11 REASONS TO VISIT MANALI IN WINTERS

The crowds throng to Manali to escape the summer heat. Visit Manali in winters and enjoy the serenity and solitude with a snow capped picture perfect landscape

1. Snow, Snow and more snow

The ideal time to see & feel fresh snow and a breathtaking landscape you see only in the movies

snow

 2.  Snowman

Build your first Snowman

snowman

3.  Stay in 4 star comfort at Budget Rates

The period of sparse crowds and upto 50% discount on Hotel rooms compared to summers

hotel

4.  Snow activities

Skiing, Sledding, Snowmobiles all at Solang Valley

activity

5.  Hot Sulphur Springs

Take dip in the Hot Sulphur Springs at Vashisht , Klath or Manikaran

manikaran

6.  Himalayan Trout

Taste fresh Himalayan Trout at the many eateries on the Mall or The Johnson Café along with your favourite drink.

trout

7.  Hadimba Temple

The historic Hadimba temple, built in 1533 and located in the middle of a deodar forest

hadimba

8. Understand the benefits of a 4 wheel drive vehicle

If you are in Manali during snowfall then only a 4 X 4 Gypsy can take you to the relocated Volvo Stand.

gypsy9. Kullu Shawls

Buy the famous Kullu Shawls directly from the factory and keep the cold away

kullu

10. See the local home heating system

The innovative home heating system used by the locals is like a Tandoor which works like a heater and is also used for cooking. The entire family sleeps around it at night.

TANDOOR

11. Adventure

Visiting Manali in Winters is an adventure in itself. The slippery roads, a white landscape, subzero temperatures, power cuts, frozen water pipes, regular warnings of heavy snowfall in the media gives one a feeling of continuous thrill.

advent

 

Advertisements

INDIA’S MOST LOVED HILL STATIONS, A MUST FOR YOUR 2015 BUCKETLIST

DARJEELING

darjeeling

 

 

Over a steep mountain ridge, surrounded by tea plantations and with a backdrop of white Himalayan peaks floating over distant clouds, the archetypal hill station of Darjeeling is rightly West Bengal’s premier attraction. The towering Khangchendzonga (8598m), colonial-era architecture, Buddhist monasteries and the snow leopards and red pandas at the nearby zoo, Tiger Hill, Batasia Loop and the War Memorial is what makes Darjeeling unique. A melting pot of Himalayan races from Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet and beautiful local handicrafts. This is the land of the flavoured Darjeeling tea revered by connoisseurs across the globe. This is the land of the world heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway where the century old miniature steam engine still chugs uphill vying for space with the fast disappearing Land Rovers. It is certainly that Darjeeling in the post modern era comprises of six T’s -Tea, Teak, Tourism, Toy Train, Tiger Hill and Trekkers’ paradise.What should you bring home? Tea, tea, and more tea—and beautiful local handicrafts.

GULMARG

gulmarg

 

 

Originally called ‘Gaurimarg’ by shepherds, Gulmarg was discovered in the 16th century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers. It was also a favourite resort of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. Gulmarg’s legendary beauty, prime location and proximity to Srinagar naturally make it one of Asia’s premier hill stations. Gulmarg is also a world class ski resort and has the world’s highest gondola ski lift and not to overlook, the highest green golf course in the world. It’s not so much a town as a twisting 4km-long loop of road ringing the undulating ‘Meadow of Flowers’ for which it’s named. However, the main reason to come to Gulmarg for many is to venture up through the backing stands of mature pines towards the bald ridge of Mt Afarwat. This can be done on foot or with ponies but is easiest using the two-stage gondola cable car that whisks you to 3747m for outstanding clear-day views, reputedly encompassing Nanga Parbat (the world’s ninth-highest mountain across in Pakistan) Today, Gulmarg is not merely a mountain resort of exceptional beauty but also the country’s premier ski resort in winter when it is covered in snow and takes on the appearance of a picture postcard.

