4 mins read
10 Best Spots For Photography In Manali
By Akansha Borthakur
29 Dec, 2023
In the digital era, the once nuanced idea of capturing and sharing travel experiences through photography has reached new heights, evolving into a vibrant form of storytelling and expression. The rise of social media platforms, especially Instagram and YouTube, has significantly fueled this trend.
Recent statistics reveal that an astounding 80% of younger travellers are inspired to visit a destination after seeing images online, and about 70% of travel enthusiasts actively share their travel photos on social networks. Content creation is now an essential element of the travel experience, highlighting scenic destinations like Manali as top picks for photography.
Serene view of Manali
Manali’s enchanting landscapes, colorful local culture, and ample views make it a prime location for both amateur and experienced photographers and content creators. In this blog, we explore the top 10 Manali photography spots, each offering an unparalleled opportunity to capture and create stunning visual content.
1. Rohtang Pass: A high altitude paradise
A winding road of the Rohtang Pass in Manali
Rohtang Pass, standing majestically at an altitude of over 13,000 feet, is undoubtedly one of the best places for photography in Manali. This high mountain pass transforms dramatically with the seasons, offering a diverse palette for photographers. In the summers, its lush green meadows and melting snow create a vibrant contrast, perfect for landscape photography. Winters cloak Rohtang in a pristine white blanket, ideal for capturing the serene beauty of snow-covered vistas.
The location is particularly suited for wide-angle photography and time-lapse videography, which can stunningly showcase the dynamic weather and changing landscapes. The best season for content creation is from May to October, when the pass is fully accessible and the scenery is at its most varied.
Mesmerizing view en-route to Rohtang pass on leh Manali highway
To perfectly photograph this place, a DSLR with a wide-angle lens is recommended. For videography, a stabilizing gimbal can help capture smooth footage of the moving clouds and changing light.
Panoramic view of the Rohtang Pass which is situated in the Pir Panjal Range
What to film?
Timelapse photography: Set up your camera to capture the mesmerizing transition from dawn to dusk, showcasing the dynamic play of light and shadows over the mountains.
Nature vlogs: Create engaging vlogs capturing your journey through the pass, including interactions with local flora and fauna, to give viewers a true sense of the place.
2. Jogini Waterfall and Vashisht Village: Blend of nature and culture
Jogini waterfall near Vashisht and Manali village in Himalayas
Enveloped amidst the landscapes of Manali, the Jogini Waterfall and Vashisht Village offer a picturesque setting ideal for Manali photography enthusiasts. The Jogini Waterfall, plunging from a height of around 150 feet, is surrounded by Manali's rich flora, including rhododendrons and deodar trees.
Originating from the Rohtang range, it offers a vigorous flow in summer, creating a lush, vibrant scene, while in winter, it transforms into a stunning frozen spectacle, showcasing nature's diverse beauty. Vashisht Village, with its rustic charm and traditional Himachali houses, provides a cultural backdrop throughout the year.
Traditional house in Vashisht Village with detailed carvings on its facade
Photographers can capture the dynamic flow of the waterfall, the intricate details of the village architecture, and the daily life of the locals. This location is particularly suited for landscape photography and cultural documentaries, capturing the essence of Himachal Pradesh's rural beauty.
The best time for content creation is from March to June and September to November, when the weather is pleasant, and the natural beauty is at its peak. A DSLR with a good zoom lens is ideal for capturing distant details of the waterfall, while a tripod can help in shooting stable, long-exposure shots of the flowing water.
View of the surrounding of Vashisht village
What to film?
Cultural documentaries: Explore the traditional lifestyle of Vashisht Village, filming the daily routines, local crafts, and the vibrant Himachali culture.
Landscape vlogs: Create a visual journey showcasing the trek to Jogini Waterfall, capturing its natural beauty and the panoramic views of the surrounding valley.
3. Old Manali: A vibrant street life hub
Café-lined street in Manali at night
Old Manali, a charming and rustic part of the town, stands out as one of the prime photography spots in Manali, particularly for those looking to capture the essence of local life and culture. With its winding lanes and wooden houses, this place offers a perfect setting for street photography.
The bustling Mall Road is a hive of activity, presenting endless opportunities to capture candid shots of locals and tourists alike, as well as vibrant portraits of everyday life.
Busy street of Mall road, Old Manali
As night falls, Old Manali lights up, offering a whole new chapter for photographers. The area's myriad of cafes and restaurants, each with its unique decor and cuisine is great for food photography. Street vendors and colorful markets add to the lively atmosphere, ideal for those looking to create relatable content that peaks into the local life of people here.
