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Manali is one of the most popular tourist spots in India. However, the main attractions of this beautiful town often take away the spotlight from some of the most amazing places in India that are just a short drive away from Manali. So stray off the beaten path and check out some of the best offbeat places near Manali that are definitely worth a visit.

Offbeat Places Near Manali: 5 Enthralling Places To Visit in Himachal Pradesh

Offbeat places near Manali

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Manali is a small town located near Kullu in the Kullu district of the Indian state, Himachal Pradesh, with many offbeat places near Manali. Manali is located at the northern end of the infamous Kullu Valley, formed by the river Beas. Manali is about 270 kilometres north of the Himachali capital, Shimla, and about 550 kilometres from New Delhi. Manali is actually the beginning of an ancient trade route through Lahaul and Ladakh, running through the Karakoram Pass and towards Yarkand and Hotan, located in the Tarim Basin of China. Manali is a very popular tourist destination in India. It serves as a gateway to the Lahaul and Spiti districts, as well as the gateway to the city of Leh in Ladakh. Here, we explore five different offbeat places near Manali and all the things that you can do there.

1. Old Manali

From the ancient Hidimba devi temple to Joggi Waterfalls, Old Manali has something to offer to everyone.

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Old Manali is located about 3-4 kilometres uphill from Manali town in Himachal Pradesh. It is a quiet and old settlement that lies below a valley with a vast spread of thriving apple orchards. The Manalsu River divides the two towns of Old Manali and New Manali. You can hike up to Old Manali by crossing the bridge over the Manalsu River.

Old Manali is a lot cleaner and less touristy than New Manali, prompting many offbeat travellers to visit. Old Manali is serene beyond comparison. The gurgling sounds of the Kullu River and the beautiful hills surrounding the valley make it an ideal getaway spot and a wonderful nature retreat. You can grab some great continental food here and shop your heart out at the local markets.

Old Manali is famous for the Hidimba temple. Other places to visit include the Naggar castle, the Old Manali markets, the Jogini waterfalls, and the Vashisht temple, along with the scores of cafes located around here.

  • Hidimba Temple: This is an ancient temple dedicated to Bhima’s wife, one of the five Pandavas from the Mahabharata epic. She was also the mother of the warrior Gatotkach. The tradition says that the rock formation on which the temple sits is actually the form of the goddess Hidimba. The Hidimba Devi temple is surrounded by many cedar trees and forests, giving it a lush and enthralling atmosphere. The timings are from 8 AM – 6 PM. There is no entry charge to visit this temple.
  • Naggar Castle: Built in the traditional architectural style of Himachal Pradesh, which involves wood and stone, the Naggar Castle overlooks the Kullu Valley. This castle offers a unique amalgamation of the Western and Himachali styles of architecture. This property used to be that of Raja Sidh Singh, and in 1978 it was converted into a heritage hotel by the Government of India. The palace was built in the year 1460 CE. The time for the palace visits is from 7 AM to 10 PM. The entry charges for visiting the palace are INR 15 per person and INR 25 per camera.
  • Jogini Waterfalls: Jogini Waterfalls is about two kilometres from the famous Vashisht Temple. Jogini Waterfalls is a complete treat for nature adventurers and lovers of natural landscapes. It is located in the spellbinding valley of Manali, about three kilometres from the town of Manali. The Jogini waterfall is a must-visit for some beautiful photographs and breathtaking waterfalls experiences. It is one of the best offbeat places near Manali for couples.

Location: 20 min uphill walk from the town of Manali
Best Time To Visit: October to February
Duration: 2 to 3 Days

Must Read: Attractions in Old Manali

2. Solang Valley

Solang Valley offers a wide variety of activities to tourists and is one of the best offbeat places to visit near Manali

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Solang Valley is an absolute must-see when you are visiting Manali for a vacation and is one of the best offbeat places near Manali. Soland Valley is situated on the way from Rohtang Pass to Manali, and every year, it welcomes tourists in large numbers. The valley is rendered famous because of its adventure activities that are available there, right from zorbing, parachuting, horse riding, paragliding, and driving open-mini jeeps for tourists of all age groups, Solang valley definitely has it all. The valley is covered with snow during the winters, which makes skiing one of the popular sports in this valley. Trainers and training institutes are all present here, who will educate and practically train adventurers with the know-how to ski. Once the snow melts, the terrain makes it fit for zorbing, another exciting adventure sport in Solang Valley. Solang Valley is about 13 kilometres from Manali and is located at around 2500 meters above sea level.

  • Paragliding: The best time for paragliding varies according to the seasons, the best seasons being from January to May or October to December when it isn’t raining or there is no snowfall. The timing slots for paragliding are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, while the cost of paragliding tends to vary between INR 600 – INR 1800 per flight. Paragliding is usually carried out by an instructor who will fly along with you if you are a newbie. Ask the team for safety precautions taken at the paragliding centre and make sure all your concerns are assuaged by the team with regard to safety. You can also ask them about their previous track record of safety incidents before you make up your mind.
  • Zorbing: Zorbing is a summer adventure sport and involves rolling down a hill slope within a giant transparent ball with your body safely being positioned within it so as not to feel any of the bumps that the ball takes hit on, as you roll down the hill in all the different angles the ball rotates in. It’s a fun sport that adults and kids can enjoy and can be pursued for INR 500 per head.
  • Horse Riding: Horse riding is an age-old fantasy which a lot of people would want to attempt, especially with the Himalayan breed of horses which are absolutely beautiful. An instructor will ride along with you in case you are a newbie, or you can take the horse for a small gallop in case you already know how to ride horses.