MUSSOORIE

mussoorie

 

Established in the Himalayan foothills by a British Army officer in 1820, the “Queen of the Hills” stands above the rest, with its deep woods, favorable climate and Doon Valley views. It is perfect for long hikes, you will find lanes lined with pine trees and trails that lead up to gushing waterfalls inside oak-scented woods. Its name is derived from the berry-covered Mansur shrub found in abundance around this trekker-friendly area. The ghosts of its colonial past linger on in the architecture of the churches, libraries, hotels and summer palaces. The Savoy is a historic luxury hotel said to be haunted by ghosts from the past. Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was inspired by a murder committed in the The Savoy. For stunning natural sights, head to Gun Hill or Childer’s Lodge, the two highest peaks, or the famous Kempty waterfall. Perched on a ridge 2km high. When the mist clears, views of the green Doon Valley and the distant white-capped Himalayan peaks are superb, and in the hot months the cooler temperatures and fresh mountain air make a welcome break from the plains below.

SHIMLA

shimla

 

 

The former summer capital of the British in India, and the present capital of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla has been blessed with all the natural bounties which one can think of. It has got a scenic location; it is surrounded by green hills with snow capped peaks. Bulging at its seams with unprecedented expansion, Shimla retains its colonial heritage, with grand old buildings, among them are the stately Viceregal Lodge, charming iron lamp posts and Anglo-Saxon names. The civic centre in Shimla is one of the only four heritage sites in India in the World Monument Fund endangered list. The Mall, packed with shops and eateries, is the centre of attraction of the town, and Scandal Point, associated with the former Maharaja of Patiala’s escapades, offers a view of distant snow clad peaks. Just a five hour drive from Delhi, Shimla is probably the most visited hill station in India

MANALI

manali

 

 

An array of chic restaurant openings has turned MANALI from a backpacker jaunt into a more savvy venue for modern travelers. No wonder the towering peaks and verdant terrain of Manali attracts adventure travellers, with skiing, hiking, mountaineering and river rafting the favored active pursuits. Come down from your endorphin high by breathing deeply at the four-story, wooden Hidimba Devi Temple, which sits in the middle of a nearby deciduous forest, or take a medicinal soak in the hot springs burbling from the ground a 30-minute walk from town. With super views of the Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal Ranges, and with mountain adventures beckoning from all directions, Manali is a year-round magnet for tourists. Backpackers come to hang out in the hippy villages around the main town; adventure tourists come for trekking, paragliding, rafting and skiing; and Indian honeymoon couples or families come for the cool mountain air and their first taste of snow on a day trip to Rohtang La. As the main jumping-off point for Ladakh, Spiti and Lahaul ,it makes sense to unwind here for a few days before continuing the long journey into the mountains.

UDHAGAMANDALAM

ooty

 

 

Popularly referred to as Ooty, this gem among southern hill resorts is covered in eucalyptus and pine trees and coffee and tea plantations. Located in the Western ghats at a height of 2240m, Udhagamandalam is the headquarters of the Nilgiris district . Nilgiri is India’s first biosphere. It has been declared as one of the 14 ‘hotspots’ of the world because of its unique bio-diversity. On a clear day, it’s possible to see as far as the Mysore plateau from Dodabetta Peak, the district’s most prominent viewpoint. The Stone House, a landmark 1822 bungalow, and St. Stephen’s Church are remnants of the area’s first British settlement. Also noteworthy: formal botanical gardens, a children’s mini-garden and a contemporary art collection. Ooty combines Indian bustle and Hindu temples with lovely parks and gardens and charming Raj-era bungalows, the latter providing its most memorable (and generally most expensive) places to stay. The town was established by the British in the early 19th century as the summer headquarters of the Madras government, and memorably nicknamed ‘Snooty Ooty’. Development ploughed in a few decades ago, but somehow old Ooty survives. You just have to walk a bit further out from the centre to find it. The journey up here on the celebrated miniature train is romantic and the scenery stunning. Even the road up from the plains is pretty impressive.

MUNNAR

munnar

 

 

Munnar is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams – Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. 1,600 m above sea level, this hill station was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India. Sprawling tea plantations, picture-book towns, winding lanes and holiday facilities make this a popular resort town. Munnar attract adventure travellers hungry for paragliding, treks to Anaimudi (highest peak in South India) and hikes originating at the confluence of the three mountain streams .Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands here is the Neelakurinji. This flower which bathes the hills in blue once in every twelve years, will bloom next in 2018. The stone Christ Church, built by the British in 1910, is adorned with renowned works of stained glass, and Eravikulam National Park, about 10 miles away, is home to equally colourful wildlife, including the endangered Nilgiri Tahr (ibex), ruddy mongoose and 120 bird species. South India’s largest tea-growing region, the rolling hills around Munnar are carpeted in emerald-green tea plantations, contoured, clipped and sculpted like ornamental hedges. The low mountain scenery is magnificent – you’re often up above the clouds watching veils of mist clinging to the mountaintops.

