Delhi to Manali Bus Journey: A Traveller’s Guide

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Manali, District Kullu in the Himachal Pradesh state of India, is a dream destination for many. While few flights are available connecting Delhi to Kullu (50 km before Manali), a convenient and popular option is the bus journey. A road trip from Delhi to Manali is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Manali, surrounded by snow-capped Himalayan peaks with a cool soothing climate, offers breathtaking views of forests, mountains, rivers and markets bustling with tourists from all over the country and abroad.  Manali is also called a town of hotels with thousands of hotels, homestays, eateries, restaurants and charming cafes. With a plethora of activities to indulge in, a trip to Manali promises a holiday filled with fun, adventure, and relaxation. This article provides you with all the information you need to plan your bus trip from Delhi to Manali.

Types of Buses Available

The best bus for you depends on your priorities. If you’re on a tight budget, ordinary buses might suffice. However, for a more comfortable journey, consider AC deluxe or Volvo buses, especially during the hot summer months.  There are several types of buses available on the Delhi-Manali route catering to different budgets and preferences. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Ordinary Buses

These are the most economical options.  A Delhi to Manali fare will cost only Rs 850/-

AC Deluxe Buses

Provide air conditioning for a comfortable journey, with reclining seats and sometimes entertainment systems. The fare could be anything between 1200 to 2000 depending on the time of the year you are travelling.

Volvo Buses

The most luxurious option with comfortable reclining seats, air conditioning, and sometimes onboard entertainment.  The fare can be anything from 2000 to 3000 depending on the time of the year one is travelling.  During off season the fare can be as low as 1200 or less.

How to Book Tickets:  Delhi to Manali Journey

You can book your bus tickets online through various travel portals like redBus or MakeMyTrip, or directly at the bus terminals (ISBT Kashmiri Gate) in Delhi. Booking online allows you to compare prices, choose your preferred bus type and departure time, and secure your seat in advance. You can also book tickets online on HRTC buses by using their portal.


Departure Points in Delhi

Buses from Delhi to Manali, operated by state transport like HRTC, Punjab Roadways, Haryana Roadways etc usually depart from ISBT Kashmere Gate.  I am not sure if buses for Manali are operated from other terminals like Sarai Kale Khan and Anand Vihar Bus Terminal. Make sure to confirm the departure point at the time of booking.  If you are travelling in a private bus, the starting points are usually RK Ashram, Gate No 5, Metro Station, Kashmiri Gate and Majnu Ka Tila.

Quick Facts About the Journey

  • Distance from Delhi to Manali.  550/500 km
  • Driving Time from Delhi to Manali.  Approximately 10-14 hours
  • Best Time to Visit Manali.  Year-round, each season offers a unique experience

Duration and Routes

The distance between Delhi and Manali is approximately 550 kilometres. With the opening of the four-lane expressway from Kiratpur to Sundernagar, the distance has now been reduced to 500 km. Depending on the bus type, traffic conditions, and weather, the journey can take anywhere from 11 to 14 hours. The route typically goes through Haryana, Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh, offering scenic views of the countryside.

The Scenic Routes from Delhi to Manali

Embarking on a road trip from Delhi to Manali is an adventure in itself, as you transition from the city’s hustle and bustle to rustic towns and lush valleys. Each route offers its own unique scenery and attractions, leading you through the district of Mandi before arriving in Kullu. As you near Manali, you’ll encounter rugged mountain terrains lined with pine trees and the enchanting Beas River. Along the way, numerous highway dhabas (restaurants) provide tasty meals to keep you energized.


Four-Lane Kiratpur Sundernagar Highway with Tunnels

The newly built Kiratpur-Sundernagar four-lane highway offers a welcome respite from the traffic woes.  It has reduced travel time between Delhi to Manali by about 2 hours.  This modern engineering marvel boasts stunning tunnels, breathtaking views, and significantly reduced travel times compared to the older, more congested roads.

Popular Stopovers Delhi to Manali

  • Panipat.  Visit the Panipat Museum and Purana Quila.
  • Kurukshetra.  Explore Brahma Sarovar and Sheikh Chilli Tomb.
  • Chandigarh.  Enjoy the Rock Garden, Sukhna Lake, and Pinjore Gardens.
  • Kiratpur Sahib.  Famous for Gurudwara Kiratpur Sahib.
  • Sundernagar.  Enjoy the beautiful scenic Sundernagar lake.
  • Mandi.  Prashar Lake and Rewalsar Lake offer serene views.
  • Kullu.  Don’t miss the Bijli Mahadev Temple and Naggar Castle.


