Manali and Vashist
Manali, at the northern end of the Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh, is a hill station situated at a height of 2050m (6398 ft) in the Himalayas. Situated on the Beas river (Vyaas in Hindi) and near its source, it is a popular tourist spot for Indians in summer and a magical, snow-covered place in winter. A staging point for a number of treks (Beas Kund, Chandrakhani Pass) and sports such as white-water rafting, Manali is also on the road to Ladakh via the valley of Lahaul and Spiti and the Rohtang Pass which is the main attraction near Manali.
Vashist Hot Water Springs And Temple
Vashist, a small village located on the Left Bank of River Beas in Manali towards Rohtang pass is worth a visit. Vashist is renowned for it’s Hot Water Springs and Temples. Nearby is the Pyramidal Stone Temple dedicated to Vashist Muni. There is another Temple of Lord Ram as well. Natural Hot Sulphur Water Springs with two separate bathing tanks for Gents and Ladies, which are always full of tourists.
Turkish Style Showers fitted baths have also been built nearby. Hot water from the nearby Spring is provided for bathing.
Minimum temp could be below -5°C from October ‘thru March. December, January and February are the coldest months. Rest of the year, the minimum temperature would be 15-20°C.
Weather in Manali
Manali is 570km from Delhi, the capital of India, and there are buses connecting the town with Delhi, Shimla, Dharamsala and Leh. For service from Delhi to Manali and back, tickets and reservations can be made at the Inter State Bus Terminus or the Himachal Tourism office on Safdar Hashmi Marg near Mandi House in New Delhi. You can book tickets online too. The approximate travel time from Delhi to Manali is 14 hours; from Ambala to Manali is 10 hours; from Chandigarh is 08 hours and from Kulu to Manali is 1.5 to 3 hours. Volvo buses—which depart around 17:00 and arrive about 10:00 the next day—are available from Delhi and is the best option in terms of comfort and value for money to reach Manali but you need to book these in advance. Some hotels like Snow Valley Resorts will book your Volvo & sightseeing along with their hotel package which results in a good package deal as you get everything in one go.
As the windows do not open outward on the Volvo buses, passengers are advised to carry anti vomiting medicines (‘Avomin’ is quite effective) which should be taken about 30min before the bus approaches the mountains. Also, avoid eating meals just before/after boarding the bus. Volvos offer bags that people may use if they feel like vomiting. You may enjoy a better view of the valley and the beautiful Beas river if you book seats on the right side of bus while travelling from Delhi.
By private taxi
If hiring a private taxi, ensure that the driver has experience driving in hilly regions and does not have the habit of drinking alcohol. Also make sure the driver has done the trip at least once before and knows all roads. Also make sure that the driver is used to drive for long hours. If you are going to Manali through Chandigarh-Ropar-Kiratpur-Mandi highway, then your driver would need to drive on hilly roads for at least 6 hours. Chandigarh to Manali would be about 8-9 hours by taxi.
The nearest Broad Gauge Rail Head is Ambala Cantt (200km) or Chandigarh (250km)from Indian Capital New Delhi. Ambala Cantt is on the Delhi – Amritsar and Delhi – Jammu main lines and is well served by rail, but you will need to travel to Ambala to get a bus for the 10 hour ride to Manali. Jogindernagar and Kalka are other, less preferable, rail heads for Manali.
The nearest broad gauge station is Kiratpur Sahib in Punjab near the city of Nangal. It lies in Ropar district of Punjab. The station lies on the Ambala Cantt – Una route of Indian Railways. From here you can easily get buses for Manali.
The nearest airport is Bhuntar ( Kullu ) Airport ( Tel: 01902-265037, 265603), 50km from Manali, 10km from Kullu, about two hours away. Air India Regional operate flights to Kullu from Delhi. However the services can be irregular, and airfares can be high. Himalyan Bulls offer flight services from Chandigarh to kullu airport. It can be booked from their site. From the airport the best option to go to Manali is by Pre Paid taxi which is easily available there. The taxi stand is 100 metres from the airport. They have written prices with minimum ₹1200 to Manali. Alternatively just go to Kullu and take a frequent public bus (₹35, see Get Around section).