NAINITAL

nainital

 

 

Crowded around a deep, green volcanic lake, Nainital is Kumaon’s largest town and favourite hill resort. It occupies a steep forested valley around the namesake lake Naini and was founded by homesick Brits reminded of the Cumbrian Lake District in Britain. Plenty of hotels are set in the forested hills around the lake, there’s a busy bazaar, and a spider’s web of walking tracks covers the forested hillsides to viewpoints overlooking the distant Himalayan peaks. For travellers, it’s an easy place to kick back and relax, eat well, go horse riding or paddling on the lake. According to mythology Naini Lake is one of the emerald eyes of Shiva’s wife. Nainital is a glittering jewel in the Himalyan necklace, blessed with scenic natural spledour and varied natural resources . Dotted with lakes , Nainital has earned the epithet of ‘ Lake District ‘ of India . Nainital is only 350km from Delhi by road and well connected to Train. Making it a popular weekend destination for people living in and around Delhi.

GANGTOK

gangtok

 

 

Wreathed in clouds, Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim is located on a ridge at a height of 5500 feet. With a spectacular view of the Khangchendzonga, the town provides the perfect base for travel through the state. Once an important transit point for traders traveling between Tibet and India, it is today a busy administrative and business centre and presents an interesting mix of cultures and communities. Irreverent, laid-back and happy-go-lucky Gangtok, is mostly a functional sprawl of urban concrete interspersed with patches of forestry. True to its name (meaning ‘hill top’), the city perches along a precipitous mountain ridge, descending down the hillside in steep tiers. It reflects a unique ambience which derives from its happy blend of tradition and modernity. Alongside the deeply felt presence of stupas and monasteries, Gangtok also bustles like any other thriving town. Some of the key places to visit include Rumtek Monastery, Do-Drul Chorten, Enchey Monastery, Tashi View Point and the Lal Bazaar. Apart from the few sights of religious importance and an inspiring view of Khangchendzonga soaring above the western horizon, there isn’t much to see in town. That said, travellers love its relaxed grain and often linger here for a few days, soaking up the local culture while arranging their travels (e.g treks and tours) around the state.

Reference: State tourism websites, tripadvisor, lonelyplanet

For your trip to any of the most loved hill stations contact Road2travel

LAKE PRASHER – MANDI

Surrounded amidst the towering Dhaladhar ranges of Kulu valley is a small blue watered lake called Prashar. The lake known to locals is a well kept secret in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh, about 3 hrs drive from Manali. Prashar Lake is about 100 km from Manali and 48 km from Mandi and is at a height of about 2700m from sea level. The last 20 km of the road to the Lake is very bad and dangerous and this is one of the reasons that most tourists who flock to Manali do not have a visit to this beautiful location in their itinerary. The other reason is the total apathy of the Himachal Tourism Department.

If you start the Journey from Mandi, the road takes you through Runjh, Katidhi village and then village Kamand. Kamand is very beautiful place along the bank of river Uhal. After Kamand you will reach Village Kataula, the largest village in this valley. After a few kilometers we follow the link road to Shagli village . Prashar lake is still 23 Km from this point and now the road conditions deteriorate. Last tea stop is village Baggi after that the drive becomes more difficult. The road runs along the lush green pine forest and despite the lousy road you feel good. From Baggi you will reach Prashar in 1.5 to 2 hrs.

From Manali it is a pleasant 55 km drive on NH 21 to Bajaura. The road runs alongside the beautiful river Beas and after bypassing Kullu town reaches Bhunter. About 3 km beyond Bhunter is the right turn from Bajaura on to the State Highway. After 26 kilometer drive on a small, lonely, beautiful road, you reach the ‘Y’ junction, where straight road continues for Mandi (25 km) and left road leads to Prashar Lake (23 km).

Once you reach Lake Prashar the heart stopping and bumpy road is forgotten, you feel like a winner and the panoramic view of the himalayas and the lake give you a heavenly feeling. It is here that the sage Prashar is said to have meditated.  On the lake’s edge is a three storied Pagoda-like temple dedicated to the sage. Capped with a roof of slate tiles, the temple has a wealth of wood carvings. An old temple, it is said to have been built by Raja Ban Sen of Mandi in the 14th century. An entire panorama of snowy mountain ranges is visible from this location. If some one want to stay here one can book the guest houses of HPPWD or HP Forest Dept.