Vistas de Old Manali
What to film?
Street photography: Capture the vibrant street life, focusing on the interactions between locals and visitors, the quaint architecture, and the lively market scenes.
Food vlogs: Create engaging vlogs showcasing the diverse culinary offerings of Old Manali. Film your experiences tasting local delicacies at various cafes and restaurants, highlighting the unique flavors and ambiances.
4. Beas River: An unfettered beauty
Beas River flowing in Manali
Flowing elegantly through Manali, the Beas River offers a dynamic and ever-changing canvas for photographers. Its clear waters, bordered by the dramatic Himalayan range, create a captivating visual spectacle.
This natural gem is highlighted as one of the best places for photography in Manali, visible from various vantage points including Solang Valley and Kullu valley. The river's demeanor shifts with the seasons - displaying a calm demeanor in winter and transforming into a robust stream in the summer.
Victoria Bridge across Beas River
To capture the essence of the Beas River, you should aim for early morning or late afternoon shoots to take advantage of the soft, natural lighting. Elevated spots along its course or the numerous bridges crossing the river provide excellent viewpoints for panoramic shots. In winter, the river's gentle flow contrasts with the surrounding snow-clad landscape, while summer months offer dynamic scenes perfect for high-speed photography.
Flowing Beas river with snow cladded mountain and blue clouds and greenery in the background
What to film?
Dynamic landscapes: Capture the Beas River's changing moods, from its tranquil stretches to the rapid currents, offering a variety of landscape photography opportunities.
Adventure vlogs: Document activities like riverside camping or white-water rafting, focusing on the river as the central element of your travel narrative in Manali.
5. Van Vihar National Park: Manali’s best natural canvas
Entrance of the Van Vihar National Park (Source - The Land of Wanderlust)
Van Vihar National Park, housed in the heart of Manali, offers a lush, green retreat for photographers and filmmakers. This park is a haven of tall deodar trees, which are not only majestic in stature but also provide a cool ambiance, making it a unique spot for Manali photography. The dense foliage and the serene man-made pond within the park add to its aesthetic charm, presenting varied landscapes in different weather and seasons.
A serene pond mirrors the towering pines of Van Vihar National Park
In the summer, the vibrant greenery and blooming flowers under the clear blue skies create a lively backdrop, ideal for nature photography. During the winter, the park takes on a tranquil appearance with a softer, muted palette, perfect for capturing moody scenes. For capturing the diverse beauty of Van Vihar National Park, a DSLR camera with a versatile zoom lens is ideal, allowing for both wide-angle landscapes and detailed close-ups of the park's flora.
People boating on the serene green waters surrounded by the tall pine trees (Source - Trawell)
What to film?
Short films or music videos: Utilize the serene backdrop of the deodar forest and the tranquil pond for artistic short films or music videos, capturing the essence of nature and tranquility.
Walks and exploration vlogs: Create engaging vlogs or documentaries showcasing a peaceful walk through the park, highlighting the unique flora and serene landscapes, perfect for nature enthusiasts and peace seekers.
6. Solang Valley: Adventure and beauty combined
Solang Valley in Winter
Solang Valley, set on the outskirts of Manali, becomes a captivating winter showcase, ranking it among the top photography spots in Manali. In winter, the valley is a bustling center for adventure activities such as skiing, paragliding, ATV rides, toboganning and snowboarding. A thick snow cover envelops the valley and adjacent peaks, offering a striking, almost surreal landscape ideal for capturing the unique beauty of the Himalayan winter.
Skiing in the Solang Valley during winter
While Solang Valley is vibrant and verdant in summer, it is the winter months that truly highlight its visual appeal. The combination of thrilling activities set against the serene snow-draped backdrop provides dynamic and visually arresting content.
Paragliding on green slope of Solang Valley
What to film?
Adventure films: Capture the excitement of winter sports and activities in Solang Valley, showcasing the action against the stunning snowy scenery.
Snow landscape photography: Concentrate on the peaceful beauty of the snow-covered valley and mountains, producing spectacular landscape photos that embody the Himalayan winter’s unique charm.
7. Hampta Pass Trek: A must film escapade
View of scenic Hampta Pass Trek (Source - BanBanjara)
The Hampta Pass Trek, known for its scenic trails and diverse landscapes, stands out as one of the best places for photography in Manali. This trek offers an exhilarating journey through lush valleys, alpine forests, and over high mountain ridges, presenting a variety of stunning views.
Photographers can capture the contrast between the verdant Kullu Valley and the stark, arid Lahaul landscape. Along the trek, sites like the Chandrataal Lake, and peaks like Deo Tibba and Indrasan, offer majestic vistas ideal for photography.
