Manali, Himachal Pradesh: Manali is a city in the Kullu Valley of the Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh. Its geographical coordinates are 32.2396 degrees North, 77.1887 degrees East and is located at an altitude of 1,926 meters above sea level. Located in the Himalayan valleys, the area is mainly irrigated by the Beas River and the Sutlej River.
Kullu District shares its boundaries with Spiti and Lahul on North East, Kangra on North West, Mandi on South West and Shimla and Kinnaur on South East.
Manali derived its name from Manavalaya i.e. the abode of Manu. As per the mythological tale Manu was the only survivor of the Mahajal Pralay (meaning the great flood) in the ancient history of civilization. It was Manu who was believed to be the father of the human race.
Manali is nested in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. It is about 40 km from the district headquarters Kullu. Manali is the enchanting origin point where trade was commenced in the ancient past. The route crossed Rohtang and Baralacha passes and goes via Lahul and Ladakh to Kashmir extending upto Spiti.
Manali is a mesmerizing romantic paradise and a very popular honeymoon destination. Tourists from all over the country including overseas countries love to spend the summer in Manali. The winters are ideal for a cozy holiday and for snow lovers. Manali is an amazing destination for adventure sports where one can enjoy the sport of your choice. The Tourism Department has also very liberally encouraged the sports all over the state and has created extremely comfortable and helpful facilities for sports lovers. The hills and valleys are so fascinating that one wishes to stay back here forever away from all the stress, noise and pollution that haunt city life.
Tibetan Market in Manali:
The Tibetan Market located on the Mall road in the heart of the city is a major shopping place for tourists. Beautiful Tibetan handicrafts and carpets is the highlight of the market at economical prices. Shopping in Manali without a visit to this market is in vain.
Winter Carnival in Manali:
Manali is the place to enjoy chilled winters, snowfalls and bon fires. The winter carnival is the most awaited event in the valley. Declaredas a state level festival, the carnival attracts a lot of inquisitive tourists and fun lovers. Cultural groups and students from various colleges of India visit Manali to participate in the carnival. The festival is held at 'Manu Kala Kendra' in Manali in the second / third week of January for fivedays. The festival includes artist’s performances; competitions in classical music (vocal and instrumental), folk songs, folk dances, classical dances, group dances, group songs, fancy dress, film songs, film dances, one act plays, and street plays. The competition for the youngsters includes the Men's Personality Contest and Winter Queen Contest. There is a huge crowd that gathers to view this contest. On the last day of the carnival the Winter Queen contest and Men's Personality contest is held. The chief guest gives away the prizes to all the winners of the five-day long festival.
Sports in Manali:
River Rafting, Skiing, Paragliding, Trekking, Hiking, Mountaineering, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, River crossing, Jeep Safari, Motor Cycling, Rock Climbing, Angling
Jeep Safari– The Jeep Safari takes visitors to a beautiful ride of the highest mountain highways of the world. The ride goes from Manali to Lahaul and then to Leh, Ladakh thorough the Rohtang Pass. The drive is magnificent and views the beautiful hill and valley view. Visitors can also drive through the rocky wasteland of Spiti through the Kunzum pass towards Tabo, the "Ajanta of the Himalayas" and Spiti Valley. This is a splendid experience of one’s life time where you are the closest to nature and its landscapes.
River rafting– Rafting is an amazing adventure for water lovers. Rafting facilities are offered by private operators and also tourism department. Water sports center has been set up to provide the adventure sports option to tourists. Rafting is done on the high and low tides of River Beas. Kayaking is also great fun at the Pandoh Dam on the way to Mandi. Rafting is done from morning to evening based on the climatic conditions and water waves. It is a real thrilling experience for sports men and also for tourists who are doing it for the first time. The sport is equally enjoyed by children also. Professional guidance is a must for this sport else it could be hazardous. Tourists need to check the registration license of the guide issued by the District Administration.
Paragliding– It is organized in Kullu valley throughout the year at Solang Valley. The valley is located 14 kms from Manali and also in other locations like Marhi, Fatru, Bijli Mahadev etc. The sport has two kinds of flights:
1. Short flights: It is ideal for visitors who are new to the sport. The visitor is taken 100 - 150 meters up the slope from where he takes a flight along with the pilot in the two seater paraglider. The flight lasts for approximately 60 - 90 seconds.
2. High flying: This flight lasts longer and is ideal for those who are more experienced and daring. The flight lasts for about 20-30 minutes. Flightsare arranged at Fatru, Kothi and Bijli Mahadev.
Trekking– It is a more popular and a sport that is done by almost every tourist who visits Kullu. Comfortable walking shoes, water proof warm jacket, woolen / tennis socks, stockings, sunglasses, headgear, water, food, torch, first aid box, umbrella and rucksack are the essentials that one needs to carry while going on this expedition. Local guides and tour operators are available to guide visitors to the right path of trekking.
Skiing– The popular slopes for skiing are the Rohtang Pass and Solang Nallah. Easy slopes are ideal for beginners by taking course or hiring an instructor for a short while from the Directorate of Mountaineering and Allied sports or any agency that is registered with department of Tourism. Skiing is done throughout the year at Rohtang pass. Experienced skiers really enjoy heli-skiing during winter. Beas Kund, Chandertal and Malana glaciers are the most popular among ice climbers.
Camping- Camping is a complete stress busters and an ideal getaway from the hectic city life. The landscapes and freshness of the environment takes one close to nature and is a great rejuvenator. The dense woods of the cedar forests and the mountain valleys fulfill one’s desire to live in raw natural environment and camping is the right choice. You don’t need an expert or any kind of a practice for this. It is a very simple way to enjoy nature. Professional guidance is needed to choose the right site and follow eco-friendly rules. The Beas Kund Camp at Rohtang Pass is a popular camping destination. Raison and Shoja also have beautiful camp sites. Solang valley, Kothi and Manali camp have luxury camping amidst the Apple Orchids. The other camping sitesare Malana, Pulga and Kheer Gangain. Camping equipment, training, safety precautions and experienced trainers and guides are available in abundance from local tour operators and Tourism department. A number of adventure lovers carry their own tents and enjoy camping with friends and family. A number of tour operators provide camping packages that include tent accommodation, food, adventure activities, bonfires and a whole lot of fun activities. The best time for camping is from April to June and from September to October.
Mountaineering– A great adventure that is widely enjoyed by visitors. There are a number of unexplored and popular peaks in the area that are great fun to climb. Proper equipment, water, food, comfortable shoes, first aid box and road map are the essentials for this sport.
The Mountaineering Institute in Manali is located at a distance of about 3 km from the main city junction near the River Beas. It provides training facilities for basic and advance climbing both for Indian nationals and foreigners. Skiing and trekking equipment can be hired from the institute by booking in advance. It also offers accommodation and boarding arrangements.
The nearest big town from Manali is Kullu which is about 40 km. Kullu is another great holiday destination and is also referred to as the “Valley of Gods”.