|This was my second trip to Manali, but enjoyed it just as much (if not more) than the first time. Had planned my stay at the Bannon Resorts. (This resort has an interesting history. If interested do lookup on their website.) Detailed review of the resort can be accessed here.|
There are prepaid taxis available just outside the airport with published rates based on the vehicle and destination. Innova from Bhuntar to Manali cost us Rs. 1500/-. With additional Rs. 1300/- we included the site seeing for Manikaran in the deal.
Manikaran is an important pilgrimage place for Hindus and Sikhs. Things to see here are old temples of Ram and Shiva, gurudwara and hot water springs.
Enroute from Manikaran to Manali we stopped at "The Himalayan Village" for lunch. The hotel has a traditional architechture and a very good locale. Would recommend a stopover here for lunch. (i personally didnt much like the food though :) )
While in Manali, we visited the standard tourist spots. The hotel staff helped us by arranging for the vehicle.
1) Manu Temple: This is dedicated to Manu who is supposed to have settled down and meditated here after the great deluge.
2) Roerich Museum: Roerich was a gifted painter who stayed here for a number of years. A number of his paintings are show-cased here. You also get to glimpse the living quarters that he stayed in. The museum closes down for some time in the afternoon. I have forgotten the timings now. But make sure that you plan accordingly.
3) Naggar Castle. This is an old castle that has been taken over by HPTDC and maintained. You can have your afternoon meal here when you plan your trip to Roerich Museum and Naggar Castle. It makes for a great location. We felt that the restaurant within it was understaffed and the quality of the food too was not so great.
4) Vashishta Temple: It is famous for hot springs in addition to the temples of sage Vashishta and Lord Ram.
5) Hidimba Temple - We visited this temple on the day the Times carried the news that this is likely to be added to Unesco's list of World Heritage Sites. Here you can do the standard touristy things like taking photos in traditional dress, sit on a yak, etc
6) Rohtang Pass. Road to this is absolutely spectacular. This would definitely be the star attraction of Manali. It is very important to start for this as early as possible. There are jams created on the way due to hundreds of vehicles carrying people intent on enjoying the snow. Winter clothing is available on hire. Rates are put up on a board on Mall road. Bargain possible. Suggest that you hire your clothes before you reach the snow point, as it is likely that the ones you get there are wet.
7) Kullu Shawl Factory
8) Van Vihar: Most brochures will not mention this. But, I feel this is a "must do" while you are in Manali. This is a small forest of tall Deodar trees. A walkway has been created through this which is around 2 km. It is refreshing and absolutely enjoyable. At the end of this walk is a rescue center for animals where we spotted a few birds including himalayan monal and a bear.
9) Tibetan Monastry