Earth : Asia : South Asia : India : Himalayan North : Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is a northernmost state proper in north-western Republic of India, and offers much for those looking to experience the West Himalayas. While it does not claim the highest peaks in the range, there is plenty to do aside from mountaineering. Its name literally means "Abode of Snow". It border the Disputed territory of Indian-administered Kashmir to the north of it respectively.
There are twelve districts in Himachel Pradesh State:
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. kuhluri(bilaspuri), mandyali, suketi.
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.
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.
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.
You need inner line permit to visit some part of kinnaur and spiti district.
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!
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.
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.
Trekking opportunities are plenty in the state, here are a few:
Trekking routes in Himachal
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. Some of the specialities of Himachal include Manee',Madira,Pateer, Chouck, Bhagjery and chutney of Til.
In the Tibetan influenced regions, "Chhang" (fermented rice wine) is common.
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 & Forest department at places where it is hard to find hotels.