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Best places to visit in Himachal Pradesh

Discussion in 'Himachal Pradesh' started by SartakGupta, Oct 27, 2016.

  1. SartakGupta

    SartakGupta New Member

    I have only been to Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, and I know there is more to see there apart from the norms like Shimla and Manali. I am fond of traveling and seeing new places and before I get my transfer and busy in work I want to know about the best places to visit in Himachal Pradesh.
    My aim is to visit these places within a year before I get busy in my work and before my transfer.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hi there, welcome to the forum!


    Himachal Pradesh... The abode of snow... The land of hill stations... The place where the clouds meet with the mountains... It's on every traveller's bucket list because it has it all: scenic views, adventure and serenity. Himachal Pradesh is pretty much heaven on earth, a place where you can enjoy the pure beauty of nature. It's away from the hustle and bustle of the city yet still offers as much tourist infrastructures to guests. It's a place where you can get to enjoy the freshest produce and the freshest air to breathe too. Ah, Himachal Pradesh, it seems like a place stuck in time, yet undeniably seems contented to be so.

    Best Places to Visit in Himachal Pradesh

    Known yet beautiful places...

    1. Manali - At the top of the list is none other than Manali, it is the hill station that Himachal Pradesh is mostly associated with. Manali might be a bit touristy or even commercialised, as they say, but these aspects haven't stained the picturesque beauty of the region. The Beas River still flows in the hill station, undaunted by ill-effects of modernism like pollution and climate change. It is the hot spot for river rafting, usually done post-monsoon season when the rapids are high. Manali also has a number of temples that you can visit. For instance, the Hidimba Devi Temple, with is four-roofed pagoda attracts a huge number of tourists and devotees. Dedicated to Goddess Hidimba, it exudes serenity and with the views of the snow-capped mountains, it gets even better. The only Manu Temple in India is also located in Manali. If you don't know Sage Manu, according to Hindu mythology, he saved mankind from extinction by building a boat that helped save a few humans from the great flood that savaged the Earth. You can also visit the Solang Valley, a favourite amongst family, especially as you can indulge in all kinds of sports here. Summers see the advent of activities like zorbing and paragliding while winters see the advent of activities like skiing and snow scootering. Rohtang Pass is only open from May to November, but it has snow almost all-year round so it's a must visit for those who love snow. There are also several waterfalls around Manali with the top-rated ones being the Jogini Waterfalls and Jana Waterfalls. And lastly, the Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art is also worth a visit so you can know more about the rich heritage of the region.
    • Must visit attractions - Beas River, Hidimba Devi Temple, Manu Temple, Solang Valley, Rohtang Pass, Jogini Waterfalls, Jana Waterfalls and Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art.
    2. Dalhousie - If your idea of a getaway is a place teeming with natural beauty, where you can cover every tourist attraction within a day or two, then you can head on over to Dalhousie. The hill station exhibits a colonial vibe too, because it was once the summer capital of the British too. As such, you can view the best of both scenic attractions along with colonial era structures. Yet the hill station isn't too overwhelming and can be covered within a day or two at the most. The Chamera Lake, created from damming the Chamera Dam, is one of the best attractions of Dalhousie. It is the epitome of serenity and you can enjoy boating in the lake too. The Panch Pulla Waterfalls attract a number of tourists too, not only because of the beauty of the natural attraction, but also becomes you can partake in adventure activities like zip lining and rock climbing here. The oldest church in Dalhousie, the Saint John's Church, is a simple structure, made of bricks and with just a sloping roof. It is an example of the colonial era style of architecture as it was built during the reign of the British. You can also take a stroll around the Gandhi Chowk, relish in the numerous street stalls selling authentic Himalayan handicrafts and maybe take home a few souvenirs too. There's also treks that you can do around the hill station with the Dainkund Peak trek being to best-rated one. The trek takes around two hours to complete and you can visit the Pohlani Mata Temple at the end of your journey. Sach Pass requires trekking too, although not for the faint-hearted, as it is a bit challenging. There's the reward of seeing snow though at the end of your journey so very much worth it.
    • Must visit attractions - Chamera Lake, Panch Pulla Waterfalls, Saint John's Church, Gandhi Chowk, Dainkund Peak (Pohlani Mata Temple) and Sach Pass.
    Chamera Lake in Dalhousie (Image Courtesy of Sonia Revankar)

