Manali Travelogue

We went to Chakki benk from Pune and picked up a taxi booked through the Himachal taxi union. The journey till Kangra was through some low, brown yet impressive hills with many dry rocky beds passing by. After Kangra we came across some very good views of snow capped peaks; sometimes they would come very close. But i think they would look even better in spring when there’ll be even more snow. I would vote for the region around Kangra for the best views of the Dhauladhars. The road after Palampur is particularly very very “motion sickness triggering” with huge huge hills by your side. Stopped at a dhaba on the way before Jogindernagar which dished out some very good Punjabi food.

The brown hills with the June heat was a bit depressing but that soon waned away after Kullu when the Beas became clear and the mountains- pine forest laden came in view.rohtang Finally we landed at the Upadhyay Cottages at Katrain. These cottages are tucked inside plum and apricot orchards far away from the noise of the main highway. Views too are good. We could see some snow capped peaks and pine forests from their lawn area, food was also nice- home made North Indian food and the best part is it’s located in plum and apricot orchards. So we had plenty of tree ripened fruits which tasted the best. So visiting in the fruits season (May-October) is a must if you are going to Manali. The owner also showed us several other fruits- kiwifruits, grapefruits, apples, pomegranates, walnuts which were about to ripen. The owner was really friendly and hospitable, rooms were nice and comfortable. There are several trails running behind into the mountains. Naggar is also not very far. We spent the next two days roaming inside the orchards and believe me the fruits which have ripened on the tree and have fallen down naturally taste the best. Nothing can beat them.

Naggar – This was another impressive place. One of the best views are to be experienced from here. The highlight of Naggar was the walk up to the ancient Krishna mandir at Thava. The trail passes through some dense pine scented forests with views of far off peaks. This 40-50 min walk (one way) was the best part of our trip. The Tripura sundari mandir too was impressive.

Jana – This waterfall 11km from Naggar is actually on the explored track but the main draw here is the food served at the dhaba- excellent Himachali stuff like lingad subzi, rajma, kadhi, red rice, makki roti. It’s worth going here just for the food.

Our next stop was Manali of which i have little good to write about- maybe because I didn’t feel like exploring the place. The temple at Jagatsukh is a nice one and I feel the streams coming downhill through Manali are also really good. Rest all isn’t even worth going. I would say forget Hadimba temple, Mall Road, Vashisht and all of that stuff.

Solang valley – This was THE best part of our trip. Solang is simply the best place to stay…amazing views, the river not far away and loads of greenery and silence. It’s straight out of those beautiful paintings and postcards we had seen. Iceland hotel here has excellent views, good staff, excellent food (but of limited variety)..surely the kind for a holiday.

Dhundi – The walk upto Dhundi was a slightly hectic one. We found it quite enjoyable, but it’s difficult to walk along the river and walking along the road is not so hire a mountain bike early in the morning, explore Dhundi throughout the day and walk back by sunset. Dhundi has excellent views, plenty of streams and flowers of many kinds. The road construction project is a turn off but it’s ok once you go past it. It’s best to take a mountain bike so that you have energy left to explore the place. And take packed lunch with you. It’s even better to stay in a camp but it will become cold in the evenings.

Solang Village and Waterfall The entire area around the village is crisscrossed by waterfalls, streams with the Beas flowing through it. The walk up to the waterfall will need a guide. The waterfall was gorgeous..i won’t post the readers the video as it will spoil the excitement. Discover it for yourself. The walk takes 1-1.5 hours one way. There’s another walk to the Shiva temple but we missed it due to lack of time, I am told it’s a nice one.

Rohtang Pass- I wish I could just land up on the pass without going through the hair raising bends and unending traffic jams. But the views on the top are just out of the world. I enjoyed skiing for the first time. You must start by 4-4.30 am to avoid jams and also get the best views in the early morning light. Anything after that and it won’t be so enjoyable.

Return journey
While returning we stopped at the Trishla shawl factory which had some inexpensive stuff, but not as varied as Manali. And we brought a box of apricots and plums each. While selecting apricots take ones which are already ripened….never take the green ones, they’ll never ripen well in our climate.

Highlight of this trip– We stopped at a Dhaba after mandi 2 km before Drang on the way to Jogindernagar. It;s owned by Subhash Sharma. I was served the best Himachali food I ever had- lingar madra, dahi tadka, moong, halwa. He explained me the differences between Punjabi and Himachali cuisines and how people today don’t go in for Himachali stuff. It’s on the right side of the road, the Dhaba doesn’t have any signboard as such.

And the Kangra valley looked much greener than when we had left it. I bade farewell to this enchanting land of Himachal promising to return back again soon!!

My recommendations-
1. Solang village area- Stay at the Hotel Iceland.
2. Katrain- Upadhyay Cottages
3. Most important- the best views and surroundings are experienced between 6-9 am..don’t waste this time with breakfast and dressing up!
4. Avoid Manali city.(Hadimba – Vashisht – Mall road) like plague.
5. Leave for rohtang by 4-4.30 am.
7.Stay for a day at Naggar and try the walk upto Krishna temple.
8. Dhaba near mandi for Himachali food not to be missed.

Pictures of my trip on Flickr

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3 Responses to Manali Travelogue

  1. Hi,
    I am planning to visit Manali and wanted to know if we can see the snow this time in manali or near by?

    Pushkar Ns May 8, 2012 at 12:49 am Reply
    • You will find plenty of snow from Gulaba onwards till Rohtang Pass..

      Anu May 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm Reply
  2. I went to Manali last year!!!!The landscapes are very beautiful!!!!The Routang Pass is very beautiful!!!!!!
    Accommodation in kanyakumari

    Kanyakumari Hotels August 16, 2010 at 5:39 pm Reply

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