What was once known for its old-world appeal and apple orchards now become one of the country’s irresistible tourist destinations. Yes, we are talking about Manali – one of the most picturesque hill resorts, located at Kullu District in the North Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. With its unrivaled scenic beauty, inspiring cultural charm and an elevation of over 2000 meters from sea level, Manali make for a wonderful place to escape from all. But if you don’t know where to head or what to see here, this guide on the best

places to visit in Kullu Manali

will get you started.

1. Rohtang Pass

Rohtang Pass

Filled with glaciers, lakes, peaks and lush alpine scenery, a drive to this mountain pass (at an altitude of about 4000 meters)make for one of Kullu district’s most stunning sights. Swathed in thick snow during most part of the year, it’s a winter utopia where you can try most of your favorite snow pastimes such as ice skating, paragliding, and skiing to name a few. It’s further known as the gateway to the popular Lahaul and Spiti as this pass connects it to Kullu Valley. Not to mention, this place of astonishing and delicate natural beauty is a definite must-visit on your Manali trip. But Rohtang Pass is closed during the winter months.

2. Old Manali

Old Manali

While in Manali, it’s hard to miss its old part which blows you away with its mix of antiquated sights, apple orchards, and free-spirited vibe. All you’ve to do to escape from the chaos of the modern side of Manali is to cross the Manalsu River Bride; this shift in the scene will retreat you to an altogether different world where you’re enveloped by nothing but inspiring nature, striking serenity and mindblowing setting against the snow-blanketed mountains. Old Manali is also a great place to sample local delicacies and further enjoy bargain souvenir shopping.

3. Hadimba Temple

This is one of the mountain state’s most revered and beautiful shrines. Located amidst the densely verdant cedar forest in Old Manali, this 16th-century shrine built by Maharaja Bahadur Singh will instantly command your attention for its distinct Buddhist pagoda-style architecture, indescribable mythical aura, and of course the age-old legends that surround it. As the name hints, the presiding deity here is Hadimba – the wife of the Pandava Prince – Bhīma and whose name has been referenced in the Indian epic of Mahabharata. Whether you’re seeking spiritual solitude or just want to have an invigorating rendezvous with nature, be sure to check this place out on your Manali trip.

4. Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art

Found adjacent to Hadimba Temple, this museum within Utopia Complex offers you a complete, if not a clear and enlightening, overview of the region’s rich and celebrated art and cultural scene. In other words, it allows you to glance into its traditional past and mesmeric handicrafts through its fascinating display of artistic woodworks, traditional musical instruments, stone vessels, handlooms, and customary Himachal attires, among other rare and unique exhibits. Apart from the replica models of ancient shrines, forts and houses, you’ll also get to see here a vast repertoire of traditional masks which indispensable for the region’s festive performances, garments etc.

5. Solang Valley

This breathtaking valley, lying amidst Solang Village and Beas Kund, is easily accessible from Manali, about 13 kilometers away. At a height of over 2500 meters, it’s a true snow oasis where its unequaled mountainous landscape, verdant trees, and a multitude of cool winter activities allow for a refreshingly unforgettable vacation. Come here for skiing, zorbing, paragliding etc, or simply immerse yourself in the region’s natural splendor. Whatever reason that draws you here – one thing is sure that you would never regret visiting here. But to get the best out of it, make sure that you visit here in the winter months.

6. Great Himalayan National Park

Visiting Manali and missing out on this place of sheer natural splendor is unimaginable. After all, this national park that spans over 750 square kilometers (in the Seraj Forest Division) is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Encircled by soaring Himalayan Mountains and valleys, this place is a haven for nature lovers as it introduces you to the region’s rich biodiversity. There are over 800 plant species, 500 plus bird species, more than 250 mammal species, and close to 150 reptile species, among others. Yes, you will get to see here several flora and fauna, with some 25 types of forests that inhabit the rarest of plant and animal species including Himalayan tahr, snow leopards etc. Placed about 50 kilometers from Manali, entry to this park however is strictly possible only via prior permission from its head or range offices.

7. Manali Sanctuary

There is no better way to spot the region’s indigenous mountain wildlife than with a visit to Manali Sanctuary. Sprawling over 3000 hectares, this protected region in the northwest Himalayan region invites you to appreciate its untouched wilderness. Among its many fascinating inhabitants are musk deer, brown bears, and barking deer. You will also get to see ibex that flock here in herds in the summer months. Moreover, it’s a paradise for bird lovers, being the sanctuary a safe abode for monal, kingfisher, chakor, and snow pigeon to name a few. What’s more; it’s even a favorite of many migratory birds. And the best thing is that it’s just two kilometers away from the city center.

8. Naggar Castle

Once a royal residence, this 15thcentury castle now stands as a marvelous illustration of fusion architecture that incorporates the elements of British and traditional Himalayan styles. Overlooking the magnificent mountains and untouched alpine forests, Naggar Castle now remains one of the state’s only three heritage hotels run by HPTDC (Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation). The historical complex is also home to the Nicholas Roerich Art Museum (dedicated to the Russian artist Nicholas Roerich), plus three small yet incredible shrines. It’s about 20 kilometers away from Manali.

9. Vashisht Hot Water Springs and Temple

Travel four kilometers out of Manali and this leads you to the quaint hamlet of Vashisht, named after the ancient sage Vashisht. The major draw here is the hot water sulfur springs which are believed to have therapeutic healing properties. People mostly come here to take a dip in these springs and ward off their skin-related ailments. There is a temple devoted to Vashisht and this dates back to more than 4000 years. You’ll also find a Ram Temple in the vicinity, which enshrines the idols of Lord Rama, his consort – Sita and his brother – Lakshmana.

10. Hampta Pass

This is for our readers who love trekking. Rightly so, Hampta Pass is acclaimed being one of the country’s most wonderful crossover treks. This takes you from Kullu to Lahaul – what makes it special is that this lets you admire the stunning verdant landscape of Kullu (enriched with flowering plants, verdant pine forests and grasslands) on one side and the barren mountainous settings of Lahaul on another side. The trekking route also covers some exciting river crossings.


Manali, in a precise nutshell, is cool, exuberant and whimsical all at the same time. So if you’re looking for a holiday with out-of-the-way attractions and experiences, Manali is worth a visit as it guarantees you a holiday of a lifetime with the most unforgettable and treasured moments.

Shaheen Taj is a freelance travel writer by profession. She is particularly fond of traveling and loves to jot down her experiences and cultural diversities of different countries.

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