With its jaw-dropping snow-clad peaks, the allure of Manali in winter, savoury cuisine and welcoming locals is irresistible.
With the onset of New Year, cold wave conditions take over many parts of North India, especially the Himalayan region, bringing temperatures down to freezing point and even sub- zero levels at many places. The minimum temperature in the plains of Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh hover round in single digits and to below 0°C in many parts of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. If you decide to pack your bags and head towards Manali, then brace for freezing temperatures. The allure of Manali in winters with its jaw-dropping snow-clad peaks, savoury Himachali cuisine and welcoming locals is simply irresistible.
The temperature in Manali usually ranges between 7°C and -5°C during peak winters and the town experiences intermittent periods of intense snowfall. There are numerous reasons to visit Manali during winters and the list can be endless. My picks are:
Gazing at the magnificent Snow-clad Peaks and Valleys
Gazing at the pristine Himalayan peaks and the valleys below while they hide under a thick blanket of snow is an unforgettable moment of truth for visitors. One that will make the visit to Manali during winters a once in a lifetime experience. Manali town and its neighbourhood at this time of the year means snow galore, especially when one approaches Old Manali, Solang Valley, Atal Tunnel, Golaba, Marhi and Rohtang Pass. You can awaken your adventurous slumber by going for long snow treks deep into the picturesque ravines, jump and dive over each other on more sedate terrains, slide on the snow and even toss snowballs at each other for fun.
After the opening of the Atal Tunnel, tourists can now drive down to the northern portal of the tunnel, an hour’s drive from Manali and enjoy the breath-taking views of the Lahaul valley at Sissu. This small hamlet is now amongst the favourite places where tourists flock for a quick excursion nearby Manali.
Manali Winter Carnival
The district administration of Kullu and Manali organizes the Manali Winter Carnival in January every year. The event was held from 2nd January to 6th January this year. This is a highly anticipated yearly event organized to showcase the cultural, historical and culinary synopsis of the Kullu Manali region.
The carnival began its journey nearly four decades back when it was inaugurated by late Dr. Y. S. Parmar, the Chief Minister of Himachal in 1977. From then on, the extravaganza progressively grew and today it makes for a spectacle to remember.
The event started as a skiing competition but over the years numerous other activities like folk dances, street plays, band competition and other adventure sports have been added. The organizers now also set up kiosks showcasing and selling Himachali hand- made souvenirs, However, the show stoppers are the stalls offering local delicacies from all the 12 districts of the state. From the popular Siddu, to the classic Chana Madra and lip smacking Anardana (Pomegranate) Chicken, these delectable dishes are rich in local flavours and will transport you to a bygone era of Himachal.
During winters you can participate in a variety of snow activities such as Snowboarding, Skiing, Sledging down the slopes and so on. Local adventure agencies offer these activities at Solang Valley, Gulaba and Marhi.
For hardcore nature lovers, these activities may appear a bit touristy as visitors throng these hotspots in scores. If you are not too perturbed by children yelling in excitement or talkative ladies haggling with local guides, taking part in these fun pursuits will be a thoroughly enjoyable affair.
Pocket Friendly Visit
In winters, except the New Year and Christmas period, you can expect markedly reduced rates on accommodation and local commuting in Manali.
As against during summers, local taxis are less in demand during these months, therefore drivers are willing to provide substantial discounts. If you can contact a local cabbie directly, expect them to give you the best deals.