Manali is located in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh in the Beas river valley, near the northern end of Kullu.
At an elevation of 2050 M feet, the scenic landscape and ease of access make it a popular tourist destination. In addition to that, Manali is a playground for all levels of adventure enthusiasts with it being the starting point for major peaks in Himachal like Friendship Peak, Deo Tibba, Shitidhar to name a few. It is also rich in sports other than climbing, like Paragliding, Ziplining, River Rafting, Biking, Cycling, and much more, in addition to tourist attractions like temples, valleys, and waterfalls.
Being a tourist economy, Manali is very well-connected and easily accessible from most major cities of North India.
Here's all you need to know about reaching Manali:
By road is one of the easiest ways to get to Manali. It is very well connected to all major cities in the neighboring states like Punjab, Chandigarh, and Uttarakhand around and Jammu and Kashmir to its farthest north. It is also well connected to cities within Himachal. You can always find a bus to and from Manali to Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Dharamshala, and all other cities/towns.
It’s a good idea to drive down to Manali if you are coming by bordering states but if not, buses are plentiful in the region. Private players, as well as state-run buses, make their way into Manali at high frequency.
Here is the distance of some major cities from Manali for your reference:
New Delhi: 532 Kms Chandigarh: 309 Kms
Shimla: 270 Kms Dehradun: 504 Kms
Ambala: 370 Kms Kullu: 40 Kms
If you are coming from outside the state, Delhi and Chandigarh are the most convenient points of transit into Himachal Pradesh, by road.
From Delhi, ISBT (Inter State Bus Terminal) at Kashmiri Gate is the biggest bus depot where there are buses to different parts of Himachal. It is a convenient option for travel since multiple buses and high frequency gives you more wriggle room, not tying you down by time.
Another more reliable option is the buses by HRTC (Himachal Pradesh Road Transport). Over the years, they have earned the reputation of always being on time and being easily available, much like a 3 A.M. friend! They are tech-savvy too. Tickets for Manali can be booked through their website http://hptdc.in/index.php/online-bus-reservation/. It takes close to 14-16 hours to get to Manali from Delhi.
There is a similar arrangement from Chandigarh, except it’s much faster given the shorter distance. There are state buses and Volvos available from the interstate bus depot. It takes anywhere between 9 - 11 hours to reach Manali from Chandigarh.
Although it is in the works, Himachal Pradesh is not directly connected by the railways yet. You might want to make your way to New Delhi, Chandigarh, Ambala, or other neighboring states and shift your mode of transport to buses or cabs.
You can consider taking the Kalka - Shimla train that goes through the mountainous route and is known for mesmerizing views of the hills and the surrounding villages. It covers the span of 96 kilometers in close to 4.5 hours.
But, whichever option you choose, you would need to change your transport to bus or a hired taxi for your journey ahead to Manali.
The nearest airport to Manali is the Bhuntar airport. Also known as the Kullu Manali Airport, it is located at a distance of approximately 50 km. Almost all major airlines in the country have direct flights to Bhuntar. You can take a taxi from Bhuntar to Manali once at the airport. However, the ticket prices are usually exorbitant and flight schedules are unreliable. If you want to come by air, we would suggest you fly to Delhi, Chandigarh, or any of the airports in the neighboring states and then change your mode of transport to buses or private cabs for your journey onward.
Since it is at the foothills of the Himalayas, Manali experiences extreme weather as well as constant and major shifts in temperature. It would be a good idea to look at the weather conditions in the months you plan to travel.
The city welcomes you to a completely different landscape and host of colors each season - do plan to visit the place in different seasons to taste all the flavors of the place =)