Situated on the banks of Beas River, the beautiful hill station of Mandi is popularly known as the ‘Varanasi of East’ because of its stone temples. Located at a height of above 3425 feet about 70 km from Kullu, Mandi has over 81 temples, most of them dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The town derived its name from Sage Mandav who is believed to have meditated in the region. Once the capital of the princely state of Mandi; the town still preserves its medieval charm.
Salubrious climate, scenic views of the snow-clad mountains and well developed tourist facilities have made Mandi a popular tourist destination. It is second most populous town in Himachal Pradesh after Shimla.
Mandi ia also popular with trekkers as it is the starting point for various treks in Himachal Pradesh. Trekking trails from Mandi lead to Rewalsar, Shikari Devi, Barot, Jhatingri, Karsog, etc. Mandi is among the few places in India where the winter sport of Bandy is played. Bandy, similar to ice-hockey, is played on ice in which skaters direct the ball using sticks.
Various religious sites in and around Mandi has made the region sacred for Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists.
Mandi was at the forefront of various revolutionary activities during the freedom struggle.
Bahu Sen founded the princely state of Mandi in 1200. However, the city of Mandi was founded in 1526 by Ajber Sen. Maharaja Ranjit Singh occupied Mandi in 1839. However, soon after his death, Sikh power in Mandi disintegrated. Britishers took control of the region after that. Revolt took place in Mandi against the unjust administration of Raja Bhawani Sen. Lala Lajpatrai visited the town in 1906 to organize revolutionary activities.
Hardev Ram who hailed from Mandi joined the revolutionaries to fight for India’s independence.
Mandi became a part of India on April 15th, 1948.
- Headquarters of Bandy Federation of India is situated in Mandi.
- Mandi House, the head office of Doordarshan in Delhi, originally belonged to the Raja of Mandi.
- Mandi also boasts of IIT, the premier technology institute in the country.
Mandi is home to 81 temples, most of them dedicated to Lord Shiva. Shivratri is the most popular festival celebrated in Mandi. Mahashivratri Fair is held across seven days in the town.
People of Mandi are called Mandiyalis. Mandavi is the main language spoken in Mandi. However, many people are also fluent with Hindi, Punjabi and English.
Architecture of the temples of Mandi is heavily influenced by the Shikhara style that existed in the 16th century.
Tibetan handicrafts and handlooms are worth buying.
Where to stay
There are quite a few accommodation options in Mandi. Most of them are budget and mid-range hotels and resorts. There is no luxury accommodation option available in Mandi. All the hotels offer scenic view of snow clad mountains.
Where to eat
There are limited eating options in Mandi. The local delicacies of Mandi use a lot of black gram. Sepu wadi is the most famous delicacy of Mandi. A local meal comprise of sweet, salty and sour delicacies. One can find a few restaurants and street stalls near the market area. Apart from serving local cuisine, they also serve Nort Indian, South Indian and Chinese delicacies.
Restaurants attached with hotels serve Indian, Chinese and Continental delicacies.
Best time to visit
Mandi can be visited any time of the year. However, during winter, the town experiences heavy snowfall and temperatures reach freezing point. Summer months are pleasant. Mandi receives medium rainfall during monsoon. Mahashivratri celebrated in March in Bhutnath temple is a major tourist attraction. March-October is the best time to visit Mandi.