Hiking in India’s Himalayas: Manali

This is not a summer vacation plan because summer is tourist season in Manali. It’s better to go in April or September and October – the weather is usually nice and it’s less hectic than during the summer. Most everything closes down in the winter, so if you want a true getaway, you might consider going in the winter (a few hotels stay open).

This will be a rough travel plan as I’m putting it together based on 2 stories, mostly one from Kscene magazine. It’s not online yet, but when it is I’ll add the link so you can read that story as well.

Fly to Delhi. You may need to spend a day or two here before you take your bus ride to Manali. This will build up your strength for the 500 rupee, 12 hour, 550 km bus ride that will take you from Delhi to Manali. If you’re too cheap to go first class, 250 rupees on the mail run will take you 24 hours and you’ll be amazingly uncomfartbale after the first 30 minutes. Spring for the extra 250 rupees! You can also fly to Bhunter (I have no information on the cost) and then take a 1.5 hour taxi ride for 1,000 ruees.

In Manali, you’ll need a place to stay. There’s no need to book ahead in the offseason but things are fairly crowded during the peak summer season. Expect to pay anywhere from 100 to 4,000 rupees/night (4,000 for the Holiday Inn). There’s the main town: New Manali, and there’s the Old Manali village 2-3 km away. From the spring until the summer, western tourists generally stay in the village while Indians generally stay in the town. It seems strange to westerners who have been there and they can’t explain it. It’s not like that in September and October.

In May, there are good opportunities for whitewater rafting, canoeing, and kayaking. The Mountaineering Institute in Manali has courses in skiing October is best, but some mountains are covered in snow even during summer), rock climbing and mountaineering.

Sadly, the wonderful nature is made somewhat less enjoyable by the drug culture. I’m told that the key is to avoid the “unsavory characters” and spend your time hiking, and playing chess with the locals in rooftop cafes. You won’t be completely left alone but that’s the best one can do to avoid the hassle. That’s my Manali travel plan, by the way: hike, stroll around town, and drink chai in the rooftop cafes while talking to the locals.

You’ll want to go to the hot sulphur springs at Vashisht, a small town 3 km away from Manali. In Vashist, check out the two stone temples with elaborate woodcarvings in the main square. My friend also recommends the Rahalla Falls, which are 16 km from Manali.

Eventually, you’ll take the bus back to Delhi and fly home.

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  1. Arul says:

    Rohtang Pass, Manikaran is a nice place to visit too… And in case you are game for a long drives, Rohtang Pass straight leads to Leh. Which is a really awesome place to be at. Rohtang Pass is closed between December and April due to heavy snow. So plan accordingly.

    My travelogue on the same.. http://arulprakash.blogspot.com/2005/12/travelogue-manali.html

  2. cameron moore says:

    yes, hiking, hot springs, chess, and marijuana — the honeymoney inn near the hot springs has mirrors on the cealing— enjoy this gem, with the herb.

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