With Himachal tour packages one can experience the best of adventure, honeymoon, holidaymaking and more in one of India’s coveted tourist destination – Himachal Pradesh. Thanks to its stunning countryside, lush green meadows, rich flora and fauna, unexplored areas, unique cultural heritage, chaotic bazaars and a score of adventure activities. Enchanting shrines and temples dot the valley of Kangra while colonial architecture adorns the landscape of Shimla and Dalhousie. Also, a heightened sense of spirituality can be experienced in Dharamshala while the hills of Kullu and Manali calls for adventure. The Shivalik, the Dhauladhar, the Pir Panjal, the Great Himalayas and the Zanskar ranges of the Himalayan ranges run through Himachal. These mountains have altitudes ranging between 460 to 6000 metres. The topography of the vast state varies from cold and snowy alpine mountains to lush green sub-tropic valleys.
Let’s find out what more Himachal Pradesh has in store for travel enthusiasts.
Himachal’s sheer geographical diversity makes it one of the few places in the world blessed with natural riches. The winding rivers through deep gorges, calm mountain lakes, snow-peaked mountains and lush forests, all make great venues for adventure. From de-stress to challenging adventure, for amateurs and beginners or an expert, there is an activity, a sport, an experience for all kinds of travellers.
River rafting : Rivers in Himachal Pradesh make rapid descents, which originate at the Himalayan glacial valleys. And the courses here have attracted white water rafters from India and overseas. One can take guided rafting on River Sutlej at Tattapani near Shimla, at Pirdi on River Beas near Kullu, on the River Ravi near Chamba, and for the more daring rapids on Spiti River in Lahaul and Spiti district. White water rafting would be one of the most adrenaline-pumping activity on your Himachal tour.
Paragliding : The closest you can get to sailing the skies as a free bird is perhaps paragliding. And Himachal’s paragliding sites are among the best in India and around the world. You can go for paragliding either solo or in tandem at Bir Billing in Kangra district. The region frequently hosts the Paragliding World Cup and other international competitions in the sport. The hills of Billing make for incredible take-off with a gush of gentle winds while the plains of Bir provide great terraced landings. Another popular site for paragliding in the state includes Solang Valley 14 km northwest of Manali town, which offers spellbinding bird’s eye view of the valley below. Then there is Bandla Dhar near Bilaspur, which has an ideal landing ground with the scenic Gobindpur Sagar Lake beside it.
Trekking : The thrill and excitement of trekking enhance manifold in the mountains of the Himalayas encompassing the whole of Himachal Pradesh. There are hundreds of trails through paddy fields, orchards, ascending over mountain peaks, across deep woods, crossing over fast-flowing streams and waterfalls, under oak trees, or flowering rhododendron trees, to glacial lakes, and mountain top pilgrimage walks. No wonder, Himachal is a playground for trekkers. The Chandratal trek and Beas Kund trek in Manali; Indrahar Pass trek in Kangra; Triund trek at the Dhauladhar Ranges near Mcleodganj; Pin Parvati trek in Kullu; Kareri Lake trek in Dharamshala; and Sach Pass trek in the Pir-Panjal ranges in the Chamba district are just some of the easy to challenging trekking routes.
Skiing : Himachal is one of the few places in India where one can go skiing. The Himachal Tourism offers ski courses and has equipment on hire at Narkanda, a skiing resort in the district of Shimla. Furthermore, the slopes of Solang Nala, Rohtang Pass and Hanuman Tibba in Manali are few sites where professional and amateur skiing courses are conducted. To elevate your skiing experience, you can go for Heli-skiing. Here, helicopter airlifts you from Manali and carry you to high altitude snow slopes, and drops you for a thrilling Heli-skiing adventure. It is an expensive sport, and can be tried on the slopes around Hanuman Tibba, Deo Tibba, Rohtang Pass and Chandrakhani Pass near Manali.
Tourists from India and around the globe flock to Himachal Pradesh seeking religious fulfillment and spiritual well-being imparted by the temples, monasteries, churches and gurudwaras. Every nook and corner of the state exudes an air of spiritualism, peace and respect for the supreme being.