    3. Dharamshala - Dharamshala, the home of the Dalai Lama, that alone is reason enough to visit the hill station. Spirituality is nestled in every aspect of the hill station along with the refreshing views of the mountains. Divided into two parts, namely: Upper Dharamshala and Lower Dharamshala, the hill station can take a few days to fully explore. Upper Dharamshala is also known as Mcleodganj, the home of the Tibetan settlers and of course, the Dalai Lama. The Kalachakra Temple, located right at the city centre of Mcleodganj, has this very colourful facade with accents of gold. The idol of Buddha is located on the second floor of the temple. Despite its location, and also its contrasting colourful exteriors, the temple still has a sense of serenity. The Dalai Lama Temple is where the Dalai Lama resides, although it's not guaranteed that you can see the holy man here. Worth a visit here is the Tsechokling Gompa, where you can meditate or offer your prayers in. The lit candles around the monastery adds even more spiritual aspect to the place. You can also indulge in treks around the hill station, along Triund Hill or maybe the Bhagsu Waterfalls. In the Lower Dharamshala, there are also some tourist attractions that you can explore. Mainly, the Norbulingka Institute is its prime attraction, as it showcases the rich Tibetan heritage. You can spot artists while they are working on their crafts or even buy souvenirs to take home. Also take some time to visit the highest cricket stadium in the world, known as the HPCA Stadium, found in Lower Dharamshala too. And lastly, there's the Gyuto Monastery, where you can spot monks aged as little as 5 years old learning about Buddhism.
    • Must visit attractions - Kalachakra Temple, Dalai Lama Temple (Tsechokling Gompa), Triund Hill, Bhagsu Waterfalls, Norbulingka Institute, HPCA Stadium and Gyuto Monastery.
    4. Shimla - This list won't be complete without Shimla, probably one of the most popular tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh. Incredibly touristy, crowded and commercialised, yet it's hard to deny the beauty of the region. Once the summer capital of the British as well, you can also find colonial structures in the city, which give it this European-esque charm. And because Shimla is easily accessible, whether by train or by bus, it's no wonder that even Indian tourists enjoy visiting the hill station, especially during summer season. The Viceregal Lodge is the prime example of British architecture in the hill station. Its bricked facade, surrounded by well-manicured lawns, was once the home of the British viceroy of India. Now, it is an educational institution in the region. In contrast to the lodge is the Jakhoo Temple, a prime example of Indian architecture, with a towering 108-feet statue of Lord Hanuman outside of it. Bright red accents give the temple this cheery vibe, but still offers serenity to pilgrims. Another British structure, the Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex, is a must visit, it was once the place where all cultural events where held in the region. Although only the Gaiety Theatre remains now, of the once five-storeyed structure, you can find the elegance and grandeur of the place still. Of course, a visit to Shimla won't be complete without exploring The Mall Road and The Ridge areas. They both have tons of restaurants, hotels and shopping areas to keep you busy for a few hours.
    • Must visit attractions - Viceregal Lodge, Jakhoo Temple, Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex, The Mall Road, The Ridge and many more.
    5. Kasauli - Kasauli is that destination which is under the radar of tourists yet still not overflowing with commercialism. It makes for a perfect weekend getaway, where you can enjoy some serenity without worrying whether there would be crowds in the destination. While there's not much you can do or see in the hill station, you can sit back and just enjoy the beautiful views all around you. There are some view points around Kasauli though, like the Monkey Point and Sunset Point, where you can take Instagram-worthy pictures. Or you can partake in a trek around the Gilbert Trail, it's nothing too difficult but the journey is very enjoyable as you are taken through pine forests. There are also some religious sites around Kasauli that you can visit like the Christ Church and the Baptist Church. They are fairly small churches but the serenity they exude is very apparent. For an idyllic getaway, Kasauli would prove to be the perfect choice and it can be hard to leave the place when the time comes.
    • Must visit attractions - Monkey Point, Sunset Point, Gilbert Trail, Christ Church and Baptist Church.
    Adventure places to try...

