Located 3 kilometres uphill from the bustling town of Manali in Himachal Pradesh is the quite little settlement which is known as Old Manali and is also home to the backpacker and hippie travel crowd and is located at an altitude of around 6,589 feet above sea level.
Old Manali is easily approachable from New Manali by foot. The 3 kilometres uphill walk takes not more than 20 minutes on an average. The walk up has an inclination of around 65 degrees and the road from New Manali to Old is always congested with traffic mainly because the road is very narrow. Auto rickshaws also ply passengers upto Old Manali from New Manali but this is surely a ride which can be avoided.
Old Manali is a complete contrast to New Manali. It is a lot less crowded and has plenty of foreign backpackers and travellers who stay there for weeks if not months. There are plenty of backpacker cafés and restaurants which serve some really tasty food. The chocolate cookies, chicken tuna pizza, chicken burger are a few of the must have things while you are in the hippie part of Manali.
The vibe at Old Manali post sun down is something which words can’t describe, one has to be there to experience it for themselves. Many of the restaurants have live bands and karaoke nights which attracts a lot of crowd both Indian and foreign.
A major reason why Old Manali has majority of the foreign tourists staying there are the guest houses in Old Manali which are a lot more affordable as compared to the ones in New Manali. The guest houses in Old Manali are very basic and offer nothing more than a bed and a fan, some of them don’t even have fans in the rooms since the weather is pleasant throughout the year. The guest houses mostly have common wash rooms.
Old Manali is also famous for its hash, which goes by the name Manali cream. It is sold on the quite in this town, but it is common to bump into a random local who will offer to sell you some stuff as you are wandering through the lanes. It is important to note that Marajuina is a banned substance in the country and possession of the same can lead to imprisonment.
The main attraction in Old Manali is a temple which is dedicated to Goddess Hadimba and is located around a kilometre further on from the market area. Outside the temple complex locals sell cherries in paper cups at very affordable price. The cherries sold here are grown locally and are a must have.
Old Manali is a paradise for junkie lovers. The shops here have everything from funky sweatshirts and colourful pants to chillums and bongs. They even have hand painted T-shirts and summer dresses for girls. The woollen wear is something worth checking out even if you are not much into hippie clothing. There are mufflers with animal faces the most common ones are pandas, tigers and dogs.
Old Manali is surely worth checking out even if you have to make the long uphill walk from New Manali because if you haven’t been to Old Manali then you have surely missed out on the best part of Manali.