There are various ways of getting around in Manali, if you are not already travelling with your own vehicle. Most tourists hire a taxi (various kinds available), which takes you around to all the sight-seeing spots in and around Manali (Rohtang, Manikaran etc). It costs about ₹1,800 per day, or little over ₹3,000 if you book together for 3 days (in the peak season). Dress for Rohtang cost around ₹150 for each set including boots and skiing set will cost you around ₹200. These detail are mentioned at a board at Mall Road. Be sure to bargain.
The second most common way is to hire a motorbike. There are many places where you can hire a motorbike (easy to find if you ask around), and is the most common mode of transport for foreigners. Both cruiser bikes like Bullet and sport bikes from Honda, Bajaj, Yamaha etc are easily available, though Bullet is the most commonly seen one on the roads. Rates hover around ₹1000-1500 per day in the peak season, but much discounted at other times. A good place worth a look will be in Bike rentals Manali office in Vashisht 9816044140, have a good selection of Royal Enfields and Pulsars. Also ‘Tinku’ Bike mechanic near old Manali bridge is an honest shop for bike rentals.
Public transport is not so good. There are cheap bus services, but they are not so frequent. Yet, if you are going to stay for a long time, it is better to know the times and use them, as other modes of public transport are exorbitant compared to bus. For e.g., auto rickshaws take ₹200 from manali mall road to Solang valley, while the bus will cost you just ₹10. The buses are not punctual specially because they seem not have a written schedule. The best option is to ask about timing at the bus terminal. Buses starts to run at 07:00. Frequently a bus can be cancelled or late. You can get in / out almost at any place on the route just wave to the driver.
Public bus routes:
Kullu – Manali. Price ₹40. Every 15min
Manali – Naggar. Every 1.5h
Manali – Solang. Every 1h
Rohtang Pass, at an altitude of 3979m (13,050 ft) above sea level, is another adventure tourist site where it can be cold even on a summer day. It is the highest point on the Manali-Keylong road and provides a wide panoramic view of mountains rising far above clouds, which is truly breath taking. Close by is a small lake called Dassaur Lake. Beas Kund, the source of river Beas, is also nearby. In winter, the road of Rothang Pass is closed.
Important to note that the road to Rohtang Pass is closed off at Manali bridge, on all Tuesdays 09:00-18:00 for carrying out road widening work and repairs. If you are able to leave early, before 09:00, you can avoid the traffic rush (found on all other days) and have Rohtang Pass to your self (well almost!!). Flip side is to be prepared for stoppages (extending up to a few hours) on the return trip as the road is blocked off where repair works are progressed.
If you are driving up, be prepared for the rough broken roads at many places, sheer blind turns and tight hairpin bends, which can be exhilarating depending on the state of your nerves. If you are hiring a vehicle then better rent a four wheel drive vehicle from Manali. Some times the local people along with police does not allow the non-four wheel drive vehicles from going beyond Snow-Point(a place 16km before Rohtang Pass)and force to hire their own 4×4 vehicle at exorbitant prices which can be up to ₹1,500-2,000 per person. This happens in the winter times when there is heavy snow fall. The tours organized by HPTDC does not go up to Rohtang pass and terminate at Snow-Point. Shared taxis are also available.
Rohtang Pass can also be accessed on foot, if there are stoppages beyond Snow-Point. However, it is a strenuous climb and also needs a good guide to show the short cut routes to the Pass.
Beas Kund, an igloo shaped temple, on top has a spring which is the origin of River Beas.
