India is blessed with all kinds of topography and the Himalaya Mountains are like the crown of India, and one state that is resplendent with the glory of Himalayas is Himachal Pradesh.
India is blessed with all kinds of topography. Mountains in the north, the sea in the south, desert in the west and plains at the centre. Language and culture in this country change every few kilometres.
Some of the areas are densely populated while in some areas, people breathe easy, like in the mountains.
The northern state of Himachal Pradesh in India enjoys the bounties of one of the oldest mountain ranges of the world. It has attracted travellers over centuries.
Mountains have been the hub of spiritual activities from times immemorial in India.
Sages would have their hermitages or ashrams; ascetics would go to meditate in the Himalayas. Temples and shrines came up here and the first travellers to Himachal Pradesh were pilgrims.
It was not easy for them. There were no proper roads and hardly any transport.
Travellers would have to make way through dense forests on steep heights. It would rain incessantly and landslides were common.
Yet people would still brave it, such was the call of the mountains. Things changed after the British discovered Shimla in Himachal Pradesh.
A little bit of history for backstory:
The capital of India was moved from Kolkata to Delhi in the year 1911. But the British officers found the Delhi summers oppressive.
They loved Shimla because the weather there was cool, more like Britain. The British officers and their wives would move to Shimla during summers and Shimla became the “Summer Capital of India”.
A modern road network was built extensively in Himachal Pradesh since this period. Good roads are in fact an asset to this state.
The Himachal Pradesh state government maintains the roads meticulously and the roads here are some of the best and cleanest in India. Hence a trip to Himachal Pradesh is not daunting but most comfortable in today’s day and age.
Places to visit in Himachal Pradesh
The Himalaya Mountains have been very bountiful in Himachal Pradesh in terms of flora, fauna and excellent weather throughout the year.
The snow-clad peaks, the verdant green against the brown mountain slope, the gushing rivers, every inch of this state is a hill station worth visiting.
Some places have however been developed with tourist infrastructure including great connectivity from Delhi, the capital of India, and other parts of the country as well. A trip to Himachal is an immersive experience and this state is ideal for slow travel.
We start our journey from Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh.
We already spoke about the importance of Shimla in British India. The city therefore still has an abundance of colonial-style architecture with stucco decorations and lace-like cast iron grills.
The Christ Church, Shimla, built in the year 1857 has still retained the Belgian stained glass windows and houses the largest church organ in the country.
The yesteryear charm is also evident in the many cafes on the Mall Road of Shimla. We love the egg sandwiches and coffee that Indian Coffee House serves at its outlet here.
There are many other places of interest here and the Jakhoo Temple on Jakhoo Hill, Shimla’s highest peak is a must visit. It has a huge statue of the Hindu God Hanuman and offers an excellent view of the quaint city.
Kullu- Manali is another popular corner tourist attraction of Shimla. These places are part of Kullu Valley.
The town of Kullu, capital of the eponymous district, is situated on Beas River and is also called “Devbhumi” or “Land of the Gods”.
Stunning temples and monasteries dot this town. This place is also extremely rich in handloom and gorgeous Kulu shawls with colourful intricate borders are prized possessions.
Manali, which is about 50 km from Kullu features in the same tourism circuit. The Himalayas are unparallel in beauty here. The flora in Manali makes the place sight for sore eyes.
Manali is famous for adventure sports such as paragliding and trekking. It also has some magnificent ancient temples like the Hidimba Devi shrine and the Tripura Sundari Temple.
Mcleodganj is an area in the town of Dharamshala. This Upper Dharamshala part of the city is the exile home to His Holiness Dalai Lama.
Consequently, Mcleodganj has a large Tibetan population and is a reflection of their life and culture. The main street here is replete with colourful shops and very attractive cafes.
Given that these cafes serve a variety of cuisines – Tibetan, Chinese, Continental and Indian food at most pocket-friendly prices, Mcleod is a foodie’s paradise.
They also make excellent fruit wine, an item that is available in Himachal Pradesh only.
Upperparts of Mcleodganj, such as Naddi Village and Dharamkot, provide a breathtaking open view of the snow-clad peaks of the Himalayas and seem like heaven.
The deep Bhagsu Falls is another must-visit site.
Khajjiar is a hill station in Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh. It is about 25 km from Dalhousie and makes an excellent road trip from Delhi to Himachal Pradesh.
Khajjiar is famous for an open meadow, like a basin with a plate-like water body at the centre.
Surrounded by coniferous trees, this spot is more like a centre spread page from any English fairytale storybook. No wonder, Khajjiar is called the “Switzerland of India”.
The meadow is so spectacular that one does not feel like doing anything else but enjoy the magic of Mother Nature.
However, just beside the meadow, there is an ancient temple dedicated to Khajji Nag or the local Snake God. Beautiful carvings on the temple walls and doors set it apart from other temples one sees.
Khajjiar is, in our opinion, a hidden gem of Himachal Pradesh that should not be missed.
A trip to a place like Khajjiar or Manali or any other spot in Himachal Pradesh is a balm for tired souls or fatigued bodies.
Himachal Pradesh is connected by flights, trains, buses and cars. Given the good roads, getting here is not difficult.
Government and private hotels ranging from luxury to budget as well as hostel and homestays are easily available in the above places. Moreover, people of Himachal Pradesh – the Himachalis are a very warm and hospitable lot.
It is easy for outsiders to come and feel at home.
No wonder, we have come across many people who have arrived from all other the world, including the Far-West and made Himachal Pradesh their home.
Himachal Pradesh is recommended for the discerning traveller who is looking for peace and solitude in India.
For more reading on the Himalaya Mountain areas in India take a look at this post about a road trip in Sikkim, India.
This is a guest post by Sundeep and Bedabrata. Sundeep and Bedabrata popularly known as Delhi-Fun-Dos are a traveler duo always up for good times. Through their website Delhi-Fun-Dos and other media channels, they aim to provide a travel guide to a fun way of life. Be it travel, food, luxury, art or adventure, they cover it all. Total supporters of holistic slow travel, here is a compilation of Top Places To Visit In Himachal from their innumerable journeys. Here are their Instagram and Facebook pages.
For an overall guide to India pick up the Lonely Planet India Guide.
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