No holiday in India is complete without a trip to Manali. Tucked away in the shade of dense pinewoods and snowy mountains, there is something about Kulu Valley's premier hill station, that will make you recall childhood fairytales. The earth almost meets the sky all around, the meandering Beas River winds its way through the valley mysteriously, and between the imposing peaks of the Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar ranges, hundreds flock to experience how it must be to live in Paradise.

 

Sight seeing
Manali can leave you wide-eyed in wonder. From temple ruins to enormous white rabbits, the mountainside is filled with surprises. Visit the Hadimba Temple dedicated to the wife of Bheema, one of the Padavas, the legendary heroes in Hindu mythology. Hadimba, Bheema's wife, is believed to have meditated here. There is no idol in the temple to worship, instead just a footprint set on stone. The temple is surprisingly built in a pagoda style and is an impressive sight.

The Manu Rishi Temple beckons you to stop and linger. The temple, set in pagoda architecture, is dedicated to King Manu, who is believed to have been the creator of the human race. Interestingly, Manali was named after Manu. The Manali Gompa, though fairly new, is an important site for Buddhists in the Himachal region. The Gompa houses a large Buddha and has spectacular wall paintings.

Vashist, a tiny hamlet perched atop the River Beas, is a popular haunt for those who want to dip in the curative hot springs here that are one of the best kept secrets in the valley. Now regulated by the government, you can even try a Turkish bath here in the midst of lush green.

White water rafting is perhaps the most sought-after activity among those who visit Manali. The Grade 2 and 3 rapids provide just the twist for the perfect rafting expedition. Amateurs could take it easy on the slower Grade 1 rapids at Manikaran.

Shopping
The Mall Road is a great place to shop for souvenirs and other keepsakes when in Manali.
Shawls, tweed jackets, natural oils, nuts, silver jewellery and bamboo products are on top of every shopper's list. Vashist village is known for a gem store that deals with lovely silver ornaments and semi-precious stones. Bargaining is the key to good buys here as most items are overpriced keeping tourism in mind.

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