    6. Kasol - Take a diversion before you reach Manali, passing by Bhuntar, and you would find Kasol. Unlike the other hill stations, Kasol is a bit off the beaten track, maybe for the Indian nationals and other foreign tourists. But one nationality that you would find in plenty here is the Israeli nationals. It is sometimes referred to as the Mini Israel of Himachal Pradesh. You can sample unique and delicious Israeli cuisine when in the hill station. But aside from that, Kasol has this resemblance to Manali, barring aside the luxury hotels and crowds. For example, much like the Beas River flows in Manali, the Parvati River flows in Kasol. It is the perfect place for river rafting too which is why adventurers love Kasol as well. There's also the Manikaran Sahib, a temple with hot water springs flowing within it. See the resemblance with the Vashisht Temple in Manali? And while Manali has the adventure spots of Solang Valley and Rohtang Pass, Kasol has the villages of Malana, Tosh and Chalal, where you can truly explore the rural life. And if you're up for the ultimate adventure, try trekking to the Kheer Ganga, which can take a whole day. The trek takes you through small villages around the region and at the end of your journey, you can bathe in the holy hot springs of Kheer Ganga.
    • Must visit attractions - Parvati River, Manikaran Sahib, Malana, Tosh, Chalal and Kheer Ganga.
    7. Narkanda - Narkanda is about 60 kilometres away from Shimla. It's a place that has been under the shadow of Shimla but has the same beautiful landscapes as the famous hill station. It is famous mostly for the Hatu Peak, which is about seven kilometres away from the city centre of Narkanda. You can either drive or trek to reach the peak, both have their challenges. Driving is a good option but only do so when you have an experience driver with you as the roads are narrow and located at a high altitude. Trekking is a good option for the physically fit, the trek takes you through beautiful meadows and even ponds. At the peak, you can have a commanding view of the mountains and also visit the Hatu Mata Temple located here. The Tani Jubbar Lake is another must visit attraction in the hill station. It's a small but picturesque lake, with backdrops of the mountains. You can enjoy camping here as well as there are spots around the lake for doing so. Narkanda also has a few skiing resorts that you can stay in during winter. The resorts would then provide the equipments for skiing if you'd like to try this winter sport. Both HPTDC and Tethys Ski Resort provide courses and equipment for tourists.
    • Must visit attractions - Hatu Peak, Hatu Mata Temple and Tani Jubbar Lake.
    8. Bir - Bir is about 65 kilometres away from Dharamshala and like the latter, it is a Tibetan settlement as well. The Bir Monastery is a Tibetan centre for learning about Buddhism and the Chokling Gompa is also located within its premises. A visit to the Dharmalaya Insitute is also a must, so you can learn more about the sustainable ways of living. But apart from these places, Bir is also an adventurer's paradise. Venture a bit further from Bir, about 29 kilometres away, and you would find Billing. Billing is known as the Paragliding Region of Himachal Pradesh. Flying season is usually from October to November, but it still depends on the weather conditions. This is also the location for the adventure sport of hang gliding, which is a tad bit more difficult than paragliding. With hang gliding, you operate a non-motorised kite, and you are in the prone position instead of the sitting position usually done in paragliding. If you're one adventure freak, make your way to Bir and indulge in these thrilling activities that you cannot do elsewhere in Himachal Pradesh.
