HIMAC HAL PRADESH, A GATEWAY TO TRANS-HIMALAYAN POSTCARDS AND TRANQUILITY
Himachal, truly a nature’s mosaic with rich culture, heritage and adventure. Himachal in the Himalayas has a different meaning in itself. The word “him” means snow and “alaya” meaning home, which means land of snow or you can say home for snow. Himachal is not just an emoticon but the best place for those who love to scale new heights, keep up with endurance and go for some pumped up adventures. Not just breathtaking views, you will also come across some stunning architectures which have so much importance historically and some have religious significance too. Truly, Himachal is extremely versatile with tiny colourful villages. You will come across many secluded spots, surrounded by small hamlets and has attractive panoramic views of forests, hills and valleys. This is not it, you can also indulge yourself in the famous mall road in Shimla, Manali which was constructed during the time of Britishers. From the most famous cafes, restaurants to the well-known fashion boutiques. There are a plethora of opportunities in Himachal. Such as trek in Spiti Valley, biking in leh Ladakh via Himachal, rock climbing in Manali , mountain biking in Chamba, Heli skiing in Rohtang Pass, paragliding in Bir Billing, and so much more. Himachal Pradesh is native to some of the most beautiful, pious, ancient and prominent monasteries which can leave you stunned in their exquisiteness. From stunning countryside to lush green meadows, from chaotic bazaars to offbeat valleys, from colonial architecture in Shimla to the Great Himalayas and the Zanskar ranges of the Himalayan ranges. The topography of the vast state varies from cold and snowy alpine mountains to lush green subtropical valleys.
Little history about Himachal tells us how in 1948 it became a union territory through the integration of four districts Mandi, Chamba, mahasu and sirmour with 30 other princely states. On the 25th of January, 1971, it got complete statehood as the 18th state of the country. Huge isn’t it? Shimla is stated as the capital of the state and did you know the famous toy train is UNESCO world heritage site namely Great Himalayan National Park and Mountain Railways Kalka in Shimla. And not just that through the detailed deeper information will also know that Himachal is the home for 33 wildlife sanctuaries and 2 national park. The Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu is also one. Established in 1984, it is home to more than 375 fauna species and various flora. The famous Manali-Leh National Highway is the highest motor-able road in the world, a paradise and dream for all the bikers. Almost every village in the state is known to have its own Gods, Goddesses, rituals, and numerous of different worship methods. And this is not it. Himachal Pradesh is the country’s second largest producer of apples in the country after Jammu & Kashmir. The state has a rich collection of over 450 cultivars of apples. Annually, Himachal produces over 4 lac tons of apples every year. Also, it’s a great producer of peaches, cherries, kiwis and plums.
Best time to explore and experience the tranquility of Himachal:
March to June is considered as the best time to plan a trip to Himachal. Tourists across the globe flock to this destination in huge numbers. Himachal makes for the coolest summer getaway with comfortable warm days and pampered cool nights. This is also the most suitable time for you to venture into outdoors adventures and acquaint yourself with the Himalayan aura. Also, this season comes with its own share of festivals and celebrations. You can explore and go for long treks along the lush green valleys, heart warming landscapes and glorious mountain peaks of Himalayas. This is the most suitable time to camp in the wild and witness the stars dancing in front of your eyes.
July to September is monsoons in Himachal. But as the area is prone to landslides, valances and floods at times so make sure to check the weather reports before you book your trip or plan your itinerary. During monsoon you can sit in your mountain home, breathe some fresh air and go on small hikes or walks through the alleys of the apple orchards. You will witness different hues and shades of green, as the rains breathe life into Himachal.
November to February it turns into the snow capital of India. You can witness snow clad mountains and frozen lakes. Everything is engulfed in all kinds of white. This is the best time to visit Himachal Pradesh to experience snow. You can go for snow treks if you are an adventure freak. Plan your activities and itinerary keeping the weather in mind. Beware of frostbites and altitude sickness while travelling or trekking. Be weary of the fact that some places and routes may be blocked due to heavy snowfall.
