After the heat and chaos in the big cities of the Plains, the Indian Himalayas make a relaxing change. Some foreign travellers make visiting this region their sole purpose for coming to India, and it is a popular destination for Indians as well. The Himalayan North, being the abode of the gods and the origin of Hinduism's holy rivers, is one of the most ancient travel destinations in the country. Pilgrims have been visiting this place for centuries.
The British, conquering India before air conditioning, found themselves defeated by the Indian summer. As a result, they had to take refuge in hill stations to escape the heat. This region, because of its proximity to Delhi, had the largest concentration of hill stations. The largest among these, Shimla, was the summer capital of British India. Shimla and other cities like Mussoorie and Dalhousie still retain their charming colonial atmosphere.
The valley of Kashmir used to be the honeymoon destination of choice for those who could afford it, but terrorism made it too unsafe.
The Himalayan North is well connected to the Plains by bus. Haridwar is the highest place that is accessible by train.
Bus: This is the main way to get around the Himalayan north, the only choice in many places. The winding roads and steep slopes make for some nerve-wracking moments, but the views more than make up for it.
Train: Being a mountainous region there are very few rail lines. However there is a "toy train" service that connects Kalka and Shimla. In its day this single gauge line was a remarkable engineering feat, but now it makes for a slow and beautiful tourist route.
Homestays in the Himalayas: An 11-day trail which offers responsible travel experiences off the Shimla-Manali-Dharamshala-Chandigarh circuit, including traditional mountain hospitality, local cuisine, and India's Himalayan heritage.
Anglo Indian cuisine: A large part of India's north still has British influences, of which evidence lies in old Anglo Indian recipes that have stood the test of time. These are best sampled at family-run heritage homestays.
Winter food: Momos (dumplings), thukpas (noodles), and other foods high in carbohydrates are a speciality of this region.
Maggi: Staple fast food of the mountain regions of North India, instant noodles cooked with Indian spices are a local favourite.
Arakh: Locally fermented whisky.
Chhang: Locally fermented rice beer.