The term “offbeat destination” is really gaining popularity these days and quite fast. As popular tourist destinations like Mussoorie and Nainital continue to get crowded with each passing year, more and more people have started to visit places that were hardly known to anyone until some time ago; not because of their lack of natural beauty but because they were just never there on the tourist map. To be honest, some of these places are not that much on the radar still which makes them perfect for anyone looking to spend some time away from the crowd and in tranquillity. One such that place that I want to talk about in this post is the beautiful yet hardly known Mana Village, which is also fondly referred to as the last village on the Indian border.
For a brief introduction, Mana is a small village in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, located about 50 kilometers from Joshimath. It is the last village on the Indian side of Indo – Tibet border. The village stands at an altitude of 3,200 meters on the banks of Saraswati River. The nearby Mana Pass is at a height of 5,632 meters (18,478 feet) but tourists are allowed only till Mana Village. It’s been designated as a “Tourism Village” by the Uttarakhand government.
Image: Manoj Khurana
In this post, I will be talking in details on how you can plan a trip to Mana Village and explore the tourist places here. Below is a list of the topics that I have covered further in the article. If you want to jump directly to a certain part of the post, you can click on the heading in the box below.
Why visit Mana Village
The first question that comes to mind is why visit Mana Village. If it is indeed such a far off and small place that I mentioned above, what could it possibly have to attract tourists? The answer to that question is in the serenity that Mana Village has to offer. It is like a hidden gem, tucked away up in the hills and standing still in time. Surrounded with towering Himalayan peaks all around with a river flowing right next to it, the whole setting of the place looks like straight out of a painting. There is no maddening tourist crowd here, no luxury hotels and no markets to shop from. Just a few houses and decent enough hotels to spend some time in peace.
Also Read: Nainital – How to Plan your Trip & Explore
If you want to visit a truly offbeat destination without having to go too remote, then Mana is where you should be headed. It is not even that hard to reach, to be honest. There is a motorable road that will bring you right to the village. The nearby places of Badrinath and Joshimath will surely interest someone who is a little religious. For motorcycle enthusiasts and adventure junkies, the feeling of standing in the last village of Indian border will be really hard to say no to. If you were able to get the permits, then riding to Mana Pass will be another feather in the hat.
Where is Mana Village
Mana village is located in the state of Uttarakhand; about 300 kilometers from Rishikesh, 50 kilometers from Joshimath, 5 kilometers from Badrinath and 550 kilometers from Delhi.
How to reach Mana Village
Due to its location in the hills, a trip to Mana Village is only possible by road. You can either drive by your own vehicle all the way from your home; or, if that wasn’t a choice, you can get to the nearest airport or railroad and travel by road from there. All these options are further explained in the article in more details.
How to reach Mana Village in winters
Mana Village cannot be reached in the winter season. The entire region gets buried deep under snow causing the road to get blocked. Even the local villagers’ move down to lower areas during winters and return only after the weather has gotten favorable. If by some miracle, you did manage to get to Mana in peak winter, you will definitely have trouble finding a place to stay for the night. So planning a trip to Mana in winter is definitely not the best of the ideas.
How to reach Mana Village by Road
If you were traveling by your own vehicle, then the route of the journey will be as mentioned below. For the sake of explaining the route, I will assume Delhi as your starting point. Even if you were, however, coming from a different place, only the journey till Rishikesh can be different. Rest of the route will still remain the same (unless you were traveling from somewhere within Uttarakhand).
Delhi – Ghaziabad – Meerut – Muzaffarnagar – Haridwar – Rishikesh – Devprayag – Srinagar – Rudraprayag – Karnaprayag – Nandaprayag – Joshimath – Hanuman Chatti – Badrinath – Mana
Traveling this way, the total journey will be of about 560 kilometers depending upon where you started from in Delhi. Road conditions will be mostly good until Rishikesh but will be a mix of bad and average after that. In total, it will take you at least 14 to 15 hours to complete the drive from Delhi. Hence it is advised that you break it in 2 days.
A slightly shorter and alternate route can be as mentioned below.
