Manali is a gorgeous Himalayan hill station in Kullu Valley and an immensely sought after holiday spot in India. The hill station is well known for its snow-clad peaks in winters as well as adventure activities like trekking and white water rafting. Manali is also the doorway to Ladakh.
While in Manali, check out its popular attractions like the Rohtang Pass, Beas Kund, Vashist Hot Water Springs, Solang Valley, and enjoy adventure sports like paragliding, rock climbing and hiking.
Best Time To Visit
Undoubtedly winters are the best time to visit, which is between October and March. The temperature drops under zero and the region is clad in snowfall, making it an outstanding experience to enjoy Manali.
Summers are also a good time when the temperature remains between 10 to 25 degrees celsius. Folks like to visit Manali in monsoons too, as the place looks and feels dreamy and mystical during rainfall.
How To Get There
Take your own car if you have experience driving in hilly and rocky terrains, or else hire a taxi with an experienced driver. Only hardcore bikers should take a bike trip to Manali.
Alternatively, take a bus from Delhi to Manali. Private bus operators offer tickets for as low as Rs 1000. Self-hire cars are also available at good discounts online. The shortest distance between two cities is roughly 550 kilometres, reachable in 11 to 12 hours by road.
There are three scenic routes you can take. Find them mentioned below.
Route 1: Ambala-Chandigarh Route
Delhi → Panipat → Kurukshetra → Ambala → Chandigarh → Bilaspur → Mandi → Kullu → Manali
This route will take you around 12 to 13 hours via NH 44 and 154. The distance is approximately 560 kilometres. Check out the itinerary of the sights to see below.
Popular Stopovers on the Delhi to Manali Road Trip
- Purana Quila: Visit this historical mosque, library and park in Panipat.
- Karnal Lake: After crossing Karnal, you will come across this small lake which can make for a quick stop. A peaceful place.
- Sheikh Chilli Tomb: Check out this beautiful mausoleum of a famous Sufi Saint in Kurukshetra.
- Jyotisar Birthplace of Bhagavad Geeta: This holy place in Kurukshetra is where Lord Krishna delivered the Geeta sermons during the mythical war of Kurukshetra.
- Rock Gardens of Chandigarh: This is a must-see unique spot, a garden made of trash and recyclable material, creative and interesting.
- Sukhna Lake: A well-maintained, clean and serene lake in Chandigarh.
- Le Corbusier Centre: Do visit this gem of a place that houses photographs and other archival material of Le Corbusier, the great architect of the city.
- Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary: On Pendra Road, Bilaspur, visit this green, lush and dense forest area is worth a visit.
- Rewalsar Lake: After leaving Bilaspur, stop at this lake nestled in mountains, with a monastery nearby.
- Parashar Lake: A detour from Mandi will take you to this stunning lake in Dhauladhar mountain range.
- Barot Valley: Further ahead, experience this stunning locale before reaching Manali, covered with dense deodar trees.
- Bijli Mahadev Temple: Before reaching Kullu, explore this simple and gentle trek amidst Kullu’s green and floral landscape.
Route 2: The Banur-Palampur Route
Delhi → Panipat → Kurukshetra → Ambala → Banur → Palampur → Mandi → Kullu → Manali
This route runs on NH 44 and 205 and takes around 15 to 16 hours. It runs through the same steps mentioned in Route 1 until Chandigarh, bypassing the city via Banur and then changes.
Popular Stopovers on the Delhi to Manali Road Trip
- Bhakhra Nangal Dam: Check out this massive dam famous for its incredible engineering and stunning sights. A special permit is needed to visit.
- Kangra Fort: On the outskirts of Kangra, check out the ruins of this magnificent ancient fort.
- Norbulingka Monastery: Drive down to Dharamshala from Kangra to visit this peaceful and cultural monastery.
- Paragliding in Billing: This region is the paragliding capital of India. Get that adrenaline rush.
- Kangra Valley: Get enchanted by the mesmerising Dhauladhar mountains and the abundance of this paradise on earth.
- Andretta Artists Village: Pottery and art enthusiasts can visit this unique place in Palampur and watch the artisans at work.
- Tashi Jong Buddhist Monastery: A peaceful and magical place to visit in Palampur.
Route 3: The Shimla Route
Delhi → Panipat → Kurukshetra → Ambala → Zirakpur → Shimla → Bilaspur → Mandi → Kullu → Manali
This route also goes through Chandigarh as mentioned in Route 1 and then leads to Manali via Shimla. It takes around 15 hours via NH 44 and NH 5. Take the Zirakpur route instead of passing through Chandigarh. Check out these places to see along the way.
Popular Stopovers on the Road Trip from Delhi to Manali
- Jal Mahal in Pinjore. Upon crossing Chandigarh, visit this Rajwadi garden with multiple fountains and perfectly manicured garden.
- Viceregal Lodge: In Shimla, check out this architectural marvel which is also part of Shimla’s heritage trail walk.
- The Ridge: Visit this popular hangout place in Shimla, a charming walk with churches, libraries and other sights nearby.
- Annadale: This is a golf course and an army museum in Shimla worth visiting.
- Chadwick Falls: If travelling in monsoon, visit this lush waterfall 7 kms away from Shimla.
- Kasol and Manikaran: After Shimla, before heading to Manali, experience the pristine beauty of Kasol and Manikaran, hamlets in Kullu.
Safety Measures and Tips
- Overall, the road conditions are good, barring a few stretches after Bilaspur.
- You will find narrow paths, hairpin bends and trucks along the way that will slow you down.
- Do not speed once you are off the expressway.
- Be careful while driving near intersections and bypasses.
- Consult your GPS but also ask the locals in case of route confusion.
- Plan an overnight stay at Chandigarh, Ambala, or Shimla. The drive may get too long or arduous.
- Make plenty of stops or switch drivers. The drive may cause too much stress for a single driver.
- Main city stops will have McDonalds and CCDs as well as good restaurants. Past these, enjoy eating aloo parathas and authentic Himachali food.
- Carry snacks and water.
No doubt the trip will be memorable owing to the stunning landscape and hills you will be travelling through. Pick your route and get going. Leave questions and comments in the comment box below.