Manali, called the Queen of hill stations, in the Indian Himalayas is full of amazing sights and blessed with all the natural bounties. Surrounded by towering peaks, trekking and hiking trails, it is a popular honeymoon destination and is known for its immense natural beauty.
Situated 24 miles from Kulu to the north, Manali is near the end of the valley on the National Highway leading to Leh. The landscape here is breath taking. One sees well-defined snow capped peaks. The Beas River with its clear water meanders through the town. On the other side are deodar and pine trees, tiny fields and fruit orchards. It is an excellent place for a holiday, a favorite resort for trekkers to Lahaul, Spiti, Kinnaur, Leh and Zanskar in Kashmir valley. It is known as the Switzerland of India.
The Manali market is crowded with shops selling Tibetan carpets and crafts and the appetizing aroma of steaming noodles hangs about the little restaurants. Manali, with its Mountaineering Institute, is a popular base for trekking and mountaineering in summer and skiing in winter. Interesting routes into the surrounding valleys, over the high passes, offer tourist huts and rest houses for hiking enthusiasts.
Manali has many attractions but the chief center of interest, historically and archeologically, is undoubtedly the Dhoongri Temple dedicated to goddess Hadimba, the Bhim of Mahabharat fame. It has a four-tiered Pagoda shaped roof. The doorway is carved with legendary figures and symbols. This temple in a forest of deodar is only 1 and 1/2 miles from the tourist office. It is a pleasant experience to stroll in the temple complex which was built in 1533 A.D. A large festival happens here each May.
There are 3 newly constructed colorful monasteries, where visitors can buy carpets and other Tibetan handicrafts. Two are in the town and one at Aleo on the left bank of the Beas River.
Vashist Hot Water Springs and Temple
Vashist, a small village on the left bank of the Beas near Rohtang pass is worth a visit. It is renowned for its hot springs and temples. Nearby is the pyramidal stone temple dedicated to Vashist Muni. There is another Temple of Lord Ram here. Natural hot sulphur springs with separate bathing tanks for men and women are always full of tourists.
Rohtang pass is 31 miles from Manali on the highway to Keylong/Leh. It offers a spectacular view of the mountains. The pass is open from June to October each year although trekkers can cross it earlier. It is a gateway to Lahaul Spiti, Pangi and Leh valley just as Zojila pass is a gateway to Ladakh. There are beautiful glaciers and peaks and Chandra River flows down in the Lahaul valley. Slightly to the left are the twin peaks of the Geypan. During summer(mid June to October) regular buses travel between Manali-Keylong/Darcha, Udaipur, Spiti and Lehby.
The Switzerland of India is rich in charm and beauty. It is a refreshing destination in summer.