Love Manali? Here's 4 Equally Pretty Alternatives

Looking for an escape from the city, and also an alternative to the more crowded Himachali getaways like Manali? We have put together a list of places you can head out to instead
Kasauli is a hill paradise in Himachal Pradesh
Kasauli is a hill paradise in Himachal PradeshShutterstock

With the heat rising across India, everyone has been flocking to the mountains. However, if you are not interested in congested tourist destinations such as Manali but still want to take a break, we recommend that you step away from the tourist traps and discover more tranquil destinations. Here are some excellent alternatives to overdone places in the mountains.


Located in the Eastern Himalayan range, the capital city of Sikkim is one of the most popular tourist destinations in northeast India. In Gangtok, the climate is mild temperate, people are of mixed ethnicity, history dates back to the early 18th century, monasteries are plentiful, and the view of Kanchendzonga is undisturbed and grand. Undulating roads, gently sloping valleys, stunning sunrises, and unforgettable views of the mighty Khangchendzonga mountain are just a few of this city's attractions.

Gangtok is one of the most popular tourist destinations in northeast India
Gangtok is one of the most popular tourist destinations in northeast India

Its ethnic diversity, growing urbanism, and efflorescence of culture -- a mix of the old and new -- make Gangtok the cosmopolitan capital of the region. Located on what used to be a busy trade route into Tibet, this is a fascinating place, defined as much by its mixed population of Tibetans, Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalis as by the reputation it enjoys of being both the most developed city in the northeast, as well as the most mired in problems associated with urban sprawl.

But venture further enough into the lanes and the upper parts of town, and you will be rewarded with a glimpse of a few traditional houses. All these make Gangtok a must-visit destination, and rightly so. Sikkim's capital is an addictive blend of the contemporary and traditional. Gangtok offers dizzying views and a down-to-earth mix of old-school momo joints and hip cafes and pubs. It has one of the best live music scenes in India.


Kasauli has been the well-kept secret of Dilliwallas, who are jealously possessive of their Himachali beauty and regularly repair to this paradise in the Shivaliks for rejuvenation. This is a hill paradise, for few destinations are as close to home and as soothing. Kasauli's very existence has to do with the soothing of fevered brows.

The town was developed as a convalescence centre for the adjoining cantonment of Sabathu. And just as tranquil Kasauli helped many a soldier find his fighting form again all those years ago, the same invigorating climes today enable tired urbanites to head back to their offices refreshed after a weekend of divine relaxation. Strolling down quiet country lanes lined with aged chestnut trees, with no sound to be heard save for the sweet chattering of birds, Kasauli will help you rid your mind of its clutter and your body of its lassitude.

If you want to exercise, drag yourself out of your comfy deckchair and trudge up the surrounding hills. Kasauli's bracing, crisp air offers comfortable walks. You could also stroll through the town, from the Lower Mall to the Upper Mall, and around the Sanatorium. Viewpoints have been marked at different points, offering vistas of the always-popular Himalayan peaks in the distance.

Tirthan Valley

Tirthan Valley is surrounded by the Great Himalayan National Park
Tirthan Valley is surrounded by the Great Himalayan National Park

Tirthan Valley is easily one of the most breathtaking places in Himachal Pradesh. Surrounded by the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP), this untouched valley is located right next to the Tirthan River. Spring is the best time to go, with flowers all around. For an escape from the city, but also an escape from the more-crowded Himachali getaways, it doesn't get better than Tirthan. You will hardly meet anyone during your two to three days here, not counting the hospitable locals. People usually stay one night in the valley before going off on a trek in the GHNP since Tirthan falls in the so-called buffer zone of the park. 

Mangan offers spectacular views of the majestic Mt Khangchendzonga
Mangan offers spectacular views of the majestic Mt Khangchendzongatourmyindia


The tranquillity of this place will take away your travel fatigue in a jiffy. Views of the magnificent Eastern Himalayas, shining water streams, the chirping of beautiful little birds, and the enchanting sound of Buddhist mantras all add up to provide the perfect setting to sit back and relax before you start your adventures in North Sikkim. Nestled in the lap of the Eastern Himalayas, the picturesque village of Mangan serves as a gateway to North Sikkim while introducing you to the Lepchas and their unique culture.  

Primarily used as a halting place to Dzongu, Lachen, and Lachung, the town was established in 1903 by Rinzing Namgyal, a local landlord. Mangan gets its name from the Lepcha word Maangan, meaning hidden place. Located at an elevation of 4,000 ft above sea level, Mangan offers spectacular views of the majestic Mt Khangchendzonga, the world's third-highest mountain peak. Pakshak View Point, around 3 km north of Mangan, provides a view of the eastern face of Khangchendzonga.

Mangan is also home to one of the highest bailey suspension bridges in Asia, with the Rangrang Bridge straddling the torrents of the Rangrang Gorge. While lower Mangan houses the bustling and clean Mangan Bazaar with shops, hotels, and cafes, the upper part of the village is where you will find absolute peace. Curvy roads lined with cherry, pine and walnut trees follow you all along the little hamlet while colourful prayer flags flutter all around. Rhododendrons and orchids are also found here in abundance.

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