Being in Manali means seeing two strikingly different towns. On one hand New Manali is offering quite tacky entertainment for tourists coming in crowds from the indian cities, on the other Old Manali is a more quiet green area which attracts mainly people who want to chill out and enjoy the mountain views.
In Old Manali, higher up on the mountain,people seemed more open and ready to share some of their culture and knowledge with us. We stayed among cherry and apple trees,in a small guesthouse ran by Gudu and his family. They proved to be excellent cooks and helped us with loads of the things we had to do to get ready for our trip.
It's interesting to notice how in this more rural part of town people seem genuine, happier and more relaxed, not constantly trying to sell you something. We were lucky enough to take part of a local Indu festival, which basically involved a very colourful crowd of local women and men singing and dancing along various religious songs for a week! It was great to be part of all this as very good was also the visit to Bashish, another area up hill with stunning views and a laid back atmosphere. Loads of foreign tourists prefer to enjoy Manali from these spots, where, while walking you get to hit an old temple or see people carrying hay from the fields.
The more"modern" New Manali has nothing of this, besides the big town market there are only shops and tons of hotels over dirty crowded roads. The result may attract some new rich Indian tourism but,believe me, it is really not enjoyable.
Does this maybe suggest that leaving together with nature results in a more genuine general well-being??It really does seem it is the key attitude for the future development of a region which has known for a long time it is best to listen to the mountains before deciding over anything.