Recently I , along with my family had the occassion to visit Manali during mid September,2010. We were three people, myself, wife and a teenager son.Whatever my experiences were, I would like to share with all so that it may be of help to everyone.
We live in Delhi. Our first concern was how would we reach Manali. It takes almost sixteen hours by bus to reach Manali. We decided to reach there by Himacher Pradesh State ordinary bus, where we pre-booked our seats from ISBT, Kashmere Gate. Only Himachal Pradesh State runs direct ordinary buses to Manali from Delhi. Otherwise, one can travel by Delhi, Haryana, and Punjab State buses from Delhi upto Chandigarh, and from there, one will have to take the bus for Manali. The charges were minimum for the ordinary bus (around Rs. 1300 for three adults for one side trip). One can also travel in private Semi-delux and Volvo buses which cost Rs.550/- and Rs.800/- respectively.
As I mentioned above, we traveled by State Government ordinary bus, which started at around 9:15 P.M. (the official departure time being 9:00 P.M.) from I.S.B.T. and we reached at Manali bus stand at around 1:00 P.M. the next day. We had reserved the three seats behind two rows behind the driver so that we face the minimum jerks due to speed breakers etc.The overall journey was quite comfortable barring a small inconvenience to my son in adjusting, probably due to his long legs. We had the impression that all the travelers would alight at Manali, but as we entered Himachal Pradesh, the bus started stopping at different places along the route.It seems that there is no concept of proper bus stop for these buses. The driver dutifully stops the bus as per the convenience of his passengers.I think that if one wants to avoid the problems which arise with traveling in private buses and also wants to save a lot of money, choosing the state government is not a bad idea.
I noticed that the bus staff do a bit of some business out of their every trip. Probably, they load some stuff at I.S.B.T and unload it on the way to the respective destinations of the load. This delays the bus a bit but they do it fast enough.