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Himachal Pradesh

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Asia : South Asia : India : Himalayan North : Himachal Pradesh
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Eagles soaring near the Dhauladhar Mountains, Dharamsala

Himachal Pradesh is a state in north-western India, and offers much for those looking to experience the Himalayas. While it does not claim the highest peaks in the range, there is plenty to do aside from mountaineering. Its name literally means "Adobe of snow".

Map of Himachal Pradesh

Districts

There are twelve districts in Himachel Pradesh State:

Tibetan temple and monks, Dharamsala

Cities

  • Shimla — the state capital and once the summer capital of the British Raj, it is a cool and charming Himalaya outpost. Major attractions are Jakhoo Hills, British era buildings, Mall road, The Ridge, IIAS, Potters Hill, Tara Devi. It is a largest city in Himachal Pradesh. There are lots of hotels with big names. It can be reached by train, bus and plane.
  • Bir — a small town with a large Tibetan community and several Buddhist monasteries
  • Dalhousie — a sleepy little town which retains its Victorian charm
  • Dharamsala — the home of the Dalai Lama and India's largest Tibetan community, and a major Buddhist center
  • Kullu — District HQ of kullu district, a few km south of Manali. Manali is tehsil of Kullu district.
  • Manali — a buzzing and popular hill station, it's one of the hubs for travel around this part of the Himalaya
  • Jogindernagar — popularly known as Electric City or The City of Powerhouses, the town has scenic hill resorts and tourist attractions nearby.
  • Keylong — a small town and HQ of Lahul & Spiti district. It lies on way from Manali to Leh. Last petrol pump (gas station) of Manali-Leh highway is here, next petrol pump is at Leh, which is nearly 350 km away.
  • Bilaspur — District HQ of Bilaspur district. First city in himachal pradesh on way to Manali. Main attraction is GovindSagar Lake. It's hot in summer and cold in winters.
  • Sundernagar — first town of Mandi District on way to Manali. Main attraction is Sundernagar Lake.
  • Mandi — District HQ of Mandi district. Major town. Main attraction is revalsar lake.

Other destinations

  • Rewalsar (Tibetan: Tsopema) - a lake sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus
  • Narkanda - a place known for Hatu Peak on the famous Hindustan Tibet Road
  • Kunjum Pass- lies on way from Keylong to Kaza. It remains closed for nine months due to heavy snowfall.

Understand

Talk

Hindi, Pahari, Punjabi and English are the main languages found in the state. Pahari is a dialect more closely related to Dogri language in lower Himachal. In upper Himachal language of Tibetan origin are used in daily conversation. Every district has its own dialect e.g. bilaspuri mandyali.

Get in

By plane

Shimla, Kullu (for Manali) and Kangra or Pathankot (for Dharamsala) have small airports, with services largely limited to Delhi. Flights are frequently cancelled or delayed by adverse weather. In addition the airport in Pathankot (Punjab) can be a convenient connection for Dharamsala and Dalhousie. If you are on a tight budget you might want to skip this option as it is way more costly than other mode of transportation. Airfare on this route is one of the highest in world for a given unit distance. Airport in Shimla is at Jubbal Hatti which is around 40 km away from main Shimla City.

By train

Given the difficult geographical position of State there is very little penetration of railway network. Little rail network available give access to peripheral districts and capital Shimla. Nevertheless it is an amazing experience going from Kalka to Shimla. Kalka-Shimla railway track is also UNESCO world heritage site. Few points in Himachal are easily accessible by train, but there are narrow-gauge railways from Pathankot (Punjab) to Kangra and Kalka (Haryana) to Shimla. This will take you through beautiful rural Himalayan regions. The ride beyond Kangra is amazing. You ride along the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas via Palampur and Baijnath to Joginder Nagar. The region is criss crossed by rivers and streams.

