Alert: These photos from Manali might act as a spoiler for the Manali that I saw. I never thought I would love this place as much as I do now, for almost everyone I know has been here and has complained of the growing crowd that it sees. Well, that can happen to any beautiful place. But that cannot ruin a place, right? Still I landed in Manali with a head full of apprehensions, quite sure that I’ll just go trekking and leave the Himalayan town to its fate, with the so  often mentioned crowd. I could not have been more wrong. I loved Manali, and Old Manali. 

Here’s the first in series of photo essays that I’ve put together for this town.

Manali from Naggar

This stunning sunset was from the balcony of Naggar Castle, an aptly famous wooden castle in Kullu Manali. I lost myself to the glory of this view. While no words can make you feel how I witnessed this, I hope this photo would do some justice. That silver thread in the valley below is the beautiful Beas river.

Ghatotkach Temple Manali kullu

More than religion, I find rituals beautiful. Well, most of them. I captured this one at the Ghatotkach Temple that sits across the more famous Hadimba Temple in Manali. Was strolling around when this beautifully-carved, miniature doli (a term used for God’s carriages in Hinduism) lured me close enough to get a picture. Made of thinly-beaten copper, it was gorgeous. Other than that, this frame shows a bottle of mustard oil and a clay lamp, both used in the arti here.

Manali people portrait

Ahh.. this young lad. I believe you cannot a capture a place sans its people; it’s injustice to both! Before I saw him, I heard the tune he was playing. It was one of the most fascinating, sweet tunes I’ve heard in a long time. He kept going at this bamboo flute, sitting outside a temple, away from all the crowd. Such a picture of contentment this.

Jogini Waterfalls Kullu Vashisht

Jogini Waterfall in Vashisht is a short drive away from Manali. A trek that will, again, take you away from the “crowd,” it is a beautiful sight. You can trek up the whole way to the very top or just loiter around in the denser parts of its surrounding pine forest, it is bliss. More on the lines of The Geography of Bliss, I can pin this one on a map.

Ghatotkach Temple Manali

Well, who said it is all rosy and pious in temples. Animal sacrifice is still an inherent part of many religious rituals and these horns (probably goat’s) are a testimony to this fact. While instances of such sacrifices are increasingly going down, it still happens. Things are not always simple, right?

Naggar Castle Kullu Naggar

This is one of the most beautiful parts of the Naggar Castle in Kullu Manali. Weeping willow covered half the scene and a very different green stood as the background of the structure. I couldn’t resist clicking this one, all for my resolve of taking lesser photos!

Naggar Castle Kullu Manali

Don’t you just love when sunshine pores over, playing light-shadow games in places as blissful as this! You see the inner courtyard of Naggar Castle in the photo above, basking in aura of the Sun that was going down fast. This looked more magical than any camera could capture it. Visiting Naggar Castle is Manali is a must.

Naggar Castle Kullu

I’m not into architecture. I often have to google the differences between Victorian and Gothic style of architecture if I need to write about it. But this, I loved this. Naggar Castle is science and art at work with such intelligence that I’ll have to praise it. While the stone and wood padding makes the structure earthquake-proof, the intricate wall carvings were fascinating. And view from that window – well, it looks over the green valley and what must have been a lush garden once.

Naggar Museum Naggar Kullu Manali

Are you into museums? If yes, then do not visit the museum inside Naggar Castle, for it’s not lavish. Visit it if you are into Santa Claus, for it’s more like a happy surprise! It is home to things as unique as these ancient masks. A visit to this will get you interesting insights into an era long gone.

Kullu Manali

If you love watching clouds play hide and seek with the Sun, this place near Jogini Waterfall is where you should be pitching a camp. Or else, anywhere in Naggar or Vashisht. The scenery here is fascinating, an essential experience for anyone wishing to disconnect from more material pursuits.

Vashisht Temple Vashisht Kullu Manali

Fancy visiting a temple that is more than 4000 years old? Yes, I’m talking of Vashisht Temple that is believed to have housed sage Vashisht for years. Carved mostly out of wood that is blackening with time, it is another marvellous sight. The temple complex also has mineral-rich, natural water springs. You can often see devotees lining up to take a bath here. The springs were supposedly created by Laxman, Rama’s brother, to ease difficulties of sage Vashisht.

hindi puja temple kullu manali

Flower offerings in the Vashisht Temple complex. Marigold flowers can be seen strewn around altars at many temples, a sign of respect and faith. This frame lured me, capturing the temple’s essence in a unique way. Colours are of course playing a riot here.

Check my next post for more Kullu Manali photos and stories, will be making it live soon.

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