The young and adventurous could also trek to Prashar Lake. The trek follows a beautiful trail that goes through a series of reserved forest cover, small rivulets and scenic pasture-lands. One can enjoy the local mountain village culture as the trail goes through the muddy tarred path of the local villages here. The trail is quiet enjoyable and gives a breathtaking 180 degree view of Dhauladhar, Pir Pinjal and Kinnaur mountain ranges. This makes for a perfect weekend trek with its proximity and good road connectivity with cities like Delhi, Chandigarh.

The temperature here range from -9 deg C to 23 degrees C and in winters there is heavy snowfall and the last few km of the road is closed. The best time to visit is April to July and Sept to Nov.

For your visit to Manali and Lake Parasher contact Road2Travel

Jogini Falls : Manali

Walk  upward along The Beas River approx 4 km from Manali, and you come across the village Bhang. You could drive to Bhang or take a leisurely walk before the short, off road hike, to Jogini Falls. Since we were in a hurry, we drove to Bhang.  The entrance to the village is a narrow lane of cobbled stones, which you can easily miss.  As you enter the path, the village homes with their small and large Apple Orchids pass by. We went in the Apple season, September, therefore the trees were laden with ready to pluck red, mouthwatering Apples. As we move up , the  cobbled stone path turns to a dirt track steadily climbing up.

jogi01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dirt path narrows down to an uneven strip where you have walk in a single file, over rocks, and slippery loose stone. The small rivulet from the Falls , flows by, sometimes along our path and at other times disappearing behind the rocks and the foliage.

jogi02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About 100m after the village ends one comes across a cluster of small rooms surrounded by high walls and barbed wire. A lot of large pipes entering and leaving these small rooms. On talking to the villagers, we were told that a private company was setting up a micro hydel project for generation of electricity using the flow of the Jogini falls. But the Villagers objected and the work has stopped since then.

jogi03

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jogi04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After about a 500 mts, mildly treacherous climb, we reach the Jogini Falls.

joginifalls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a great sight. The roar of falling water and quietness of the mountains. you can see the pieces of the pipeline which was being laid for the micro hydel project.

lookingdown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can take a rocky path from Jogini falls to Vashisht temple and hot springs or walk back through Bhang Village to the Main road.

vashisht

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we returned back through the village , we realized that non of the houses, big or small, in the village have fresh water. The entire village fulfills their daily water requirement from the public piped water of the Jogini falls.

A short exciting hike, a great place for a picnic, a great view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malana: Athens of The Himalayas

Malana is considered to be one of the first democracies in the world. A remote, primitive little village, in the Himalayas. Malana was isolated from the outside civilization for thousands of years, was never invaded or ruled by an external administration. The people here have been living in harmony with nature, with their own language, their own world, their own democracy. Malana is a 4 km hike from Jari Village, which lies on the road from Kullu to Manikaran. About 2 hrs drive from Manali.

According to tradition, the residents of Malana are the descendant of Aryans, and they acquired their independence during the Mughal reign when the Emperor Akbar walked to the village in order to cure an ailment that he was afflicted with; after having been successfully cured he put out an edict stating that all the inhabitants of the valley would never be required to pay tax. An alternative tradition suggests that Malana was founded by remnants of Alexander the Great’s Army. Their ancestral roots may be debatable but their democratic setup with participatory court procedure has similarity to that of ancient Greece.

This People’s Republic has been governed by a village council with an upper house and a lower house like the bicameral assemblies of our parliament. The council members are chosen by the village folk through a process of unanimous selection – not an election. Their court has been resolving all their internal disputes. The social structure of Malana in fact rests on villagers’ unshaken faith in their powerful deity, Jamlu Devta. The entire administration of the village is controlled by him through the village council. His decision is ultimate in any dispute and any outside authority is never required. It is although a real fact that Malanis through this council perform a political system of direct democracy very similar to that of ancient Greece. Thus Malana has been named the Athens of Himalayas.

