One day, Vaivasvata, the seventh incarnation of Manu found a tiny fish in his bathing water. The fish told him to look after it with devotion for one day it would do him a great service. The seventh Manu cared for the fish till the day it grew so huge that he released it into the sea. Before departing, the fish warned Manu of an impending deluge when the entire world would be submerged and bade him to build a sea-worthy ark. When the flood came, Vaivasvata and the Seven Sages were towed to safety by Matsya, the fish-which is regarded as the first avatara of Lord Vishnu. As the waters subsided, the seventh Manu's ark came to rest on a hillside-and the place was named Manali (2050 m) after him.
As the earth slowly dried, here arose a place of breath taking natural beauty - which was only appropriate for it was at Manali that life began again. And today this legendary cradle of all human kind is a prime holiday destination. There are high mountains shrouded by silent snows and deep boulder strewn gorges. There are thick forests, filled with cool breezes and bird song. There are fields of wild flowers, small picturesque hamlets and fruit laden orchards.
In winter, the temperature can drop below freezing point when heavy woollens are required. Summer temperatures are mild an light woollens/cottons are recommended.
How to get there
More on Himachal
At a Glance
The airport at Bhuntar is 50 km from Manali where taxis and buses are available. The closest narrow guage railhead is at Jogindernagar, 135 km away. The closest broad guage rail heads are Chandigarh (310km) and Ambala (355 km). By road the distance from Delhi via Mandi is 585 km, and from Shimla the distance is 270 km. From Shimla, Chandigarh and Delhi, Himachal Tourism plies luxury buses to Manali.
Places of interest in and around Manali
Hadimba Temple: Built in 1553 and with a superbly crafted four tiered pagoda roof, it is famous for its exquisitely carved doorway.
Manu Temple: This is dedicated to the sage Manu.
Vashishth (3 km): Well known for its hot springs. There are old temples dedicated to the sage Vashishth and to Lord Rama. These are just beyond the Himachal Tourism baths.
Monasteries: There are three recently built Tibetan monasteries at Manali.
Jagatsukh (6km): The one-time capital of Kullu. Here are old temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and to Sandhya Gayatri. The Arjun caves are just ahead.
Solang Valley (14 km): In a picturesque setting, this has good ski slopes and picnic spots. In has the glacier closest to Manali.
Towards the Rohtang Pass: On the road to Keylong is the Nehru kund (6 km) which is a clear water spring and scenic spot named after the late Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. Kothi (12 km) is a picturesque village and has a thrilling view of the deep gorge through which the Beas swiftly races. The beautiful Rahalla falls (16 km) are at an altitude of 2500m. A crucial link on the old trade route and still, the gateway to trans-Himalayan Lahaul, the Rohtaing Pass is at height of 3980m.
Club House: The Club House with its comprehensive facilities include a roller skating rink, an auditorium, a billiards room, a library, a bar and restaurants.
Vashisth Baths: One of Manali's main attractions, it is a place to luxuriate in Himachal Tourism's baths where the water of hot sulphur springs renowned for their medicinal qualities has been piped into baths-including private deluxe ones.
Himachal Tourism also runs the Juniper and Chandra Tal restaurants at Manali.
During the season, Himachal Tourism conducts sighseeing tours in luxury coaches from Manali.
Adventure and Fishing
The Manali-based Mountaineering Institute organises skiing, rock climbing and mountaineering courses. Numerous treks and adventure trails lead out of Manali. Some are - Manali to Leh, Manali to Bhrigu lake, Manali to Chandratal and Manali to Spiti. There are numerous places for trout around Manali. Some are-Katrain, Raison, Kasol, Larji and Naggar.
Shawls, local tweeds, caps, rugs ('namdas'), footwear, fresh fruit, natural oils (olive and alond), silver jewellery, pullovers, metal craft, woollen jackets and bamboo products.
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.