Duration: 3 Days
Delhi – Old Manali – Vashisht – Jogni Falls – Solang Valley – Naggar – Delhi
Because for most of us, the heart stays happy in the hills
I will be honest, Manali never interested me even a bit, but Old Manali is an altogether a different story. Being a traveller, I avoid going to mainstream places, hence Manali was out of my bucket list since forever. But my experience in Old Manali was completely different and exclusive. It was one of the least crowded, peaceful and green places I got to visit in Himachal.
(To know more about the offbeat places in Manali, click this link – the page will open in a new tab)
Places to Visit in Old Manali
Old Manali has so many beautiful places to explore. With waterfalls to snowfall (if at the right time), one can have it all. Below, I will talk about what you can expect from the places in Old Manali, a weekend itinerary, accommodation and food options.
Vashisht Temple is named after Rishi Vashisht. The mythology says that when his children were killed by Vishwamitra, he tried to commit suicide by jumping into the river. However, the river refused to kill him. After this, he led a new life in the village that is now known as Vashisht. The temple is said to be more than 4,000 years old and has a hot spring which is the main attraction here. The hot spring is believed to have medicinal properties as well.
Timings: Vashist Temple: 7 am to 9 pm, Vashisht baths: 7 am to 1 pm, and 2 pm to 9 pm on all days.
Jogni Falls is one of the most beautiful sites to see in Old Manali. To reach here, you have to trek for almost half an hour and the dripping water from the falls will refresh you.
I would also suggest you go underneath the waterfalls as well. The water dripping from the falls keep flowing backwards and forward and if you sit on the rocks for a while the force of the water will hit you on the back in a good way 🙂
Also, screaming or talking loud is considered disrespectful here as the falls are believed to be holy with spiritual beings surrounding it.
Solang Valley is 14 KMs from Manali and falls on the way to Rohtang Pass. You can enjoy several activities like parachuting, paragliding, skating and zorbing here. During summers, you would not find any snow here, however, it is a popular go-to site during the winters especially as Rohtang Pass shuts down during the winters. The entire valley is surrounded with snow and the landscape becomes extremely mesmerizing.
Naggar lies at an altitude of 2,047 meters and served as the official seat of kings for centuries. According to a legend, Raja Sidh Singh built this 500 years ago and he used stones to build the castle.
Over the Beas river, he made a human chain of laborers so that the stones can be transferred manually. Furthermore, there was an earthquake in 1905 in which most of the houses were ruined, however, the caste survived the earthquake.
In 1978, the castle was converted into a rest house and subsequently a heritage hotel run by HPTDC.
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I remember when I first stepped out to travel I was terrified, so terrified that I hardly looked up, towards the streets and people in the eyes. It took me months to go on a solo trip. Now I stand there and see the world and especially love to see it from the top, with eyes wide open, which basically tells that towards the end everything will eventually get right. Shot on @OnePlus @OnePlus_India
Things to do in Old Manali
If you want to soar in the sky like a free bird, this is the perfect opportunity for you. Solang Valley is the place where you can fly. Solang offers two para gliding spots to choose from. One is a lower hop station and another one is an upper hop station that you can reach through a gandola ride.
Although, do remember that during monsoons para gliding temporarily closes due to bad weather. The cloud and fog is not safe for para gliding, hence plan your trip accordingly.
In Old Manali, you would be able to find temples on every street. These temples have their own rituals and the temple gives ancient vibes. One of the prominent ones is the Hadimba Temple. The wood is of dark colour which gives a vintage feeling about the place. You can also explore other temples such as Krishna Temple at Thava, Gauri Shankar Temple, Jamula Temple, etc.
Old Manali Market
Old Manali’s market is the perfect place to wander through the cobblestoned pathways of the quaint village. You can explore the shopping area in the evening that has colourful and quirky outlets. Also, buy winter clothes, small clothes like gloves, mufflers, cap, CDs, junk jewellery etc. You can also buy fruit jams, jellies and pickles. It is the perfect place to stroll around and be lost in the comfort and colours.
If you have spare days in hand and love trekkings, Manali is a hub of such trails. You can opt out of so many treks depending on the difficulty level and the number of days you have in mind.
Bhrigu trek is one of the most famous winter treks. The lake is surrounded by snow during this time making the lake really serene. Further, you will cross meadows which is a real treat for trekkers.
Hampta Pass is the most famous pass with meadows and lush green valleys. Chandratal Lake which is the most famous and go to the place of Spiti, is also covered along with Hampta Pass.
Beas Kund Trek
A moderate trek that takes 3-5 days is one of the most famous treks in Manali. the trek’s start point is Solang Valley where you cross several river streams as well as a dead glacier. After reaching Beas Kund, you are treated to a great view of the surrounding peaks like Hanuman Tibba.
Day 0: Delhi to Old Manali
There are regular buses running from Delhi to Manali. You can take the bus from ISBT Kashmiri Gate and you can book either HRTC Volvo or private buses. The details of bus timings along with the cost details can be easily found online.
