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Which is better Manali, Shimla, Mussoorie, Kausani or Munsiyari?

Discussion in 'Travel advice' started by ReddiS8, Oct 11, 2016.

  1. ReddiS8

    ReddiS8 New Member

    I am coming to India with my family, and we would like to visit a hill station as none of us has never been to one. I have been doing a bit of research and talking to people about going to hill stations in India and have got the suggestions the visit the following places:

    Manali
    Shimla
    Mussoorie
    Kasunai and
    Munsiyari.

    Unfortunately, we can only visit one destination and would be spending seven days there.

    I would like to know from members that which is better Manali, Shimla, Mussoorie, Kausani or Munsiyari?

    Please give your suggestions taking into considering foreigners would be visiting it. We would be more into sightseeing and my children maybe interested in some activities.
     
  2. vkar

    vkar Member

    I have replied to similar thread today regarding Manali and Nainital. I was suggesting Manali in that thread. Among the choices you have listed, I would go with either Manali or Shimla. But it is entirely my personal preference, some may like the other hill stations more. All these places are beautiful and kind of similar so you won't be wrong in choosing any out of these, but if I were to make a choice, I would choose Manali.
     
  3. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello there, welcome to the forum!

    Different hill stations exude different vibes. For instance, there's the more commercialised ones, like Manali, Shimla and Mussoorie, where tourist infrastructures are quite plenty. But with this pro, there's that downside of being overcrowded and being noisy. On the other hand, lesser known hill stations like Kausani and Munsiyari, exude more serenity and peace. On the downside, there are less tourist infrastructures in these places.

    You might have your own interests and likes which can also affect your decision-making process on which hill station would suit you best. So for this purpose, let us highlight the main differences between these hill stations. It might be unfair to compare them, but this is the only way to truly know which one would be the best destination for you. So for starters, here are brief descriptions about these hill stations:

    Manali, often dubbed as the gateway to Ladakh, has been a popular tourist destination for a long while now. It's not impossible to know why, nestled amidst the Himalayan mountains and with the bubbling Beas River flowing around the hill station, it's an adventurer's paradise. During winter, the hill station is covered in a white blanket of snow, giving one ample opportunity to enjoy the winter sports available. In the summer, with the surrounding greenery, there are also plenty of adventure activities to indulge in. Yet it doesn't end there as the hill station also offers plenty of sightseeing attractions to tourists.

    [​IMG]
    Manali in Winter

    Then there's Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh, about 250 kilometres away from Manali. This quaint hill station has not only attracted locals and for a long while, it was the summer capital of the British. After the independence, it has turned into a bustling city, complete with shops, restaurants and hotels. With the colonial structures surrounding the hill station, you'd find plenty of places to explore and be in awe of. The city, its people, its culture... There's plenty more to love in this hill station!

    [​IMG]
    Shimla

    Now we go to Mussoorie, a hill station in Uttarakhand and yet another great choice. From its unending views of the Doon Valley and Sivalik Mountains, who wouldn't fall in love with this place? Known for its Tibetan settlements, the hill station is a mixture of different cultures and traditions, thereby giving it its very own charm. Spirituality and scenery... These are two features of Mussoorie that makes it stand out from the rest.

    [​IMG]
    Mussoorie

    A trekker's haven, that is Kausani, another hill station in Uttarakhand. Although relatively lesser known that the hill stations above, its beauty is just comparable to them. It's generally untouched by commercialism and pollution so here, you can truly enjoy being at the heart of nature. The views of the Himalayan Ranges along with the views of the Someshwar Valley on the other side would leave you mesmerised. So craving for something offbeat? Kausani might be the only hill station you would need for that.

    [​IMG]
    Kausani

    Last on the list is Munsiyari, a hill station in the Uttarakhand region as well. If you're someone who enjoys thrilling adventures, then Munsiyari might do well for you. With its majestic views of the mountains of the Himalayas, it also offers plenty of high altitude treks to tourists. No, trekking here isn't for the faint-hearted and beginners might even have a hard time doing these treks. Excited yet? You should be, with its remoteness and untouched beauty, Munsiyari won't disappoint you.

