Himachal Pradesh is among the most popular hill destinations in India and perhaps the best in North India. Himachal is a symphony of natural beauty with snow laden mountains, gurgling rivers and beautiful valleys. A visit to this hill state could be a leisurely experience or an adventurous one should you want to spend your holiday that way.
Here are top 10 places to visit in Himachal Pradesh
There are a few hill stations in the country that match the beauty and historical significance of Shimla. This grand old lady of Himachal has colonial feel to it. The hill station is a criss-cross of lanes packed with shops and hotels, but the way up to the Ridge is free of traffic, allowing for a slow stroll up while enjoying a softie, the ice-cream that all of Shimla enjoys no matter how cold it gets. The Ridge is a flat expanse dominated by Gandhi statue and at one end is the Scandal Point, where Raj-era courting couples would meet in secret. Also close to the Ridge is the Gaiety Theatre, an iconic building visited by famous personalities including Rudyard Kipling and actor Prithviraj Kapoor.
Quite popular among honeymooners and travellers looking to catch snow, Manali is among the most popular tourist attraction in Himachal Pradesh. Manali is actually two towns rolled in one. At a lower elevation, the entry point for all tourists is New Manali, a place abuzz with commerce, full of shops and small restaurants. About 3 km up is Old Manali, moving at a sedate pace with cafes that have more Europeans than Indians. A must-do day trip from Manali is the Rohtang Pass. The pass is located about 50 km from Manali. The Hidimba Temple is another prime attraction in Manali, which is located close to the bridge between Old and New Manali. Travellers to Manali also visit Manikaran, famous for its hot springs and gurudwara.
On the way to Thanedar is a beautiful place called Narkanda. It offers grand views of Himalayan mountains from Srikhand to Kinner Kailash. A trek to Hatu Peak is a popular activity that adventure traveller enjoy. At the summit is the Hatu Mata Temple. Walking further, one can reach the meadows of Jor Bagh. In winter Narkanda attracts skiers, who tackle the slopes of Dhumri from January to early March.
Also called upper Dharamshala, Mcleodganj has a cosmopolitan and spiritual feel to it. It is small town that is famous for its cafe culture and great Tibetan food. It lanes are full of Tibetan handicrafts, bakeries and coffee shops. Mcleodganj is also seat of Tibetan government in exile and home the his holiness Dalai Lama. It is a great place for taking leisurely walks. It takes only a short walk from the town centre to reach wonderful walking trains that lead into the woods, taking hikers to enchanting hilltops where prayer flutter. A 2 km walk from the centre of the town takes you to Bhagsu. Dharmakot a small village is quiet popular among foreign tourists especially travellers from Israel, who spend months in this village.
Renowned for apple orchards and spectacular views, Kalpa is a small town in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Kalpa is still in time warp and that offers a rustic feel to it. Though it is a small town, it is rich in natural beauty. Kalpa falls in Sutlej River valley. Kailash mountain is visible from Kalpa and it is said that the mountain changes colour with the change in day light.
6. Lahul & Spiti
Lahaul-Spiti is considered remote part of Himachal Pradesh but it is a region that bowls over visitors with its ancient monasteries, magnificent views and natural formations. It consists of the two formerly separate districts of Lahaul and Spiti. The present administrative headquarters is Keylong in Lahaul. Earlier, Kardang was the capital of Lahaul, and Dhankar the capital of Spiti. Lahul & Spiti can be visited either via Manali or from Kalpa via Shimla. Some of the popular tourist destinations spread across the Lahaul Spiti valley are Kaza, Tabo, Nako and Keylong.
If you are looking for a place in Himachal that is yet unexplored and stunningly beautiful, head to Mashobra. It has not changed much from the Raj era when the British officials frequented the place with their families for a laid-back holiday. You may go for long leisurely walks or ride a horse. Mashobra has several vantage points from when you can enjoy spectacular views. The two very popular are the helipad and St. Crispin’s Church. If you enjoy driving, head to Bekhalti village and spread a picnic mat at Craignano meadow.
Tourists generally club their visit to Khajjiar with Dalhousie. Khajjiar is also called ‘Mini Switzerland’ of India and has official board to prove it. A point of interest in Khajjiar is the yellow Swiss hiking path signboard that shows its distance from the capital of Switzerland. A part of Kalatop sanctuary, Khajjiar is a meadow surrounded by dense trees. Kalatop Peak, dedicated to lord Shiva is a great vantage point to see the Pir Panjal range. Khajjiar makes for a great picnic spot and it is a day trip from Dalhousie.
9. Sangla Valley
Sangla is the centre of Sangla Valley in Kinnaur district. If you are looking for adventure on your holiday, this is the place to go.
Popular among backpackers, trekkers and solo travellers, Malana is great for digital detox. If you are looking for a few days of solitude in the lap of nature, this is the place. Located near the Kullu Valley, Malana provides spellbinding views of the Deo Tiba and Chandrakhani crests.