Himachal Pradesh Tourist Palaces
Crowned by the rugged peaks of the western Himalaya, Himachal Pradesh is North India for the thousands of foreign and domestic travellers who come here every year. Few states can match such incredible diversity – rolling foothills, lofty hill stations, madcap traveller towns, serene pine forests, endless apple orchards and the high-altitude deserts of Lahaul and Spiti, cut off from the outside world by snow for six months of the year.
The mystique of the mountains is overpowering. The mighty peaks of the Dhaula Dhar, Pir Panjal and western Himalaya ranges rise above Himachal, providing a setting for a host of adventure activities from treks and rafting to skiing and Buddhist meditation. Tibetan Buddhist culture abounds in the ancient monasteries of Lahaul and Spiti and the bustling traveller centre of McLeod Ganj, home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile.
In the far east of Himachal, Shimla is India’s most popular hill station, and further north is Kinnaur, the eastern gateway to Spiti and an increasingly popular destination for domestic hill tours. In central Himachal, Manali and the Kullu Valley provide a base for hippies, honeymooners and thrill seekers. Across Himachal, the lower hills bristle with castles, forts, temples and palaces.
Manali is the start of the main overland route to Ladakh. Increasingly popular, the Great Himalayan Circuit starts in Kashmir, slices through the mountain valleys of Ladakh, Lahaul and Spiti to Kinnaur and ends with some luxury in Shimla. Even the beaten track is a dirt road between mountain walls – no wonder Himachal is most people’s favourite northern state!
The mountainous landscape of Himachal Pradesh, at the foothills of the Himalayas, is made up of a series of valleys and snow covered peaks. Himachal Pradesh is deservedly sought out by adventure lovers. Alternatively, Himachal Pradesh provides a refreshing escape for those who are craving crisp mountain air.
Check out these top Himachal Pradesh tourist places.
Shimla’s The Ridge
infanticida/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
Shimla used to be the summer capital of the British Raj when they ruled India. Now it’s the state capital of Himachal Pradesh. This wonderfully cool and charming town sprawls along a mountain ridge, enveloped in oak, pine and rhododendron forests. It’s quite famous for its colonial style buildings and historic railway.
The old Christ Church, with its beautiful stained glass windows, is one of Shimla’s most prominent landmarks. Also to be enjoyed are the mesmerizing views from Scandal Point, and the Viceregal Lodge (try to be there for the sunrise or sunset) on Observatory Hill. There are plenty of adventure sports and short hikes on offer in the vicinity as well.
Manali, with its soothing backdrop of the Himalayas, offers a blend of tranquility and adventure that makes it one of northern India’s most popular destinations. You can do as little or as much as you want there. Located in the Kullu Valley, it’s a magical place bordered by cool pine forest and the raging Beas River, which give it a special energy.
Manali Hadimba Temple Festival Photo Gallery
3. Dharamsala and MacLeod Ganj
Nestled a short distance from each other in the Kangra Valley, the towns of Dharamsala and MacLeod Ganj are home to the exiled Tibetan Government. The Dalai Lama resides in Dharamsala, and many Tibetans have followed him there. You can expect to find a strong Tibetan influence in the area, with culture being the main attraction.
People flock to Dharamsala and MacLeod Ganj to undertake Buddhist meditation and philosophy courses, Tibetan cooking classes, Tibetan language courses, and to receive alternative therapies. Volunteer work is another popular pastime. Those interested in sightseeing will find some fascinating museums, temples, gompas, and monasteries. Tsuglagkhang Complex, the official residence of the Dalai Lama, is a highlight.
Rudyard Kipling described Spiti as a world within a world. This remote, high altitude area of Himachal Pradesh is tucked away against the border of Ladakh and Tibet. It’s only been open to foreign tourists since 1991, and still remains relatively unexplored. Part of this is due to Spiti being barren alpine desert that’s covered in heavy snow for a high proportion of the year.
Getting to Spiti involves a long drive, most popularly from Manali. The constantly evolving scenery is unforgettable and well worth the journey though.
Dalhousie and the Chamba Valley are lesser explored areas of Himachal Pradesh. If you’re after striking, unspoiled views then Dalhousie is the place to find them. Spread over five hills, the town bares the distinct stamp of the British Raj. Its hotels are particularly reminiscent of that era.
Kalatope Wildlife Sanctuary is located a short drive away from Dalhousie. It’s possible to walk through the sanctuary but a permit is necessary for a vehicle. Those who dare to venture further into the Chamba Valley will discover fascinating ancient folklore, temples, and tribes.