Alternate Routes

Banur-Palampur (Via NH 44 and NH 205)

The route follows Delhi — Panipat — Kurukshetra — Ambala — Banur — Palampur — Mandi — Kullu — Manali.  The total distance is 650 km approx with a travel time of 16 hours approx.

Popular Stopovers

  • Panipat. Panipat Museum and Purana Quila.
  • Kurukshetra. Brahma Sarovar and Sheikh Chilli Tomb.
  • Mohali.  Known for cricket enthusiasm, vibrant culture
  • Kiratpur Sahib.  Gurudwara Kiratpur Sahib Ji is a must-visit Gurudwara.
  • Bilaspur. Visit the Bhakra-Nangal Dam.
  • Ghumarvin. Known for Rukmini Kund and Kandror Bridge.
  • Kangra. Explore Kangra Fort and Norbulingka Institute.
  • Palampur. Andretta Artists Village and Tashi Jong Buddhist Monastery are highlights.
  • Bir-Billing. Famous for paragliding.
  • Mandi. Prashar Lake and Barot Valley are great for nature lovers.
  • Kullu. Bijli Mahadev Temple and Naggar Castle should be on your list.

Shimla Route (Via NH 44 and NH 5)

The route is Delhi — Panipat — Kurukshetra — Zirakpur — Shimla — Bilaspur — Mandi — Kullu — Manali with a distance being 610 km and a travel time of 15 hours approx.

Popular Stopovers

  • Panipat. Visit Panipat Museum and Purana Quila.
  • Karnal. Famous landmarks here are Karan Tal (lake) Kos Minar, Kalander Shah’s tomb, the Karan Tal and Babar’s Masjid.
  • Kurukshetra. Brahma Sarovar and Sheikh Chilli Tomb are worth a stop.
  • Ambala.  Known for the Cantonment area.
  • Zirakpur (bypasses Chandigarh).  Famous for Mansa Devi Temple and the Punjab University campus.
  • Pinjore.  Famous for Pinjore Gardens.
  • Dharampur.  Small hill station.
  • Solan.  Famous for Mohan Breweries.
  • Kandhaghat. Small hill station.
  • Shimla. The Viceregal Lodge, The Ridge, and Chadwick Falls are must-sees.
  • Bilaspur. Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary and Bhakra-Nangal Dam are key attractions.
  • Mandi. Explore Prashar Lake and Rewalsar Lake.
  • Kullu.  Bijli Mahadev Temple and Naggar Castle are not to be missed.

Essential Tips for Your Road Trip

Before setting off on your road trip from Delhi to Manali, consider these important tips:

  • Driving Skills.  Only drive your own car if you’re experienced with hill driving; otherwise, hire a taxi. Be cautious of hairpin bends, narrow roads, and heavy vehicles.
  • Speed and Safety.  Adhere to speed limits and slow down after leaving the expressway. Make frequent stops or switch drivers to stay alert, or plan for an overnight stay.
  • Navigation.  While GPS is helpful, don’t hesitate to ask locals for directions if needed; they are usually very helpful.
  • Food and Hygiene.  Choose clean restaurants along the highway to ensure your meals are safe and hygienic.
  • Health Precautions.  Carry Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and zinc supplements to boost your immunity during the trip.

By following these tips and choosing the route that best suits your interests, your road trip from Delhi to Manali will be a memorable adventure, filled with scenic beauty and delightful experiences.

Arrival Points in Manali

There are two bus stands in Manali, one HRTC Bus Terminal for state-operated buses located on the mall road.  Regarding the private bus stand, depending on the bus operator, you might arrive at the Manali private bus stand, the Manali town centre, or other designated drop points within Manali. 

Additional Tips 

Pack light clothes for the higher altitude of Manali, but bring along a warm jacket for evenings, which can get chilly.

Carry snacks and water for the journey, as refreshment stops at some points might be limited.

Take breaks and stretch your legs whenever the bus stops.

With its scenic beauty and comfortable options, a bus journey from Delhi to Manali can be a memorable experience. By planning ahead and choosing the right bus, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable ride to your Himalayan getaway.


A road trip from Delhi to Manali offers an unforgettable journey through diverse landscapes, from bustling cities to serene valleys and majestic mountains. Whether you choose the Ambala-Chandigarh, Banur-Palampur, or Shimla route, each path promises unique experiences and picturesque stopovers. With careful planning, adherence to safety tips, and an adventurous spirit, your drive to Manali will be as enjoyable as the destination itself. So pack your bags, get your travel playlist ready, and set off on an adventure to the beautiful hill station of Manali, where breathtaking views and endless activities await you. Enjoy every moment of the journey and the enchanting charm of Manali. Safe travels!

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