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Himachal Pradesh Tourism And Travel Guide
4.7° C / 40.5° F
April to October
5 to 15 Days
Shimla Airport (Jubberhatti)
Kalka Railway Station
Varying from cold and snowy Alpine mountains to lush green sub-tropic valleys, the state of Himachal Pradesh has invited many to settle on its lands since as early as the Indus Valley Civilization. Tourism here is flourishing as Himachal is home to many picturesque hill stations. You can feast your eyes on enchanting colonial style architecture that crafts the landscape of Shimla, experience a heightened sense of spirituality at Dharamsala or go skiing and trekking in Kullu and Manali. With such a diverse landscape you can expect pleasant surprises to come your way at every turn in Himachal. Here is a travel guide to Himachal Pradesh and everything you will need to know to plan a trip to this Himalayan Paradise.
How To Reach
Through the centuries the State has witnessed the reign of a number of independent and powerful rulers, Gorkha forces and the British leaders. Given its history, it is no surprise that there are such well-established the roadways that connect the different hills among themselves and with other cities in India. There are railways and airways available but you will find the road routes most reliable.
By Air: There are three domestic airports situated in three parts of the state. The Kullu-Manali Airport is a gateway to the northern parts of the state, like Manali, Spiti etc. The Kangra Airport at Gaggal is closest to Dalhousie and Dharamsala. The Shimla Airport is the southernmost airport, but services to this airport are not regular. Flight services are available from most Indian cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, etc.
By Rail: The Kalka railway station is as far as you can go in this hilly State. From Kalka, you can take the amusing narrow gauge toy-train up to Shimla and enjoy the scenic beauty that the hill-station has to offer. There are bus and taxi services to the rest of the State.
By Road: The well maintained and efficient roads that wind around the hills are perhaps the greatest asset of the state. They connect every city within the state and also connect Kashmir and Chandigarh through roads that are on every biker’s wish list. Parts of Himachal Pradesh are also connected to Delhi and Haryana. You will find a number of buses and taxis scouting these routes.
Weather and Best Time To Visit
The state of Himachal Pradesh encompasses very tall peaks, alpine forests and glaciers on one hand and warm meadows, rivers and flower-filled valleys on the other. The climate greatly depends on where you are and at what height your destination lies. In a broad sense, the state experiences three seasons - a long rainy season, a warm summer and a chilly winter.
If you are a romantic, the rainy season in Himachal will definitely attract you. The hazy evenings with clouds caressing the huge mountains will leave you mesmerized. Although most parts in Himachal experience good to heavy rain, there are some rain-shadow regions like Spiti and Lahaul for people who don’t want to get wet. Snow is common in the winters in Kullu, Manali and other northern cities. In the southern cities like Shimla and Dharamsala, winters are quiet but not as cold as the northern cities. Summer here is usually regarded as the tourist season as the weather is quite pleasant in most parts of the state. The state is bustling with activity around this time of the year. While valley regions can get a little hot, the hill-stations like Shimla and Manali offer an escape from the hot plains of the country.
Things to Do
Depending on where you are, there are many exciting activities for you in Himachal.
Shimla: Perhaps the most popular destination, Shimla has many enchanting places to see. Victorian-era buildings like the Viceroy’s lodge and Christ church are some of the stunning relics one will find in Shimla. The terrain in Shimla creates a perfect destination for treks, skating, cycling and so on. Shimla is in fact home to the largest ice-skating rink in Asia.
Dharamsala: This hill-top town is popularly known as the seat of His holiness, the Dalai Lama. The many prayer flags and monasteries will make you realize the spiritual paradise that Dharamsala is. The ancient Namgyal Monastery and the Library of Tibetan Archives are important Buddhist centers that are rich in traditional art-work and architecture.
Dalhousie: You may have heard of the famous waters of Karelanu for its healing powers, what you haven’t heard is that everything about this place has a capacity for healing. The magnificent Chamera Lake, the Daikund peak, and the Sach pass are wonderful examples of this.
Manali: Did you hear adventure? Of course, you did. Manali is the queen of skiing, rafting, paragliding, mountaineering, etc. Its beautiful snow-laden mountainside and glaciers are a sight to behold. The Solang valley is the seat of all adventure in Manali.
Spiti: No list is complete without the mention of this magical land. Spiti’s barren and rocky landscape is something of a sight. A homestay here is a spectacular way to understand the unique culture and lifestyle of the people who live here. The best time to visit is during the festivals when the whole mountain takes on a surreal appearance.
Himachal Pradesh is a great place to indulge in ‘pahari’ (of the mountain) cuisine. Kangra is known for madhra, a savory preparation of chickpeas cooked in a variety of spices. Dham from the northern districts consist of a full meal consisting of fresh red kidney beans and green lentils served with rice and curd. A popular snack among the Himachali folk is the babru, a version of kachoris served with yummy tamarind chutney. Among the meat preparations, chha gosht is a popular dish that has a lamb marinated and cooked in spicy gravy. If you happen to visit Himachal during the festive seasons then you will be enticed by the aroma of freshly baked akotri, a special cake made of wheat.
Almost every city in Himachal has markets lined with shops selling all kinds of souvenirs like handwoven wall hangings, woolen shawls, jewelry, wind chimes, sculptures, antique objects, prayer flags and pretty much anything that you will want. Among the popular shopping destinations are Kotwali Bazaar and Jogibara Road market in Dharamsala, Manu Market in Manali and Lakkar Bazaar and the Mall Road in Shimla.