Manali is not just a hub for honeymooners. Being the starting point for treks like Hampta pass, Beas Kund, Bhrigu Lake, it is frequented by trekkers too.
The crisp mountainous air, snow-laden alpine trees, and rich history of this place attract many travelers.
But despite being infested by tourists, there are a lot of quiet and serene places that can be explored in Manali. In this list, I want to bring out such hidden gems to you.
For this, I spoke with experts on the Indiahikes teams who have explored the length and breadth of Manali.
From hippie cultures to religious pilgrims, there’s one offbeat thing to do in Manali for all in this list.
1. Get your Dose of the Old Manali Charm
The Old Manali area doesn’t just for Cafes and hangouts. Look closely, and in the shadow of famous hangout spots, you notice the quaint old Manali. It is full of culture, heritage, and plain mountainous beauty.
Skip the crowd and head to the rustic setting of Old Manali. Photo by Kishan Upadhyay
The Beas river separates New Manali from old Manali. What’s really interesting is that Old Manali is a part of the quirky Banana-Pancake trail. Did you know about this?
Leo Saldhana, a trek leader at Indaihikes says "You can rent a cycle and explore Prini, Jagathsukh, and even the Naggar Castle instead of spending time in overcrowded spots".
Bonus Tip: In Summers you can rent a homestay in Prini. Situated amidst apple orchards slouching with ripe apples hanging from the branches, it’s an experience on its own.
2. Go back in Time at the Naggar Castle
Nestled on a cliff surrounded by the great Himalayas and the graceful river Beas flowing alongside is the castle of Raja Sidh Singh. Made completely out of wood and stone, this elegant castle is a go-to place for history lovers.
The artfully preserved gallery and the unique architecture of this castle tend to mesmerize its visitors.
3. Witness the Sunset at Hadimba Devi temple
Sunsets are beautiful everywhere but they make for an unforgettable, emotional experience only from at the right location. One such place is the Hadimba Devi temple.
The ancient Hadimba temple in Old Manali. Photo by Aditya Prakash
After an entire day of cycling or walking around, finding the quiet spot at the Hadimba Devi Temple in old Manali and witnessing the golden sunset is an experience like none other.
Bonus Tip: You can beat the traffic and expensive auto fare by taking a walk along the Deodar forest trail from old Manali to Mall road. The cemented trail itself gives a serene experience to the visitor.
4. Soak in at the Hot Springs of Vashisht Kund
It’s 3 km away from main Manali. Like you did for the Hadimba temple, instead of taking an auto, I suggest you walk to Vashisht Kund too. It helps you take in the vibe of Manali at a leisurely pace.
The hot sulphuric spring is quite soothing when temperatures are dipping. Especially after a trek to Hampta Pass or Bhrigu Lake, a dip in the Vashisht Kund can be really relaxing.
5. Paragliding in Solang Valley
Solang Valley is the only place in Northern India where you can go paragliding. Getting a bird’s eye view from such a scenic place is an added bonus.
Solang Valley is a hub for paragliding. Photo by Jinu k
In winters, Manali becomes a hub for is skiing, snow riding, sledging, and even ice climbing. Paragliding over Manali draped in snow is a treat. But if you are in for this adventure, you need to time your visit accordingly.
6. Rafting in the Beas river
The most common thing that anyone does while visiting Manali is rafting in the mighty Beas river. The tumultuous waters and frothy white rapids are capable of bringing an adrenaline rush to even a silent onlooker.
The rapids in Beas river make it ideal for a thrilling rafting experience. Photo by Manan Dhuri
7. Shop for Woolen Wear as Souvenir
Oftentimes trekkers end up spending a lot on wrong souvenirs in touristy places. To save you from this rookie mistake, I spoke with experts to find that one souvenir you can’t go wrong with when in Manali.
Look for warm woolen wear as a souvenir. Photo by Peter Livesey
Head of Experience
Look for small shops in the gallies near the bus stand. You get good quality woolen-wear to be it sweaters, socks or gloves, Himachal caps, overcoats made of fine wool that keep you warm Locally made shawls are also a good buy provided you buy them from the small factory outlets. Hone your bargaining skills for they will come in handy here.
8. Food joints you must visit while you’re in Manali
Old Manali is famous for its Cafes. You can find a number of German and English bakeries here as well.
“Rendez-Vous Café has good Italian food. I’d go back for their Pizzas especially”, says Leo.
Head over to Chopsticks to get a Tibetan meal. Manali is well-known for Tibetan culture. It has seeped into various aspects of life in Manali, from street food to local vendors head on the Mall road.
You must try the apple cider brewed by the locals. Photo by Rosalie
“Don’t miss out on the apple cider brewed by the locals. It is something you wouldn’t get anywhere else” says Lakshmi.
With that, we come to the end of this list. But our conversation needn’t end here. If you’ve done something offbeat in Manali, do tell us about it in the comment section below. I will add it to this list.