Manali (Leh-Manali Highway)
When you have driven through Baralacha La, everything else seems doable in a blink of an eye. Darcha to Manali was close to a 5 hour drive crossing one of the most famous passes of Himachal Pradesh, the Rohtang Pass. Earlier we had planned to visit Spiti Valley as well, but due to inclement weather conditions, the roads to Spiti were closed. It had snowed heavily just a week ago and the Indian army had to airlift close to 400 people from Spiti valley just a couple of days ago. Hence, we thought it’s best to skip it and leave Spiti for some other time.
The drive through Rohtang Pass was again quite difficult but a beautiful drive. BRO had just cleared the snow from the roads and we could see 6 ft high snow piled up on both sides of the road. The milestone marked ‘Rohtang Pass’ was buried in snow itself.
Rohtang Pass to Manali is a 2 hour drive but full of small waterfalls and wildlife. You can see the city of Manali from the top just 30 minutes after you cross Rohtang.
Manali is a beautiful city in itself though. We spent 4 nights in Manali and could have spent another 4. Old Manali has the best cafes and pubs, while the Manali Mall Road is best suited for people who want to shop. Cafe 1947 and The Corner House are must visit places to eat and have a cup of coffee. We also drove down to the Solang valley which is famous for sporting activities such as ATV rides and paragliding. We enjoyed the view of other people gliding, while we took a stroll on the roads in Solang.
1. Beware of the buses in Himachal Pradesh. They would not stop for anything. The drivers try their luck, or at least it seemed so, on every turn and with every car.
2. If you are looking for a more peaceful vacation, stay in Solang Valley. It is just a few minutes from Manali, but definitely more cleaner and a peaceful location.
3. Try Lugdi, the local rice liquor, when in Manali. You will not have anything else at least for the time you are in Manali.
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