Hadimba Temple: It is an ancient cave temple dedicated to Hidimbi Devi, who was a character in the Indian epic, Mahābhārata. The temple is surrounded by a beautiful cedar forest (Dhungri Van Vihar) at the foot of the Himālayas. The sanctuary is built over a huge rock jutting out of the ground, which was worshipped as an image of the deity. The structure was built in the year 1553. If you’re walking to the temple you can take a short cut up the hill through the woods instead of walking along the road. Look for two signs side by side with vertical Hindi writing on them (blue on the left, green on the right).
Maa Sharvari Temple This temple is represented as KULDEVI of the kings of Kullu in early times and is worshipped as a manifestation of Durga, and image of the goddess is also enshrined here. The divinity is popularly worshipped throughout the region during the festivals and the Goddess is transported to Kullu to visit the Lord Raghunathji during Dussehra festival. This temple is on the top of above the Shaminallah village, which is around 5km from Manali, accross the Beas river on the left bank on the way to Naggar Casttle
Kalath Hot Water Springs Around 6.5 Km downstream from Manali,natural sulfurous water flows from the bowels of earth.public bath areas and private bath areas are available.”Asia Sulphur hot water spring” is a small hotel where private bathroom can be hired on per-person basis(c. ₹100/person). These are simple bathrooms but give all the privacy needed by a couple or family.It can be easily spotted on your way to Manali just before the “Green Tax barrier”.
Vashist Hot Water Springs and Temple: Around 3km from Manali, across the Beas river is Vashist, a small village with natural sulphur springs. Modern bathhouses, with Turkish-style showers, have the hot water piped into them for the convenience of the visitors who come here to benefit from the medicinal properties. Vaishisht, also boasts a pair of old stone temples, opposite each other above the main square. Dedicated to the local patron saint Vashista, the smaller of the two opens on to a partially covered courtyard, and is adorned with elaborate woodcarvings. Those lining the interior of the shrine, blackened by years of oil-lamp and incense smoke, are particularly fine. The temple tanks are underground hot-water/sulfur springs. Be wary of hanging up your trousers or bags on the hooks provided, pickpocketing is a daily occurrence. Hand over your wallet to a trusted person for safekeeping before you enter the springs for a bath. Separate tanks for men and women are provided in the temple. Keep in mind these are open baths and little or no privacy is available for women except separated areas for bathing.
Jogini Falls: About a 2km trek from Vashisth Temple. Going to the top of the falls would need a guide and quite a bit of trekking, but if you wish you could just keep asking for directions from Vashishth temple and reach the first level of the falls.
Solang Valley popularly known as Snow Point, is 13 km northwest of Manali and famous for its 300m ski lift. The Ski Lift ticket is ₹500 per head for a trip both ways. It is a picturesque spot and offers splendid views of glaciers and the snow-capped mountains. Solang valley also offers attractions like paragliding, snorkeling etc. Jagatsukh, the former capital of Manali, is also an important spot.
Jagatsukh: Jagatsukh, the former capital of Manali, has a few nice temples done in Shikhara style. You can visit them while travelling to Naggar.
Rahala waterfalls: About 16km from Manali at the start of the climb to the Rohtang Pass, are the beautiful Rahalla Falls at an altitude of 2,501m.
Rozy Falls: On the way to Rohtang amazing water fall worth seeing. this water fall looks amazing between the high hills.
Monasteries: Manali is known for its shiny gompas or Buddhist monasteries. It is maintained by donations from the local community and by sale of hand-woven carpets in the temple workshop.
Old Manali: At a distance of 3km northwest of Manali is Old Manali, famous for its orchards and old guesthouses. Calm and serene surroundings coupled with the sound of Beas river is a very peaceful experience. There is ruined fort here by the name of Manaligarh. There is also the Manu Maharishi Temple, dedicated to sage Manu.
Gauri Shankar Temple at DASHAL village(700m from Sarsai ) on the main left bank Kullu Manali Highway. It is a 12th century protected monument.Also see lush green apple orchards,play with water stream out there.
All pictures by the author
Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0