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Old Manali: A place Where two worlds meet

View of Old Manali Village
View of Old Manali Village
Old Manali is surrounded by apple orchards
Old Manali is surrounded by apple orchards
Manalsu River near Old Manali
Manalsu River near Old Manali
View of snow peaked mountain from Old Manali
View of snow peaked mountain from Old Manali
Fully ripe apricots at Old Manali
Fully ripe apricots at Old Manali
Manalsu River separates old Manali from Manali
Manalsu River separates old Manali from Manali
Traditional houses in Old Manali. Most families in Old Manali own a cow
Traditional houses in Old Manali. Most families in Old Manali own a cow
Th main street with shops on both sides at Old Manali
Th main street with shops on both sides at Old Manali
A cafe on the street in Old Manali
A cafe on the street in Old Manali
Manu Temple at Old Manali
Manu Temple at Old Manali
A guest house overlooking the mountains in Old Manali
A guest house overlooking the mountains in Old Manali
Old Manali village lay hidden beneath apple orhOld Manali village lay hidden beneath apple orchardsards
Old Manali village lay hidden beneath apple orhOld Manali village lay hidden beneath apple orchardsards
Traditional house in Old Manali
Traditional house in Old Manali
Guest house in midst of apple orchard
Guest house in midst of apple orchard
Old Manali is surrounded by apple orchards
Old Manali is surrounded by apple orchards
Manalsu River near Old Manali
Manalsu River near Old Manali
Deodar forests near Old Manali
Deodar forests near Old Manali

A bridge over gushing Manalsu River is a gateway to another world known as the Old Manali. The village has an exotic charm; not foreign, not entirely Indian. It is as if you have crossed into another country. Just as the Beas River stopped the invincible force of Alexander’s armies from marching further east, Old Manali has somehow chiseled out a world of its own guarded by Manalsu River. The village is as idle as a fairy tale but at the same time it is exposed to the comfort of today’s world. Two sides of the same coin exist side by side in the village. We have the idyllic village and the locals on one side and the fast growing tourist population and guest houses on the other side. Both are unique in their own way and each has their own distinct space.

I arrived at Manali around 10 am and followed the road along the wooded Park just as I had seen on the map. At the edge of Nature Park a small road bifurcates towards the Manalsu River. The bridge is unmistakable. It is the only bridge connecting Old Manali to Manali. It is not distance that divides Old Manali from Manali. It is much more than that!

 

I stopped at Blue Elephant which is the first cafe by the bridge. Except for few foreigners paying their bills at the counter the place was empty. I thought I was late. I was still deciding whether I should have breakfast or just go ahead and order lunch. A chubby guy came and took my order. He said he was making French toast so I went ahead and ordered breakfast. I took a seat looking out to the river. More people came in and soon there was a good crowd at the cafe. At 10 in the morning the village was still waking up to the day. There was certain idleness about the place even at the first glance. It was understandable because tourists and outsiders made up half of the population. And they have come here on a serious mission to enjoy as much as they could.

The Guests Houses with cafes are important facets of Old Manali. There’s only one main road (Shops on both sides) so there’s a high chance of bumping each other now and then. Most cafes are located on this slanting road that leads deeper to the village. Cafes are cozy and exhibit hippie’s exuberance. This is a small place where all nationalities met. Everyone seemed to own this place; not any lesser than the locals. There are cafes catering to different nationalities. Sitting on the cafes listening to unconventional music and talking about irrelevant things made up bulk of the day. You know everyone and everyone knows you, just like the way you felt in your dream.

Life in Old Manali is slow. Everything seemed timeless, even the locals who run those Guest houses. Once you go deeper from the main road through narrow footpaths you’ll find countless guest houses with odd names. The road leads you through apple and pear orchards, and then you finally arrived upon the most homely guest house you had seen. You could hear the sloshing sound of the river from distance. You could hear babul singing on apple trees. And from the porch you could see snow capped mountains surrounding Manali. You’ve arrived at the most idyllic village. You get everything once you stepped out to the main road but here you felt like you are in the middle of nowhere with no cares about time. Tourists came to stay for a week and ended up staying 3 months. Then they came back next year and the next like migratory birds with biological clock inside them. The place made you feel like you belong there.

