Manali is a resort town nestled in the mountains of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh near the northern end of the Kullu Valley, at an altitude of 2,050 m (6,726 ft) in the Beas River Valley. It is located in the Kullu district, about 270 km (168 mi) north of the state capital, Shimla, 309 km (192 miles) northeast of Chandigarh and 544 km (338 miles) northeast of Delhi, the federal capital. The small town, with a population of 8,096, is the beginning of an ancient Trade route to Ladakh and from there over the Karakoram Pass on to Yarkand and Khotan in the Tarim Basin. It is a popular tourist destination and serves as the gateway to Lahaul and Spiti district as well as Leh.
Manali is named after the Sanatan Hindu lawgiver Manu. The name Manali is regarded as the derivative of ‘Manu-Alaya’ which literally means ‘the abode of Manu’. Legend has it that sage Manu stepped off his ark in Manali to recreate human life after a great flood had deluged the world. Manali lies in the North of Kullu Valley. The valley is often referred to as the ‘Valley of the Gods’. Old Manali village has an ancient temple dedicated to sage Manu.
The British introduced apple trees in the area. The first apple orchard was set up by the British near Patlikuhl, prior to this no Apple trees grew in the area. To this day, apple—along with plum and pear—remain the best source of income for the majority of inhabitants. Both Rainbow and Brown Trout was also introduced into the rivers and streams of the area by the colonisers.
Before other luminaries started visiting Manali, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru favoured this as a holiday destination in the mountains.
With the increase in disposable incomes and somewhat owing to the rise of disturbances in Kasjmir in the late 1980s, Manali witnessed a surge in tourist traffic. This once quiet village was transformed into a bustling town with numerous homestays as well as the occasional boutique hotel. During the warmer summer months, cafes and restaurants can be seen doing brisk business.
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