PICTURESQUE MANALI situated – along the west bank of the Beas river, is a prime destination for visitors, offering a variety of scenic walks and treks through dense forests. Though a profusion of hotels and shops in recent years has overrun downtown Manali, its environs still retain much of the natural beauty that gives this hill station a unique flavour. Particularly charming is the original village, about 3 km (2 miles) north of the main bazaar, with its temple dedicated to Manu, the Hindu sage after whom Manali is named.

Located 1.5 km (1 mile) north of the main bazaar is the sacred Hadimba Temple, shaded by a grove of stately debars . This four-tiered wooden temple with its pagoda-style roof was built in 1553 around a small natural cave enshrining the footprints of the demoness Hadirnba , wife of Bhima, the mighty Pandava brother.

On the left bank of the Beas, about 3 km (2 miles) north of the bazaar, the hot sulphur springs in the village of Vashisht are piped into Turkish-style baths. Further up, the lovely Solang Valley, 14 km (9 miles) from downtown Manali, is the scene of most of the area’s outdoor activities. Treks lead up to the pastures of Dhumti and the small snow-fed lake of Beas Fund . Paragliding, a popular activity, takes place on the nearby slopes, which also attract skiers in the winter.

ENVIRONS: Rohtang Pass, the perilous pass crossing into Lshaul, at an altitude of 3,980 m (13,058 ft), is 52 km (32 miles) north of Manali. It is a day’s excursion, possible only in summer, with a brief halt at the spectacular Rahalla Falls along the way.

The first capital of the Fullu kings, Jagatsulth is 6 km (4 miles) south of Manali, on the left bank of the Beas. The two sbikbara-style stone temples here possibly date back to the 6th century. Naggar, further south, on the same side of the river, succeeded Jagatsukh as the capital till it was moved to Fullu. in the 17th century. The Naggar Castle, built in the 15th century, is now a hotel. It is anate layers of wooden beams and evenly hewn stone. It commands a fine view of the Beas Valley. Nearby is the Roerich Museum displaying the work of the Russian painter Nicholas Roerich. Lying across the river from Naggar, is scenic Katrain, surrounded by orchards. Trout fishing is a popular pastime here.

The remote village of Malana, beyond Chanderkhani Pass, is 25 km (16 miles) southeast of Naggar. Malana’s isolated people live by their own code of conduct and shun contact with outsiders. Their unique culture, language and system of government set them apart from the rest of the valley. Visitors should enter the village only if invited.

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