Location: 14 km further north of Manali
Best Time To Visit: April to June or December to January
Duration: 2 Days

3. Rohtang Pass

Rohtang Pass on the Pir-Panjal Range of Himachal Pradesh is often rated as one of the best offbeat places near Manali

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Rohtang Pass is rated as one of the best offbeat places near Manali and is rated as one of the top things to do. The Pass is located about 52 kilometres from Manali and can be reached by road. The pass is on the Manali-Keylong road and is located at a whopping 3978 metres above sea level.

Because of its breathtaking natural beauty, the pass has been a favourite of Bollywood film directors and features in many Bollywood movies such as ‘Jab We Met’ and ‘Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani’. The name “Rohtang” in Rohtang Pass actually means a “ground of dead bodies” owning to the number of people who died trying to cross this pass in the past. There is a tremendous amount of snow cover here and snow activities abound in great gusto. There are activities like sledge riding, where you slide down slopes on a wooden sledge. Other activities involve riding on mountain bikes through tricky terrain and less-taken routes. Skiing and tyre drop activities also function at the Rohtang Pass, and all equipment is available at the spot for these activities.

Location: 35 km from Manali via Leh-Manali Highway
Best Time To Visit: May to October
Duration: 1 Day

Suggested Read: Take a Trip To Rohtang Pass

4. Malana Village

Situated away from the bustling cities, the isolated village of Malana is one of the most unique villages in India

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Located away from the rest of the touristy world of Himachal Pradesh, lies a tiny and isolated village where the villagers believe they are the descendants of Alexander the Great’s army. The village is located in Malana Nala and the Kullu district. The route to Malana alone presents itself as a wonderful hike and can break the wind out of any seasoned trekker, just getting to the village from the road stop.

There are two temples in the village of Malana, made of wood and stone in traditional Himachali architecture, called the Jamadagni temple and the Shrine of Renuka Devi. Jamadagni was an ancient Indian Rishi or sage, and Renuka Devi was his wife. These temples can only be seen from the outside by tourists, and tourists are not allowed to enter the temple nor touch its walls. The skulls of various goats and cows offered to the deities in animal sacrifice adorn the doors of this temple. The village of Malana has its own customs and traditions and the police strictly do not intervene in the decisions made by the council. One of the customs includes the fact that outsiders are not allowed to touch the villagers of Malana or enter their houses. Flouting these customs can result in serious trouble and involves paying money to offer a sacrificial goat to the temple deity. The trek to Malana village is a beautiful hike with deodar trees all around and a splendid view of the Malana Dam which is refreshing to see and rejuvenating to witness.

Location: Malana Village is located 80 km from Manali
Best Time To Visit: April, May, June, and September
Duration: 1 to 2 Days

5. Hampta Valley

Hampta Valley is one of the most beautiful offbeat places near Manali and worth a visit by tourists and adventurers

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Sethan in Hampta Valley is another offbeat location that you must add to your bucket list. The mesmerising beauty of Hampta Valley provides travellers with a majestic view that soothes the eyes and satisfies the heart. During winter, the valley is also filled with heavenly snow and several winter activities such as skiing and snowboarding. Sethan is surrounded by lush, green mountains that go as high as 4000 metres. So if you want to enjoy this amazing place to the fullest, it is advised to spend a few days camping and reconnect with nature.

Location: 15 km southeast of Manali
Best Time To Visit: June to October
Duration: 3 Days

Further Read: Honeymoon in Manali

Manali is an ancient town located in the midst of the valley points of Himachal Pradesh in Kullu. You can add the town to your itinerary when you plan a trip to Manali because it will be an experience like no other. Take your family or go with your friends on this unforgettable journey to experience a slice of nature and the wonders of the Himalayas.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Offbeat Places Near Manali

Where is Manali located exactly?

Manali is located in the northern part of the Kullu Valley. The town of Manali is situated at a height of 6,398 feet above sea level. The town of Manali is about 250 kilometres away from Shimla, which is the capital of Himachal Pradesh.

Which is the best time to visit Manali?

The best time to see Manali is ideally during the summer season, during the months of March to June. At this time, the weather is pleasant and temperatures are between 10° - 25° C. However, if you are looking to visit Manali when snowfall is abundant, then you can visit during the months of October and February when you can experience snow activities and winter sports.

What is the origin of the name “Manali”?

Manali is called so because of the ancient Hindu lawmaker called Manu, who wrote the lawmaking canon of Hinduism called the Manusmriti. Once when a great flood had deluged the world, Manu, the first human being according to Hinduism, stepped off his ship at this spot. Hence this spot has been called the “Alaya” (abode) of Manu, Manali.

What are the different local foods of Manali?

The many local foods of Manali include Tibetan Thugkpa, Dhaam, Aktori, Bhey, Babru, Chha Gosht and so many more.

What are the essential clothing wear I should bring to Manali?

If you are visiting Manali in winters, then bring heavy woollens (inners/jacket/sweaters) and a good pair of sports shoes to navigate the terrain. Sometimes you may end up having to walk on snow as well. A waterproof jacket is always advisable. If you are coming in summer, wear light cotton clothing, with a pair of inners for the nights, as well as one jacket whenever you visit the higher points such as Rohtang pass.

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