Forget beaches, mountains and palaces. How about a holiday in an orchard with some marijuana to go with it? If the idea reads interesting, head to Himachal Pradesh, the ‘apple’ capital ofIndia. The small town of Manali, divided into old and new areas, is a holiday experience as quirky as it gets.
A 15-hours drive fromNew Delhi, new Manali is your regular town. But it is old Manali which you truly want to visit. Unending apple orchards, friendly locals, an eyeful of foreign tourists, a playful riverBeas, inexpensive lodging and a good connection to the Internet is just the start of a memorable trip.
Old Manali is dotted with little cafes decorated with the most unusual art. We are talking glow-in-the-dark curtains, drawings by customers, and animal antlers. Most cafes expertly whip up excellent Irish, Italian, Spanish and Jewish cuisines, apart from Indian, of course. Courteous waiters and freely available marijuana are incentives to get you to try the foreign fare. Do sample some Yak cheese available in select cafes.
On the singular main street of old Manali, there’s scope to shop for silver jewelry to your heart’s content. Be wary of the prices though, and quote less than what you pay for the item in a city. Knitted woollen wear in all sizes can be the next on your shopping list. Also not to be missed are the skimpy dresses stocked for foreign tourists that belie the fact that you are in a small Indian town.