Where to go in Himachal:
Shimla is the capital and also the largest city of Himachal Pradesh. Also known as the queen of hills. The lush green meadows, scenic landscapes and the wonderful amalgamation of colonial heritage and nature make this place a real treat. The Viceregal Lodge, Christ Church, Shri Hanuman Jakhoo Temple, Ridge Road and Annandale are some of the popular attractions in Shimla making it one of the most recommended places to visit in Himachal Pradesh. Shimla is not just known for its splendid beauty, But also for the adventures it offers. You can relish yourself over this bewitching hill-station. If you are truly someone who likes to be high on adrenaline then here are some of the series of adventures which you can do in Shimla. From Trekking to Ice Skating, from Skiing to Paragliding, Mountain Biking to Skiing, Camping, Rock Climbing, and Golfing and do much more. And the best part is you can do it on the weekend.
You can go for a hike, exploring the unexplored in the vast expansion of Shimla. You can camp at jakhoo hill, Summer hills, Bantony hill, Observatory hill, Elysium hill. You can go to Churdhar which is the highest peak of outer Himalayas known as Shivalik range. It’s nearest to Shimla and not much explored as well. It’s a 2days trek.
And it's a perfect weekend destination too.
Key highlights of Shimla:
1. Summer Hills
2. Indian Institute of Advanced Studies
4. Jakhoo hill
5. The Scandal Point, Ridge
6. Naldhera and Shaily Peak
7. Chadwick falls
8. Mall Road
9. Johnnie’s Wax Museum
Manali is always on the top list and one of the most visited destinations. Do you know the best part of manali once you reach there? It is the combination of hippie vibes as well as nature’s calmness. You must check for more details on the website. Also, apart from serendipity, you should explore the cultural aspects of Manali. And October/November is the best time. Dussehra and Hadimba Devi festivals are well-known and celebrated with joy and happiness. Also, immerse yourself in the relaxing and hippie vibe of Manali's cafes, relax with its nightlife. Manali will never disappoint you. Located on the banks of Beas river, Manali is abuzz with several unique cultural, natural and adventurous gems. From the beautiful Solang valley to the Great Himalayan National Park, there are many Manali tourist places to explore. Manali will surely leave you mystified. Also there are so many places nearby in Kullu valley such as tirthan valley, sainj valley, Bara Bhangal, Raghunath temple, Pandoh dam, the famous hot springs of Manikaran, trek to technical friendship peak, Chandrakhani pass, easy treks like Brigu lake, Hanogi mata temple, Beas kund, a day hike to Prashar lake trek Etc. And the list is unending, as you continue to walk.
Key highlights of Manali:
1. Hidimba Devi Temple
2. Solang Valley
3. Rohtang Pass
4. Manali Sanctuary
5. Vashisht Hot Water Springs & Temple
6. Mall road
7. Old Manali
8. Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art
9. Naggar Castle
10. Van Vihar National Park
11. Jogini falls
12. Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa Monastery
13. Nehru Kund
14. Arjun gufa
15. Rahalla Falls
one of the most beautiful places in Kangra valley. It has numerous places and the gateways to hidden trails like Kareri lake trek, the famous triund tree. It is known as one of the most versatile places to live in. Indian communities peacefully live together with the Indo Tibetan community. Dharamshala is also home to the Dalai Lama and is one of the most frequented tourist places to visit in Himachal and known for its particular mix of the Kangra and Tibetan culture. Apart from that there are so many places where you can go and live in and some nearby places in Kangra district like Bir, Asia’s second highest place for paragliding, Naddi, Palampur and so much more. You see prayer fluttering prayer flags, monasteries at regular intervals and monks attired in bright saffron robes. Those colourful prayer flags have huge significance in buddhism and also its great for photography. Dharamshala is also home to several temples, with the two most famous among them being the Chamunda Devi Temple and Kunal Pathri Temple. Of these, Chamunda Devi Temple is located about 15 km from the main city of Dharamsala. Then there is the Gyuto Monastery, which was built in 1989 to commemorate the receiving of Nobel Peace Prize by the Dalai Lama. It was formally inaugurated by him in 1996. Set against the backdrop of the mountains, the monastery is painted in a deep yellow color which gives the autumnal shades vibe. And without any doubt there are many falls too. And to cover everything you need to have full fledges detailed information to plan the trip.
