Manali Hill Station - the Ultimate Destination for Tourists in India
A Hill Station to offer almost everything a tourist demands
Manali, a hill station in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, was the first hill station I ever visited while in college. With every subsequent visit to this station I found it more fascinating and, in fact, lot many activities have been introduced at this station during the past four decades to call it an ultimate destination in India.
What do tourists want to see at a hill station? Is it scenic beauty with cool breeze? Or snow fall with skiing facilities? Or water falls and adventure games? Rock climbing and trekking opportunities?
Can you imagine a hill station having all of these on your wish list? Perhaps, it is Manali which is also called mini-Switzerland of India. It has many attractions which makes it a preferred destination, both for domestic as well as international tourists. And it happens all the year round. Those who want to escape the scorching heat it is summer; those who like refreshing greenery, flowers and trekking it is monsoon and for snow and skiing lovers it is winter.
Awesome Scenic Galore
Manali has stunning scenes all around and one starts getting a feel of this even 50-60 kms before registering the signboard of Manali. While travelling up. there are gradual changes in the vegetation, temperature as also the views of river Beas flowing in the opposite direction. Varying levels of the curved road, the span of the river at different points, intermittent views of snow clad hills far away make it a curious and captivating journey. A few kilometres short of Manali, the tourists are overwhelmed by the awesome scenic beauty. The journey may prove to be tiring for many but the tranquility experienced on reaching Manali makes one to forget everything else. Manali continues to be one of the most frequented hill stations in India.
Manali has very thick vegetation at many places. There are preserved forests having very giant and thick trees. Passing through these forests makes the tourists oblivious of the hustle and bustle and maddening crowd of the cities. Actually they feel that they are in a new world.
Pine (Pinus wallichiana) trees, native to Himalaya and adjoining mountains, grow very tall and are a great source for wood and turpentine. These trees are very effective in air pollution resistance and tourist like these for decorative cones. Children specially love to collect these cones.
Fields around Manali
Though most of the tourists confine themselves to Manali town and visit some known nearby spots around it, yet there is much more for those who venture out to higher reaches or countryside. There are sprawling orchards producing fruit like apples, plums, peaches and apricots. Also rice, wheat and maize are the major food crops. There are magnificent views of these orchards and fields for tourists to visit and enjoy nature.
Snow Views at Manali
Snow is a major attraction for tourists. International tourists and those staying in the nearby states like Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and even from other districts of Himachal Pradesh rush to Manali for enjoying snow. There are many sports lovers who avail this season for enjoying or even participating in adventure games. In view of circumstances prevailing in the nearby Jammu and Kashmir state the major rush is focussed to Manali for winter sports and snow lovers.
Snow clad mountains
Manali is also known as a place for honeymooning and romance. Snow fall is the major attraction and during Christmas it is fresh and fluffy. Sometimes the snowfall is very heavy and everything including vehicles are covered by thick white coat. That is what tourists expect and they wait for it at this famous hill station.
People in the nearby states rush to Manali during snow fall. Sometimes it happens when there is so much of heat in the plains. But snow fall at Manali does make a slight sliding down of the temperature in plains also, however short-lived it may be.
Snow fall at Manali - Visitors enjoying
Streams of Beas River
After originating from Rohtang Pass more and more tributaries join and the flow of water increases all along till it reaches Pandoh and disappears into the tunnel.
Beas is a great river adding flavour to the scenic beauty at Manali and Kullu Valley as a whole. One cannot believe that a small stream of water of the size of a pipe in domestic use can grow to a giant river flowing from southern phase of Rohtang Pass to Kullu, Mandi and Kangra Districts of Himachal Pradesh. An engineering feat diverts the water flow through a 53 kms tunnel at Pandoh to join Sutlej river where it feeds Pong Dam to ensure production of hydro-electricity. Tourist see different shapes of Beas river as they travel through Kullu Valley.
Changing shapes of River Beas
Beas is quite turbulent as it passes through rocks and has shorter span. However, as it flows down Kullu Valley it has a wider span at many places making it to look very calm a river.
Adventure sports - Paragliding
Paragliding is a popular adventure game during summer. Solang Nullah is the most suitable site for which equipment is available from private organisations. This spot offers about 3500 metres (11483 feet) of vertical descent which is a great thriller for heli-skiers. Other places like Marhi, Fatru and Bijli Mahadev also offer facilities for paragliding. Inexperienced persons normally go for short flights, but high flying for 20-30 minutes is also available. There are some age and weight related restrictions which tourists must follow due to safety reasons.
Manali is also known for Winter Games and Winter Carnival. Events like National Skiing Championship are also held here normally at nearby Solang Nallah. Tourists enjoy snow biking, skiing and other snow games.
White water river rafting
Those who come down towards Kullu can enjoy white water river rafting. There is a particular stretch which has gone popular for doing this adventure. During rainy season the water is more turbulent and it is not advisable to undertake this adventure for that period.
Rohtang Pass - Further up Manali
Every tourist coming to Manali yearns for going to Rohtang Pass which is located about 51 kms away from Manali town. The Pass is at 3978 m height and is normally snow clad all the year round. This Pass connects Kullu Valley with Lahaul and Spiti Valleys and is open from May to November.
Traffic jams are quite common, so starting early can add to enjoyment. At the top tourists enjoy the gorgeous views of snow clad Himalayas and thick forests. I failed to cross the Pass while driving a motor cycle due to skidding. But it is altogether a different world, entirely different vegetation on the other side of the Pass.
Snow games area at Rohtang Pass
Many adventure sports lovers visit Rohtang Pass and enjoy skiing in winter and autumn. Others come to watch skiing and have picturesque views of Himalayas. Presence of snow during summer is an added attraction for tourists who come to Manali.
Hadimba Devi Temple
This is one of the oldest temples near Manali. Dedicated to Goddess Hadimba, this pagoda type temple attracts tourists for worshiping in all seasons. There are thick forests nearby and one wonders about the dedication of its creator Maharaja Bahadur Singh who got it built in 1553.
Yaks are available for a ride just near Hadimba Devi temple. Children take pleasure in having a ride and getting photographs with Yak.