Buddhist circuit : The hills and valleys of Himachal Pradesh have historical connections with Buddhism that dates back to centuries before the arrival of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in 1959. Many of the monasteries in the state trace historical links to the great Buddhist teacher Guru Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rimpoche to the Tibetans, who first introduced Mahayana Buddhism into Tibet. The sacred Rewalsar Lake in Mandi, the ancient monastery of Tabo, the fortress resembling Dhankar Monastery, the spectacular Kye Monastery in Spiti Valley and the many gompas (monasteries) of Lahaul is a testimony of the living traditions of Buddhism in India. Not to miss, India’s own “Mini Tibet” – Mcleodganj comprises of famous monasteries.
Hindu shrines : The pagoda style wood-built Hadimba Devi Temple of the epic of Mahabharata fame in Manali. The healing Vashisth hot water springs and temples near Manali. The hilltop located holy Shree Naina Devi Temple. Stone Shiva Temple of Baijnath believed to be one of the 12 jyotirlingas of India and the tall Jakhoo Temple at Shimla’s highest peak Jakhoo Hill. All capture the essence of the divine power of this mystical state.
Churches : The British rule in the state of Himachal Pradesh has left beautiful churches behind. These churches display beautiful sculptures and architectures, which are a throwback to the Victorian era. Some of the must-visit churches are St. John’s in the Wilderness in Dalhousie; Shimla’s Neo-Gothic Christ Church and St. Mary’s Church, Church of St. John in Mcleodganj and Christ Church in Kasauli.
Himachal Pradesh’s topographic diversity and breathtaking pristine natural beauty make it a nature lover’s true delight. Whether it is the ubiquitous snow-capped Himalayan ranges, glacial lake, gushing rivers, untouched densely forested valleys, apple orchards, cultivated terraces or vast tracts of high-altitude Trans-Himalayan desert. The landscapes are also blessed with endangered and indigenous species of flora and fauna. When planning to visit this state, make sure you include these natural sights in your Himachal tour packages.
National parks : There is an abundance of natural parks in the state. One of the most scenic destinations for nature lovers there is the Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu. This UNESCO World Heritage Site park is home to high ridges, valleys with glaciers, deep gorges, green meadows and forests with a rich diversity of plants, animals and birds. Furthermore, the Pin Valley National Park, a cold desert zone is a beautiful tributary valley of Spiti. The valley harbours some rare endangered species of wild animals including the snow leopard. The Kalatop-Khajjiar Sanctuary can be reached from both Dalhousie and Chamba and is a rich habitat of Western Himalayan flora and fauna. Khirganga National Park in Kullu shares boundary to the north of the Great Himalayan National Park (a visit to this national park can be combined with your Khirganga trek). Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, the only cold desert wildlife sanctuary in India where the elusive Snow Leopard, Ibex and Blue Sheep and birds like Himalayan Snowcock and Golden Eagle take shelter.
Apple orchards : The apple orchards in Himachal are a popular tourist attraction, and to visit one during your Himachal tour is one of the most interesting things to do in Himachal. You can learn about the cultivation process at the farms. Kinnaur (famous for the juicy and crunchy Kinnaur apples), Kotagarh, Kullu, Shimla, Ramgarh (Solan district), Sainj Valley (45 km from Kullu) and some parts of Lahaul-Spiti are few destinations in the state to go looking for apple orchards. Apple picking and tasting the fresh apples can be a great fun-filled activity during your Himachal visit.
Tea gardens : Surrounded by beautiful mountain’s, hills and rivers, Himachal also has spectacular tea gardens. Make tea garden visit a part of your Himachal tour itinerary. Do visit the Kangra Tea Estate famous for its green and black tea; the lush tea plantations of Palampur has a with the Dhauladhar Mountains at the backdrop; and Narghita tea estates near Dharamshala. You can even stay at some of the tea garden resorts in Palampur and Kangra.
From the roadside vendors to the authentic cafes and restaurants, Himachal has some very popular eating joints, especially in Shimla, Manali and Dharamshala. Throw in picturesque hills, tall pine trees and crisp mountain air, and piping hot, flavoursome food and beverages feed an appetite magnified by the surroundings. The combination that every traveller seek in the hills.
