The beautiful and serene Nehru Kund is one of the must-see places for tourists coming to Manali. This natural cold water spring is located about 6 kms from Manali on the Manali-Keylong highway. Its source is believed to be the Bhrigu Lake that flows higher up in the mountains. Nehru Kund gets its name from Late Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India. It is said Pt. Nehru loved visiting the spring and drinking its clear water whenever he stayed in Manali.
Situated 13 kms northwest of Manali en route to Rohtang Pass, Solang Valley is famous for its ravishing landscape. The place affords a breathtaking view of azure sky, lush green valley, snow-covered mountain peaks and majestic glaciers. Solang Valley is also a well-known adventure hub where rappelling, paragliding and several other adventure sport activities are organized during the summers. Besides, it has a 300-meter ski lift and many wonderful ski slopes.
Kothi is a picturesque place situated 12 kms from Manali. The quaint and quiet village offers a mesmerizing view of the mountains as well as a splendid sight of the river Beas as it flows down a deep gorge. Kothi is the perfect place for tourists who want to enjoy Nature at its beautiful and peaceful best.
Water from melting glaciers spilling over steep rocks make the striking Rahala Waterfalls, a fascinating tourist spot 16 kms from Manali on the way to Rohtang Pass. Surrounded by beautiful silver birch trees and filled with fresh, aromatic air, the Rahala Waterfalls are a great place for relaxation.
Rohtang Pass is arguably the most famous and popular tourist spots near Manali. Located at an altitude of 3979m (13,050 ft) above the sea level, it is 51 kms from Manali and is the highest point on the highway to Keylong. This gateway to Lahaul-Spiti, Pangi and Leh valley is open during the summers. Rohtang Pass offers a panoramic view of huge glaciers, precipitous cliffs and deep ravines. Sonepani Glacier, twin peaks of Geyphang, Dashahr (Sarkund) Lake and Beas Kund are some places accessible from Rohtang Pass.
Hidimba Temple (also known as Doongri Temple) is a famous temple dedicated to Hidimba, the demoness wife of Bhima who was one of the five Pandavas. It was built in 1553 by Raja Bahadur Singh of Kullu and is located 2.5 kms from Manali. Hidimba temple stands out with its characteristic four-tier, pagoda-shaped roof and a beautifully carved doorway, while the cedar forest surrounding it adds to its beauty. Tourists can also visit a fun park located near the temple.
Vashisht is a small enchanting village situated on the banks of river Beas and at a distance of 6 kms from Manali. It is famous for its natural hot sulphur springs that are believed to have amazing medicinal powers.Vashisht is also frequented by tourists for a visit to a pair of ancient stone temples that are dedicated to the revered Vashisht Rishi and Lord Rama. The Vashisht Temple is believed to be over 4000 years old and is still adorned with intricate wood carvings.
The region of Kullu and Manali has a large population of people who have come to settle here from Tibet. As a result, several Buddhist monasteries or shiny gompas have come up in Manali. These are maintained through donations received from the local community and money collected through the sale of hand-woven carpets made in the temple workshop.
The Manali Gompa was built in 1960 and is one of the most important gathering places for Buddhists. It attracts pilgrims from Kinnaur, Lahaul, Spiti, Ladakh, Tibet and Nepal. This relatively new monastery is very well-known for its large statue of Buddha, chortens and wall paintings.
About 3 kms northwest of Manali lies Old Manali, a quaint place with timeless beauty and ageless charm. Tourists come here attracted by old guest houses, cafes, pear and apple orchards and a chance of peaking into the villagers’ unhurried, unadulterated lifestyle. Other attractions are the ruins of Fort Manaligarh and Manu Maharishi temple that is dedicated to the sage Manu.
Gauri Shankar Temple is a 12th century temple located in Dashal village, 700 mt from Sarsai village that is situated near the Kullu-Manali highway about 30 kms from Kullu. This pyramid-style Shiva temple is famous for its beautiful architecture and scenic surroundings that include a water stream and apple orchards.
Shopping is undoubtedly one of the ‘must do’ things on the list of every tourist. Manali has a number of good markets to cater to this important requirement of its visitors. Some things that tourists to Manali can buy include woolen clothing such as shawls, sweaters and blankest from the Manali Market.
Other worthwhile purchases would be silvery jewelry from shops in Old Manali, jewelry, handicrafts and other unique Tibetan things from the various Tibetan shops, and carpets from gompa workshops.
Customized nameplates and keychains also make good mementoes. Most tourists also love picking up some locally produced pickles, jams, honey and medicinal/massage oils like apricot oil.
Since the Kullu- Manali valley is famous as the fruit bowl of India, a visit to Manali must include a trip to the Himcoop Juice Bar located at The Mall Manali. Since 1972, this renowned corner shop has been selling 100% natural apple juice as well as many fruit drinks made from local fruits. One can also carry home different fruit crushes, which are concentrated fruit syrups that are diluted with fresh water to make nutritious and delicious fruit drinks.
Besides visiting the numerous tourist spots across the valley, the other fun things to do while in Manali include:
Friendship Peak Trekking: Situated at an altitude of 5289m in the Pir Panjal range, Friendship Peak is a popular trekking peak that attracts domestic as well as foreign tourists with the stunning view it offers of snowy peaks and lush valleys. The trek is ideal even for trekkers with limited mountaineering knowledge.
Hampta Pass Trek: Hampta Pass Trek connects the picturesque valley of Lahaul and Kullu. Passing through glacial valleys, sprawling meadows and alpine forests abundant with rare Himalayan orchids and birds, it is considered among the most idyllic and enjoyable treks in the Manali area. Hampta Pass Trek calls for physically fit trekkers with some trekking experience.
Good food is critical for making your trip truly enjoyable and Manali offers a plethora of places where you can eat well. The numerous lanes of the Manali town are full of eateries where you can please your taste buds and satisfy your hunger pangs. Manali market is a great place to visit for food, whether you want to check out the local street food or intend to indulge in fine dining. With its many dhabas, food stalls and restaurants, the area offers amazing options for vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food from Indian and international cuisine.
Old Manali also has a number of excellent cafes, restaurants and bars. The area is frequented mostly by foreigners and is much quieter and less crowded than the Mall Road.
Some good places to eat at when you visit Manali include: