History and mythology have always been intricately entwined in India. The further back one goes, the harder it gets to accurately discern one from the other. Strands of one seep into the other, blending homogeneously. Perhaps it’s just as well. Myths spice up the drab date keeping and cataloging of rulers that history mostly revolves around. Here is a mythology laden story, purporting to be the definitive account of Manali’s origins.
For GoMissing, Manali is a gateway to many adventures and many of our expeditions and tours take off from Manali.
On our travels to-and from-Manali, we often stumble on some fascinating aspects of this place. This information on Manali’s origins are very fascinating, we are sure, you too would find it engaging.
We owe our beginnings to Manali
According to the Puranas, the founding of Manali goes back thousands of years when Matsya, the first incarnation of Lord Vishnu came to the rescue of the world. Manu, in some stories a simple brahmin, while in others,king of a Dravidian Kingdom that existed before the floods- found and took care of Matsya-the fish.
The fish grew and grew to such an extent that Manu had to finally release the fish in sea. Before it left, Matsya warned Manu about an upcoming flood that would submerge everything before it. It foretold that the only chance for survival of his family and the Saptrishis, was for him to build an ark worthy enough to carry them and outlast the flood. When the flood finally came, Matsya towed the ark to safety. As the water slowly receded, the ark came to rest on a hill side which Manu made his abode. Manali, means ‘The Abode of Manu’ and it is here that Manu took the task of recreating life on earth. In Old Manali village, there exists an ancient temple dedicated to this founder of Manali.
We don’t know whether this is true or not. What we do know is that the myth of an apocalyptic deluge is common across many ancient civilizations. We also know that Manali was a fairly quiet place, unknown to outside world for a long time. It was only in the last century that the British started to frequent the town for its climate and natural beauty, undoubtedly a pleasant relief from the humidity and heat of the plains. Manali slowly acquired its present reputation of a tourist destination. Even after the English left, the town continued to grow until it reached its current state of being the gateway to the Himalayas.