Many years ago, the small Himalayan town of Manali was anything but a tourist hotspot. But today, it witnesses hordes of hippies, backpackers, adventure sports enthusiasts, and honeymooners throughout the year. What was a quaint little village back in the day, is bustling now with cafes, hotels, and restaurants everywhere!
Of course, the peak season for a Kullu Manali tour package from Mumbai is the period between April-July, when the summer heat of the plains simply becomes unbearable. But take a trip to Manali in the winter months, and you would get to see a completely different side to the Himalayan town.
Why a Winter Trip to Manali is a Must
- Low Tourist Season: Manali witnesses massive crowds in the aforementioned peak season. But come winter, Manali doesn’t get as much visitors, all thanks to the extremely cold weather the town experiences. This is undoubtedly the best time for a Kullu Manali tour package from Mumbai if someone is not particularly fond of huge crowds, and wants to spend a quiet time.
- Low Hotel Rates: The huge rush of tourists in the summer season makes hotel rates in Manali skyrocket, and it’s quite difficult to bargain too, especially if you are an Indian. Manali has no dearth of foreign crowds, and if you refuse to pay up, there would always be some willing foreigner who would be more than happy to part with his/her money without any kind of haggling. But in winter, rates are really low, and you can bargain as much as you want to make them come down further.
- Snow, Lots of Snow: If you are a fan of snow-covered mountains, there’s nothing quite like a winter trip to Manali. The entire town is covered with snow in the months of December and January, and provides the ideal conditions for all the fun and play in snow you could ever imagine!
Things You Cannot Do on a Winter Trip to Manali
- No Rohtang Pass: The Manali-Leh Highway is famous for Rohtang La, a high altitude mountain pass. In ancient times, the pass was used by traders, but it was frequently responsible for the death of many traders, thanks to the harsh weather conditions, particularly in winter. Even today, in spite of the establishment of the Manali-Leh Highway, this famous tourist hotspot, approximately 52 km. from Manali, cannot be accessed during winter.
- No Trekking: Hikers and trekkers are quite common in and around Manali in the summers, but the incessant snowfall in winter means that several trek routes remain off-limits. The most prominent example is the trek to Hampta Pass, which is known for its dramatic change of landscape from the lush green Kullu Valley to the cold mountain desert landscape of the Spiti Valley. If trekking is high on your list of things to do in Manali, definitely give it a miss in the winter season.
- Not Much Adventure Sports: Adventure sports enthusiasts too, give Manali a miss during winters. Two major adventure sports, paragliding and white water rafting, are incredibly popular in Manali during summers. But in winter, the Beas River waters experience freezing temperatures, which definitely isn’t ideal for white water rafters. Paragliding too, is a strict no-no because of continuous snowfall and the consequent low-visibility.
Things You Can, and Should Do
If what you have read so far has depressed you, it would please you to know that not all activities are out-of-bounds in Manali in the winter months. Here are the things you can, and probably should do during a winter trip to Manali!
- Skiing at the Solang Valley: The Solang Valley is a popular tourist spot en route the Rohtang Pass. But unlike the mountain pass, the valley remains open in winter and its snow-covered conditions are perfect for casual play with snowballs, or some serious skiing! Even in the summer months, the valley stays snow-laden and provides decent skiing conditions. But if skiing is what you cherish, you must experience Solang Valley in winter!
- Take a Dip at the Vashisht Hot Springs: The small village of Vashisht is located quite close to Manali, and is prominent for the Vashisht Temple. But what would really make your day on a cold winter afternoon is a dip in the legendary hot springs. The Vashisht hot springs are famous for their sulphur content, and is known to heal multiple medical conditions. Even if you are not stricken by any particular ailment or disease, it would still be a joy to relax and unwind for a while at the hot springs.
- Eat Some Great Food: There’s nothing quite like some great warm food to counter the chilly winter days in Manali. Thankfully, there are a lot of great cafes and restaurants, which serve a variety of cuisines and serve top-notch food. Prominent examples are Johnson’s Café, La Plage, and Lazy Dog Lounge!
While winter might not be the ideal time for a Manali trip in case you want to participate in a ton of activities, it certainly makes for a great experience, and you should definitely give it a shot!