By bus

Bus is the only practical means of getting to many points in Himachal. All cities of interest have direct services to Delhi. There are three different entry routes to Himachal if you are coming from Delhi.

all three routes are interconnected within Himachal. It is cheapest means to travel in and around Himachal. There are Volvo buses operated by Himachal State Transport Corporation on these routes.

Get around

You need inner line permit to visit some part of kinnaur and spiti district.

By bus

A typical HP bus

Travel by bus can be done throughout for very little (15 hour bus rides are rarely more than a few hundred rupees) on the public buses, and though uncomfortable, are a great way to meet people. Though be careful, as riding an Indian bus is already a hair-raising experience, and riding an Indian bus on steep mountain roads is even more intimidating!

By motorcycle

Enfield motorcycles can be rented here for less than 5 dollars a day, with no verification of a motorcycle license. Note that the area may not be the best place to learn how to ride.

See

Dalhousie is a world-famous hill station, located in the western part of Himachal Pradesh. Dalhousie is basically built on five different hills called Balun, Tehra, Kathlog, Patreyn and Bakrota, and covers an area of 14 sq. Km. Dalhousie is named after one of the British Governor Generals, Lord Dalhousie. Dalhousie has many beautiful churches and charming colonial architecture.

Kullu Valley is very well known as Valley of Gods. It is situated on the Beas river bank in the lower reaches of Himalayas. Rudyard Kipling has written: "Surely the Gods live here; this is no place for men". Kullu is very well known for its ancient temples, festivals and apple orchards. This place is also famous for its handicraft work and woollen work of puhla, shawls, patoos, caps and namdas. The best time to visit Kullu is during Dusshera in the month of October.

Spiti Valley is also known as the Little Tibet due to its vegetation, terrain and climate which are similar to Tibet. Spiti also means Middle Country.

Lahul Valley is green compared to Spiti Valley. It is covered with snow for most of the year. Roads are closed from late October to early May. Its main attractions are Patten Valley and Sri Trilokinath Temple, as well as lots of monasteries.

Do

Trekking opportunities are plenty in the state, here are a few:

  • Baralacha-Chandratal Trek — starts from Manali, ends at Chandratal Lake ("Moon" Lake)
  • Bhabha Pass Trek — known for lush green flower strewn meadows, picturesque and dense forests. he path for bhaba pass trek passes through a mixed forest of conifers as well as crop fields of Mastrang.
  • Bir Bhangal Trek — Bir Bhangal Trek is only for the experienced trekkers who have the experience of solid hiking and camping. This is one of the challenging trekking trails which starts from the Kullu valley.
  • Darcha Lamayuru Trek — this is one of the most popular trekking treks in the Himachal Pradesh, and one of the most traversing trek, passing through the Zanskar
  • Darcha Padum Trek
  • Deo Tibba Expedition
  • Friendship Peak Expedition
  • Hampta Pass
  • Indrahar Pass

Trekking routes in Himachal

  • Hamta Trek
  • Malana History Trek
  • Chander Trail in Kullu Valley
  • Wild Trek in Kullu Valley
  • Dharamsala Chhota Bhangal over sari Pass Kullu
  • Morchella trek
  • Manali Hamya Herbal Trek
  • Kinner Kailash Parikrama
  • Hamirpur Deotsidh Sri Naina Devi Trek
  • Maidi to Nadaun
  • Bharmaur Kugti Udaipur Manali trek

Learn

  • Buddhism. Classes for study of Buddhism are taught in Dharamsala and Bir.
  • Yoga. There are several places to study yoga in Dharamsala.

Eat

HP food is often very simple but nutritious, including daal, rice, roti, vegetables, paneer, curds and pickles in the Punjabi influenced Pahari regions. Further North, Tibetan influence is stronger and barley is the main staple grain.

In the Tibetan influenced regions, "Chhang" (fermented rice wine) is common.

Sleep

There are plenty of hotels and restaurants in and around District HQ as well as main tourist places. There are rest houses of HP PWD at places where it is hard to find hotels.

Get out



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