It is from the day when we left the much coveted Manali, that whoever we meet we talk about Manali, as if it should be the most spectacular stage of the entire trip to Himachal Pradesh. Located around 250 kms from Shimla, 310 km from Chandigarh and 285 km from Kalka Railway Station, and only a 45 minute drive from Kullu, Manali is one of the best places in India where you can rest and unwind after a tiring day of journey.
With the warm atmosphere, a visit to Manali is suitable for all ages, where families will find spaces, activities and entertainment and youngsters will be spoiled for choice among the multitude of adventure activities that can be practiced amidst the natural wonders of the nearby valleys.
Through the first part of the mountains, we have the impression of stepping into it and to become a part in some way of the same mountain. The track gradually bends as we feel the smell of the air, the glistening dew in the trees, the wind in my hair and that elusive sense of freedom with almost the entire stretch of the road running across the river Beas amidst breathtaking views of the Himalayas and the forests of oak and cedar trees that surround my vacation.
Here you can taste the real Indian culture, to appreciate the traditions and customs of the place, as we see men with flocks of cattle coming down from the high reaches after the short summer to spend the long upcoming winter in their cozy homes in the lower reaches, as the upper reaches get covered by snow night after night. Here you can relax and enjoy things that now we no longer find ordinarily and so I take the opportunity to explore the as yet unknown.
There is even a feeling that it has a soul and that this soul wants to communicate silently with us as we get amazed and fascinated by the multitude of stimuli and sensations as our car drive for hours and hours, without having the hurry to have food on the way. As we get near Manali we decide to make a stop and feed ourselves with a chapati and malai kofta with the mind intent to leave as early as immediately.
Kidnapped in this atmosphere of relaxation and meditation, in which we have been swallowed up, we spend two days in the surroundings of the Club Mahindra White Meadows resort, in a spacious well-appointed room, fitted with wooden floors and warm lighting. In Manali, there is also Club Mahindra Snowpeaks resort, of the same chain and both present all same the comforts, and more.
Nestled away from the hustle of the city, the resort is located in the lap of nature. The main street of Mall is just a few kilometers away, where there are hundreds of shops and the city proper ends to give way to villages, jungles and mountains, which all have a story of its own.
The resort is modern, but with a touch of nostalgic and elegant atmosphere revisited. From the bed to the dining rooms, the resort is enriched by the many details that recall the contemporary style. Everything is very nice and clean and we really get the impression of being in a modern nineteenth-century palace in Manali. The cushions, decorated armchairs and warm lighting underlined the attention to detail.
The rooms were very spacious and tidy and included in the room were facilities for making tea or coffee. In addition there is a multi-channel flat-screen TV and also the option of connecting rooms.
The breakfast buffet was very rich and varied. As soon as we enter the eating area, we immediately feel the fragrance of baked pastries and you can sample the typical English as well as Indian dishes from pancakes, dosas to the puri and chole bhatura. Desserts range from muffins and teacakes during breakfast to Gulab Jamuns and more delicious Indian mithais during lunch, which were a delight for the palate and would be difficult to keep away your children from them with so many colorful desserts. For the lunch and dinner, there is a choice between an assortment of local cuisine as well as other continental dishes.
We could choose between hot and cold dishes and a rich selection of fruits and cereals. If you are vegetarian, you need not worry, as you will find a good selection of vegetarian stuff too. As soon as we arrive, a waiter is also immediately ready to assist us as we proceed to taste the various dishes from different cuisines.
For the evening dinner you can also choose to dine in the open air cubicles intended for individual families to treat themselves in privacy of a quiet retreat to enjoy the typical Himachali or other cuisines. As for ourselves, we simply cannot forget the local trout fish grilled to perfection by the chef. The size was simply enough for us to keep aside the other assortments of the himachali thali specially prepared for the night.
Spa and Fun Room
Those staying at the resort can make use of Svastha Spa. There is a sauna, bath area, a fitness room and a relaxation room, and lovers of relaxation will feel pampered in the wellness area. For younger children there is a colourful play area where they can play in peace and security, with a range of available games and play stuff.
Evening in Manali
With so much of activities available in the resort itself, for the entire family, you will be left wondering, whether to visit the Mall for some evening shopping or to participate around in the different fun activities from live singing, multitude of games, dance areas with a wide range of entertainment options.
While the elderly can enjoy with a few brain games and their favourite drinks children can have their night out just dancing to the tunes of melodies playing through. Surely one evening won’t be enough to take part in the activities available here.
Club Mahindra White Meadows resort is a place where while sipping cups of hot coffee in its fabulous cafes, or its Indian and continental dishes and between a chai and an amiable chat with strangers, you can forget all the problems of the world, amidst the soothing spa treatments, enlivened by the singing of birds or an evening out in the cosy minibar.
The resort is ideal for families with children with a true escape far from reality to breathe deeply the clean air of the mountain amidst peaceful mountain scenery, while children have fun in the numerous empty spaces. Parents can just relax and here is not just the joy of being together, but also there is the opportunity to enjoy private moments.
Points of Interest near Manali
The resort is located close to the many tourist attractions nearby, where you can experience the place rich in history in a very typical way and then you will have the opportunity to discover a lot.
The most popular attraction here among Indian families especially among the elders is definitely the Hadimba Devi Temple, which was built in the 16th century in the style of a pagoda. The temple stands in the centre of great giant cedar trees, which are perhaps there for some thousands of years.
Here, everything is striking as large mossy rocks that emerge between trees add to the solemnity of the place. The temple boasts of delicately carved sculptures in rough but elegant style. The heart of the sanctuary is a small cave, which is actually a crevice in a rock and obviously much older than the building that houses it.
