I haven’t seen such a galore, the rich orchidaceous vales and nature’s bounty, the faraway hermit hamlets and their bizarre charisma, their very culture yet so dissimilar…”
Himachal Pradesh is not only crowned by the mighty peaks of Dhaula Dhar, Pir Panjal and the Himalayan ranges and broidered by dense green forests but is also provided with myriad guava, plums, peaches and apple groves, adamant pine forests and the quintessential ethnic rural charm of Kotagarh, Paragpur, Naggar and Rukhala. The ‘adobe of Dalai Lama’, Himachal Pradesh, also known as ‘Devbhumi’, is the essence of both Buddhism and Hindu religions.
“…again I feel the essence of mankind, charming and genial by their heart and soul, from where the heads bow to the beaten trails, from the alluring hills to the realm ruled by snow…”
It is the warm and friendly nature of the Himachali people that will absorb us the most… other than their rich and colourful culture. The traditional attire, religious dances, folk music, bamboo crafts and handloom arts are of special attractions in regions stretching from the midst of Shimla to the jolty regions of Kangra Valley, Rohtang Pass, Lahaul and Spiti. Himachal Pradesh is also bonded along with sacred River Beas and many Hindu temples and Buddhist Monasteries.
“…now I feel the charm to hold your hand, as I am now blessed by the ethnicity, you can walk with me to the virtue of love…with blissful eternity…”
When you are seeking an ideal walk in the midst of cloud with your partner far from the city traffic, a holiday in Manali, Dharmasala and Mcleodganj with their exotic ambience will make you an ardent lover. If you want to be a little adventurous and madcap, Kufri with its snow fields will ski you down the slope. Lastly if you want to be bit trendy, Shimla with its traditional and modern arcade will empty your wallet.
“Ideally, a coincidence to bear in mind…along the trendy ridge and the olive green vales, I walk with you, holding your hand, like a peregrine to reach the distant pinnacles.” Shimla, just not a hill station that a traveler will pass by, is a traditional hep deck for shoppers and beguiling vacation for honeybunches. Surrounded by green pastures and lofty crests, Shimla, the capital city, is dotted with holy temples and a host of adventure activities. At an elevation of 2,205 meters, Shimla retrieves the pages of Indian history from its colonial edifices and gothic cottages. The thickly wooded forested ravine, The Glen; St. Michael’s Cathedral; Jakhoo Hill, the highest point in Shimla; Fagu; Mashobra; Ananndale, Prospect Hill dedicated to Kamna Devi, Sankat Mochan Temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman and Tara Devi temple are the nearby tourist spots in the city. The heritage ride on Toy Train from Kalka to Shimla will surprise you with its bedazing route and tunnels.
Up 16 km from Shimla, at an elevation of 2,501 meters, Kufri offers ideal slopes for skiing and a bird’s eye view of the Himalayan range. While taking a leisurely walk to the Mahasu Peak one will encounter the panoramic view of Kedar-Badri ranges. The Nag Devta temple is also a special attraction in this destination.
Further up 63 km, at 3,143 meters, the varied slopes of Narkanda is yet another ideal skiing destination in India for both beginners and experts.
Little known to foreigners about this sylvan destination, Chail, at an elevation of 2,250 meters, commands an excellent view of Sutlej Valley and the lush green slopes of Shimla and Kasauli. It also holds its beauty on a clear night with lights galore like little dots on the landscape. The spacious and elegantly furnished palace of Maharaja Adhiraj Bhupinder Singh is also a special attraction which is now famous as the Palace Hotel.
Hot sulphur springs of medicinal value, down 50km from Shimla, makes Tattapani a stopover attraction on the way.
Enlivening with bygone time, the cobbled paves, the coalesced Baptist church, the erstwhile Brewery and Distillery for scotch whiskey and the colonial edifices are now a testimony of the Britishers. The charming hill town and its unspoilt natural beauty, Kasauli, with a tranquil ambience, serve as a resurgence bestowing the magnificent vista of Punjab and Haryana from an altitude of 1,951 meters. The forests of pine, oak and chestnut encircling the town, the Monkey point dedicated to Lord Hanuman, Baba Balak Nath temple, Shirdi Sai Baba Mandir and the Choor Chandni peak that dominates the lower hills are of special attractions.
