A Tale of two Manalis

In Manali you don't found apple-laden orchids and leisurely grazing yaks. A little away in old Manali, they are in plenty. This difference is aptly put by Gillian Wright, "The hill Station in India" as "Across the river lies old Manali, the original village which seems centuries behind the not-very-modern Manali of hotels".
True, from Manali as you walk just about three kilometers in the tall pine tree shades toward old Manali, you step into a different world, serene setting of snow-capped peaks and lush hill on your three sides, and small Manalsu River following fast on its way into the Beas.
Following trouble times in Kashmir valley, Manali situated at an altitude of above 600 meters, had become the favorite alternative amongst the tourist over the last few years. The area has developed at a swift and he tourist traffic has increased manifold.
Most Indian tourists, including occasional holidays with their families, stay put at Manali, a crowded, commercialized marketplace of hundreds of restaurants and hotels. After a short local sightseeing tour and perhaps a visit to the Rohtangh Pass and a bit of hasty shopping, they return home.
For sure, they miss experiencing the calm and leisurely lives lived by the old Manali residents, far away from the constant clatter of traffic. The place has a rich ambience of countryside, life, largely unsullied by the aggressive onslaught of technology. For instance, a majority of the guest houses in the area don't even have a television set.
There are a large number of guest houses and tourist lodges in old Manali. The countryside atmosphere of the place is distinctly marked by the native women busy in their agricultural chores during the day. Message men, flute players, shoe-shines and herbal sellers also take rounds throughout the day on the zig-zag foot trails.
"There are plenty of tourist lodges in the area to meet any accommodation demand as the most of the people have turned their houses, in the lower vicinity, into guest house.
Old Manali is mainly dominated by the foreign tourists'' presence they come from all over the world, mostly the backpackers. Of late the maximum numbers of tourists taking to the place are from Israel.
Many of the tourists stay at old Manali for months together, lazing away their time. The place is a cheap and the climate suits them.
The other and darker side of old Manali is that many foreigners indulge in drugs. A group of them can be easily found any time during the day, busy smoking marijuana in the chi lams in the corner of the restaurants. 'Bhang' and 'Charas' are available in this area. This is an open secrete. Most of the foreigner's tourists here come from poor classes and indulge in hedonistic lifestyle, due to their currency advantage over the Indian rupee. So it is not without reason that old Manali is also known as Hippies Heaven.
With long standing foreigners presence in the area, a large number of small restaurants Chinies, Tibetan and continental-and a number of German's bakery's have come up in the area. This service in this place is personal and slow, perfectly suiting the holiday moods. A glass of ice cold tea, mint tea and Tibetan herbal tea is worth the trial, for taste and novelty.
Old Manali is quite sufficient in meeting its tourist needs in demand a number of antique and garment shops dot the area. If you happen to go to Manali next time and for the first time take a walk into the old Manali too. It is sure to worth it!


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