Thursday, February 04, 2010
The picturesque hill town of Manali is sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of India, as it is surrounded by mountains on the three sides and has some of the most beautiful meadows, orchards, rivers and fields in Himachal Pradesh. Though discovered by the British and Europeans in the late 19th century, Manali had always been one of the pilgrimage sites in India. It derives its name from Manvalaya or Manuwali. The legend goes like that of the Joan's ark. Long long ago the sage Manu, the divine law writer in Hindu mythology, found a fish who asked him to build a huge ship to save the world from the terrible flood that would drown the land. Manu did so and when the water receded, the place he landed was today's Manali. The life started from this place. Therefore the place was known as Manvalaya that is the abode of Manu or Manuwali meaning Manu's. But it was only in the 1970s that the government realized its potential as growing tourist destination. That gave rise to the new town of Manali, which was linked with the old by a bridge. Today, Manali still maintains its charm and beauty despite the heavy tourist traffic. Manali is a hot spot throughout the year. It is at its best in the spring when the River Beas gushes through, the streams flow at every nook and corner, the meadows are lush and green, flowers bloom everywhere and various berries, raspberries and cherries start wearing the pink colour. The winters are no less when the green turn white and people from India come to experience the snow in the crisp cold. Pine forest all around, acres of verdant landscapes, grazing herds, apple orchards and the people with their smile and folk dances and song add to the mystic romance that Manali offers.