Manali is a resort and tourist town nestled in the mountains of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh near the northern end of the Kullu Valley in the Beas River Valley. It is located in the Kullu district, about 270 km (168 mi) north of the state capital, Shimla, 309 km (192 miles) northeast of Chandigarh, and 544 km (338 miles) northeast of Delhi, the national capital. The small town, with a population of 8,096, is the beginning of an ancient trade route to Ladakh and from there over the Karakoram Pass on to Yarkand and Khotan in the Tarim Basin. It is a popular tourist destination and serves as the gateway to Lahaul and Spiti district as well as Leh.
Manali has grown from a trading village to a small town; as of the 2011 census of India, its population was 8,096. In 2001, Manali had an official population of 6,265. Males constituted 64% of the population and females 36%. Manali had an average literacy rate of 74%, higher than the national average of 59.5%; male literacy was 80%, and female literacy was 63.9%. 9.5% of the population was under six years of age. During the summer months, there is a marked surge in the transients as many of them are employed in the hospitality businesses.
Manali features a subtropical highland climate (Cfb) with warm summers, relatively cold winters, and a high diurnal temperature variation. The temperatures range from ?7 °C (19 °F) to 30 °C (86 °F) over the year with the hottest day crossing 30 °C (86 °F) and the coldest day going below ?7 °C (19 °F). The average temperature during summer is between 10 °C (50 °F) to 30 °C (86 °F), and between ?7 °C (19 °F) to 15 °C (59 °F) in the winter.
Monthly precipitation varies between 31 mm (1.2 in) in November and 217 mm (8.5 in) in July. On average, some 45 mm (1.8 in) of precipitation is received during winter and spring months, increasing to some 115 mm (4.5 in) in summer as the monsoon approaches. The average total annual precipitation is 1,363 mm (53.7 in). Manali experiences snowfall predominantly between December and the beginning of March.
The nearest airport Bhuntar Airport (IATA code KUU) is at Bhuntar town, situated on NH21 about 50 km (31 mi) south of Manali and 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Kullu town. The airport is also known as Kullu-Manali airport and has more than a kilometre long runway. Air India has regular flights to the airport from New Delhi.
Helicopter taxi service
Manali can be reached from Delhi by national highway NH 1 up to Ambala and from there NH 22 to Chandigarh and from there by national highway NH21 that passes through Bilaspur, Sundernagar, Mandi and Kullu towns. The road distance from Chandigarh to Manali is 310 km (190 mi), and the total distance from Delhi to Manali is 570 km (350 mi). Bus services are available from HRTC (Himachal Road Transport Corporation), HPTDC (Himachal Tourism Development Corporation), and private operators.
There is no close railhead available close to Manali. The nearest broad gauge railheads are at Una 250 km (155 mi) away, Kiratpur Sahib 268 km (167 mi), Kalka (275 km (171 mi)), Chandigarh (310 km (193 mi)), and Pathankot (325 km (202 mi)). The nearest narrow gauge railhead is at Joginder Nagar (175 kilometres (109 mi)). The Kalka–Shimla Railway is a nostalgic narrow-gauge route culminating at the state capital of Shimla wherefrom one has to travel by road to Manali.
Manali has witnessed a flurry of activity related to hydroelectric power and tourism. Unplanned and rampant construction has led to severe depletion of forests and pollution of river bodies, along with garbage being disposed of on the side of the mountains. There has been a loss of habitat to various species of fauna, not limited to the Himalayan monal, incidentally the state bird of Uttarakhand.