Location: Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh
Climate: Pleasant in summers and chilly in winters
Places to See: Parashar Lake, Rawalsar Lake, Bhutnath Temple & more.
Best Time to Visit: All round the year (except monsoons)
Mandi, earlier called Mandav Nagar, is a major town and headquarters of the Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh, India. Located in the north-west Himalayas at an average elevation of 850 metres, Mandi is a bowl shaped table land on the banks of the Beas River at the confluence of streams – Suketi Khad and Skodhi Khad. It is encircled by the soaring hill ranges of Gandharv Hills, Motipur Dhar, Rehra Dhar and Tarna Hill. Considering the fact that Mandi houses almost 300 old and new temples, it is often called “Varanasi of Hills“, or “Varanasi of the East”, or “Choti Kashi“, or “Kashi of Himachal“.
Situated about 153 kms from the state capital – Shimla, Mandi has been name after the Sage Mandav who is believed to have meditated here. It is often called cultural capital of Himachal Pradesh owing to its rich culture, traditions and architectural heritage. In the ancient times, Mandi was not just a business centre on the old silk route to Tibet, but also a centre for cultural exchange. Since its establishment in 1527 by Ajbar Sen as the capital of the princely state of Mandi, it has emerged as a fast developing town that still retains its old charm and character.
Mandi contains the charisma of both erstwhile and modern world amidst the colonial buildings, temples, palaces as well as the premier institutes like IIT, Mandi. Mandi is undoubtedly a great place for travelers down to its attractions and amazing scenic beauty where hills are covered with pine trees, deodar trees and tea plantation. It is also famous for being the starting point for the well-known Prashar Lake trek and hosting the International Mandi Shivaratri Fair. Mandi is also distinguished for being among the few places in the world where Bandy – a sport similar to ice hockey – is played.
Climate in Mandi
Mandi, essentially, has a subtropical highland climate. Since it lies on the Midlands of the Himalayan range, it experiences a wet-sub temperate climate of the foothills. It enjoys hot summers and cold winters. In summers, the average temperature ranges between 18.9°C and 39.6°C (March to June). Mandi generally gets rainfalls during end of summer season. The average total annual precipitation is 832 mm. While in winters, which extends from the months of December till February, the average temperature hovers between 6.7°C and 26.2°C.
Tourist Attractions in Mandi
Mandi has numerous temples like Triloki Nath Temple at Purani Mandi, Raja Madhav Temple in DC Office Complex, Bhoot Nath Temple at Chouhata Bazar, Tarna Shayamkali Temple on Tarna Hills overlooking Mandi Town, Panchvaktra Mahadev Temple on the confluence of Suketi and Beas River, Ardhanareshwar Temple at Samkhetar Street and Bhimakali Temple at Bheuli. Apart from these, there are many other temples of archaeological and religious significance. Some other interesting places to see are Ghantaghar, Indira Market, Victoria Bridge and Gurudwara. Pandoh Dam is another attraction which is actually an embankment dam on the Beas River in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. Pandoh Lake, created by the dam, is a great place to enjoy the nature at its best.
Excursions from Mandi
Mandi is very much popular among trekkers, seeing that some of the major treks to Rewalsar, Kamlah Fort, Kamrunag, Shikari Devi, Barot, Karsog and many others start from here. Prashar is a small scenic village – about 50 kms north of Mandi – known for its beautiful Prashar Lake and Rishi Prashar Temple. At a height of 2730 meters, this place has religious significance. From here, the views of snow-capped peaks and river Beas are just amazing. Kamlah Fort is a 17th century fort located near Kamlah village about 80 kms from Mandi Town. Kamrunag is a quaint site, approachable only by trekking from Rohanda, famous for its lake and Kamru Nag Temple.
Rewalsar is another important town about 25 kms from Mandi – famous for housing religious shrines of three faiths, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. It has temples, gurudwara as well as monasteries, along with beautiful Rewalsar Lake. It also has a huge statue of Guru Padmasambhava, overlooking the Lake. Karsog Valley, which is 120 kms from Mandi, is well-known for Mamleshwar Mahadev Temple, Kamaksha Devi Temple, Mahamaya Bhuneshwari Temple, Mool (Original) Mahunag Temple and places like Chindi, Tattapani, Dhamoon Peak and Chhatri.
Jhanjehli is another beautiful village located about 76 kms from Mandi; it is famous for Shikari Devi Temple. Devidarh is a beautiful place, 55 kms from Mandi, known for housing Mata Mundsan Temple. Chauhar Valley is a place of unparalleled scenic beauty at a distance of 48 kms from Mandi. Its places of interest include Dyna Park, Himri Ganga and Hurang Narayan Temple. Another important place is Joginder Nagar, about 57 kms from Mandi, well-known for Baba Balkrupi Temple, Simsa Mata Temple and Winch Camp. Sunder Nagar is a beautiful town – 25 kms from Mandi – famous for its Mahamaya Temple.
Accommodation – Hotels/Resorts in Mandi
Mandi has a number of hotels varying from budget to luxury ones. Some of the famous places to stay are the Regent Palms Hotel, Munish Resorts, Visco Resorts, Hotel Raj Mahal Palace, Hotel River Bank, etc. All the hotels and resorts are well-equipped with facilities for a comfortable stay. Most of the hotels have their own restaurants that serve delicacies from different cuisines. Apart from them, there are local eateries and small restaurants near the market area where you can get delicious food and snacks.
How to Reach Mandi
Kullu-Manali Airport at Bhuntar is the nearest airport at 72 kms from Mandi. The other two airports of Himachal Pradesh – Kangra Airport at Gaggal and Shimla Airport at Jubarhatti are 147 and 133 kms from Mandi. Once you reach the airport, you can hire taxis to reach the destination.
Joginder Nagar Railway Station is the nearest narrow gauge railhead about 73 kms from Mandi. The nearest broad gauge railhead is at Pathankot (220 kms approx.) From here, you can board buses that run at regular intervals for Mandi. Or else, you can hire a taxi which ensures privacy as well as comfort.
Mandi is best accessible by road through a wide range of road network. HPTC runs regular buses from cities like Chandigarh and Delhi on daily basis. Besides them, there are many buses available from the nearby towns and cities like Shimla, Dharamshala, Manali, Palampur and others to reach Mandi.