Located at an elevation of nearly 2050 m, at the northern end of the Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh’ s Beas River valley, the ancient town of Manali is a three hour drive from the state capital of Shimla. An all-year-round hill station, it was first discovered as a tourist destination by backpackers and hippies in the 1970s and 80′ s who loved the rustic life in the villages around the small town. Manali’ s rising popularity among the regular tourists, since the 1990s, has coincided with the problems in the neighbouring state of Kashmir which saw a steep decline in tourist traffic there over the last three decades. The region is a place of breath-taking natural beauty with thick forests, fruit-laden orchards, beautiful hamlets and sprawling meadows carpeted with wild flowers, all surrounded by the tall snow-clad mountains of the Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges. There is a quaint story about the origins of Manali. Vaivasvata, the seventh incarnation of Manu, once found a small fish in his bathing water. The fish told him to look after it with care and devotion. When the fish grew very big, he released it in the river. But before swimming away the fish warned him of an impending deluge and advised him to build an ark. When the floods came, Vaivasvata and seven sages were towed to safety by the fish Matsya (considered the first avatar of Vishnu). When the waters receded the ark came to rest on a beautiful hillside which is today’ s Manali. Manali’ s original claim to fame was the fact that it was the last major town before the climb to Rohtang Pass to get to Leh in Ladakh and the valleys of Lahaul and Spiti valleys. Even today it is the main resting point, before the drive up to these places. But unlike in the past there is much more for the tourists to do these days including skiing, rafting, paragliding and trekking.