There are some places that keep a piece of you. Places that make an impression on you the very first time you see them. And Sethan in Hamta is one such place. I happened to visit Sethan and ended up camping in Sethan during a few days of strolling around Manali in Himachal Pradesh, and there turned out to be no other place in the Manali area but Sethan that I’d like to revisit.
Located at 15km from Manali, Sethan has a whopping 2700m altitude from the sea level. To get there, you are required to hire a taxi from Manali, or self-drive, as there is no bus service or shared jeep service available on the route. If self-driving, you’re not even required to go all the way to Manali and can take a detour to Hamta road about 3km before Manali (on old Kullu-Manali road) from the town of Prini.
Sethan, to me, appeared as one of those places that are meant for slow travelers. And one of the biggest reasons is its offbeat connection. Though only 15 km from the popular town of Manali, in Sethan, tourists seldom pass. During early 90’s it was a popular hippie destination, but with more strict policies against marijuana cultivation and local people in Sethan discontinuing growing Marijuana, its popularity among western hippies fell down. For Indian tourists, Sethan never had any charm.
But now, with a good road connection and with more and more people wanting and escape to offbeat places in the mountains, Sethan may just be the next highlight. I particularly loved Sethan for its position. It sits about 700m higher than Manali, and from its dramatic 35+ hair-pin bends, you get magical views of the adjoining Kullu Valley – just remember, the higher you go better the view becomes.
During my visit to Sethan, I happened to stay at a place called Footloose Camps located at the 35th hairpin bend: offering unbelievable views from its common bonfire area. Footloose Camps has moreover been started by a full-time nomad and a fellow Indian Travel blogger Footloose Dev who, as I found out, knows Manali area like the back of his hand.
The campsite promises all comforts of an intrepid. With its open roof bathroom (to go sunkissed as you bathe in the cold weather) and spacious tents, you can definitely vouch for a relaxing and an offbeat experience at the same time. The campsite is moreover located in an Apple farm, making it ever romantic for the honeymooners. What makes Footloose Camps even better is its strategic position that, thankfully, offers a good phone reception (with my Airtel offering 4G all the time). About 200m from the campsite, and you lose all phone networks, except for the BSNL.
What To Do In Sethan
A gateway to Hamta Pass trek, one of the best things to do in Sethan is trekking and hiking. There are several unheard-of viewpoints around Sethan that you might have not heard of, but are great to get the best of the Dhauladhar rang. Hamta pass, however, remains the highlights as it is only from the town of Sethan that the trek starts.
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Other than trekking and hiking, the best charms of Sethan, during summer at least, is camping. One can also try rock climbing around Sethan.
If, however, you visited Sethan during winter, snow activities like snowboarding, skiing or sledging is going to be the highlight. It is said that the Pir Panjal range around Sethan has one of the best backcountry ski slopes in India. Regular snowfall during winter (and even during the month of April sometimes) moreover makes Sethan an ideal weekend getaway for families to find some snow and play with it.
Since Sethan is located in Hampt (a restricted area) you are also required to get a prior permission to access the area that can cost 100 Rupees per vehicle.
Footloose Camps charges 1200 Rupees per person per night for a full board plan, which includes accommodation, all meals, unlimited hot drinks, bonfire, hot water for a shower, and anything else you may exceptionally want.
You can book a place visiting their website: Footloosecamps.com or by directly contacting the Dev at [email protected]