After spending almost a year under lockdown, the entire country wants to go out and spend some time under the blue sky. People have realised that the pleasure of life is not in the materialistic world but nature. And when it comes to peace, the only words that come to our mind are – mountains and beaches. While north India is fighting with the heatwaves and south India is under the grip of tropical monsoon. The only refuge for people is heading towards the Himalayas. Travelling to the mountains has recently become a trend. Everyone is rushing towards Himachal or Uttrakhand. The top-most popular places like Shimla, Mussourie, Manali, Dharamshala, Nainital are facing the burnt of excess tourism.
Videos of overcrowded mall roads, waterfalls, river banks and food joints have startled everyone. This maddening rush to hill stations has spoilt the peace of mountains. Streets are filled with honking vehicles, shouting drunkards and all kinds of a nuisance.
The most picturesque hill station Manali has seen the maximum surge of tourists among all. Being closer to the recently opened Lahaul valley Atal tunnel and surrounded by the two mountain ranges – Dhauladhar & Pir Panjal, Manali is a heaven for tourists in the summers. There is a meme trending in India – People have moved from the struggle of finding a bed in a hospital to finding a hotel in Manali. In such scenarios, a class of people who visit the mountains for silence and peace are compelled to either stay back at home in cities or be part of the new rat race.
This blog is for those people.
I have travelled for years in the Himalayas to explore places that are still far from the eyeballs of mainstream tourists and tour agencies. Spots that are closer to nature and still hold peace and tranquillity. During one such trip, I came across this shepherd village of Kullu Manali called BHANARA where no tourist had reached before.
My previous blogs about Barot village, Kareri Village, Renuka Ji lake, Shalli tibba are a few of such places which I have documented for travellers like you.
Though small in size, Bhanara village is rich in culture, traditions and natural beauty. The village housing 70 families was not marked on Google Maps till 2019. One of the reasons that being so close to Manali, it lies still unexplored. If you want to visualise Bhanara in your mind, think about the villages that we see in traditional Himachal songs or old Bollywood movies.
Farming and handlooms are the main occupations of this village. Being part of upper Kullu valley, it enjoys the perfect climatic condition for royal apples. Apart from apples, trees of plum, cherry and apricots are common in this natural stream-fed village. Defying the low-income occupations of farming & manual weaving, youths of villages are trying their luck in modern ways of tourism and trekking. Located at the beginning of a centuries-old Pine forest, Bhanara is the base point for some newly found trek routes in the Pir Panjal range. The youths of this village are encashing this opportunity and now ready to welcome outsiders while remaining reserved for decades. There is a checkpoint at the beginning of the approach road leading to Bhanara that allows only the residents or their guests. So, if you want to visit this small heaven, you will have to take permission first.
What will you experience in Bhanara Village
- Traditional attires – Almost every household has a manual weaving machine that makes the attire of Kullu called ‘Pattu’
- Ancient traditions of Kullu – Some of the oldest festivals of Kullu that have lost their ground in other towns are still alive in Bhanara, participate and relish these festivals
- Six seasons – In cities, we experience only summers, monsoon and winters while our elders talk about 6seasons. In Bhanara, you will notice the signs of Spring, Autumn & Pre winter
- Snow – While snow in Manali melts within a day or two after snowfall, in Bhanara it stays for at least a week and if you hike for 1-1.5 hours, you can reach the glaciers
- A dense forest for morning/evening hike
- The second tastiest apple of Himachal (after Kinnaur)
- Music of nature – Bhanara acts as a gateway for the Himalayan birds who move down to Kullu from Lahaul valley during the winters and return in
- Snow peaks at your face – Bhanara faces some of the highest peaks of the Dhauladhar that remains snow-covered all year round
- The magical view of Rohtang – If you are an avid traveller, you would have travelled through Rohtang pass many times. Have you ever seen the entire Rohtang Darra? Visit Bhanara and see this magical view with your own eyes.
- Ancient Naag Devta temple made of wood
- Camping in Meadows – Hike for 30-45 minutes and you will experience the calmness of nature meadow
Location of Bhanara Village
State – Himachal
District – Kullu
Closest City – Manali & Naggar
Bhanara lies between two big towns of Kullu – Manali & Naggar. Located at the hilltop, Bhanara enjoys the most scenic beauty of Kullu. From here, you can see the entire valley of Kullu & Manali. All the major towns located at the lowlands of the upper Beas river are visible from Bhanara. Manali, Basisth, Prini, Naggar, Jagatsukh are some of those places. It enjoys the rare benefit of placement from where you can see the highest peak of the Dhauladhar called Hanuman tibba.
Manali main Bus stand is only 15km away & Naggar is at a distance of 18km.
How to reach
By Car / Taxi
Distance from Delhi – 533km ( as per Google map)
Drive Time – 12 Hrs
The route is similar to Manali till Kullu
From Kullu, take the diversion towards Naggar under the bridge ( you will see the signage for Naggar)
Road condition: The road till Kirat Pur is-lane highway. The rest of the stretch is a mountain road. The 40km patch till Bilaspur has numerous potholes (thanks to the loaded trucks of cement factory town). The rest of the highway is fine except for a spall patch near Sundar Nagar and some road blockades for the Mandi-Kullu widening road. The Naggar road after Kullu is narrow but less crowded. You will love the drive on this stretch.
