With the arrival of a new year, many of us have our hopes high for a safer future. Yet, we cannot ignore the danger which still lurks out there. It has affected us and has especially taken a toll on those of us who have a passion for traveling. Being of an adventurous spirit myself, I have felt the strong desire to escape these caging walls. The desire to run into the wild nature. And it is the daring side of this spirit that makes us challenge these challenging times. We can do this by being cautious and adopting the necessary precautions.
In such times, when we want to freshen our weakened spirits, what could be better than visiting Manali? My friend describes them as the Indian “Swiss Alps”. Legendarily called Manu’s Alaya (abode). Manu, under the guidance of Lord Vishnu, had arrived here after facing Pralaya, the Great Flood. He had then restored life on Earth. In this picturesque city whose charm can rejuvenate our lock-downed spirits as well. Manali occupies a complex territory of the Kullu district in “dev-Bhoomi” (lit. land of gods) Himachal Pradesh. It has majestic mountainous ranges lush with sal, deodar, and pine forests. It has Satluj, Beas, and various streams shimmering through its valleys. O Fellow adventure seeker, I can hear the mountains calling me while thinking of this.
Before hopping into this adventurous trip to Manali
It’s important for us to ensure that we are completely ready for this voyage in the new normal. Along with your sweaters, jackets, socks, and trekking bag make sure to carry more than one mask. While going for an outing, it’s my advice from experience that you always carry at least one extra mask in case. In these times, one fears using public soaps to wash one’s hands. Hence, it’s wise that you pack in paper-soaps along with your hand-sanitizers.
The Himachal government has relaxed its guidelines, so there is no need for a prior Covid test. But to be on the safer side and to ensure a smooth journey, you could always carry a recent report along. Do make sure that you have the Aarogya Setu app downloaded on your Mobile phones. It is also advisable to carry a general medical kit. This could prove helpful in your journey in case of problems like motion sickness.
All Aboard for Manali!!
There are more than one ways to reach Manali. You can take a flight from Delhi (or from your nearest airport) to the Kullu Manali Airport, 50km from Manali. Or even Chandigarh airport if you want a longer trip. There are Volvo bus services from Delhi or Chandigarh to Manali with comfortable recliner seats. But under the prevalent situation, we would like the safest route to Manali, right?
Travelling by air is one of the safest ways to travel these days. It is also the easiest way as you can get flights from major airports directly to Kullu-Manali. By following the flight guidelines for each state we can ensure a safe journey. From the Kullu Manali airport, you can hire a taxi to Manali. Apps like Uber are trustable to book cabs. They follow all the sanitization safety measures. If you land at the Chandigarh airport, it can take about 8 hours to reach Manali.
For true Travel lovers, travelling by road has been a forever favorite. People travel by bikes and cars to Manali. It is because of Manali’s road connectivity with some of the most attractive tourist spots. Delhi, Chandigarh, Shimla are a few of them to name. A personal vehicle is, indeed, safer. But many of us who don’t have our own cars or want to enjoy the journey can opt for Volvo buses and cabs. Again due to the safety concerns, a cab is a better option. But it can be as expensive. Don’t feel afraid to go for a bus, make sure you follow the proper safety measures. You can get cabs from Chandigarh to Manali and even Delhi to Manali.
And Voila! We are in Manali!
However enjoyable they may be, long journeys are tiresome. As soon as you get out of your car and you step out, take a deep breath and stand. Let the cool air brush against your tired self. Let the beautiful sight of the mountains sink in. Manali is a gold mine for scenic beauty as any trekker or nature lover would tell you. But there are certain spots which you cannot miss on your trip to Manali.
You might not be a very spiritual person. But after a long lockdown at home, everyone’s soul desires recreation. Hindu mythology is about maintaining dharma and a balance in the universe. And we do need such a balance these days. In Manali, you are sure to find a mythical story around some corner.
Let the Spiritual Saga Unfold!
Remember the Manu legend after whom Manali was named. People believe that after securing life on Earth, Manu here itself and meditated. Today a pagoda-styled temple stands in Old Manali marking this place. The walk to this temple is equally interesting as you firmly step on the steep streets. And you peek into shops selling the finest woolens and shawls, as you pass. It, thus, gives a typical hilly experience.
Hidimba Devi Temple
This temple, as the name suggests, is dedicated to Bhima’s wife and Ghatotkatcha’s mother, Hidimba. Another temple erected in a legend of valor and love in a time of hardship. The temple provides a truly spiritual experience. You can sit down on one of the various boulders surrounding the temple. Sitting there you can admire its architectural beauty. The Himachali structure surrounded by pine trees is mesmerizing.
Vashishth Temple and Jogini Waterfall
6km away from Manali is a village called Vashishth village. Legend has it that a depressed Sage Vashishth came here to commit suicide. But the river was unable to drown him and he decided to meditate here. The river was thus called “Bipasha” which over time became “Beas”. A temple with exquisite wood carvings is worth a visit. There is a hot spring near the temple. Popular belief says that bathing in it can be beneficial for your skin.
Towards the outskirts of the village is a charming waterfall. Locals will tell you that Indra’s daughter “Jogini” bathed in the stream forming under it. Hence, they call it the “Jogini” Waterfall. More than that, it’s a site of aesthetic pleasure.
Himalayan Nyingmapa Buddhist Temple
It is one of the most famous Buddhist monasteries of Manali and North India. The pagoda-styled monastery is located near the Mall road, the life of Manali. Splendid paintings adorn its walls. The peaceful idol of Buddha complements their hues. A tranquil silence will immerse you; making the place a must-visit after the lockdown.