Delhi – Ghaziabad – Meerut – Khatauli – Bijnor – Najibabad – Kotdwar – Lansdowne – Srinagar – Rudraprayag – Karnaprayag – Nandaprayag – Joshimath – Hanuman Chatti – Badrinath – Mana
Traveling this way, the total drive will be about 540 kilometers. Roads will be mostly good until Lansdowne and a mix of bad and average after that. This too will be a two days journey with a night halt at either Lansdowne, Srinagar or Rudraprayag.
How to reach Mana Village by Bus
If you want to reach Mana village by Bus, then your journey would have to be broken in several parts. As far as I can tell, there are no direct buses for Mana village from either Delhi, Dehradun or Haridwar or Rishikesh. You may find one from Haridwar or Rishikesh but there is definitely none from Delhi or Dehradun.
Delhi to Mana Village Bus
If you were coming from Delhi by Bus, then a better way to do the journey would be to first board a Bus for Haridwar. From Haridwar, look for a Bus for either Joshimath or Badrinath which should not be too difficult to find. There are shared cabs available from Joshimath / Badrinath for Mana which will be your mode of commute to get to the village.
Nearest Airport to Mana Village
If you wanted to reach Mana village by flight then the nearest airport will be the Jolly Grant Airport of Dehradun, situated at a distance of 314 kilometers. Jolly Grant is very well connected to Delhi and several other major cities of the country with daily flights.
How to reach Mana Village from Dehradun
From Dehradun, you can either book a private taxi for Mana or look for public transport. A taxi would definitely be the best option if within budget. For a drop to Mana, a taxi from Dehradun will cost you about Rs. 5000. If traveling by public transport, first travel to Haridwar from Dehradun and look for a Bus for Joshimath as I explained above.
How to reach Mana Village by Train
The nearest train station to Mana village is at Rishikesh. It is situated at a distance of about 300 kilometers from Mana and is very well connected to other major cities. There are several daily trains in and out of Rishikesh and finding one that suits your timings will not be difficult.
Rishikesh to Mana Village Bus
Like Dehradun, a private taxi from Rishikesh Railway station to Mana will cost you about Rs. 5000 and will be the best choice of commute. If you want to travel by Bus, then your best bet would be to find one for either Joshimath or Badrinath. There is no direct bus from Rishikesh to Mana Village. You will first travel to Joshimath / Badrinath and then catch a shared cab from there.
What to see in Mana Village
Mana Village is a tiny hamlet far up in the hills but despite that, there are several places here that are worthy of a visit. This entire route from Haridwar to Mana is marked by towns are religiously important in Hindu faith. Because of that, tourist places in and around Mana too are of religious significance. It doesn’t make them any less beautiful or interesting though. The natural beauty of the place is beyond comparison and the tourist destination here too have a certain charm of their own. Some of these places are located within Mana itself while others are at a small distance. How long you would need to stay here will entirely depend on you but 2 to 3 days is an ideal time to visit Mana village.
Below is a list of places to visit around Mana village.
Bheem Pul is a huge rock placed between a gorge over Saraswati River. It is named so because it is believed that Bheem himself lifted this rock and placed it here in the form of a bridge so that Draupadi could cross the river. As per the mythology, Pandavas were on their way to Swargrohini after the Battle of Mahabharat. They reached this spot in Mana Village where Draupadi could not cross over to the other side of Saraswati River. Bheem then placed this rock over the river and formed a bridge which now is one of the biggest tourist and sacred places in Mana. A Short trek from the village will lead you to this place.
It is a natural cave and as per the mythology, this is where Lord Ganesha dictated Mahabharatha to Rishi Veda Vyas. The cave is surrounded by lush green trees and offers a pleasant view of the scenery around.
Located close enough to Ganesha Cave is the famous Vyas Cave. It is believed that it is this place where Rishi Ved Vyas lived and composed the four Vedas and Mahabharatha epic with the help of Lord Ganesha. There is a small shrine inside the cave that is dedicated to the sage himself.
