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Pallavi Chhibber Jul 19 2013

Why is Manali one of the most famous tourist destinations in India?

Kasturi Saikia Jul 19 2013
1 person found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

The town that you and I know as ‘Manali’ is actually a collection of three adjacent hills. Each hill has a village and an old temple dominating it: Old Manali (Manu Temple), Vashishtha (Vashishtha Temple) and Dhungri (Hadimba Temple). In the beginning was the village. People grew, and still grow, wheat, rajma, vegetables and apples. They kept, and still do, cows, buffaloes, goats and sheep. They wove, and often still weave, their own clothes. The wheat was ready for harvesting in spring, the apples would be ready for plucking by August-September, and the snow ripe for falling by December-January. The British never made a ‘hill station’ here, never laid rail tracks or built a Mall Road.

At some point someone discovered the high quality of the cannabis plant that grew in the region. Europeans of assorted nationalities came visiting, stayed on, discovered yoga, married locals, and started their own cafés. Perhaps a decade ago began the phenomenon of ‘Israeli tourism’, whereby young men and women, fresh from their two-year compulsory military service term, started arriving in steam-letting-off hordes. The summer-time local economy in much of Manali runs thanks to these boys and girls, with their long hair and polished skins, who stick close, creating a smoky world-within-a-world. Old Manali is pretty much considered a hippy enclave. Thanks to this rather ‘global village’ feel, Manali has riverside cafés called River Music or Moondance that waylay your senses with promises of soups, pasta-lasagna, hummus-pita, momos, pancakes, ginger-honey tea... at very reasonable prices. Shops called No Problem International sell diaphanous, colourful, entirely charming garments that you may never dare drape around you anywhere else. Indian tourists come more for the temples, snow in Rohtang Pass and organised adventure activities. Internet cafés offer bus services to Leh, tour operators offer opportunities to go paragliding in Solang Nallah or river rafting on the Beas (“Thrills! Chills!! and Spills!!!”) and the grandson of Henry Ford wants to build an international ski village nearby.

Most importantly, Manali offers that haunting Himalayan beauty to which hill stations in the lower Himalayan ranges can only aspire. Look around and there’s the river made of freshly melted snow, and protected stretches of deodar. Look up — and the majestic Pir Panjal and Bara Bhangal ranges cradling the town mesmerise you.

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