With a long weekend ahead (August 13, 14, 15), Kulu-Manali in Himachal Pradesh can be the best destinations for any traveller to explore this beautiful valley. The pristine, unpolluted surroundings and its gentle folk draw lakhs of tourists to this abode year after year. Legend has it that after the great flood, the sage Manu recreated human life in this area. There’s much to see here — an ancient cave where Arjun was supposed to have meditated; a temple dedicated to Hadimba which is now a heritage site; and the beautiful Solang Valley which is a haven for adventure sports lovers.
Forty-five kilometres from the town of Kulu, lies Manikaran, famous for its gurudwara, temple and hot springs that are rumoured to have therapeutic properties. The food for the langar is cooked in covered clay pots kept overnight in the hot water! The road leading to Manikaran goes through some amazingly beautiful landscape. This area is inhabited by many foreign tourists, especially Kasol, and to one’s utter delight and surprise, ever so often, one can bump into restaurants serving German bakery items with a Harley Davidson parked outside or cuisine from the Middle East. Hidden among these mountains is a village called Malana whose existence was only recently discovered by the local government. It is considered to be the oldest democracy in the world! The place is shrouded in mystery with its quaint and ancient customs and attracts intrepid trekkers every summer as they descend from all parts of the world into the Kulu valley. All along the highway from Manali to Pandoh Dam, the emerald green river Beas prances and frolics eagerly providing rafting opportunities to those so inclined as adventure camps and resorts in places like Raison and Katrain, dot the area profusely.
BEST OPTIONS TO STAY IN KULU-MANALI
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About 545 kms North of Delhi, Kulu, also known as the valley of Gods, spreads out its charm on either side of the river Beas. It is well known for its cultural festi-vals, apple orchards and its shawls. The festival of Dusserha is cele-brated for a week here, with great festivity.
Meanwhile, about 40 kms North of Kulu, Manali is situated near the end of the valley on the National High-way leading to Leh. One sees well-defined snow capped peaks, the Beas river with its clear water me-anders through the town. It is a favorite resort for trekkers to La-haul, Spiti, Kinnaur, Leh and Zan-skar regions in Kashmir valley. It is known as the Switzerland of India.
Getting there (Kulu):
By Road: Delhi to Kulu is 545 kms and the journey takes around 13 hours. Route: Panipat-Karnal-Ambala (NH 1), Ambala-Dera Bassi-Zirakpur (NH 22), Zirakpur-Rupnagar-Swarghat-Sunder Nagar-Mandi-Bhuntar-Kullu (NH 21).
By Air: To Bhuntar Airport and from there 10 kms drive.
By Rail: Nearest railway station is either Chandigarh (270 kms) and Ambala (315 kms). The closest narrow gauge railhead (toy train) is at Joginder Nagar (125 kms).
Sightseeing: Raghunath Temple, Bijli Mahadev temple, Vaishno Caves.
Excursions: Rohtang pass (91 kms), Solang valley (53 kms) Ma-nali (40 kms), Manikaran ( 45 kms), Kasol (42), Malana (40 kms).
Getting there (Manali):
By Road: Delhi to Manali is 585 kms and the journey takes around 14 hours. Route: Panipat-Karnal-Ambala (NH 1), Ambala-Dera Bassi-Zirakpur (NH 22), Zirakpur-Rupnagar-Swarghat-Sunder Nagar-Mandi-Bhuntar-Kullu-Manali (NH 21).
By Air: To Bhuntar Airport and from there 50 kms drive.
By Rail: Nearest railway station is either Chandigarh (310 kms) and Ambala (355 kms). The closest narrow gauge railhead (toy train) is at Joginder Nagar (165 kms).
Sightseeing: Hidimba Devi tem-ple, Manu temple.
Excursions: Rohtang pass (51 kms), Solang valley (13 kms) Kulu (40 kms).