The Perfect Getaway
Situated at a height of 2,050m Manali is a popular summer getaway especially for Delhiites. The beautiful landscape, chilly weather and pleasant ambience serve as a perfect haven for those looking to escape the busy city life. Although now commercialized and crowdy, the hill station still holds immense beauty and charm, thanks to the Himachal state government which has given uppermost importance to tourism and has maintained the place. Located 250 km north of the state capital Shimla this exotic getaway sees maximum tourists during May/June. Heavy snowfall also attracts large number of people from January to March. Skiing, paragliding and rafting make the place much sought after especially for adventure sports lovers.
Switzerland of India
A fascinating myth associated with Manali is that it was the place where Manu, the progenitor of mankind, took refuge. The Manu temple still finds a place and remains as a tourist attraction. But the main attraction is the landscape. Surrounded by rocky mountains and adjoined by the Beas river, the hill station resounds surreal beauty; lush greenery during the summer time and the hazy snowy beauty during the rest. We were welcomed by a sight of snow capped mountains and slight snowfall as soon as we reached. The next three days our stay there saw warm bright sunny afternoons, but windy and snowy evening. The view resembled nothing short of a perfect fairy tale town.
One of the other attractions of this hill station is its oldern part; ‘Old Manali’ as it is famously called. The older part of the city was a hub for hippies during the 60s and the 70s, as Manali produced good quality marijuana. Even now, the place does witness a large flow of tourists who come here for the recreational drugs and the ambience. The cafes and the shops, blaring out classic hits, take you back to the retro era.
Whenever I visit a hill station in India (and I’ve visited a lot of them), I always get reminded of Nepal. The hills, the mountains, the pleasant weather and the people all have striking resemblance. While India especially the state governments have put in all of their efforts to promote these places and bring in as many tourists as possible, we have completely neglected these places in our country. One interesting fact is that Manali depends more on domestic tourists rather than the international ones. We, on the other hand, have a long way to go before the potential of domestic tourism is tapped.