Of all the tourist places in Mana village, this one is probably the most scenic one. It is a waterfall located about 5 kilometers from Mana Village and will take about 3 – 4 hours for a round trip. The waterfall is about 400 feet high and can only be reached by trekking. Please note though that this trek can be a little difficult for some people, filled with pebbles and loose stones. But the stunning view of the waterfall is definitely worth taking all the pain. You do not really need a guide and can visit on your own as well. It is believed that this waterfall was a temporary stay point for the Pandavas during their exile.
Mata Murti Temple
This is a temple devoted to Mata Murti, the mother of Lord Narayan. As per the mythology, she had requested Lord Vishnu to be born as her son. The Lord granted her this wish and took birth as her twin sons, Nar and Narayan.
This is a hot water spring located near Badrinath temple. This natural spring is believed to be the abode of Agni Dev, the fire god. The water of the spring comes out of nearby Garur Shila and flows into a concrete stone tank where devotees can take a dip before entering the temple. It is said that the water of this spring has several medicinal values and cures many skin diseases.
Last but not least is the famous pass of Mana which probably is the biggest tourist attraction of Mana village. It attracts both motorcycle enthusiasts and trekkers alike. Please note though that the pass is extremely close to the border due to which, civilian entry here is restricted. You will need to obtain Inner Line permit from SDM Joshimath along with NOC Certificate from ITBP and Army to be able to get to the pass. But if you do get there, you will be rewarded with an experience that you won’t forget for a very long time. At the top of Mana Pass, you will also see the famous Deo Tal which is believed to be the origin point of mythical Saraswati River. Two other lakes, Rajas Tal and Nag Tal are also located at Mana Pass.
Top attractions in Mana
Which ones of the above-listed places are must visit is a little hard to answer as they are all equally beautiful and it will also depend on the time you have in hand. But for a 2 days trip, a visit to Vasudhara Falls, Ganesh Gufa, Vyas Gufa is a must. If you are able to get the permit for Mana Pass, then a visit here will become the highlight of your trip.
What to do in Mana Village
Trekking is one of the most sought after activity in Mana village and in the nearby area. There are several treks leading out of the village including both easier and short ones as well as difficult and challenging ones. Even if you weren’t into trekking though, you could just relax and soak yourself in the peace that Mana offers. Visiting nearby temples is another activity to keep you busy. The natural beauty of the place will give you ample opportunities to click numerous pictures if photography is your thing. The sky at night here is stunningly clear and you would love to indulge in some night photography as well.
Weather of Mana Village
Due to its high altitude, the weather of Mana Village remains cold throughout the year. The only difference is whether it will be a pleasant cold or extremely cold and that will depend on your time of arrival. Last I was in Mana Village was in the month of June and even at that time, I do not think the temperature went beyond 15°C. Historically though, the weather in the months from March to June remains more on a pleasant side with temperatures averaging between 15°C to 20°C. This is an ideal time for planning a visit to Mana Village for the purpose of both sightseeing or pilgrimage.
Monsoon arrives in the region towards the end of June and from here on, till early September, it can rain anytime anywhere. This entire area, starting right from Haridwar to Mana, is notorious to receive a heavy amount of rains each year. Landslides, resulting roadblocks and sometimes even loss of life is not uncommon here during monsoon. Remember the floods of Kedarnath? That is not too far from here. Temperature too drops down a little in monsoon and remains close to 12°C to 15°C.
Autumn arrives in October and by the end of the month, the temperature starts to drop down drastically. Though the average winter temperature here is 5°C, it gets much colder at night with the mercury falling several degrees below 0. The area starts to receive snowfall in November; and both intensity and frequency continue to increase as winter progresses.
Temperature of Mana Village
Below is a month by month breakdown of temperature in Mana Village. Please note though that these are just average numbers based on historical data. Nights are bound to get much colder in winters and expect the temperature to remain close to 0. During the months of May and June, it may even go very well up during noon, sometimes even a couple of degrees above 20°C
Mana Village in January
Minimum temperature of 0°C and maximum of 8°C at an average. It is not possible to reach Mana in January as all the snow keeps the road blocked.
Mana Village in February
Minimum temperature of 2°C and maximum of 10°C at an average. Like January, you cannot get to Mana in February as well due to snow on the road.
