After having a hard time at work, a break is very important. Not only does it help unwind, it also gives exposure to other parts of the country. We also took a similar break, from the heat of Delhi to the cool weather of Himachal.
Manali-Abode of Manu (Manu, who recreated the human) in Himachal Pradesh, India. This town also has a way to Ladakh via Rohtang Pass. It’s a peaceful place famous for apple orchard and woolen shawls and nice cool excursions.
We started our journey from New Delhi National Highway -21 via Panipat, Chandigarh and Kullu. Taking a Volvo bus has advantages as you could relax in the night, and you would be somewhere in Himachal when you wake up the next morning for having a cup of hot tea. You will reach the city shortly thereafter.
We reached Manali at 11am and after check-in to our hotel (Manali heights, which we found very good) took brunch and cab to see city attractions.
The local attractions, namely Club house, Tibetan Monasteries are just ok type. It is advisable to carry an extra pair of cloth, if you plan to go to Vashisht Hot water springs. Hadimba temple is nice specially for taking a walk around. It is apparently also famous amongst film-makers and we also witnessed shooting of a film when we were there. Manu temple in old Manali is also worth a check-out, to see old homes and walk down on narrow lanes.
This place and its surroundings have loads to offer in terms of activities like para-gliding and skiing. Solang valley is a must-visit place, do indulge in paragliding other than good sightseeing. And if you are on a long trip, just keep half day time solely for this so that you can do this from greater heights (3-4 hours activity in total).
The road to Rohtang pass has lots of Nallas (or waterfalls) and you will like to stop there while driving on the broken narrow roads. Once you reach the destination, you can take a walk around, climb the snowy mountains or do skiing. Ginger tea and noodles is a good way to relax after a tiring walk. This place has small local shops for all these. Just beware of Kesar (saffron) and Kasturi seller, who will go all out to con you.
When we visited, snow was there but not enough to really excite you (particularly if you have seen snow before). But it was more of wholesome experience, the journey that made it interesting.
On the way back, some dynamites were kept to clean up the road and our cab stopped right before that, so that way it was bit real adventurous. While coming down, we stopped at Mandi (which is a small village) and saw sunset.
And yes, before I forget to mention, I must advise you on keeping one day just to explore market and have lazy lunch at Johnson café or Casa Vella café. Both these places are highly recommended to have good food.
Point to keep in mind- don’t buy Chingu (kind of quilt but it is all a fraud) though the locals have pretty interesting story about the same, don’t buy saffron (you can’t get 15gm for Rs. 100 anyway).
Carry enough cash- there are just 2-3 ATMs and they hardly work.
Wake up early- go for walk, have nice food with tea/coffee, do activities- there are many options (trekking, rafting, paragliding, skiing etc)
And yes, don’t forget to carry woolen clothes. It’s cold there in any season.