Dolce far niente
Old Manali and Chilled-out go hand in hand. If you’ve come to Old Manali, the most likely reason would be to just chill out and enjoy the serene beauty and vibe of the place. You’ve come in to live the easy life and take that much needed break from your life elsewhere in some other part of the world.
Breakfast/Coffee at Dylan’s Toasted & Roasted Coffee House
Begin your day at Dylan’s It’s the perfect place to start your day. They serve some good breakfast options, but the ONE thing that you’ve got to try, is their freshly baked cookies. They’re delish.
The cafe has some interesting artwork on the walls, you’d definitely be admiring that for a while.
Manali Nature Park
Stroll down to Manali Nature Park on the other side of the Manaslu river. It’s a beautiful place, lined with dozens of tall deodar trees reaching up to the sky. Enjoy the stroll around the park amongst the giant trees.
And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul― John Muir
What I loved about the place is how it makes you so consciously be in the present, in the here and now, without any effort at all. Walking amongst the giant trees, It was like being in the forest of zen. The calmness of it all is beautiful, only disturbed by the gushing sound of the river flowing nearby and the chirping of the birds.
The above quote by John Muir is a perfect match to this location. Find a spot, meditate/read a book, or just revel in the beauty of the place.
Lunch at Drifters’ Cafe
Drifter’s Cafe is this nice cozy place, which apart from it’s warm ambiance, serves some delicious food. I’d recommend trying the local cuisines that they serve. We tried the Himachali chicken curry and mutton curry with rice. It was delicious especially the mutton curry. The pieces were just melting in our mouths, it was amazing.
Their menu has this beautiful write up, which I’m sure as a traveler you’d connect with instantly.
There are tons of shops that line the street on either sides selling all kinds of stuff.
You’ve got stores selling –
- Clothes – you could pick up some good woolens. There were a nice variety of beanie caps to choose from. Definitely one of the things you could pick up from here
- Leather products – There were some nice collections of bags and satchels. My friend, Wati, picked up a few small bags for family back at home and I have to say we got it for a quite a good rate.
- Patches for clothes – I spotted quite a few stores selling them. Rastafarian and psychedelic prints seemed the most common though.
- Local Fruit Wine – Wonder Wyne was the brand I spotted in many stores.
- Dreamcatchers – You see them hanging in the window displays and entrances of many stores. There are stores which specifically sell only dreamcatchers. They’re all handmade. These stores also teach you how to make one if you’re interested. You’ll see people trying their hand at it at quite a few stores there. I’d suggest you get it from there as they’re quite fairly priced.
- Rolling Papers – Ok, this one’s a bit odd one here. But, if you prefer rolling your own cigarettes or “rolling” every once in a while, then you know the different options that are available. The fact that they are available but not quite so at your place back home is a sad state of affairs. Here, the stores have a pretty good collection. From the regular OCB and the unbleached ones, to Bangerz and Wiz Edition. You get some neat stuff here.
In the lines of different, we picked up a pack of Organic smokes. The contents are herbal (Basil, Rose petals, Tea plant) and it says ‘Ayurvedic Smoking therapy’ on the box. They were pretty decent to be honest.
Evening at Cafe 1947
Cafe 1947 is among the few cafes located by the river. The place offers some nice view of the river. It has an outdoor seating area as well. Also, if you’re seated indoors,you still get a good view of the river, thanks to the big glass panes, they thought it through well, kudos to that. It’s perfect for those cold or rainy days when you want to be close to the view but enjoy it from the warmth and comfort of modern day amenities. It was one of the few places there where I heard classic rock music playing in the background. I loved the ambience of the place and the food too.
Dinner at Rocky’s Cafe
Head to Rocky’s Cafe around sunset to enjoy the view of the setting sun on the mountains and amazing view of the valley below. It is the last cafe on the Manu Temple road, after the temple before the forest trail begins.
The place offers some amazing panoramic views of the forest and the mountains, which not many cafes have.
The food there is delicious, and with an amazing view to enjoy it in, It’s the perfect place to call it a day.
Old Manali is all about the slow and easy life, and it’s nice that Cafes’ there have kept that vibe alive. You could sit for hours in any of the cafes there and no one would bother you or ask you to leave. You find these little places of zen just about everywhere – In the cafes, the streets, the forest. I loved every bit of my short time there.