India has long held a mystique in its colorful culture and lush environment. In this highly diverse Asian country lies a small town called Manali – a Himalayan resort town in India’s northern Himachal Pradesh state. At an altitude of over 2,000 meters, the snow-capped mountains and green valleys have made Manali a popular destination for ski tours, paragliding, and mountaineering. You’ll find all sorts of travelers in this town, from backpacking adventurers to romantic honeymooners.
While you can find all kinds of expeditions and activities in Manali, trekking is the most popular. Trekking in Manali is considered trekking the best of India. It can take anywhere from two days to two weeks, and here are some of the best routes.
If you’re pressed for time, a trek to Prashar Lake is a great weekend trip from Delhi. The trek takes you to an altitude of 2,700 meters through easy to moderate trails. The lake is surrounded by the Dhauladhar ranges in Kullu Valley. The trek begins at Baggi Village, then follows a charming trail through a forest and several rivulets. You also get a taste of local culture when you pass by several local villages. Right beside the lake is the temple of Prashar Rishi, characterized by Himachali architecture.
The whole trek offers a 180-degree view of the Dhauladhar, Pir Panjal and Kinnaur mountain ranges.
If you want a bit more of a challenge, the 4-day trek to Bhrigu Lake is a top choice. While the lake is definitely worth getting to, what attracts hikers more are the vast green meadows that fill the four days of trekking. These alpine views take two to three days to reach, but the undulating meadows with horses and cattle are startling after you break through forests of oak.
Bhrigu Lake is one of the many cold lakes in Kullu Valley, and it is highly likely that your trek will glisten with snow at an altitude of 4,200 meters. The trek starts from Gulaba base camp, which is an hour’s drive from Manali.
For beginner trekkers who want a more immersive experience, the Hampta Pass trek is a great option. More experienced hikers will still be enamored by the unique landscape of the pass. What makes it unique is the way the lush green valleys of Kullu climb out to a perpendicular overhang. From this point, it feels like standing on a vast balcony that overlooks the deserts of Lahaul in one panoramic sweep.
The trek takes travelers to an altitude of 4,300 meters and is considered one of the finest in Manali. While the trek is possible any time of the year, the best time to go is in June when snow starts to gather in the valley. Because of the unique topography of the pass, the way the snow is laid out on Hampta Pass gives an illusion of being in the arctic. Snow bridges and glaciers form, giving trekkers a unique experience in the Himalayas.
The trek to Malana is mysterious and intriguing. You start from Kasol and drive halfway to Malana, then set off on an uphill climb to the village.
The route is nothing but breathtaking. Trekkers will be overwhelmed with many different views from the high altitude conifer forest and the hilly village road to the snow-capped Dhauladhar range with background music from the Parvati river. During the trek, you can visit the most acclaimed Gowrishankar temple, Tripura Sundari sanctuary, and the Roerich craftsmanship display. The route also takes you through parts of the Chandrakhani Pass at an altitude of 3,660 meters.
Note: The Kheerganga trek is also based in Malana, so you can also do that one while you are in the area.
The Beas Kund Trek is a more drawn-out trek in Manali that also includes a trip to Bhrigu Lake. The trek takes after the Beas River and gives travelers extraordinary perspectives of Pir Pinjal ranges. The gorgeous peaks of Dhundi and Bakarthach are breathtaking in their magnificence.
While considered mainstream, the Beas Kund Trek is notorious for making hikers fall in love with the Himachal Region. With endless green lands, hospitable locals and cascading waters, Beas Kund, Kullu-Manali Valley’s major attraction, is not just a stand-alone peak. It is set against the backdrop of several others such as the Shitidhar Peak and Friendship Peak.
As you move higher you achieve the starting point of River Beas. This trek is appropriate for all ages and no trekking experience is required to do it.
Strewn with rocks, soil, and sand, Chandra Tal is also known as Moon Lake because of its topography. Strolling around the lake gives an extraordinary feeling of landing on the moon. It used to be the place where brokers from Tibet and Ladakh who went to Spiti and the Kullu valley converge. Now, it’s a popular place for hikers around the world.
Chandra Tal Lake is 6 kilometers away from the Kunzum Pass in Spiti and Lahaul locale of Himachal Pradesh condition of India. It takes hikers to an altitude of 4,300 meters, following a route through two high mountain ranges named Moulkila and Chandrabhaga. This route is difficult and trying even for mountain dwellers, and will demand much energy for hikers.
There are several routes you can take when trekking in Manali. Each trek has its own unique views and experiences with varying levels of difficulty and altitude. Some of the easy treks can be done on your own with well-marked paths, but it’s highly advisable to book a guide to avoid getting lost. These treks are also filled with stories, legends, and myths, and the guide will be able to share knowledge about the history and culture of Manali. Some options you can check are:
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!