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Sightseeing in Manali

There are lots of places to see and sightseeing opportunities in Manali and these includes visiting its ancient ruins, villages, temples, and Buddhist monasteries. Some of them are mentioned below for your convenience.

Visit the village settlement of old Manali, also known as Manaligarh which comprises of a ruined fort and a cluster of houses built in the Pahari style - with heavy stone roofs and wooden balconies projecting out of the first floor. According to popular belief it is here that Manu; the lawmaker lived around the 2nd century BC and even today the Manusmriti continues to be followed by many devout Hindus. The village itself is an idyllic break from the rush of main Manali, surrounded by terraced maize fields and apple orchards.

At Dunghri village, a two km walk from the tourist office in Manali, is the famous Hadimba Devi Temple. Maharaja Bahadur Singh built the present wooden pagoda-like temple in 1553 after earlier structures were burnt down by forest fires. Standing on a stone platform surrounded by old deodar trees, the three-tiered temple is crowned with pennants, brass bells and a trident. Carvings of animals, plants, and folk deities adorn the temple, while hunting trophies hang over its entrance.

Inside the shrine is the brass icon of the goddess, surprisingly tiny compared to the huge temple structure and the legendary prowess associated with her. The shrine is within a natural cave formation dominated by huge rock. A set of enlarged footprints on the rocks is believed to be of Hadimba, herself.

In mid-July the idol from old Manali is brought to this temple for a major festival. As part of the frenzied celebrations, several animals including a buffalo and a goat are sacrificed to the goddess. The blood falling on the stones is channelled to the mouth of goddess Hadimba. Not for the faint-hearted, this ancient ritual draws large crowds.

Note: The opening time of the temple is 6 am and there is no entry fee to visit the temple. Do remember that cameras and video cameras are not allowed inside the temple. Dress in simple and sober attire and if you wish you can make a donation in the donation box.

Manu Maharishi Temple is a walk away from the main Mall and lies in the Old Manali. The shrine is designed in a pagoda style and is dedicated to the Hindu sage Manu and is the only temple of Manu in India.

The ancient temple was renovated in the year 1992 and additions like vaulted ceiling and marble floors were made. When you visit the temple make sure you wear dresses covering the knees and shoulders. The path to the temple is quite slippery so be careful while you walk it. While in Manali, a visit to the Manu Temple is a must!

Note: The opening time of the temple is 6 am and there is no entry fee to visit the temple. Do remember that cameras and video cameras are not allowed inside the temple. Observe a simple dress code. It is advised that you start your day early if you have to visit the temples as hills darken by early evening.

The Tibetan Monasteries have preserved Tibetan culture in the form of three colourful monasteries. Manali has the largest Tibetan settlement in the valley, standing out by their colourful new gompas, many prayer wheels, and prayer flags fluttering over the house.

Gadhan Thekchokling Gompa, built in 1969 has a prominent yellow coloured pagoda roof and bright frescoes on the walls. Inside the vividly painted prayer hall is a statue of Shakyamuni (form of Buddha). Beside the main entrance is a roll of honour listing Tibetans killed in the late 80s during the many violent uprisings against the Chinese occupation in Tibet. The monastery is maintained through donations and the sale of carpets woven by the lamas within the temple workshop.

A smaller gompa near the market has a large gold-faced image of Buddha, which is best viewed from its first floor veranda. Monks can be seen printing prayer flags in the open terrace.

The Himalayan Nyingamapa Gompa is situated near the market place in Manali. It has been nicely designed in a very modern style. The monastery glows at night with light bulbs. There is a huge gold faced statue of Lord Buddha preserved inside the monastery.

The Tibetan Monasteries are known for their rich handicrafts, especially carpets and paintings. With the aroma of Tibetan incense sticks filling the air, hymns, and chants in the background, the ambience of the monastery is captivating. There is another monastery which is located at Aleo on the bank of River Beas. You can visit the monasteries at anytime during the day.

Note: Cameras are allowed in here. You can buy amazing Tibetan handcrafted goods and Buddhist paintings here.

Vashisht, a village three kms and half an hour away from Manali is famed for its hot sulphur springs and panoramic view of its valley. One can take a day trip to the village and can reach on foot; it won’t be much of a hassle. If you wish to reach there by a car, then there are taxis available from the main Mall in Manali where you can hop on to get to the tiny hamlet.

Himachal Tourism runs a hot bath complex offering 30-minute sessions with piped water running into tiled tubs. The tubs are of two sizes regular and deluxe (Rs. 60 – Rs.120), and towels are available for an additional cost. After a dip in the healing waters, you can relax with a glass of fresh apple juice or any other soft drink on the open terrace. Within the temple complex, there are also free communal baths with separate sections for men and women. Remove your shoes before you enter the temples.

Note Enjoy the traditional hot springs or visit the two old stone temples with elaborate woodcarvings facing each other in the main square. One is dedicated to Rama (incarnation of Vishnu) and the other to sage Vashisht, who was Rama’s teacher.

The beautiful water spring at the Nehru Kund, only 6 kilometres away from the main town, is a refreshing and peaceful spot. People come here for its waters as it is believed that they have some medicinal effect.

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