Manali is a hill station nestled in the mountains of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh near the northern end of the Kullu Valley, at an altitude of 2,050 m in the Beas River Valley. It is located in the Kullu district, about 270 km north of the state capital, Shimla. 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 Khotanin the Tarim Basin. It has become a tourist attraction in recent years.
Manali ancient times, the valley was sparsely populated by nomadic hunters known as ‘rakshas’. The next arrivals were the shepherds who arrived from the Kangra Valley and settled to take up agriculture. Some of the earliest inhabitants of the region are the ‘naur’ or ‘nar’, which is a caste unique to the Kullu valley. Only a few naur families are known to exist now. A naur family in the village Soyal near Haripur on the west bank of Manali was famous for the vast land they owned and their practice of having ‘rakshas’ as their labourers.
The British introduced apple trees and trout. The first apple orchard was set up by the British near Patlikuhl, which were earlier not native to Manali. It is said that when apple trees were first planted, the fruits were so plentiful that often branches, unable to bear the weight, would collapse. To this day, apple—along with plum and pear—remain the best source of income for the majority of inhabitants.
Tourism in Manali received a boost after the rise of militancy in Kashmir in the late 1980s. This once quiet village was transformed into a bustling town with many hotels and restaurants