Mana Village in March
Minimum temperature of 3°C and maximum of 11°C at an average. Reaching Mana in March may get possible towards the end of the month depending on how much it snowed and fast it was melting. For most of the month and times though, you will not be able to get to Mana Village in March as well.
Mana Village in April
Minimum temperature of 5°C and maximum of 13°C at an average. The region can receive snowfall in April as well and even roads can get blocked if it did open. It is not an ideal month to go because of freezing cold weather but if you must, then plan towards the end of April.
Mana Village in May
Minimum temperature of 10°C and maximum of 20°C at an average. Snow melts away from lower areas and roads become accessible. Days are clear, sunny and pleasantly warm. This is a good time to go to Mana Village.
Mana Village in June
Minimum temperature of 12°C and maximum of 20°C at an average. Weather at this time remains the same as in May but you should still pack some woolens and jackets as evenings, nights and mornings will still be very cold.
Mana Village in July
Minimum temperature of 12°C and maximum of 16°C at an average. Monsoon season arrives and the region becomes prone to landslides and roadblocks. It is advised to not travel in this month to either Badrinath or Mana.
Mana Village in August
Minimum temperature of 12°C and maximum of 16°C at an average. Frequent rains can pose a serious risk of blocking the roads, sometimes for days altogether. With that said, the scenery at this time will be lush and at its best.
Mana Village in September
Minimum temperature of 10°C and maximum of 14°C at an average. This is an ideal month to visit. The valley truly comes to life at this time and turns into a green carpet with blooming flowers all around. It can still rain in the early part of the month though.
Mana Village in October
Autumn arrives in the month of October. Minimum temperature of 9°C and maximum of 13°C at an average. Days will be cold and pleasant but will continue to turn freezing as the month will progress. It can snow in Mana Village towards the end of October.
Mana Village in November
Minimum temperature of 6°C and maximum of 10°C at an average. The entire valley will turn freezing cold and start to get buried under snow. Locals too will start to abandon the village and move to lower areas.
Mana Village in December
Minimum temperature of 4°C and maximum of 8°C at an average. Frequent snowfall with extremely cold weather is what December here is all about. Roads will get blocked making it impossible to reach the village.
Best time to visit Mana Village
Now based on the information above, I think it is safe to say that the months of May, June, and September is the best time to visit Mana Village. Weather at this time will be pleasant with no risk of snow, rains or roadblocks. Scenery and vistas too will be mesmerizing with clear views.
Clothes for Mana Village
What clothes to pack for the trip will entirely depend on your time of the visit. But irrespective, you should always pack a heavy jacket because morning and evenings here are always cold. If visiting in April, May or June, you should bring your regular cottons, some light woolens, and a heavy jacket. If visiting in Julyor August, waterproof everything and pack clothes that can dry faster, like polyester. Bringing an umbrella too would be wise at this time. If visiting in October or November, you would need heavy woolens and a windproof jacket. Ensure that your jacket also has a hood to protect your neck and head. If it doesn’t, then you should pack a muffler and cap as well.
Mobile Network in Mana Village
There is no mobile connectivity in Mana Village. We were carrying Vodafone, Airtel, Jio, and BSNL phones in our group and they were all out of network at Mana.
Also Read: Kedarnath – The Holy Adobe of Mahadev
Where to stay in Mana Village
As far as I can tell, there is no hotel or guest house in Mana Village. It may come up in late years but at the time of writing this post in 2019, there was no accommodation available here. The only choice was to speak to one of the villagers and stay as a paying guest. A better option would be to stay at either Joshimath or Badrinath. Joshimath has several decent enough budget hotels that will suit your need for a few days. Badrinath too has accommodation available but these are mostly very basic stays runs by charity groups for pilgrims. When we were there, we had to take a dip in hot water spring (Tapt Kund) at Badrinath Temple because there was no bathing arrangement at the Dharamshala we stayed at.
That will cover most, if not all, that you need to know about planning a visit to Mana Village. In the next part of this series, I will talk about how you can extend your visit all the way to Mana Pass. If you have any questions; or need any other details; please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.