Manali couldn’t have presented its charm to us at a better time! After five days in Delhi we were ready for some peace and quiet in the foot hills of the Himalayas. Being in the northern district of Himachal Pradesh it was far enough away from the hustle and bustle of most Indian cities. Manali is a beautiful spot to chill out and relax, allowing time to merge between the old and new town. In the old town there were a lot of tourists, coffee shops and stalls to buy handicrafts. New Manali is not too dissimilar but more pedestrianised with the many shops, restaurants and market stalls that sell a variety of useful things for a cheap price. We bought our hiking boots and bits of clothing in preparation for our trekking in Ladakh. I had the pleasure of spending my birthday in New Manali indulging in the wonders of Johnson Lodge & Spa resort. We booked the ‘Romance’ spa treatment package which was fantastic, such an amazing way to unwind and relax. They also served the best western cuisine which was a very much needed break from rice, curry and chapatti!
Only a 45 minute local bus ride from new Manali station, Solang Valley is a great place to enjoy a variety of activities from zorbing to paragliding. We would have liked to have done both but zorbing wasn’t on so we went for paragliding instead. It cost ₹3,000 per person to paraglide with a professional for around 15 minutes. The length of the experience depends on how strong the wind thermals are and how well the pilot can control the parachute. The whole process was extremely quick as there were so many paragliding pilots waiting to take people up and down. Included in the price was a cable car journey to the top of the valley where the paragliding starts.
Manali To Leh
The road from Manali to Leh is only open roughly 4 months a year during the summer due to how dangerous it can be. It took us 20 hours in a small traveler and kept us on our toes the entire journey! The mountain roads are constantly under reconstruction due to frequent landslides and weathering but the views you get are spectacular. The highway reaches an altitude of over 5,000m when you pass through Khardung La. It’s one of the world’s highest motorable passes.
Leh is a Himalayan city situated on a 3,500m plato in the Ladakh region. Its main attractions are the old Palace at its centre and Shanti Stupa. The Buddhist stupa has a fantastic view from the top overlooking the town and nearby mountains. Climbing up the many steps to the top can be grueling when you haven’t had time to aclimatise. We did it the day after arriving so we felt a little dizzy and out of breath on the way up.
Our time spent in Leh was to mainly plan some trekking routes and to aclimatise before hand. When doing so we found a fab café called the Hidden North which sold really tasty cheap food. We practically lived in there as it was close to our hotel and had a good internet connection.