I visited Manali a while back and had thought about writing this piece but could not get around it, until today. Do I recommend Manali-the old one, like the old monk? Young monks do not look that wise. The last line was a joke, request the monks reading this not to get offended. Wait, do I know any monks? Oh, let it be.
The city of Manali has two parts- Old Manali and new Manali.
There is nothing much to be said about new Manali because it is touristy, crowded and boring. There is the ubiquitous mall road where honeymooners, families and gang on boys wander around, doing nothing but stare at each other. It is like any other tourist place that attracts the normal tourists who go there to tell people that they have been there. A lot of people travel for this reason only- to tell people that they have traveled. Like this couple…
If you travel to be with yourself and immerse in a different environment away from the maddening crowds, do not go to new Manali.
Go to Old Manali. Old Manali feels cosmopolitan and rustic at the same time; a small colony, if you are okay with calling it a colony. Alternatively, call it what you like. The streets of old Manali are buzzing with tourists from different parts of the world and it just does not feel like you are in India. It is a cool atmosphere with cafés serving cuisine from different parts of the world.
I particularly liked Café 1947 and gave them a lavish review on TripAdvisor. The old Manali Street starts from the end of the bridge and it goes up the slope. The entire street is dotted with cafes and shops selling clothes or jewelry for women. You cannot have a market, which does not sell jewelry for women.
Most of the cafes are open until midnight and some of them play live music. It sounds great whilst you sit by the side of the Beas River. Listen to the music or sit close to the river and enjoy the sound of the flowing water. If you are me, that is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world.
Other things to do in Manali
Rent a bike: Rent a bike and drive to Solang Valley just to enjoy the ride-the valley does not offer anything besides a cable car ride, which is trite. I did not do it because I find cable cars boring. However, the bike ride within the mountains in exciting enough to get the adrenaline rushing within you.
Rohtang Pass: Do it, for everyone does but do it only once. The place is crowded and dirty because we are a mess as tourists. There is some snow during the summer seasons but there is enough to play with. Enjoy the landscape and move back.
Eat a lot: Ah, I know the touristy thing but then not all touristy things are necessarily bad. While you are at a place, it makes sense to try their food. While in Rome, eat what the Romans eat.
If you choose to go to Manali, go there to chill and be, stay at old Manali and may be take a bike and travel around. Traveling will never be about the destination. It is about the journey and it will always be about the journey. I would tell you the same thing about life and finding your joy. It lies on the journey.
Thank you for reading.
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