Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India
Manali is a high-altitude Himalayan resort town in India’s northern Himachal Pradesh state. It has a reputation as a backpacking center and honeymoon destination. Set on the Beas River, it’s a gateway for skiing in the Solang Valley and trekking in Parvati Valley. It’s also a jumping-off point for paragliding, rafting and mountaineering in the Pir Panjal mountains, home to 4,000m-high Rohtang Pass.
Surrounded by high peaks in the beautiful green valley of the Beas River, with mountain adventures beckoning from all directions, Manali is a year-round magnet. Backpackers come to hang out in the hippie villages around the main town; adventurers come for trekking, climbing, mountain biking, canyoning, paragliding, rafting and skiing; and Indian families and honeymooners come for the cool mountain air and a taste of snow on a day trip to the Rohtang La. Manali is also the main jumping-off point (between June and October) for Ladakh and Spiti. It makes sense to unwind and feed up here for a few days while organising your trip into the mountains.
So popular has Manali become among Indian tourists that this once bucolic retreat now has an estimated 800 to 1000 hotels and guesthouses in the town and outskirts, and from mid-April to mid-July, mid-September to mid-October, and over Christmas–New Year it gets pretty well overrun, with dire traffic jams along its narrow lanes and the main roads approaching town. Most travellers stay in the villages of Vashisht or Old Manali, which have a laid-back vibe and plenty of services, but semi-close for winter from about November to April.
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