Bus Routes (14 Hrs)
- Delhi – Manali Volvo
- Manali – Jagatsukh (any bus towards Naggar)
- Hike for 2 km uphill OR take a taxi for 5 km approach road
I would suggest taking a taxi from Manali Volvo stand for Bhanara directly.
- Delhi – Kullu
- Kullu – Jagatsukh (any bus towards Naggar/Rohtang)
- Jagatsukh- Bhanara Hike for 2 km uphill OR take a taxi for 5 km approach road
Kullu bus Depot number on 01902-276243
Bhuntar Airport – 2 hours drive from Bhanara Village
Chandigarh Airport/Railway station – 8 hours drive from Bhanara Village
Delhi Airport/Railway station : 12 hours drive from Bhanara Village
Summer: Height of 2200 mt and proximity to the Rohtang glacier keeps Bhanara cold even in summers. The day temperature here usually varies between 15 to 25 degrees celsius but starts to drop as the evening approaches and goes to as low as 10 degrees at night.
One thin sweater and denim will do fine.
Winter: If you are a snow lover, Bhanara will become your favourite place. It experiences extensive snowfall as early as November. On a fine snowfall day, you may experience a snowfall up to 2ft.
The day temperature in winters usually varies between 0 to 10 degrees celsius but starts to drop as the evening approaches and goes below 0 degrees at night.
Glove and cap are a must for this season apart from thermals, sweaters, jackets.
Monsoon – My favourite time of the year to visit Bhanara. The clouds travel through the valley like a fleet of nomads looking for a place to camp and rest. Some of these nomads enter the forest opposite Bhanara and gorget their path. They linger in the forest for some time and finally rise about to find their way. The valley is decked up with shades of green and the village blooms with fresh apples. Don’t forget to take back a carton of apples if you are visiting in August. Days are pleasant and nights are comfortably cold. Temperature varies between 5degrees and 20 degrees depending on clouds that particular day.
Carry ponchos, monsoon jackets and a woolen cap.
Things to do in Bhanara
- Village walk – the traditional Himachali houses, Himalayan horses, lambs & sheep will make your experience of this village-like walk back in time
- Watch Sunset – Though the setting sun is not visible in the last 30 minutes due to tall peaks in the west, the hues and saturation of sunset spreading in the sky will make your evenings memorable.
- Hike in the forest – the dense forest is the house of varieties of pine trees. Deodar Poplar & willow in this forest are centries old. So go for a hike into the woods and enjoy your peacetime.
- View Points: the village has several viewpoints which show you a panoramic view of the beauty of the valley. My favourite is the viewpoint at the end of the village, from where you can see the two mountain ranges(Dhauladhar & Pir Panjal) meeting each other
- Bird watching – As I mentioned before, Bhanara is like a gateway of Lahaul valley for birds. You will spot several types of birds every season.
Stay options in Bhanara
Bhanara village is like a newborn baby in tourism. There are no hotels in this village yet. Only a homestay called Lost in woods is the option to stay in Bhanara. The house is a mix of traditional and modern ways. The outer structure is made of bricks and mortar and surrounded by green grass and an apple orchard which looks like a Scottish view. Inside is the wooden structure that keeps rooms warm and comfortable. The lifeline of the house is the Tandoor room. It has a traditional choolha with a chimney that keeps the house warm and occupants full bellies. With a small library, it is an abode for the readers and dreamers. The balcony is your cosy place in winters and the viewpoint all around the year.
The owner of the house is a 70 years old young lady. Yes, this lively lady is just opposite to the numbers. She is as active as a teenager. You will keep aside your books when she is enumerating her life anecdotes and incidents that occurred while finding rare Himalayan herbs. enumerating
Since the family is not equipped to manage this homestay, I help them with the same. You can book the place on booking portals using this link http://www.booking.com/Share-7NMj1D or call me at 9873993129
Or call me
9873993129 Dheeraj Jha
Places to visit around Bhanara
I know that you won’t feel like leaving Bhanara village if you are there for a short trip. Still, I am sharing the list of some places that are similar to the list of places around Manali.
- Rohtang Pass – 70km
- Hadimba Temple – 20km
- Jogini Falls
- Naggar Palace – 18km
- Trout Fish Farm – 5km
- Paragliding in Dobhi – 30Km
If you visit Kareri village, share your experience in comments/email/ my instagram account
Some easy steps to keep the Himalayas plastic-free :
- Reusable Water bottle/thermos – Freshwater is available in abundance and better than any packed mineral water bottle
- No Chips and Cold Drinks Please – These are the luxuries of cities, so keep it in cities only. With the fresh air, enjoy the fresh snacks – fruits, salads, eggs, paneer snacks, pakoras and local dishes
Note: The garbage you throw in dustbins is not recycled on mountains but burnt due to fewer resources. So, please take your plastic/liquor bottles, plastic wrappers or any other kind of garbage back to city.
Leave only memories behind, not the garbage!