    • Must visit attractions - Chokling Gompa, Dharmalaya Institute and Billing.
    9. Mashobra - Another hill station close to Shimla, just 13 kilometres away, is Mashobra. Despite its proximity to Shimla, it is a serene getaway and you can even opt to stay here and just visit the attractions of Shimla during day time. Mashobra doesn't have much attractions but the ones it has are perfect for the adventure lovers. There's the Reserve Forest Sanctuary, a part of the Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary. It is home to a large number of bird species which you can easily spot during winter migratory season. A peaceful retreat you must visit is the Carignano, this is a colonial era style of villa is located here amidst dense deodar and pine forests. If you have the money, consider staying in the Wildflower Hall, another colonial era structure which has now been acquired by the Oberoi Group of Hotels. Adventure activities around Mashobra can be trekking or camping. There are numerous trekking trails around Mashobra, with the likes of Mashobra Valley, Neckline and Century Old. You can also try rafting in the Tattapani River, located quite close to Mashobra.
    • Must visit attractions - Reserve Forest Sanctuary, Carignano, Wildflower Hall, Mashobra Valley, Neckline, Century Old and Tattapani River.
    10. Kaza - Kaza is approachable either from Shimla or Manali. Incidentally, it is also the last village you'd pass by en route to Leh from Manali. Reaching Kaza is an adventure to reach in itself, although located at a lower altitude than Leh, it offers the same adrenaline-pumping road trip. Landscapes change as soon as you reach Kaza, where the views of rocky terrains and boulders are quite frequent. Still, the snow-capped mountains can be viewed from the region still. Home to the highest motor passable village in the country, Kibber, is a must visit place when in Kaza. There are no luxurious hotels here, only home stays but the experience is surreal. You can also visit the Ki Monastery here, one of the oldest monasteries in the district, built around the 11th century. In Gue, there's this 550-year old mummy, excavated in the same region. It is located amidst a small room since the monastery is still being built that will eventually house it. Komic is another must visit village here, about 19 kilometres away from Kaza. It has the Komic Monastery, vibrant and colourful from the exteriors up to the interiors. A favourite attraction here though is the stuffed snow leopard, as if guarding the monastery premises. Langza, about 14 kilometres away from Kaza, is a village famous for the underground fossils abundant in the region. These marine fossils were formed thousands of years ago when Langza and the surrounding villages were submerged in water. Although it is illegal to collect these fossils, you can still enjoy hunting them around the village and just putting them back thereafter.
    • Must visit attractions - Kibber, Gue, Komic and Langza.
    Komic Monastery (Image Courtesy of Wikimedia)