After a brief tour of the Mall, we realized that in addition to the beauty of the place and its charm, Manali is also able to offer far more daring adventures beyond spiritual pursuits especially for the children and among the younger family members and, in fact, the nearby Solang Valley offers countless opportunities for recreation and relaxation, from relaxing walks to more challenging treks, rock climbing, hiking, balloon rides, paragliding, rafting, skiing and zorbing, an absurd activity of rolling in a closed sphere.
We find a large number of paragliders soar over the spectacular scenery of the Solang valley and enjoy the panoramic views of this natural paradise which is an adventure in complete safety, as it is accompanied by experienced instructors. In winter you can also experience the thrill of alpine skiing.
We take the ropeway to enjoy a scenic sky view of the place. The alpine scenery here offers itself in its magnificence as a spectacle and environmental heritage, history and culture with a common identity.
Solid and located in the Pir Panjal and approximately 50 km from Manali, the Rohtang Pass lies at an altitude of 3,978 meters above sea level and offers a sumptuous view of Manali and the surrounding valley. Many tourists make a day trip from Manali to Rohtang La for the first taste of snow and stopping at a dhaba to warm up with chai.
Another place to dedicate a few hours is Vashisht, a sort of hippie village about two kilometres north of Manali. Here families can bathe in the hot springs and visit the numerous temples, while the foreign tourists mainly come here for the ease of finding charas. You have to climb to the top of old Manali to enjoy real old villages with wooden houses covered with slate. A temple dedicated to Manu, the first man according to Hindu legend, stands in this place.
Manali to Kullu
Are you dreaming of a white Christmas in India? If so, Manali may be the right place for you. This popular destination of Himachal is perfect for those who want to celebrate Christmas in the midst of real snow. Partly snowy during the Christmas season in Manali, it gives the tourist the opportunity to enjoy skiing and making snowman snowball or simply tossing snow on each other. You may also like to live in one of the log cabins that will definitely enhance the mood of Christmas.
You cannot leave Manali without going into Kullu, which is just and another unique experience in a true natural retreat with a variety of choices available both for the elderly and the young from temples to art galleries and castles, it is a perfect place for families to spend an entire day in the midst of legends and the creepy stories that surround this place.
We gradually move to our next stop Naggar, located in the Himalayan foothills in Kullu valley, which is often pompously called as the Valley of the Gods, but the old name, Kulant Peetha meant end of the habitable world and here we discover charming places suspended in time, surrounded by an intact and pristine landscape.
Naggar boasts of the Nicholas Roerich Art Gallery and the Naggar castle. Nearby is also located the Chaturbhuj Vishnu Temple, where Vishnu is similar to an alien body with gold and silver eyes and the Tripura Sundari Temple, built in the style of a tiered pagoda, like the Hadimba temple in Manali. There are rare Ganesha representations in some of these temples.
In Naggar there are a lot of so-called Italian Restaurants, for some reason, which wistfully look at the surrounding empty landscape. Today thanks to the Naggar castle and Roerich’s estate, maintained by the Indian authorities as a museum, there is a good influx of Russian tourists and other travellers.
In the 16th century, Naggar became the capital of the Kullu valley, and here Raja Sidh Singh built a princely castle in the middle of the village on a steep cliff at an altitude of 1900 meters in the classic Himachali Pahari style, and the walls are built of large stones that support the massive larch and cedar beams, that have survived until now, and reminiscent of the past glory of the place.
In the courtyard of the castle, beautiful carvings adorn the facade of the Jagtipath Temple, which fiercely protects a piece of stone. Legend has it that Naggar was supposed to be the seat of the divine gods, and the stone was turned from Mount Deo Tibba (Hill of the Gods) and is said to have been brought by bees as per popular belief. Every day, the caretaker of the castle sprinkles yellow flowers on the sacred stone.
Locals also claim that a high white figure sometimes come to haunt in moonlit nights near the castle and the surrounding area and help in fulfilling their desires.
Just 20 minutes walk from castle is the museum of Nicholas Roerich, who died here in Naggar in 1947. The old house exhibits a small collection of original paintings of the eccentric Russian painter Nicholas Roerich, and the things used by him can only be seen through a window. The style of Roerich ranks between surrealism and the Russian iconographic paintings, but being a versatile person, is also remembered for his poetic works, prose and theater.
Another important thing is that the painter was profuse in efforts for ratification of a pact to safeguard the monuments and culture from the ravages of war, with the Roerich Pact has been signed by over 60 countries.
The place is surrounded by the woods and orchards and is ideal to quietly relax and wander and the stone slabs with reliefs, which were collected by Roerich and was quite interesting to me.
Finally as we depart from Kullu towards Shimla, I think that I cannot easily forget this place, which is a charming place, forgotten by time, and which at the same time is able to provide the comforts of modern life, and is a rare and valuable combination.
Everything in Kullu and Manali, is less expensive, combined with a style of slightly Spartan life with people staying in small separate communities all over surrounded by apple orchards, who emphasizes the uniqueness of the landscape, the beauty of the mountains, forests and rivers.
Kullu and Manali is the place to be carried by a magic and refined atmosphere, including spectacular landscapes and peaks of mountains that turn pink at sunset, and is a hospitable valley that offers multiple opportunities for recreation and relaxation, adventure, culture, art and legends.
And as our journey continues, I have no idea what is waiting for me, and in the meantime the sun comes out, which I cannot let get away, and before I know it, I’m already running towards the first of the seven steps between me and my appointment with a certain monkey god in Shimla.