Located at an altitude of almost 2000 meters and nestled in northern end of the lovely Kullu valley where the Beas River has its source, Manali is one of the most picturesque honeymoon destinations in India. Here you can go trekking through intricate mountain trails, shop for curios and exquisite handicrafts or simply snuggle up with your spouse and take in the breathtaking views. Head for the hills of Manali after your wedding and you will find the destination worth a lifetime of romantic memories.
Romance in the hills
The lush green slopes surrounding Manali are the ideal place to romance your brand-new spouse. If you feel like staying in your hotel room the whole long day and watch the mist cover the slopes, by all means feel free to do so. Or head out one sunny morning to explore nearby places of natural beauty like the verdant Solang Valley where you can watch yaks graze in peaceful contentment and mountain flowers spread about like a carpet. Or take in the amazing Rahla Falls some 27 kms from Manali at the start of the climb to Rohtang Pass. The latter is another popular tourist destination for its snow-covered vistas since the Pass is located at an altitude of an incredible 13000 feet above sea level. Several lakes and streams around Manali serve to increase the ethereal beauty of the place. Some of these which you can plan to visit with your beloved are the Dassaur Lake, the Beas Kund near Manikaran on the way to Kullu known for its hot springs near the River Parvati as well as the Vashisth Hot Water Springs where visitors flock to experience the supposed therapeutic properties of natural sulphur springs.
In recent years facilities for various kinds of adventure sports have come up in and around Manali. The hilly terrain of the place offers great scope for trekking, hiking or mountain biking. On the other hand if you feel like exploring the ripples and rapids of the fast-flowing mountain rivers, there are opportunities for kayaking, angling and rafting too. However the hill station is chiefly famous for skiing in the depths of winter when the slopes are covered in snow as well as paragliding for which the topography of the land is ideal. One of the more extreme form of adventure sports to have caught the imagination of visitors in recent times is ‘Yak Kayaking’ which involves the mountain animal charging down a mountain slope while the skier tied to a rope is pulled up the slope by a pulley system. In fact Manali even featured in Time’s Magazine’s “Best of Asia” thanks to this Extreme Yak Sports which is practiced in the hills above town by an enterprising Tibetan, Peter Dorje.
Abode of the Gods
Like most holiday destinations in India, temples and places of worship make up a large part of the full range of attractions in Manali. Here you can visit the Manu Temple, built to honor the mythological sage Manu and from whom apparently the hill station takes its name. Then there is also the Hadimba Temple which is noteworthy for its four-storeyed Pagoda-like structure and exquisite wooden carvings. Apart from Hinduism, another major religion followed in these parts is Buddhism and the several beautiful monasteries or gompas of Manali bear testimony to the fact. The most important of these is the Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa. Built in 1969, this monastery continues to be maintained by donations from the local community and through the sale of hand-woven carpets in the temple workshop. The smaller and more modern Nyingmapa Buddhist Gompa is located nearer the main town bazaar.
For those couples with a keen interest in history, a trip to the nearby Naggar Fort should figure on the itinerary of any Manali vacation. Lying to the south of the hill station, this fort dates back to the time of the Pala Empire and contains several structures with decorations in rock, stone and elaborate carvings in wood. The Naggar Fort stands testimony to rich artistic heritage of Himachal Pradesh because of which it now figures as a showcase structure including the Roerich House and Art Gallery under the administration of the state-owned body of Himachal Pradesh Tourism. However if you want to experience a slice of vibrant contemporary culture, a must-see is the local markets of Manali where you can find local handicrafts like baskets, namdas or woolen rugs, the famous Kullu shawls woven from sheep’s wool as well as attractive ethnic jewelry and curios.
In order to make your Manali honeymoon even more of a sensual experience, don’t forget to sample the local cuisine. While traditional Himachali food uses a lot of seasonal vegetables, friend savories and sweetmeats, here you can even taste Continental, Italian, Tibetan and Chinese dishes. Some of the places you can try out are Bob Dylan’s Café also known as Roasted and Toasted, Pizza Olive, Drifters’ Inn, Lazy Dog, Chopsticks and Apple Blossoms for a variety of culinary traditions. As far as beverages are concerned, you can try out the wide variety of juices from locally-grown fruits, apple cider or the local alcoholic brews like chhang and Arak.
Where to stay and how to get there
Accommodation options in Manali are diverse and geared to suit every kind of pocket. At the higher end you can find the Mapple River Crescent Resort, while Honeymoon Inn, Snow Valley Resorts, Himkund Cottages figure in the mid-priced bracket. Finally there are a whole lot of budget hotels like Drifters’ Inn, Hotel Shandela, Blue House and Tiger’s Eye.
Manali is around 500 kms north of New Delhi, the capital of India. It is well-connected by the National Highway 1 which goes all the way up to Leh so you can take a bus or rented car to travel from Delhi to Manali. The nearest airport is Bhuntar at Kullu from where Manali is roughly a two-hour drive. And while in Manali, you can hire a car which is expensive but will keep you dry in bad weather. However the cheaper and more adventurous form of getting around is a hired bike which is more popular with foreign tourists.