar – a meeting and gathering point overlooking a small pond where there’s always some form of activity. A nearby Club House offers comprehensive leisure facilities from a roller skating rink to bungee jumping.
Manali’s scenic surrounds are well worth exploring from the Solang Valley, known for its parachuting, paragliding, skating and zorbing; to the Rohtang Pass with its waterfalls, clear springs and deep gorges. Views abound and it seems every vista brings some new point of interest and excitement.
Boating on the Van Vihar pond | Adventure sports in the Solang Valley | Lunching at Rani Nala picnic spot on The Rohtang Pass
According to legend the Hindu God, Manu, alighted his Noah-like ark in Manali to re-create human life after floods destroyed the earth