A panoramic view of the Hampta Pass surrounded by mountain
The trek, spanning over 35 kilometers, is unique for its dramatic changes in scenery and is best undertaken from June to October. Capturing the dynamic beauty of this trek requires versatile equipment; a DSLR with a range of lenses is ideal for both wide landscapes and detailed peak shots.
View of Hampta Pass during winter
What to film?
Trekking vlog: Document the journey of the Hampta Pass Trek, showcasing the changing landscapes, your camping experiences, and interactions with fellow trekkers.
Peak photography: Focus on capturing the grandeur of prominent Himalayan peaks such as Deo Tibba, Indrasan, and the Pir Panjal range.
8. Sethan Village: An offbeat winter wonderland
Sethan Village covered under snow in winter
Sethan Village, located about 12 kilometers from Manali, is a hidden gem ideal for Manali photography, especially during the winter months. This quaint village becomes a fairytale-like setting when it is enveloped in a deep cover of snow, often several feet deep. Known for its unique igloos, Sethan presents a rare and enchanting scene, making it a perfect spot for those seeking lesser-known mesmerizing winter landscapes.
Manali Sethan Hamta Igloo Houex (Source - Condé Nast Traveller India)
The journey to Sethan Village itself is an adventure, traversing through scenic routes that offer glimpses of the valley below. In winter, the village, with its snow-laden trees and traditional houses peeking through the snow, resembles a scene straight out of a storybook.
It’s the ideal time for visiting when furry mountain dogs play in the snow and the entire landscape transforms into a pristine white paradise.
A Quaint Village of Sethan in Himachal (Source - The Seeking Soul)
What to film?
Igloo experience: Capture the unique experience of staying in an igloo, showcasing the interior, the snowy surroundings, and the overall magical ambiance of the village.
Snowclad village life: Create content focusing on the daily life in Sethan during winter, highlighting the deep snow cover, the picturesque houses, and interactions with the friendly local community and their pets.
9. Naggar: The essence of historical Manali
The iconic Naggar Castle in Naggar, Manali
Naggar, a quaint town near Manali, offers a rich tapestry of local life and ancient architecture, making it one of the best places for photography in Manali. The town is home to the iconic Naggar Castle, a historical edifice known for its traditional Himalayan and European architecture. Featured in the popular Bollywood film 'Jab We Met', the castle provides a glimpse into the region's rich history and culture.
Naggar castle located in the Kullu district
Apart from the castle, Naggar's rustic streets and old-world charm provide ample opportunities for photographers to capture the essence of Himachali life. The town's scenic location on the banks of the Beas River adds to its picturesque setting. Photographing here, one can explore the interplay of history, culture, and natural beauty.
Panoramic view of small town Naggar situated on the left bank of river Beas
What to film?
Architectural exploration: Document the architectural marvels of Naggar, particularly the Naggar Castle, and delve into its historical significance and cultural aspects.
Local life vignettes: Create content focusing on daily life in Naggar, capturing the town's unique culture, the rhythms of its streets, and the interactions between locals and visitors.
10. Arjun Gufa: An explorer's delight
Arjun Gufa surrounded by the towering trees (Source - Tripadvisor)
Located approximately 5 kilometers from Manali, Arjun Gufa is one of the more intriguing photography spots in Manali for adventure enthusiasts and history buffs. This site, named after the Pandava prince Arjun from the Indian epic Mahabharata, holds significant historical and mythological importance. According to legend, Arjun meditated here, and the caves are a testament to this ancient tale.
A sacred spot believed to be the meditation spot of the Arjuna (Source - My Holiday Happiness)
Exploring the Arjun Gufa requires a moderate trek. The path to the caves winds through scenic landscapes, with the final climb presenting a slightly challenging yet rewarding experience. From the vantage point near the caves, explorers are greeted with panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.
A group of friends enjoying at Arjun Cave (Source - Tripadvisor)
What to film?
Historical exploration: Create content that delves into the mythology and history of Arjun Gufa, combining the trekking experience with storytelling.
Adventure vlogs: Document the journey to the caves, highlighting the trek, the natural surroundings, and the panoramic views from the top, perfect for adventure and travel vlogs.
Serene landscape view of Manali
This guide to the best places for photography in Manali is your ticket to elevating your content creation game. From serene rivers to historical caves, each spot offers unique opportunities for stunning visuals. Armed with this knowledge, you're now ready to explore Manali's beauty and enhance your social media presence. And if you want to take it one step further and film the amazing backpacker experience, make sure to stay with us at The Hosteller Manali or The Hosteller Old Manali.