    Offbeat places...

    11. Khajjiar - Khajjiar is located in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh, just about 26 kilometres away from Dalhousie. It is a very laid-back destination, there's not much you can do here but idle in the beauty of surroundings. Vast green meadows, snow-capped mountains and lush greenery would greet you once you reach the place. Best visited during the summer here is the Khajjiar Lake and Grounds. The lake is small but surrounded by the meadows and coniferous forests, you'd understand why the place is known as the Switzerland of India. Nearby to the lake is the Khajji Nag Temple, a very simple temple with a white facade. It is dedicated to Naga, or the God of Serpents in Hindu mythology. The Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary is another must visit, which is also located quite close to Dalhousie. There's this lodge here that you can stay in too, if you'd like an authentic wildlife experience. Otherwise, you can just enjoy a trek amidst the jungles of the region where you can spot animals like langurs, barking deers, Himalayan monals and many more.
    • Must visit attractions - Khajjiar Lake and Grounds, Khajji Nag Temple and Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary.
    12. Chail - The erstwhile capital of Bhupinder Singh, after being banished from Shimla, is Chail. Much like the other hill stations, Chail has its share of beautiful sceneries and pine forests. However, there are no crowds here and commercialisation isn't that rampant. And with just a few distance away from Shimla, you can enjoy the beauty of this hill station. The beautiful Chail Palace, built by the same Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, has now been converted into a heritage hotel. It is managed by the HPTDC department though so rates are a bit on the friendly side. You can enjoy staying here and definitely feel like royalty because most of the aspects of the heritage palace has been preserved. Trek to reach the Kali Ka Tibba, a temple dedicated to Goddess Kali. The temple is very simple, with a pure white facade, but seemingly one with the clouds above. Or you can also visit the Chail Wildlife Sanctuary, located on the outskirts of the town. Untouched by commercialism, it's harder to spot animals here, but if you do, the satisfaction is beyond words. Other places that you can visit around the hill station are the Gurudwara Sahib and Cricket Ground of Chail.
    • Must visit attractions - Chail Palace, Kali Ka Tibba, Chail Wildlife Sanctuary, Gurudwara Sahib and Cricket Ground of Chail.
    13. Barot - Barot has nothing to offer when it comes to luxurious hotels or fine dining restaurants. It is this sleepy village in the Mandi district, which isn't popular as a tourist destination. Yet. Barot is actually the best getaway just to leave the hustle and bustle of the city. A place where you can spot local villagers fishing or coming home from their mountain-side works. A place where home stays are your best options and where only the best home-cooked meals are served to you. It is not the place for people who cannot live without internet or maybe even without heating. The Uhl River flows freely in the village, a perfect location for angling or even having a picnic. Trekking is a pleasure amidst the unexplored terrains of the region. You can enjoy trekking amidst the forests of the Nargu Wildlife Sanctuary. You can even trek to reach Kullu or Joginder Nagar from Barot. That being said, it's also okay to just indulge in some me time when in Barot. Interact with the locals and enjoy the scenic views all around.
    • Must visit attractions - Uhl River and Nargu Wildlife Sanctuary.
    14. Chitkul - Nestled in the district of Kinnaur, known as the last village before the Indo-Tibet border, is the village of Chitkul. Several factors can explain why it isn't visited as much. First of all, it is not easily accessible and to reach the village, you must pass through bumpy and high roads. Second of all, it is not accessible all year round, the winter months are barred from visitors as the roads can be dangerous due to snow. Even the villagers move to lower altitude places during this season. But once you make it through these factors, you would be spell bound by the beauty of Chitkul. Lush green forests, snow-capped mountains, orchards and simple traditional houses would open your eyes to a new world. The flowing Baspa River adds a serene touch to the place. Inhabited by only about 600 villagers, the region's culture is as distinct as its landscapes. There are not much tourist attractions here per se, but the experience of being in Chitkul is out of this world. It's like being in a different place all together just because of the pristine beauty of the region. There's a temple here though, the Kagyupa Temple, where you can find an image of the Sakyamuni Buddha. There are also smaller temples dedicated to a local goddess here named Goddess Mathi.
    • Must visit attractions - Baspa River, Kagyupa Temple and Goddess Mathi Temples.
    15. Shoja - Another untouched paradise on the state is Shoja, a few kilometres off the beaten track from Kullu. It actually links Kullu and Shimla to one another. But besides being a connector, Shoja is a haven for those seeking some tranquility. You can avoid the crowds of Manali and Shimla here, yet still be blessed to see the natural beauty of the hill station. If solitude is what you're looking for, trek to the Jalori Pass, about five kilometres away from Shoja. The views of the snow-capped mountains from here are beautiful. Away from the pass, there's a trail leading to the Raghupur Fort, taking you through thick forests of rhododendrons and oaks. There's a small pond here although the water is scarce in it already. Nevertheless, the views of the Himalayan ranges form the fort are stunning. Yet another trail from the Jalori Pass leads to the Serolsar Lake, it is very small but has crystal clear water. Nearby it is a small temple known as the Dev Bhoomi. An easy trek from the city centre of Shoja can lead you to the Waterfall Point, but it also takes you through dense oak forests. An excursion out of Shoja can lead you to Tirthan Valley where you can indulge in angling and trout fishing.
    • Must visit attractions - Jalori Pass, Raghupur Fort, Serolsar Lake, Waterfall Point and Tirthan Valley.
    View from Shoja

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2021