Manali the international Resort
Manali on the banks of river Beas nestles below the mighty Pir Panjal range to the North and the Dhaulandhar range to the East. Manali in Kullu district, derives its name from Manu-Alya (the house of Manu). Manu was an ancient sage who is believed to have recreated mankind with the help of lord Brahma after the world was destroyed in the great deluge. There stands a temple in Mandi village the only of its kind in the world, dedicated to this revered Rishi. Manali village is located on a hillside and below it flows the Manalsu stream, a tributary of the Beas.
The upper Manali region has a couple of villages and lakes named after ancient sages who, it is believed, had lived there. The village Vashisht is named after Rishi Vashishta and is famous for its hot sulphur springs. The jointly dedicated to them, the most well known lake is named after sage Bhrigu and is located high above Vashisht village. Rishi Bhrigu authored Bhrigu Shastra which contains details of each man’s life. In the past Manali was known as ‘Dana Aghe’. Even today the older generations refer to it by this name. Manali, in those days was an isolated place with dense forests along the Beas river. In the olden days, Manali consisted only of a couple of shops and godowns which were used by traders as a transit place before they proceeded to the high altitude desert areas of Zanskar, Ladakh, Tibet and central Asia.
The first European visitors to the Kullu were A. Moorcraft and Travoc, who were on their way to Central Asia. Another visitor was Alexander Cunningham, who arrived in 1846. Later, quite a few Britishers also came here. Among them were Capt A.T. Banon and C.R. Johnson Their families still live here managing fruit orchards and guest houses. Both these men married local women and their descendants today speak the local dialect fluently as well as follow some of the local customs. The ‘Sunshine Paying Guest House’ was the first to come up in Manali and was run by a member of the Banon family. In 1995 there were 350 hotels in and around Manali, the number has increased many fold since then. One of the oldest houses which was built around 1870 is called the Duff Dunbar house and a school is being run on the premises. Duff Dunbar who was Deputy Forest Officer, was instrumental in planting and protecting the forests of Manali and Dhungri.
The Beas river has its origins 51 km North of Manali near Rohtang pass. Towards the South, 6 km away from the left bank of the Beas in Manali lies the ancient Jagat Sukh village. It was once the old capital of Kullu Rajas and was called Nast. The 12 generations of Kullu Rajas ruled from this place.