Key highlights of Dharamsala:
1. Tsuglagkhang Complex
2. Namgyal Monastery
3. Kareri Dal Lake
4. Bhagsunag Temple
5. Bhagsunag Waterfalls
6. Gyuto Monastery
7. Kangra Fort
8. Kangra Art Museum
9. Masroor Rock Cut Temple
10. Naddi Village
11. St. John In The Wilderness Church
12. Dharamshala Cricket Stadium
its located in the Baspa valley of Kinnaur. It is known for it unkempt natural beauty and for the dhaba on the border of Chitkul as the last village of India. It is very well connected to Shimla, its a 10 hours ride from HRTC bus at the cheapest rates and safest too. Sangla offers the quintessential Himachali experience. And not just that did you know, Sangla’s holi celebration is one of the most famous. You must visit and experience holi in Sangla with kinnauri traditions and cultures. It is completely surrounded by apple orchards, apricots, walnuts, cedar trees, glacial streams with a trout of trout fish, which is one of the local delicacy here. It’s a perfect escapade during summers, as it remains cool for almost whole year because of high altitude. During winter you can witness the whole valley submerged under white sheet. And Summer is usually cool and the temperatures usually average between 10-20 degrees, which is pretty much pleasant. And here is another pro tip, you must explore single post monsoons when it turns completely red and even all the roads are covered with blooming apples.
Key highlights of Sangla:
1. Sangla meadow
3. Reckong peo
6. Kamru fort
7. Basteri village
8. Brelengi Gompa
9. Hidden trails and routes across the valley
‘Spiti’ translates into the middle land as the value lies between India and Tibet. The place offers the most picturesque glimpses of the snow capped Himalayan ranges. Spiti Valley lies at a height of 12500 feet and is entirely surrounded by the Himalayan ranges on all sides. This valley comes in trans Himalayan ranges, it is completely submerged in snow for 6-7 months, which makes even the places inaccessible, for locals. But if you are truly an adventure seeker, you must go. the beautiful valley is lined with small huts and Buddhist monasteries inhabited by people who live simple lives and welcome tourists with open arms. This rugged and sprawling cold desert is rough, barren yet totally stunning. Surrounded by deep ravines and gorges, it is truly postcard beauty. From Vibrant monasteries, picturesque hamlets, snow-laden mountains to the glacial lakes. The water of Chandratal Lake which is crescent shaped also known as moon lake and is purely Turquoise blue in reality. You can experience camping there under the celestial display, and get smitten without any doubt. The sacred Dhankar monastery is located at a height of 12,774 feet above sea level. Komic village is the highest village in the world with road connectivity. Located at a distance of 20 kilometers from Kaza and at a height of 18,000 feet above sea level, its literally a hidden treasure of Himachal.
Key highlights of Spiti Valley:
1. Key Monastery
2. Tabo Monastery
3. Lhalung Monastery
4. Gandhola Monastery
6. Pin Valley National Park
10. Nako Lake
11. Dhankar Monastery
Local food and delicacies you must try:
Himachal is not just about adventure, views, but also for its local food trails. Without food, how can a trip be soul satisfying? There are cafes which are pretty famous for its views such as Bir garden cafe, cafe 197 in manali, the famous wake and bake cafe of Shimla, and many more in Dharamsala. and Then there is traditional local food of which is the pride of Himachal. You must experience local or traditional food of Himachal , which truly boasts its culture. The scrumptious food from the roadside vendors are at the cheap prices to the authentic cafes and restaurants, the Himachali people will pour their heart out in their dishes. And here are theist local ones you should try. Your trip will be fulfilled.
Madra, is originally a delicacy that belongs to the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. The dish mainly consists of the soaked chickpeas (chana) or vegetables. Cooked well in the oil and various spices such as cloves, cinnamon, cardamoms, cumin, coriander powder and turmeric powder enhance the taste of this dish. Madra is one of the dishes that represents the food culture of Himachal Pradesh.
Dhaam, a healthy dose of nutrients. The dish includes dal, rajma, rice, curd, boor ki Kadi and is very well complemented with gur (jaggery). Dhaam is a plate full of delicious delicacies that are a must-serve on occasions and festivals. you must experience the traditional platter for authenticity. And especially during festivals.
Tudkiya Bhath, is the authentic pulao of Himachal Pradesh that pahadi people cook in their own very style. They do extra addings of the lentils, potatoes and yoghurt along with onion, tomatoes, garlic, cinnamon, and cardamom provides this dish such a great taste that will make you want it again and again. For the best taste, Tudkiya Bhath is best eaten with mash dal and a few drops of lime juice.
Bhey, fondly eaten in the households of the Himachali people. Bhey is a delicious dish which is prepared with the lotus stems. Thinly sliced lotus stems are then cooked in the ginger-garlic, onions and gram flour which adds the unique and great taste to the dish.
