The surrounding mountain scenery lures tourists to Manali year-round. Domestic tourists come here for honeymoons and mountain views, while foreigners come for adventure sports or, more commonly, to hang out in the hippie villages around the main town. Until the 1960s there was nothing here but a few old stone houses and temples, but modern Manali is crammed with concrete hotels and the town is in severe need of some town planning – stay in the villages of Vashisht or Old Manali for a more peaceful mood.
This is also the main jumping-off point for Ladakh, Spiti and Lahaul, with daily buses to Leh, Keylong and Kaza from approximately June to October. Many tourists are also lured here by the famous Manali charas but be warned – local police are more than happy to arrest people for possession or sting them for bribes.
According to legend, Manu, the Hindu equivalent of Noah, alighted his boat here to re-create human life after floods destroyed the world. Indeed, from April to June and September to late October it can feel as if all of humanity has returned to Manali. There’s another surge in visitors for Christmas and New Year. Prices for rooms can more than triple at these times. Old Manali and Vashisht close for winter from around October to May.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009