Malanis admire their culture, customs and religious beliefs. They generally do not like to change though some traces of modernization are visible. People in Malana consider all non-Malani to be inferior and consequently untouchable. Visitors to Malana village must pay particular attention to stick to the prescribed paths and not to touch any of the walls, houses or people there. If this does occur, visitors are expected to pay a sum, that will cover the sacrificial slaughter of a lamb in order purify the object that has been made impure. Malani people may touch impure people or houses as long as they follow the prescribed purification ritual before they enter their house or before they eat. Malanis may never accept food cooked by a non-Malani person, unless they are out of the valley (in which case their Devta can’t see them). The interaction with the outside world is slowly changing these traditions.

Kanashi, the language of Malana, does not resemble any of the dialects spoken in its neighborhood but seems to be a mixture of Sanskrit and several Tibetan dialects.  This sort of amalgamation makes it difficult for an alien to understand it.  Language is also considered to be one of the secrets of the village and outsiders are not allowed to use it for communication.

Another claim to fame of Malana is the very good quality cannabis plant that grows in abundance there. For ages the use of cannabis has been an integral part of their lives, from medicine to footwear. But in the past they had never traded it; neither did they know the value of it. Their only trade with the outside world had been sheep wool. In the seventies came some white men. They taught the villagers how to rub the cream – the cleaner and more potent hashish suitable for an international market. Those foreigners drew them into business. Malana cream became an international brand. Hashish production grew like a home industry for each household, without being aware that processing of cannabis is a crime. Although the state administration, occasionally cracks down on this illicit trade, but the small town of Kasol, nearby, is home to a large number of international backpackers.

Some fanciful stories about this village called “a little greece,” as also its drug mafia with its do’s and don’ts, are often published in newspapers and magazines. However, what distinguishes this village in the interior of  Himalayas is its architecture, language, worship rituals and autonomous administrative system.  The unique geographical location of Malana has enabled it to preserve its biodiversity and it is an ecological haven.

Worlds Extreme Road Trips: Manali – Leh

There can never be a perfect plan to ride on this highway, simply because the road conditions are different every year owing to landslides, amount of snowfall, glacial melts and the progress of Border Roads Organisation (BRO), an Army support organization whose job is to build and maintain all roads leading to the Indian Borders.

As one leaves Manali behind, the real climb starts near Rohtang Pass. Traffic along the Manali-Leh Highway ascends and descends through nail-biting mountain passes, fording across streams and glacial melts, which results in some hair-raising moments . The ever changing landscape is mesmerizing and spectacular. Expanses of snow-capped mountains, deep verdant valleys and small quaint villages you come across it all in this beautiful route .

By road the Manali – Leh route will take two days and the route is:

Manali – Rohtang – Kokhsar – Keylong – Jispa – Darcha – Zingzingbar – Baralacha La – Bharatpur – Sarchu – Gata Loops – Nakee La – Lachulung La – Pang – Tanglang La – Gya – Upshi – Karu – Leh

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is common at high altitudes at elevations over 10,000 feet as Oxygen in the air reduces by roughly 40% at such heights. After the first 25 km, the entire highway is above 10,000 feet elevation. The first syptoms of AMS is headache, dizziness and shortness of breath. If you experience any of this make sure you stop and if possible descent 2000 to 3000 feet or look for medical help.

June to September is the time window when the Manali – Leh Highway is open and is considered as the only time for doing a road trip to Leh via the Manali – Leh Highway.

The 490km between Manali and Leh, is one of India’s most beautiful and offers the most incredible photographic opportunities the subcontinent can offer.  If you are interested in undertaking this exciting trip stay at our Hotel at Manali: Hotel Kalpna by R C Hospitality, and let Road2Travel make all your arrangements.

Excursion to Pulga Village from Manali

Any Holiday to Manali, a famous mountain town of India, is incomplete without a trip to Manikaran. Manikaran, in the Parvati Valley, is home to the popular Gurudwara (Sikh temple), Manikaran Sahib, the place also has a few Hindu Temples. Most travelers take this scenic drive along the beautiful Parvati River and after crossing Kasol , a backpacker village, reach Manikaran. But instead of turning back if you continue along the river, the road ends at a village called Barsheni. A couple of kilometers trek takes you to one of the most beautiful places in this area, Pulga. Pulga is a small ancient village with a breathtaking view of the Himalayas. A lot of foreigners frequent Pulga and stay their in guest houses or just pitch tents. Food is not a problem, there are plenty of eating joints. Pulga is fast becoming a camping place for children and families as well, since it is so close to the road and a easy walk through the pines. On your next trip to Manali do ask Road2Travel for information on trek to Pulga.