At an elevation of 2,044 meters, 23km from Shimla, Naldehra is a ‘Golfer’s paradise’, having its oldest golf course in India and one of the highest in the world. The Naldehra temple dedicated to ‘The Dehra of Nagraj’, Chabba village, Mahakali Temple and the trek to Shaily peak are of stirring attractions for the tourists every year.
En route to Shimla, Barog is yet another picturesque stop surrounded by pine and oak forests.
Exhibiting a mild climate throughout the year, Solan at an altitude of 1,580 meters, beholds the charm of three sacred rivers, namely Satluj, Yamuna and Ghagar with a host of trekking destinations. The mushroom capital of the country, Solan is also a pilgrimage town with the essence of two Hindu temples, the Jatoli Shiv Temple and Shoolini Mala Temple and a Tibetan monastery, the Yungdung Monastery. The ruins at Nauni unfolding the immanence of Gurka Fort are also a popular attraction.
Clutched in between the Pir Panjal, Lower Himalayan and Greater Himalayan range, Kullu, at an altitude of 1,230 meters, displays a rejuvenating ambience dotted with temples, valleys imbedded with Pine and Deodar forest and sprawling Apple Orchards, winding rills and the virtue of far-flung mighty snowy peaks. Alongside the bank of River Beas, the valleys burst forth in blooms rejuvenating the nature. From the vicinal woven wool shawls, blankets and slippers to the vicinity of Kullu Dashera (cultural festival), Kullu brings forth the cultural legacy of the local people. The Raghunath Temple dedicated to Lord Rama, the Bijli Mahadev Temple at an altitude of 2460m, the Basheshwar Mahadev Temple and the Devi Jagannath Temple are important pilgrimage sites situated near Kullu. White water rafting and paragliding down from the sky will hold you spellbound.
“I hereby bestow upon you a zenithal ness, like the laggers we are now in mirky midst, nestle me now, hold me now, mope around wheresoever we’ll reach the celestial ness.” The doorway to the heights of Himachal Himalaya, Manali, is far-famed and a jaunt-trap hill station that is tucked in between the Pir Panjal range and Dhauladhar range. The natural beauty and the aroma of the mighty town at an altitude of 2,050 meters along the Beas River are as attractive for leisurescapers as they fetchethe madcap travellers. Holiday in Manali is also an escape to several trekking destinations, namely, the Beas Kund Trek, Bhrigu Lake Trek and Manali Ladakh Trek. On the other hand, the slopes of Gulaba and Solang Valley are ideal destinations for skiing. Bric-a-brac Manali is also a pilgrimage destination for both the Hindus and Buddhists.
It displays the historical diorama that reflects from the walls of the quaint castle build by Raja Sidh Singh. Further, the Jagatipatt Temple, Tripura Sundri Temple, Gauri Shankar temple and Nicholas Roerich Art Gallery holds special attractions in and around Naggar. Lastly, rafting on River Beas alongside offers an excellent opportunity for travellers seeking for some adventure.
On the right bank of River Parvati, Manikaran, reverencing a myth of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, is farmed for its hot sulphur springs and the etymon to Sarolsar Lake en route via Shoja encompassing a colorful vista of the Himalayan Range.
Down the way, approximately 86 km from Shimla, at an elevation of 673 meters, the sparsely populated hamlet is famous for the Gobind Sagar Lake. Other nearby attractions are Bachhretu Fort, Baseh Fort, Kot-Kalhur Fort and Ratanpur Fort.
The Gateway to the Kullu Valley, Varanasi of Hills, Mandi is renowned for its 81 old stone temples and old colonial architectural palaces. Bhoothnath Temple, Trilokinath Temple, Panchvaktra Temple and Shyamakali Temple are among the famous ones. Prashar Lake, Rewalsar Lake on a mountain spur, Sundernagar, Janjheli holding thick forests and springs and Shikari Devi an ancient temple are well-known destinations near Mandi.
Named after Raja Joginder Sen of Mandi, Joginder Nagar is surrounded with captivating destinations like sacred Machhiyal Lake dedicated to Machendru Devta, Bir with a beautiful monastery is a Tibetan settlement, Baijnath Temple is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, and Jhatingri on top of a hill.