    [​IMG]
    Munsiyari

    So now, let's begin highlighting these different hill stations and their features:

    1. Ease of Access

    • Manali - This hill station is easily accessible, whether you're going by road, by bus, by train or by flight. By road, it is about 537 kilometres away from Delhi. Road conditions are pretty good as well from Delhi to Manali so there won't be any issue with this. If going by bus, there are direct buses plying from Delhi to Manali. So if ever you come from other parts of the country, you just need to reach Delhi and from there, get direct connectivity to Manali. If ever train journey is more comfortable for you, Manali doesn't have its own railway station but the best option is the Chandigarh Railway Station. From there, Manali is about 7 to 8 hours away and you can board a direct bus from Chandigarh to the hill station. By flight, there's the Bhuntar Airport, which has flights from Delhi too, Manali is merely 50 kilometres away from it.
    • Shimla - Just like Manali, Shimla is well-connected to Delhi, by bus, by train or by flight. Road journey is also comfortable and very scenic. If going by bus, there are direct buses from Delhi to Shimla operated by the government and by private companies. The famous toy train is a scenic ride that takes you from Kalka Railway Station to the Shimla Railway Station. If going by flight, there's the Jabarhatti Airport, although flights are very limited. The airport is just a few minutes away from Shimla's city centre though.
    • Mussoorie - There are lots of options for reaching Mussoorie. The easiest way is by direct buses from Delhi operated by UTC and some are operated by private companies. There are also some buses operated by the government plying from Delhi to Dehradun. From Dehradun, there are plenty of buses plying to Mussoorie. If going by train, you need to reach the Dehradun Railway Station, which is about 33 kilometres away from Mussoorie. If going by flight, there's the Jolly Grant Airport, about 60 kilometres away from Mussoorie. If you are bringing your own vehicle, Mussoorie has good road conditions, except during monsoon season when the rains affect the paths.
    • Kausani - Although Kausani's distance to Delhi is not that long, it is quite harder to reach as compared to the previous hill stations. There are no direct buses or trains reaching Kausani. By bus, you need to ride a bus from Delhi to Kathgodam. From Kathgodam, there are buses plying to Kausani. You can also opt to ride a bus until Haldwani and from there, ride another bus to Kausani. The same goes for train journey, you need to reach Kathgodam Railway Station and from there, ride another bus to reach Kausani. Kathgodam is about 5 to 7 hours away from Kausani. If going by flight, there's the Pant Nagar Airport, which has direct flights from Delhi. The airport is about 177 kilometres away from Kausani. If you're bringing your own car, roads to Kausani are average and best avoided during monsoon season as landslides and road blocks are quite common.
    • Munsiyari - This hill station is definitely the most difficult one to access. But it has the same options as Kausani, although it is relatively further from the airport and railway station of Kathgodam. If going by bus, you need to board a bus plying to Haldwani or Kathgodam from Delhi. From Kathgodam, there are buses and taxis plying to Munsiyari. Because of its distance to Delhi, about 612 kilometres away, travelling by road can be quite long. Roads are in average conditions too and are affected by the monsoon rains.
    2. Hotels and Other Accommodation Types
    • Manali - When it comes to accommodation options, Manali has plenty of choices. For higher end accommodations, there are about five luxury hotels in the hill station. The best of these hotels are the Himalayan Resort & Spa and the Anantmaya Resort. If your budget fits more for the mid-range hotels, there's the Snow Valley Resorts and Shingar Regency. For those in a tight budget, there are many guest houses around the hill station like the Alliance Guest House and Mount Pleasant.
    • Shimla - There are over 300 hotels and other accommodation options in Shimla. Thus, you won't have to worry about choices here as there are plenty to choose from. If your family enjoys luxury hotels, the best ones here are the Oberoi Cecil and Wildflower Hall. Something mid-range would be the Woodsmoke Resort & Spa or Hotel Combermere. The best rated budget hotels are Hotel Ashish Inn and Satyam Regency. There are also many guest houses and home stays around the hill station for backpackers.
    • Mussoorie - Although Mussoorie has less choices than Manali or Shimla, there are still over 100 hotel options here. The best higher end hotels are that of Fortune the Savoy and JW Marriott. On the other hand, mid-range hotels here are quite plenty with popular choices being the Rink Pavilion and Hotel Radha Residency. For this in a budget, you can opt Adventure Tour Resorts or Rock Stone Hotel.
    [​IMG]
    Fortune the Savoy Hotel in Mussoorie
    • Kausani - There are only a few options for accommodations in Kausani. Main hotels and guest houses here are about 32 in number. For the higher end hotels, there's the Hotel Narendra Palace and Suman Royal Resort. Mid-range hotels include Chevron Eco Lodge and Pratiksha Himalayan Retreat. Budget options are quite limited and you have to shell out at least Rs. 1,000 per night for decent accommodations. Do check out Janardan Resort and New Pine Hotel for budget options.