Chha Gosht, found in Chamba especially. It is a scrumptious dish prepared with the marinated lamb which is further cooked in the gravy of gram flour and yogurt.The taste of this dish is highly enhanced when it is well cooked in the Indian spices such as cardamom, red chili powder, coriander powder, bay leaf, asafoetida and ginger-garlic paste.
Sidu is Manali’s pride. It’s not found in any part of the country except Manali. It's a must have dish in Manali. This dish is prepared with the dough of the bread and is eaten with pure melted ghee. Also, it’s the ideal companion for mutton. Also, it is prepared in a vegetarian way too. You can find it in any local paradise home or the streets by the pattu draped pahari women.
Babru, Another of the best street foods in Shimla. don’t get confused as it belongs to the clan of kachoris. This dish too is prepared out of using the soaked black gram paste and then kneading it to create this dish. Babru is best enjoyed with Tamarind chutney and it also complements the famous Chana Madra of Himachal cuisine.
Aktori is a festive dish which is very much enjoyed by the people of Himachal Pradesh during their festive time. Aktori is prepared in the form of a cake or pancake made with the buckwheat leaves which is further cooked in the wheat flour. This dish originated in Spiti Valley.
Trout fish famously four in Kullu, it's a treat for non vegetarians. the marinated fish is cooked in the minimal spices to keep the nutrients and the original taste of Trout intact. The dish is best coupled with the number of boiled vegetables, and hence it remains one of the healthiest delicacies of Himachal Pradesh.
Tibetan cuisine, Himachal Pradesh is highly inspired by the Tibetan culture. The best of which can be found in Mcleodganj and Dharamshala. Momos remains the all time favorites of Himachali people. Apart from that, Thukpa, Tingmo , LuchiPoti, Thentuk, Naizha Cake are some of the dishes.
Adventure activities you can get involved in himachal:
River rafting in River Sutlej at Tattapani near Shimla, at Pirdi on River Beas near Kullu, on the River Ravi near Chamba, and for the more daring rapids on Spiti River in Lahaul and Spiti district.
Paragliding at bir, Asia’s second highest place. The region frequently hosts the Paragliding World Cup and other international competitions in the sport. Another popular site for paragliding in the state includes Solang Valley 14 km northwest of Manali.
Trekking, There are hundreds of trails through paddy fields, orchards, ascending over mountain peaks, across deep woods, crossing over fast-flowing streams and waterfalls. Some of the famous ones are The Chandratal trek and Beas Kund trek in Manali, Indrahar Pass trek in Kangra, Triund trek at the Dhauladhar Ranges near Mcleodganj, Pin Parvati trek in Kullu, Kareri Lake trek in Dharamshala, and Sach Pass trek in the Pir-Panjal ranges in the Chamba district are just some of the easy to challenging trekking routes.
Skiing, on the slopes of Solang Nala, Rohtang Pass and Hanuman Tibba in Manali are few sites where professional and amateur skiing courses are conducted.
Accessible routes for Himachal Pradesh:
The state has the best, affordable, cheapest and the greatest connectivity through air, train and bus.
By airways: Bhuntar Airport in Manali, Gaggal Airport in Kangra, Jubbarhatti airport in Shimla, connect to major Indian cities like Delhi and Chandigarh, Jaipur and Kanpur via air India and spice jet airlines. The Pathankot and Gaggal airports give easy access to Dharamshala, Kangra, Chamba, Hamirpur and Una. The Bhuntar airport to Kullu-Manali, Mandi and Lahaul-Spiti. The Chandigarh and Jubbarhatti airports to Shimla, Solan, Bilaspur, Mandi and Kinnaur regions.
By railways: One of the easiest ways to reach the hilly state is to take the train to Kalka railway station located on the border in Haryana, 90 km south-west of Shimla. From here, you can either travel by road or ride the famous Kalka to Shimla toy train into the picturesque regions of this state. On the border with Punjab in the north, Pathankot Junction in Punjab is another major train station that connects the state with the rest of India. The Kangra and the Joginder Nagar stations in Himachal falls on the line.
By Roadways (bus): one of the most convenient, well connected and adventurous one. Around nine National Highways and about 19 State Highways cover all the major districts of the state connecting them to places like Delhi, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Leh-Ladakh, etc. No doubt, the best way to travel to Himachal is through road, which is linked to all major cities of India. Interstate bus services ply from Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jaipur and other neighbouring destinations to Himachal.