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It can’t really be called untouched or pristine anymore, I guess; tourists comes in droves to ravage her beauty every summer. A half a century ago, it was one of the most glorious hill stations in the country with a few stone houses. Today, it is a town crammed with concrete hotels with no of sustainable tourism. The Manali tourism industry is brimming and overflowing, but how much more can it take?

If you’re not the touristy types, then discover the city in your own time. Don’t even bother with the Manali holiday packages. For starters, go in the winter months; yes, it’s colder but hey, it’s totally worth it to miss the crowds.

The Rohtang pass is one of the most popular places to see in Manali; but how many of us actually know that Rohtang literally means ‘pile of corpses’. It was named so after the number of people dying in bad weather trying to cross the pass which is at an altitude of 3,978 m or 13,051 feet. The pass is only open from May to November. It is not particularly high or difficult to cross on foot by Himalayan standards, but it has a well-deserved reputation for being dangerous because of unpredictable snowstorms and blizzards.

And then we came in with our amazing technology and innovation and dug a hole through the mountain. So now, it takes about 30 minutes through the Rohtang tunnel as compared to the 6 hours to ascend, negotiate and descend the pass. With a budget of $320 million for 8.5 kms of tunnel, it will be one of the longest in the country when completed. It will be much safer and faster for the Indian government’s military operations. Shielded from heavy snowfall and blizzards, the tunnel will be open throughout the year linking to Keylong, Lahaul and Spiti and Leh in Ladakh.

Spend time in Old Manali and the hippie villages nearby for a true sense of the original mountain paradise. Smoke some Malana cream if you can get your hands on it. It is the world renowned hashish from the village of Malana. Little is produced in Malana besides cannabis. This does not mean that it’s a free reign. Of course you will get arrested by the police if you are found in possession. We do not support any form of drug use or abuse!

As the newest member of the content team, Shivangi Rajendran comes from the world of professional dancing. With a passion for travel and a flair for writing, the Masters in Mass Communication is just an added advantage. A gypsy at heart, she doesn’t believe in planning and is always ready to pack her bags and leave.

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