It mostly takes 12-13 hours to reach Manali from where you can either walk or take an auto/cab to reach Old Manali.
Day 1: Vashisht Temple, Jogni Falls
Once you settle in Old Manali, head out to Vashisht which is closer. Spend an hour here, dipping in hot springs and from here move to Jogni Waterfalls which takes about 30-45 minutes. You can also stop midway on the hike, which is halfway to the falls, where many people sit on the rocks beside the falls and dive as well.
Although once you reach the falls you would not feel like going back at all, the experience is really blissful.
Once you are back you can cafe crawl and have dinner in any of the cafes you want. Each cafe has some or the other speciality and the entire cafe street has really good vibes.
Day 2: Solang valley and Naggar
The next day, you can either take a bus or a cab to Solang Valley depending on your preference. You can get the buses from the Manali bus stand that leaves at 8 AM, 10 AM, 1:30 PM, 2 PM AND 4:15 PM. The same bus returns from Solang Valley so plan your tour to Solang accordingly. I would suggest you leave early in the morning with slighter warmer clothes so that you have sufficient time to enjoy the activities of Solang – para gliding and skiing.
From Solang come back to Manali bus stand and catch the bus that leaves for Naggar Castle.
Day 3: Temple Visits and Old Market
The next day you can visit all the temples, especially the Hadimba temple. From here, you can move to the market in Old Manali where you can enjoy several activities0 and lively vibes of the streets.
All these places can be covered by bus or private taxi as stated above. However, you can also rent out scooter/bikes here which again would be really comfortable and would help in independent travel.
The Route Map I followed in Old Manali
Below are all the places I covered in Old Manali. If you will look closely at the map, the distance between Manali Bus Stand and Treebo Celebriti (where I stayed), is not much if you plan to cover on foot. However, if you take a cab the entire bridge needs to get crossed. However, the choice is up to you with all the bags and everything how you want to travel.
Treebo Hotels (The page will open in a new tab)
When I reached Old Manali, it was raining and was freezing cold. Fingers and toes were numb, so being welcomed by a warm bed made my day. The best part of the hotel was that at one side of my room there were snow-capped mountains and on the other a rugged road with stream gushing nearby.
Travelling has two sides of the coin. At times you take bad memories. In this post instead of talking about the comfort of the hotel, I would very much like to share the hospitality of the Hotel.
As I and my brother were exploring Vashisht we got into an argument with a local as we unknowingly stepped on the floor of the temple with our shoes on. For this, he abused us and got into a physical fight. As a result of this, my phone was left broken. When Treebo Hotels got to know of the incident, the manager of Treebo Celebriti got really concerned. We got several calls just to make sure if we are okay. We also got a call from the head of Old Manali of Treebo Hotels. When we left from Manali the very next day, they again made sure if we are safe and if we are okay and told us that if we ever decide to visit Manali again they will plan things for us.
Well, staying in a beautiful hotel is one thing, but when you have amazing people to take care of you, you know you will keep coming back to them again and again.
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An excerpt from Into The Wild: "I’d like to repeat the advice I gave you before, in that I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, Ron, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty." . View from @TreeboHotels in Old Manali! 🙂 #TreeboTrippers
I did not find Old Manali perfect only because of less hustle bustle and more serenity. But also because how much it has to offer when it comes to food and exotic cafes. Some of the best cafes in Manali can only be found in Old Manali and you can also do cafe crawling as there is a street which is filled with several types of cafes.
The cafes are so delightful with lip-smacking food where you can easily indulge in long conversations.
Some of my favourite cafes are –
1. Cafe 1947
2. The Lazy Dog
3. Johnson’s Cafe
4. Born Free Cafe
If you are planning to stay in Treebo, the room costs INR 900/-. The rooms are really nice with warm running water, however, you can always find cheaper hotels or homestays. But going by the money factor the hotel is worth it as the view from here is breathtaking.
Para Gliding and Others
Para gliding costs INR 2,500/- for 10-15 minutes fly. You can also opt for other activities which are cheaper than para gliding.
1. Cable Car Ropeway – INR 450/-
2. Amateur Skking – INR 300/-
3. Snow Scooter – INR 500/-
4. Zorbing – INR 350/-
Delhi to Manali buses costs about 1,200/ to 1,500/-. If you opt for an ordinary bus journey of HRTC, it would cost you about INR 600/–, however, the bus is not as comfortable as Volvo.
You can always eat in dhabas or local restaurants where per meal would not exceed more than INR 200/-, however, cafes are something where you might have to shed extra bucks and the cost would increase to INR 500/-.
Old Manali will send you back in the 80s as it has so many vintage feelings around. If you want to head out to Manali, I would instead ask you to head a little ahead and stay in Old Manali instead. It is less crowded as compared to the main Manali and more beautiful in fact.
If you ever get the chance to stay at Treebo Hotels, I would love to hear your stories. Do comment below if you had any different experiences in Old Manali.