Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Planning a Trip to Manali - Things to know in advance

Manali has much to offer to the visitors. Some of the main attractions in and around Manali are:-

* Local Manali sight seeing -> Hadimba Temple, Manu Temple, Tibetan Monasteries,
Vashist Temple, Shopping @ Mall Road
* Manikaran -> Gurudwara & Hot Spring Water Sauna Bath
* Rohtang Pass -> Horse Riding till Snow Point, Ice-scootering, Skiing
* Solang Valley & Mani -> Paragliding & Glaciers
* Kullu -> River Rafting near Kullu, Kullu Dussherra Festival

These are the few main attractions which one can cover in the span of 3-5 days and need more time to cover other not so popular but heavenly scenic places like Naggar etc.

Best Time to Visit -
Manali is a very scenic place and can be worth visiting any time throughout year; but if you are specially looking for snow and want to visit Rohtang pass then you must be aware about these rough dates:-
Rohtang Pass will be closed in Nov. and will be Reopened back by around 15th May. This is due to heavy snow falls of around 4 ft in the rohtang region but in Dec-Jan Snow can easily be seen in Manali and in between Manali and Rohtang Region. Rohtang is around 51 Kms from Manali.
If you want to play with snow and want to enjoy other adventurous Ice sports then best time to visit is late May to June.

How to Reach Manali -
If you are heading from Delhi to Manali then read ahead otherwise skip this section.
There are three ways of transport you can use to reach manali.
By Air - There is a Small Airport near Kullu named as Bhuntar. You can take a flight to there and it will take around 2.5 hrs by road from there to reach manali.
By Bus - There are frequent good HP Tourism and Private Travels Volvo, A/C, Delux bus services available from Delhi. Follow these links to book your tickets online:
Do NOT book your Volvo bus tickets from "RAO Travels". They charged the highest and DO NOT provide any facility inside the bus except the interiors, and most imp. is that they have NO PUNCTUALITY - they are never be on time. So no value of money. HRTC's buses are comparatively good and punctual. You can also consider booking by TATA A/C bus @ 705 bucks with almost same ambiance and has value for money.
By Train - You can travel by train at most till Chandigarh/Kalka or Pathankot. From there you have to take either Bus or hire a Car/Taxi.
By Own Vehicle - One of the best options is to either take your own vehicle or to hire a Car and enjoy the trip with just your loved once. But take care while driving in manali and rohtang region. Its recommended to hire a expert HP/Manali driver rather than driving on your own in hill areas, especially in Rohtang and Manikaran areas.
Guys, you can also consider traveling by your own Bikes, but be extra cautious while riding in hill areas.

Local Mode of Transport -
Loads of travel agents are proving cars like (Alto, Indica, Santro, Sumo). Alto and Sumo are the most easily available cars there.
Lumpsome Charges for Alto (As on 05th Oct. 2009):-
Manali > Rohtang Pass > Manali - Rs.1200.00
Manali > Rohtang Pass > Solang Valley > Manali - Rs.1400.00
Manali > Solang Valley > Manali - Rs. 600.00
Manali > Manikaran > Manali - Rs.1500.00
Manali > Manikaran > Kullu (Rafting) > Manali - Rs. 1800.00
Bus services for all areas are also available and the local bus stand is at the centre of the city @ Mall road.
Private bus stand is also very near to Mall Road and near by Van Vihar. All Private Volvo and A/C buses are started from there.

Accommodation -
DO NOT BOOK your Hotel in advance unless you want to splurge. Book Hotel Online or through agents IF and ONLY IF you are visiting manali in very peak time say for the month for June. Otherwise in all cases you can easily find a economical Hotel @ Mall Road or in Rangri (2-3 kms from Mall road while entering the city from kullu).
Usually Hotel Rooms are started from Rs.400.
One of the good and economical hotel you can consider is - "Hotel Link Way" in Rangri. This hotel has all eminent facilities and good specious rooms and apart from that they really serve very good and tasty food in economical price. Also the location is very scenic and River Beas is flowing in full flow just opp. the hotel alongside rangri. You can contact Mr. Virender Thakur @ +91-94183.47991 / 01902-251962 to enquire about the hotel. They also deal in local and near by sight seeing and provide Cars/Cabs in cheap rates.

Other Expenses -
Few other major expenses one should keep in mind are:
1) Horse riding charges from Rohtang Pass to Snow Point; if you do not wish to climb the mountains on your own. That will cost you around Rs. 500 - 1000 per head depends upon how good you are in bargaining.
2) Also if you rent out pullovers that will cost you around Rs. 100 - 200 per head. They usually have two kind of varieties.
3) River Rafting - River rafting usually came in two packages 3 km & 7 km track. Charges for 3 Km track for each person will cost you around Rs. 250-350 and for 7 km track Rs. 500-750 per head.
4) Paragliding - Paragliding is initiated from Mani & Solang areas. This come in 3 packages:-
1 Min - Rs. 500
5-10 Mins - Rs 1500
35 Mins - Rs 2500 - 3000
Rest depends upon ur bargaining provess. :)
Go with the half an hour ride that is really scintillating and would be a lifetime experience, you can cover the 3-4 hrs equi. distance by road in just half an hour. No traffic chaos.

Things to Remember before heading to Rohtang -
1). Do not forget to take Pullovers before going to Rohtang's Snow Point as there will be very chillz out there and more importantly they saves your cloaths from being muck up in mud. Also take some preventive measures to prevent your ears and nose from chilly breezes.
2) You can take pictures with Rabitts and Yaks in Rohtang and Hadimbba temple in manali.
3) Wear shoes with flat heal and good grips in soul as it will be very slippery at the top of rohtang's snow point. The rented shoes can prevent ur shoes from spoiling but are not very comfortable and also doesn't have good grip in the soul. Better wear comfortable and washable shoes like Sport shoes of Football.
4) Its good to hire a horse and enjoy horse riding till Snow Point from Rohtang. Its arounf 3-4 kms of distance on hills. Not easy to climb that in breezy, chiily conditions esp. when oxyzen can be below normal.
5) DO plan to wake up as earliest as possible to heading for Roahtang in the morning, as if you leave after 6:00 - 06:30 A.M. then the probability of caught in traffic jams is on the cards. And again when you return back the probability of caught in jams is on the higher side. This traffic jam could be in few KMs. Also, the Road extension and double lanning of road work is in progress, so frequent explosions will be performing for road expansion plans that could adversely effect the travelers and can result in huge traffic jams. Plan to return from Rohtang by noon so that you can also cover the Solang valley in the same day. Also, you can enjoy the Paragliding @ Mani or at Solang in the evening time. Evening time (around 3 PM) is best for Paragliding.

For more detailed description navigate to - http://hillvoyage.blogspot.com/