Manali is the perfect summer retreat. Like most hill stations in India it has off late commercialised to a great extent and everything about it is touristy. However the real beauty of this quaint hill station is beyond the bustle of the Tibetian markets and the tourist thronged places.
You need to step out from the most frequented places and go off the usual track to see the true beauty of this place. Here’s my list of off beat things that you can do in and around Manali:
1. Paraglide in Solang.
The Solang valley is 15 km from Manali , enroute Rohtang Pass and the hub of adventure sports in this region. There can’t be anything better than to paraglide over the snow capped hills amidst the clouds. A definite adrenaline rush for adventure lovers. In winters, the valley offers ample skiing opportunities as well.
2. Visit the Naggar Castle :
If history and architecture excite you,a quick visit to the Naggar castle is highly recommended.
The castle, constructed only with two things: Wood and stone was the residence of Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu.
The corridors and passageways give a colonial feel to the whole place as you are transported back in time. The views from the balconies are absolutely stunning.
P.s: This was the place where a famous song (Yeh ishq haye) of the Bollywood movie “Jab We Met” was filmed.
3. Trek to the Monastery :
There are ample of monasteries in this region. My lone journey to the Nyingmapa Monastery was of serenity and serendipity.
I had embarked upon it only because a local told me about it. And the journey is beyond beautiful.
When I reached, I really had no idea it would be at such an high altitude and the roads would be so narrow!
The monastery is run by Buddhist nuns. Nestled in the hills, this tiny monastery is a must visit for the warmth of this place and of course the journey to this place!
4. Sip coffee in a Riverside cafe :
The most enchanting thing about Manali is the gorgeous river Beas flowing in full glory. There are rocky patches enroute Manali from Kullu, where there are small cafes built on the river.
Yes, you read it right. Cafes on the river( with the tables and chairs screwed to the rocks )
The cafes are a perfect way to connect with nature.
You can dip your feet in the cold water while you read a book, with the gushing sound of the Beas echoing in your ears.Perfect Bliss.
Most of these were demolished after the Mandi Dam Tragedy.
5. Drive through till the Rohtang Pass :
With curvy roads and stunning landscapes, this indeed is the most picturesque drive ever. 51 Kms from Manali , the pass connects the Kullu Valley with the Spiti Valley.
Don’t waste your time at the touristy snow point.
Drive further , closer to the Rohtang pass for heavenly, breathtaking views!
The pass is open from May -November.
If you are leaving for Rohtang from Manali, be sure to leave early in the morning, to avoid the terrible traffic jam at Snow point.
6. River rafting in the Beas :
You may have rafted in Rishikesh, but with amazing rapids and stunning views, rafting in the Beas is quite an experience.
There are ample rafting camps between Kullu and Manali. It is however advisable to either book your rafting agency online or through your hotel.
7. A forest walk amidst cedar trees, near Hadimba temple.
Hadimba temple is thronged by tourists. But the area where the temple is situated is a forest full of tall and scenic cedar trees.
If you fancy a walk into the woods (Robert Frost style), this is one thing you must absolutely do! Move away from the crowds and wander into the picture picture cedar forests.
This is certainly a walk to remember!
8. Local Pahadi food at Jana falls :
Jana falls is not all that delightful. But the food at the local dhaba here is simply brilliant. Not to miss the scenic drive to the falls.
If you want to taste authentic Pahadi food and the local Himachali delicacies, do not miss the food here.
There is a thali system, where you can eat local dishes like Pahadi Curry (Mhani), red rice, makke ki roti, bichhukooti chatni, lingdi ka achar,
9. A walk in Old Manali
Old Manali is enchanting with its cafes, fast food stalls and tiny shops.
Detailed post here.
10. Visit The shawl factories between Kullu and Manali
If you are a lover of crafts and really wish to see how the famous Kullu shawls are woven, hop into the tiny factories on the Kullu-Manali Highway.
It is a delight to see the artisans in action, creating masterpieces with wool!
Have you been to Manali and done something exciting apart from the above? Do let me know!