A trip to Manali

I am a mountain child. And it’s my dream to build my abode in the laps of the scenic mountains. The calmness, the greenery, mighty mountains, lovely stream of the river and the simple living of the people attract me so much that I make sure that I do a trip to hills every 2-3 months. They are my escapade from everything.

A long weekend arrives in September and here I got my excuse to make a trip to the hills and this time, it was Manali. I have been to McLeodganj, Nainital, Mukteshwar, Lansdowne, Kasauli, Shimla, Dalhousie, Mussoorie and more and was expecting a similar landscape in Manali as well – the mountains, river, greenery, etc. But this place is all this and beyond.

I boarded the 5 pm bus from Delhi to Manali on Friday evening which got delayed and started at 7pm. After the usual halts for dinner and our good night sleep, we woke up to a rainy weather in Mandi and some amazing scenic views on our way from Mandi to Manali. The Beas river was in its full flow storming and roaring. The mountains were so green that you hardly find the patches of barren land. I started reading a book but was looking out of my window every 2 seconds. I just did not want to unsee any part of this amazing journey. It seemed like our bus was crossing a Jurassic Park area where we could be greeted by those big dinosaurs from anywhere. Yeah, my imagination got a bit wild but you need to see it to believe it. Early morning, rainy weather and green mountains had just set the tone for me as we were still 85 km away from Manali.

Day 1:

Our bus reached at around 11 am in Manali and we straight away went to our hotel. After resting a bit, we headed to Old Manali. This place will give you feels of McLeodganj. Italian cafes and lounges, Live Music, Bob Marley’s T-Shirts and posters, shops selling artifacts and clothes, sadhus sitting at the corners lighting up a smoke and restaurants cum stays are some of the things that you will find here.

We (me and my husband :D) tried Cafe 1947 based on TripAdvisor’s reviews and gorged on Chicken Pizza and Penne Pasta with Ginger Honey Lemon tea. The Pizza was great but the tea had too much of honey and Pasta was bland.

After strolling a bit and taking a halt at Manali mall road, we came back to our hotel. We also booked a cab for a day tour of Rohtang Pass and Solang Valley from one of the Taxi Booking counters for our Day 2. Though after talking to people and reading reviews at Tripadvisor, we were skeptical of going to Rohtang pass in an off-season with no snow but finally decided to go ahead and make a trip for which we thanked ourselves later.

(Pic credits: Dhiraj Pandey, my awesome husband 🙂 )

Day 2:

After a heavy breakfast, we started from our hotel at 9 am for our trip to Rohtang Pass. What we witnessed was pure gold. Throughout our way, we were greeted with mighty mountains encircled with clouds, waterfalls, shepherds grazing their sheep in the fields and the chilly breeze. The way to the top can’t be described in words. Marhi, Kothi, Gulaba are small towns which will come your way where one can take a stop to have a cuppa of coffee and enjoy the scenic views.

As we were approaching Rohtang pass and were 8 km away, we could see the snow-capped peaks of mountains. And once, we reached there we could see people with jackets and caps as the wind was too chilly.

There were bikers and cyclists taking halts on their way to Leh. After reaching the top, we were literally in the middle of clouds with winds giving us chills to the core. Woahh, that was totally unexpected but was super amazing. There was a small lake as well adding beauty to the entire landscape.

This place is worth every penny and should not be missed out at any cost if you are planning a trip to Manali.

On our way back, we halted at Solang Valley which was a total let down in this weather. It could be a beautiful place when it snows, though. Hence, you may skip it from your itinerary and can spend more time at Rohtang Pass.

While on our way back to our hotel, our cabbie drove us through the lush green apple orchards and us, who can occasionally buy apples at Rs.100/kg in Delhi just couldn’t resist to take a stop and buy 4 kgs of apples right away costing us only Rs.200. Though, the thought of taking them back home in our backpacks arrived much later. :Pus

Day 3:

Today we had our bus at 4:30 pm and we had almost the entire day with us. We had an option of doing a half day tour of Manali with temple visits, Vashist water springs, etc. but we wanted to keep it a low-key affair. After checking out from the hotel at 11 am, we went to the Hidimba Temple and spent some time there. We have also heard a lot about IL Forno restaurant on Hidimba road and wanted to check it out. Hence, that was our stoppage for lunch. The place is worth a visit. The ambience is quaint and serene and serves amazing Italian food. Fresh wooden baked pizza in the laps of nature and easy on your pocket, what more can you ask for! We spent almost an hour and a half there before heading to our final stop – The Bus Stand.

But we still had almost an hour with us and this gave us an opportunity to spend some quiet time besides the Beas river. One could just sit for hours reading near the river bedside but sadly, we didn’t have much time at hand and had to say goodbye.

Hence, our amazing 3 day trip to Manali ended with loads of lovely memories. I am definitely coming back to this place during snowfall and would recommend anyone and everyone who love mountains to pay a visit to this place.

Few tips:

  • For stay, you may look up hotels at Hidimba Road. The hotels here are close to Mall Road and Old Manali and you can save on auto expense.
  • For bus bookings, go for Semi-Sleepers as it is a 14-hour journey and you would not like to end up like a zombie once you reach your destination.
  • Do not forget to pay a visit to IL Forno if you love Italian cuisine.
  • Make sure you carry jackets if you plan to go to Rohtang Pass. There are bike rent options available too which you might not want to miss.
  • A lot of deals on hotels and bus bookings keep running on Goibibo and MakeMyTrip especially during the off-season. Make sure you capitalize on them to save few bucks.