Magnificent Manali in Himachal Pradesh, India (107 Photos)


Chuck Manley on a Bus to Manali India

Bus to Manali India

After spending nearly 2 weeks exploring the nooks and crannies of New Delhi, I got invited to Manali with 2 friends who had an extra bus ticket.  Having planned on heading there already, I thought this was a good time to escape the Delhi heat and head north into the mountains.  I packed my bag, left my guesthouse, and met them at the nearby bus station to start the journey.


These are my friends :)

This is Fiona and Tadhg. I met them in New Delhi when I offered event photography services in exchange for food and booze.  Fiona and her friends have a started a super awesome company to empower women in conflict zones of northeast India.  They’re going to put together a system that will connect women clothe makers directly to customers in western countries.  It sounds really exciting and I was happy to offer up some help and make some new friends.


Himachal Pradesh sunrise from the bus.

Manali sits in the northern part of the Kullu Valley in the state of Himachal Pradesh.  This hill station bolsters the reputation for being one of the top destinations in all of India and attracts many tourists both Indian and foreign.  The increase in popularity is at least partially attributed to conflicts in Kashmir starting in the 1980’s when tourism declined in that region.


1 tola of charas

Another thing that makes this a popular destination is the world famous charas.  Charas is a handmade hashish made from slowly rubbing the cannabis plant between your hands.  It plays a major role in the spiritual practices of shaivs who hold Shiva as the supreme being and use charas as a way to connect with him.  The manufacturing of charas was made illegal in the 1980’s, but it still plays a big part of the local culture.


Purple Hey’z guesthouse

I stayed here at Purple Hey’z guesthouse.  It was a nice room for 200 rupees a night.  The place just opened and it seems like the owners are really excited about doing fun things with the place.  While I was there they were in the process of building a cafe, getting wi-fi, and adding some nice spaces to chill out in.  I think this place is going to be really awesome once they get things going.


prayer flags

Because of the proximity to Tibet, there is a strong influence of its culture in this region.  You can see it in the architecture, people’s faces, and food that you eat.  There are also many northeast Indian people living in this region.  Besides the locals, the population is also made up of Kashmiri people and folks from the capital city of Shimla.


Mayur’s Tandoori Trout

I spent much of the time eating because I love everything about food.  Trout was introduced to this region by the British in the early 1900’s and it has become a staple dish to try while you’re in town.  Every place has their own trout, but this one came from Mayur and I loved it.  Besides trout, you can also find Tibetan, Indian, and continental foods in town.


Calzone from Cafe 1947

My favorite place in town was Cafe 1947.  I went there probably close to 10 times and ate 6 calzones.  The pizza and calzones were really great, the coffee was fantastic, and the wi-fi was fast.  It was also a nice place to just hang out and smoke hookah, drink beers, and meet new people.  The music they played was good mix and the musicians that jammed were incredible.  Best place in town!


Best road sign!

Besides hanging out in Manali, you can also take day trips to the surrounding villages.  There are plenty of guesthouses in them as well in case you want a more peaceful overnight village experience.  The scenery is beautiful no matter where you’re at and it’s easy to get in between places either by walking along the road or taking an inexpensive auto rickshaw.


Manali, Himachal Pradesh

I stayed in Old Manali for about 2 weeks, but easily could have stayed for a month.  The room was cheap, the bed was comfortable, the weather was good, the views were incredible, the people were charming, and everything about the place was delightful.

107 photos from Manali, Himachal Pradesh