Manali : Most of Manali’s restaurant scene caters to its two largest tourist groups: foreign backpackers and Indian honeymooners. The Mall Road is dotted with many restaurants serving north Indian dishes of butter chicken and shahi paneer. You can stop by for a meal at Chopsticks, which serves Chinese, Tibetan and Japanese fares; its dumplings sell like hotcakes. In Old Manali and the villages of Vashisht, you will find guesthouses and pocket-friendly joints; both places also boast the backpackers’ eatery, German Bakery. Off the Old Manali Road located in one of the most scenic spots in Manali, at the Casa Belle Vista, you can enjoy vegetarian Spanish fare. At the relaxed and stylish garden-front Johnson’s Cafe in Old Manali, try Himalayan river trout dishes accompanied by live music acts on most weekends in season. Book your Manali tour packages at best price with Yatra.com.
Shimla : Strolling the streets of Shimla, it is certain that one runs into numerous cafes, tiny diners and stalls serving fresh and hot food or fancy eateries with their delectable menus. These places are always filled with chattering locals, hurried backpackers and holidaymakers. Dig into hot momos or other appetising Chinese meals in the hills at Dim Sum. Wake and Bake Cafe offers breakfast with views; Cafe Sol is the only place in Shimla to enjoy typical Greek salad and Italian and Mexican food. They also have some of the best cakes in town. Tap into Himachali roots at the Himachali Rasoi and taste Dham (a lavish festive meal) in a traditional floor seating. For comfort food combined with live music head to Café Simla Time. Grab a drink or coffee, bite into their famous wood-fired oven pizza. Book your Shimla tour packages at best price with Yatra.com.
Dharamshala : Dharamshala is not only the home of the Dalai Lama but is also a sojourn for travellers, adventure seekers, holidaymakers and food enthusiasts. You will find a wide variety of food options with some of the best eateries and cafes in the town. From traditional Tibetan dishes to Italian flavours, bakery and dessert to Korean fares, there is a lot to eat in one of Himachal’s most visited town. Find an extremely varied menu at the Tibetan Kitchen, a name that complements a Dharamshala food tour experience. This place is the right start for those who love to experiment with food. Try their special delicacies including Alu Phingsha (a spicy potato dish), thukpa (a Tibetan noodle soup), tingmo, etc. Located within Dalai Lama’s temple is the Namgyal Cafe where volunteer monks serve you pizzas. Sit in the relaxed lounge-feel setting of Crepe Pancake Hut and savour hearty hot pancakes or a pot of mint tea. Book your Dharamshala tour packages at best price with Yatra.com.
Leisure and Sightseeing
Apart from the adventure opportunities that Himachal is known for, the state is equally known for its relaxation and leisure retreats. Visitors like to indulge in shopping on the streets of Shimla, Manali, Mcleodganj, etc.; or a stroll through green woods admiring the nature; or take a tour of the architectural highlights.
Shopping : Himachal is famous for its Tibetan Carpet and Buddhist Paintings. Kullu shawls and caps are equally renowned. In Dalhousie, go to the Tibetan Handicrafts centre at Gandhi Chowk to get world-renowned Tibetan carpets and other Tibetan handicrafts. Mcleodganj and Dharamshala are the hotspots for buying Tibetan crafts and Tibetan herbs. While in Kullu, pick the warm shawls, colourful Kullu caps, traditional shoes and handicrafts. Stock up jams and pickles along with local crafts like Pulla (grass slippers) at the Mall Road in Shimla and Manali. You can get miniature paintings in Kangra.
Architectural walks : The town of Pragpur in Kangra Valley is home to the 200-year-old Chaujjad Haveli, the 175-year-old Butail Niwas and the 150-year-old Banta Dwar. Interestingly, Pragpur is India’s first Heritage Village. In Kangra, you will also see the ruins of one of Himalayas’ oldest and largest forts, Kangra Fort. Another noted archaeological site in Kangra is the ruins of the Masroor Rock Cut Temple. The temple is believed to have been carved out of a single rock, and it has a history tied to the local legend of the Pandavas. Overlooking the Kullu Valley stands the 550-year-old Naggar castle with an impressive amalgamation of Himalayan and European architecture.