En route to Manali, Keylong in the mirky midst, at an altitude of 3,080 meters, is a surprising stop over on the bank of River Bhaga. The Khardong Monastery belonging to the Drupka sect., the Shasur Monastery, Tayul Monastery, local market and Lahaul Festival held in July mulls the sapience of local culture and religion that attracts tourists more often. Villages like Tandi, Jispa and Sissu, the Gondla Castle and the Trioknath temple adds on some special attractions for tourists in this high altitude stopover.
The colonial hamlet, Dalhousie is quite a peaceful and hermit destination for honeymoon Located at an elevation of 2,036 meters, the place offers a panoramic view of the Chamba Valley and the snow-crest peaks of Dhauladhar range. Satdhara, a fresh water spring and Panchpula (five small bridges), Bakrota Hills, Bara Pathar en route to Kalatope and Dainkund offering a charming vista of verdant valleys and rushing rivers adds the significance of this place.
A major pilgrimage attraction located on the right bank of River Ravi, Chamba dates back to the six century and has a collection of ancient temples. Hari Rai temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Chatrari temple dedicated to Shakti Devi are among the famous ones. The shrines of Champavati, Vijreshwari, Sui Mata and Chamunda Devi are of remarkable work of craftsmanship. Up 69 kms, Bharmour at an elevation of 2,141 meters, the summer home of Gaddi people, beholds 84 ancient temples. The sacred Hamlet is also the etymon to the sacred Lake Manimahesh at 4,183 meters.
The rolling tea gardens and terraced farming, the gentle slopes bedded with pine forests and crisscrossed by numerous perennial streams sublime to the Dhauladhar snow-line and the ancient Hindu temples together forms a colorful vista ingratiating the Kangra valley. Important towns like Baijnath, Bir & Billing, Dharmasala, Kangra, McLeod Ganj, Palampur, Sidhbari and Tira Sujanpur are nested in the Kangra Valley.
The lofty pilgrimage town, nested in the Kangra Valley under the commanding snow-clad Dhauladhar range, is also a busy commercial town that retains a colonial flavor along with reverend Tibetan culture and Hindu temples. Kunal Pathri en route to Kotwali Bazar, Chinmoya Tapovan, Nurpur Fort which is associated with the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, the temples of Jwalamukhi, Chamunda Devi and Brijeshwari Devi forms an eminent destination of pilgrim and history. Tibetan handicrafts and carpets, The adobe of holy leader Dalai Lama, McLeod Ganj, truly a heaven of Tibetan culture, is dominated by ‘Hanuman ka Tibba’, the highest point at an elevation of 5,639 meters , forms a magnetizing attraction for the tourists. Tsuglag Khang, Dalai Lama’s temple; Namgyal Monastery, Gompa Dip Tse-Chok Ling, Mani Lakhang Stupa and Nechung Monastery are the important pilgrimage centres of the Tibetans and in addition the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives and Norbulingka Institute forms the essence of their culture and lifestyle and all-together it molds to a large Tibetan community far from their origin. A small lake, Dal Lake, is another major attraction in this region.
The remote town, Nahan, which is free from pollution and dust, is situated on a tacit ridge and is the etymon to Renukaji,Paonta Sahib, Trilokpur temple and Suketi Fossil Park. The Nahan Palace harking back to the pages of history is an eminent spot that will mull over with excitement. Ranital Tank and Ranital Garden, in the heart of the town, is also an eye-catching destination.
En route the heights of Rohtang Pass, Baralacha Pass and Kunzum Pass, the beguiling beauty of the quintessential hamlets, Lahaul and Spiti, is just like Fiddler’s shelter. “With you now I acquaint to the celestial ness, the virgin beauty will verse me with love and respect, through the rugged terrain to the tranquility, I look upon you as my reverenced deity.” The unexplored valley of Lahaul and Spiti, marked by a central mass of high mountains and massive glaciers, are captivating during the summer. From the royal Sangla valley to the blight of Hangrang valley, Kinnaur, the ‘Silk Route’ to Tibet is an everlasting portrait of nature with chiseled gorge and unique hamlets on the river banks. Together Lahaul and Spiti provide you countless unexplored destinations and hence being one such traveller you may chance upon some of the unexplored treks in Himachal Pradesh. Nonetheless, Kinnaur is yet another place, in contrast to the barren beauty of Lahaul and Spiti, where you can enjoy the exotic nature. Other activities like river rafting, paragliding, skiing and mountaineering often pulls in adventurers to the Lahaul and Spiti region from different corner of the world.