Spirituality is one aspect. Manali is the perfect destination for all. Its natural beauty mesmerizes the old and stirs up the young. Its romantic side attracts both couples and lovers of nature and poetry. Let’s take a look at some other places which offer recreational activities for all.
On your way to Rohtang Pass, lies the Solang Valley. It is a beautiful sight in winters with snow-capped mountains surrounding it. The valley itself is blanketed with snow which makes it ideal for skiing. Amazingly, this valley never loses its fervor. In summers, the valley looks completely different yet as beautiful as winters. It becomes a site zorbing, paragliding, and trekking. You will want to visit Kullu Manali twice, for this valley.
Old Manali is equal to the ideal hilly experience. You walk on steep alleys running through typical Himachali houses. The river Beas gurgling in the backdrop as you shop in the market of Old Manali. Old Manali is a favorite for explorers. You can go trekking on the trail that leads to the Manali Wildlife Sanctuary. (But be careful to not trespass into the Sanctuary without permission). It is an amazing experience to discover the diverse flora of Manali.
Take my word, especially if you love nature and adventure. You have to visit Rohtang Pass if you are visiting Manali. And you are not going to regret it. You kick off on a thrilling 50km journey from Manali full of slippery roads and sharp curves. There to be welcomed by the majesty of Nature. There awaits an enchanting view of snow, glaciers, and streams as if taken from a Disney fairy tale. And that’s not all. You can do skiing, paragliding, and snow-scooting. A visit to Rohtang Pass can give you a memorable experience. I suppose something of the likes to inspire Wordsworth.
Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art
If you are a geek like me and more towards the intellectual side, Manali has enough to keep you engrossed. Along with its architectural marvels, Manali has this wonderful museum. It is very popular among tourists. The museum boasts of its exhibition of Himachal’s folk culture. From traditional farming tools, handlooms, and utensils to folk art; it has it all.
Food for the Stomach and the Soul
With Covid lurking around, it is difficult to dismiss the fear for safety while going out to eat. But on travel, it’s not working to make prepare your own food. Moreover, a trip feels incomplete without tasting the best restaurants in the place. It’s even more difficult to resist when you are visiting a place like Manali. Its restaurants continue its reputation of contenting your hunger- for both food and nature.
The good news is you can still enjoy all this without any shred of fear. Thanks to the regulations of the Himachal government and the extra hygienic measures taken by the restaurant. Here is a list of some must-visit eateries of Manali-
The first on our list is, of course, Café 1947. It’s like a ritual to visit this place on your Manali trip. It has both- an outdoors sitting lounge and an interior of antique design. You can sit outside in the evening beside a bonfire enjoying the presence of the river Beas. Or inside where there are majestic windows looking out to the richest scenic views of Manali. You can relax your eyes while having some great Italian food and whiskey along.
Casa Bella Vista
Are you a bibliophile who loves munching on a slice of pizza while devouring a book? Casa Bella Vista is the place for you. Renowned for its thin-crust pizzas, the café is like the “chicken soup for the soul”. Nestled in a heart-warming location, it’s a cozy place for a delicious European meal with a cute library.
Had too much Italian while you are a fan of Chinese? Worry not for Chopsticks is there waiting for you. It might not be as grand as the above two. Standing on the Mall road, it has its own grace with its typical East-Asian look. Moreover, it is not just a “Chinese restaurant”. It offers Japanese and Tibetan cuisines too. This makes it an Asian haven, in essence.
You might not find this café on popular blogs. But mark my word; it’s as great as any of the above. It’s the best place to visit if you seek solace. The café stands secluded from the general populace in old Manali. It offers some great food and the best scenic views. The interior is simple yet attractive. The café feels like a part of Nature itself, making it unique in its own right.
Tired? Let’s rest for the Day
Choosing the right hotel is very important for any trip. It especially becomes a priority during Covid. Most hotels follow the WHO protocol and are safe to stay in if you follow all the guidelines. Also, in view of the pandemic dangers, most of them are very cooperative. They offer a free cancellation policy. Here is a list of some of the bestselling Manali hotels at the time of the pandemic.
If you love those Gothic castles from 18th century English novels, then you are in for a treat. This grand hotel with its castle-like look will make you feel like a royal personage. This includes its majestic rooms, gardens, and orchards. People comment about the dedicated service of the staff. It is working at its best to maintain safety and hygiene. The resort has a pool and spaces for other sports activities. It also offers free parking and a free internet connection. All this makes it worth the cost.
Apple Country Resort
Placed next to the Himalaya, this resort is perched in the heart of nature in Old Manali. It is one of the top-ranking places to stay during Covid. The hotel has exotic rooms with attached bathrooms. You can stand on the balcony and enjoy the natural view. It provides free internet, laundry service, and efficient medical service. The resort is a heaven for vegetarians. Its restaurant is popular for offering vegetarian dishes from all corners of the country. You will be surprised to know that the hotel is very pocket friendly. Also, take into account its amenities like a spa and various recreational activities.
The Whispering Inn
Perched in a scenic spot in old Manali is this cute looking resort. Its location is ideal as it is situated near various famous tourist spots. The resort offers a range of rooms and suits your needs. But all are well furnished and comfy. The resort also offers free Wi-Fi and laundry services. The resort follows all the local quarantine protocols. With a well-trained staff, the hotel takes special care of sanitization. Do check MakeMyTrip.com for some pocket-friendly offers related to this resort.
I hope that this guide has relieved some of your insecurities, Adventurous Traveller. If you are about to start packing your bags then I am leaving here the links to-
Some of the Best Tour Packages to Manali
These are available on