Ride on the Shimla-Kalka toy train : For optimal views of the Himalayas, ride on the narrow-gauge Kalka to Shimla Toy train and explore the scenic treasures of Himachal. The train is one of the three mountain railways of India on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. Throughout the journey of the toy train, you can enjoy spectacular views of the lofty pine hills, lush green, misty mountains and fauna. Time taken for the 96 km journey to Shimla is around 5-6 hours, and it crosses 103 tunnels on its route.
How to reach Himachal Pradesh
Visitors should not worry much on how to reach Himachal Pradesh. As the state has some of the best road networks as well as air and train connectivity. Airports in Shimla and Manali, an extensive network of highways, broad gauge railway stations at Kalka and Pathankot provide easy accessibility to the state.
By Air :
Bhuntar Airport in Manali, Gaggal Airport in Kangra, Jubbarhatti airport in Shimla, connect to major Indian cities like Delhi and Chandigarh, Jaipur and Kanpur via Air India and SpiceJet flights. The Pathankot and Gaggal airports give easy access to Dharamshala, Kangra, Chamba, Hamirpur and Una. The Bhuntar airport to Kullu-Manali, Mandi and Lahaul-Spiti. And, the Chandigarh and Jubbarhatti airports to Shimla, Solan, Bilaspur, Mandi and Kinnaur regions.
By Train :
Given the tough mountainous terrain, Himachal Pradesh has limited railway tracks within the state. One of the easiest ways to reach the hilly state is to take the train to Kalka railway station located on the border in Haryana, 90 km south-west of Shimla. From here, you can either travel by road or ride the famous Kalka to Shimla toy train into the picturesque regions of this state. On the border with Punjab in the north, Pathankot Junction in Punjab is another major train station that connects the state with the rest of India. The Kangra and the Joginder Nagar stations in Himachal falls on the line.
By Road :
Himachal has some of the best roadways you will find in any mountainous region. Around nine National Highways and about 19 State Highways cover all the major districts of the state connecting them to places like Delhi, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Leh-Ladakh, etc. No doubt, the best way to travel to Himachal is through road, which is linked to all major cities of India. Interstate bus services ply from Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jaipur and other neighbouring destinations to Himachal.
When to visit Himachal Pradesh
Summer : One of the most preferred summer destinations in India, Himachal is a delight no matter which month of the year you visit. Its salubrious weather makes for an ideal retreat for those who love mountains and the crisp mountain air. March to June is the summer season and witnesses a huge influx of domestic and international tourists during these months. Summers is also the best time to visit Himachal Pradesh when the area turns pleasant and welcoming. The temperature varies from 22-37 degree Celsius.
Monsoon : The monsoons from July to September are breathtakingly beautiful; however, it is prone to landslides. It is a low season, and hence hotels are easy to get and cheaper. The only disadvantage at this time is the closure of trekking, hiking and other adventure opportunities. The temperature at this time varies from 18-30 degree Celsius.
Winter : Winter begins in November and continues until February. The temperature varies from 0-15 degree Celsius and in some areas can plummet below zero levels, causing snowfalls. It is an ideal time to visit the state if you like snow-covered landscapes and indulge in some winter sports activities.
The gala fairs and festivals of Himachal
Himachal is known for its rich cultural diversity. And no better way than to witness this heritage when the state celebrates its festivals. The fairs and festivals are of historical, cultural and economic importance that plays an essential role in the life of the local people. One of the most popular festival there is Kullu Dussehra, held in October or November. Unlike other parts of India, Dussehra celebration in Kullu is quite different as no effigy of Ravana is burned. Here, one can see Rath Yatra of the idol of Lord Raghunathji, a spectacular procession that attracts a huge number of tourists. The Buddhist diaspora celebrates Losar festival at monasteries in Lahaul-Spiti region and other parts of the state. Celebrated for 15 days between January end and March, the mask dance is a special attraction of Losar festival. Move toward Kangra and the three-day International Himalayan Festival held in Mcleodganj showcase the culture, cuisines, handicrafts and traditional medicines of the Himalayan region. Don’t miss coming to Himachal Pradesh in February, when you can rejoice during the Himachal Winter Carnival held in Manali between 2nd to 6th January every year. The fiesta involves various competitions, winter sports and opportunities to feast on Himachali food.
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