There’s a fine balance between the globalized World and the unadulterated local population. Though the street is lined with cafes with sophisticated names such as German Bakery, Dylan Toasted and Roasted, Riverside Cafe etc. the locals still preferred living in traditional houses made of mud and woods with their cows. The uncompromising lifestyle of the villagers is what attracts tourists. The only threat to the idyllic village is the outside businessmen who came to tap from the tourists. They don’t care about the place as much as they do about their trade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Responses to “Old Manali: A place Where two worlds meet”

  1. leli says:

    Hey!
    While reading this i felt myself proud to be a villager of Old Manali.
    This is my native place but you taught me a lot more… yes it is A Place where Two Worlds Meet. :)

  2. manali says:

    After reading this report I also want to visit this place.

  3. Aditya says:

    Can’t wait for December and the wonderful weather in Manali . Manali , here i come . . .

  4. arvind says:

    we like manali too much and we are wating for tickets…

  5. Chetan says:

    I love old Manali
    Can’t wait for December and the wonderful weather in Manali . Manali , here i come

  6. KRISHNA says:

    IT,S MY DREAM PLACE……….

  7. Ajay says:

    What is the namethe bridge. Curious, been there. Me start writing too.:0-

  8. Ajay says:

    I need to know more about the bridge over Manalsu and also over Beas. Name me the mountain peak around the Solang Nala. Actually one mountain trek goes to this peak.

  9. John says:

    I love Manali. I actually want to visit in the month of December

  10. pratyush says:

    I want to go their….
    image says old manali is so beautiful…

  11. Tahzeeb says:

    Hi! We (myself, wife and my 4 year daughter) are planning to visit old manali from 22nd March to 27th March 2015. Please advice which places I can visit and also nearby places to visit during this season.
    Thank you.

    • moitours says:

      Hi,
      Glad to hear that you are planning a trip to Manali. You can visit Solang Nala, Nature Park, Hidimba Devi Temple, Vashisht Temple, Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art etc.

    • anjali says:

      if ur child is crazy abt snow do visit rohtang paass ,marhi ,rahala falls,solang valley,burwa, kothi…u can start early n finish all this in 1 day, along with this u can also visit Hidimba Devi temple,manu temple,vashishta village,tibetian monestry

  12. Residential properties in Himachal says:

    If we talk about Kullu-Manali, then there is no other place in Himachal where you can find a serene beauty of nature. The Manali bifurcates as old Manali and new Manali. There is a bridge which separate old one from the new one. But as we know that beauty lies in the eyes of a beholder so on a whole if we say where is beauty then one can easily think about Kullu-Manali. There you can find the orchards of apples and pears which can definitely develops the urge of eating those fruits.

  13. Shauvik Chaudhury says:

    I dream of Manali as my most idealistic place to settle down in the whole world.
    I just love the people, the simplicity, the time wrap, everything just stands still here. Cannot wait to be back.

    • deepika singh says:

      hello,
      i m planning a trip to manali with 4 other girls, will it be safe to stay in old manali. we are considering all the options which wont be heavy on our pockets. Do u have any other suggestions ?
      Thanks in advance

  14. deepika singh says:

    hello,
    i m planning a trip to manali with 4 other girls, will it be safe to stay in old manali. we are considering all the options which wont be heavy on our pockets. Do u have any other suggestions ?
    Thanks in advance

    • moitours says:

      Hi Deepika,
      Old Manali is quite safe and has many budget hotels or homestays. You can try some of these Apple View Paying Guest House, Dragon Guest House, Veer Guest House etc.

    • vikrant says:

      Hii deep ka,
      According to me manali would b better than old manali for u..

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