For A Cool Summer, No Better Place Than Manali

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Manali is a summer favourite, with its orchard-framed villages, snow-dusted peaks and friendly residents. But once you have had grilled trout and strolled through The Mall Road, from offbeat driving routes to new cultural capers, here are some interesting new ways to navigate Manali in summer.

Rohtang Pass

Despite the limit on vehicles to Rohtang Pass, a large number of tourists visit it daily to fulfil their desire to see a high-altitude pass. Hardly a surprise, since it is quite an awe-inspiring sight. To skip the queues and crowds and truly enjoy the majesty of the mountains, drive instead to Rohtang Pass at 10,030 feet, which connects the Lahual and Spiti valleys of western Himachal. The route is often used by the army, and offers a good fix of adventure for off-roading enthusiasts. It is also dubbed “the new Valley of Himalayan Flowers” for the wildflowers that bloom in a riot of pinks, blues, whites and reds from April-June. The peaks of the Pir Panjal range seem close enough to touch. The pass—a three and a half hour drive from Manali town—is open through the summer months.

Located at the edge of Jana village in the Manali valley, the Jana Nature  is a beautiful deodar-dominated forest with spruce, oak, chestnut and rhododendron trees, and the occasional small meadows dotted with wild primula flowers. Gentle trails that are suitable for all levels of hikers weave through the reserve of forests and takes approximately three  hours from Manali.. Alternatively, experience the reserve on a healing walk  of Jana forest. Inspired forest bathing”, these guided silent walks help guests focus on their physical and mental well.

About an hour from Manali the popular  heritage village Nagger, with a handful of grocery stores, tea shops, grand mountain views, and a picturesquely located Nagger palace. To enjoy views of the imposing Himalayan range, which leads to 2-hour drive to Jana water fall.   Though touristy and frequently crowded, it is a scenic spot. Grab a bite of authentic local food.

Summers in Manali_Hidimba Temple

One can also enjoy Spinach and cheese momos being prepared at the restaurants of Manali town

The simple pahadi food is delicious, primarily because of its freshness. Himachal’s famous rajma chawal, served at local food outlets and small dhabas of jana village.The Manirams daba at jana waterfall serves two types of dham, or thalis—the tangy gram-heavy Kullvi and the more yogurt-based Mandiali serves the most delicious lingda (wild fern) pickle, which can also be prepared for purchase on prior request.

One can also enjoy water falls at Jana, Sajala village and Jogni fall at Vashisht village.

Paragliding at Solang Nallah, Manali (File Photo)

One off-the-grid Manali destination that has become very popular in recent years is the Spiti Valley, with trekkers, bikers and intrepid travelers making their way to it. Most frequent the Kaza-Dhankar-Tabo circuit, but to really experience the remoteness of this region, travel to Phukchung in Spiti’s Pin river valley. The village, originally established as a meditation retreat for monks and nuns, retains a sense of timelessness.

Natural Hot Water Spring at Vashisht, Manali - Himachal Pradesh

A benefit of Manali immense popularity with travelers is the emergence of luxury and boutique properties.

Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

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