Surrounded by supercilious mountains with snowy peaks, sparkling river twisting through the deep ravines into lush valleys and flowery meadows – Manali is a scenic town in Himachal Pradesh.
“The fabled musk deer searches the world over for the source of the scent which comes from itself”.
In the same way, throngs of tourists visit Manali every year but very few go beyond visiting the popular tourist spots.
For me, the joy of the exploring the unexplored paths is unparalleled. And if you’re one of those people who love to explore unusual places then here is a list of the lesser known places around Manali that you should explore next time you visit Manali.
1. Arjun Gufa:
Arjun Gufa (cave) is located on the bank of the beautiful Beas river, 5 km away from Manali. It is an extremely appealing place; its serenity only being interrupted by the flowing Beas river. The place gets its name from the Mahabharata hero Arjun – who is said to have meditated here and acquired the Pashupata Ashtra. Irrespective of the belief, it is a perfect place to savor the stunning views of snow-capped mountains and alpine forests. you can take a local taxi or hike from the main Manali market area.
2. Water Falls near Manali–
Jogini Fall: With 3.5 Kilometers of a moderate trek from Vashist Village, Jogini waterfall is a cherry on the top. Surrounded by natural scenic beauty one can walk through apple orchids, tall pine trees, and small water streams to reach this fall.
Rahla Fall: Surrounded by deodar trees and amidst the great Himalayan view, Rahla fall is about 27 kilometers from Manali. Also the gateway to adjoining village in Himachal, this waterfall is one you shouldn’t be missing out.
Jana Falls: Located at a distance of 32 kilometers from Manali and 12 kilometers from Naggar Castle, Jana fall is a mesmerizing waterfall surrounded by Pine trees, apple orchards and the sight of snow-capped mountains inside the village of Jana. If you want to try the authentic Himalayan food, this is your best bet!
Around 3km from Manali, across the Beas River, is Vashist. A small village famous for natural Sulphur Springs. The Vaishisht Sulphur Springs have amazing medicinal and healing properties, curing all kind of internal and external pains. The Vashisht temple here is believed to be more than 4000 years old and is significantly popular amongst the locals for giving a bath to their local Devta (deity) before any big or small puja. And if you like walking in the wilderness, then be amazed to find two beautiful waterfalls in the vicinity. By trekking for 2 km from Vashisht Temple you can reach Jogini Falls and if you trek straight for 2kms you can reach the Vashisht waterfalls
4. Bijli Mahadev:
Bijli Mahadev is one of the sacred temples of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Located 22 km from Kullu across the Beas river, it can be approached by a rewarding trek of 3 km.A panoramic view of Kullu & Paravati valleys can be seen from the temple. In this temple of lightning, it is said that the tall staff attracts the divine blessings in the form of lightning. It is believed that the priest of the temple has to restore the Shiva linga placed inside the temple using butter and sattoo after every lightning as it shatters to pieces with a flash of lightning.
5. Himalayan Nyingamapa Gompa
Another beautiful yet uncommon place is the Himalayan Nyingamapa Gompa, located close to the busy market streets of Manali. Unlike most monasteries, this one is small in structure. But just like other Gompas, this place too creates a divine and tranquil ambiance with the soothing sounds of prayers and chants, and the aroma of incense.
Off the tourist map, about 12 km away from Manali, sits the hidden Hamta village. Isolated, calm and a perfect place to unwind. For a laid-back holiday wander off into the woods, swim in the river or enjoy the amazing view of the valley. For the adventurers, a trek to the famous Hamta Pass can be added to the itinerary.
7. Old Manali
Typically known for its orchards, old guesthouses and undisturbed tranquility, Old Manali is just 3 kilometers away from Manali. There is Manaligarh, which is a ruined fort and the Manu Maharishi Temple for the devotees. Lots of Cafes can be explored here, where you can taste finger- licking Italian, Mexican food & live music in the evening is cherry on the top of the cake. If you want to spend quality time away from the crowd, then there is no better place than old Manali.
8. Naggar Castle
A historic place glorifying the past through the stunning Naggar Castle, Roerich Art Gallery and various antique temples like Gauri Shankar Temple, Tripura Sundari Temple, Vishnu Temple and Janpath Temple, which is located in the castle premise itself. Nestled on the left bank of Beas, Naggar is slowly becoming a preferred destination for travelers who want to spend some quality time in the lap of nature. The Naggar Castle offers the most splendid Kullu Valley view. Watching the sunset while sipping your evening tea or having a dinner under a blue star-studded sky is something that you should not miss.
Malana is famous for its distinct culture and the temple of Jamlu Devta. The people of this quiet hamlet live in self-imposed isolation. They believe themselves to be the descendants of Aryans and that the purity of their race would be compromised by interaction with outsiders. A visitor in Malana cannot touch their wall, to the extent that they wash their walls with the blood of a buffalo if an outsider happens to touch it. Shocking, right? Not to them! They have their own government and do not consider themselves within the jurisdiction of the Indian government. Most say it is a cover for a raging industry of cannabis. Having said that, Malana is a village of splendid beauty. It is often referred to as ‘Little Greece’, as the locals believe to have descended from the lineage of Alexander the Great.
The tiny village of Chalal is popularly known as the ‘Trance and Psychedelic Party’ village. It is accessible by foot from Kasol and presents you with awe-inspiring scenic views. You can sit on the rocks by the river and immerse yourself in its gushing sounds. It is a peaceful location to unwind as well as a place to party hard in the hip music festivals. This enriching village of Himachal Pradesh will leave you mesmerized and make you want to keep coming back!
Famous for its hot water springs, Kheerganga is located in the Parvati Valley, 95 km from Manali. To reach Kheerganga one has to trek for about 11 km. A motorable road up to a place called Barshaini is the starting point of the refreshing trek through a scenic terrain. The amazing trek with splendid views and natural hot water springs often makes many trekkers desire for another visit.
Also, Read Ultimate trek to the land of myth- Kheerganga
So next time when you plan a Manali trip, go beyond the obvious. Explore the unexplored and evolve from being a tourist to a traveler.
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