    • Munsiyari - If Kausani has few options, then Munsiyari has even fewer options. The best-rated luxury hotels here are that of Vijay Mount View Resort and Bilju Inn. For mid-range options, you can try out Ojaswi Resort and Milam Inn Hotel. The cheapest guest house/hotel is the Hayat Paradise, at about Rs. 400 per night. If ever you're visiting during the peak tourist season, make sure that you have booked a hotel in advance.
    3. Best Time to Visit
    • Manali - This hill station can be visited all-year round. Winter season sees a great surge in tourists mainly because of the winter activities hat can be done in Solang Valley. Temperatures range between 0°C to 7°C. The months of December and January are the coldest and receive the highest amount of snowfall. Summer season, from March to May, is a great time for summer activities and because it is mildly elevated, Manali receives pleasant climate not exceeding 25°C in temperature. During May, Rohtang Pass is opened for visitors and here, tourists can enjoy snowfall even during summer season. Monsoon is the least crowded season wherein hotel discounts are quite frequent but sightseeing might be difficult during this time.
    • Shimla - Shimla can also be visited all-year round but the peak tourist season is summer. Temperatures vary during this time but it generally doesn't exceed 30°C. Monsoon season is the off-peak tourist season but the rains can sometimes lead to landslides and road blocks in the region. Lastly, the winter season is best for honeymoon couples and those wanting to see snowfall. Temperatures go as low as below zero though so bring your heavy woollens.
    • Mussoorie - Just like the previous hill stations, Mussoorie can be visited all-year round. Perhaps one of the best seasons to visit it is during winter season. By October, the waterfalls in the region had been fed by the monsoon rains and are quite scenic. By December and January, the region receives a colder climate and the picturesque views of the snow-capped mountains can definitely make you love the region. Although temperature drop to zero during this time, snowfall is quite negligible and did not even occur in some winter years. Lastly, the summer season, is another good time to visit as the pleasant climate is inviting for sightseeing around the region.
    • Kausani - For trekking, there's no doubt that the best time to visit Kausani is during the summer season. With pleasant climate and temperature not exceeding 25°C, trekking would be quite enjoyable during this time. If indulging in trekking, avoid the monsoon season as it is not appropriate for nature trailing as the paths can get very slippery. For sightseeing though, it's a good time as the hill station is covered in lush greenery. Lastly, the winter season is quite a good time for families or even couples. As the hill station is covered in snow, it exudes romance and charm to the tourists.
    [​IMG]
    Kausani in Winter
    • Munsiyari - For quiet and solitude, the best time to visit Munsiyari is during the winter season. Temperatures range between 0°C to 8°C. But the months of December and January touch on below zero temperatures. The whole region is covered in snow and looks very beautiful. Hotel rates are also lower but sightseeing might be difficult during this time. Summer season is the peak tourist season with temperatures not exceeding 25°C. The Himalayan peaks are quite visible during this time and this is also the best time for trekking here. Lastly, the monsoon season sees less tourists. Although the beauty of the hill station is apparent, it's a difficult time to enjoy sightseeing or even reaching the place.
    4. Attractions
    • Manali - A trip to Manali won't be complete without visiting Solang Valley, its main attraction. Here you can indulge in winter or snow activities, depending on what season you visit. There are also many religious attractions in the region like the Vashisht Temple, Hadimba Temple and Maa Sharvari Temple. For those interested in natural attractions, there's the Jogini Waterfalls, Rahala Waterfalls and Kalath Hot Water Springs. There are also some museums that children can learn from like the Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art and Uruswati Folk Art Museum. If visiting during summer, specifically at the end of May, a visit to the Rohtang Pass is a must, to enjoy snow and snow activities.
    [​IMG]
    Solang Valley in Winter
    • Shimla - Temples, wildlife, viewpoints, historical structures... You get a bit of everything in the hamlet of Shimla. The biggest Hanuman statue is located in the Jakhoo Temple here. There's also the Dorje Drak Monastery for the devout Buddhists. For those who have hidden wishes waiting to be fulfilled, you can visit the Kamna Devi Temple. Of course, the famous landmark, Viceregal Lodge, is a must to visit when in Shimla. Its ever imposing bricked facade and colonial style architecture makes it one of the most popular attractions in the hill station. For clearer views of the mountains, you can trek to reach the Shaily Peak or the Hatu Peak. A bit further away is the Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary, where you can enjoy seeing wildlife and forests.
    • Mussoorie - There's a range of attractions around Mussoorie that are sure to keep you busy for a few days. Perhaps the most well-known one here is the Mussoorie Lake, where you can enjoy boating with your loved ones. The viewpoints of Gun Hill, Lal Tibba and Cloud's End provide one with ample opportunities to view the beautiful valleys and mountains. Venture further away from the city centre and you'll find the beautiful natural attractions of the hill station like the Kempty Waterfalls, Jharipani Waterfalls and Benog Wildlife Sanctuary. Do interact with the Tibetan settlers located in Happy Valley. About 5,000 of them reside here and has made Mussoorie their home.
    • Kausani - Attractions-wise, Kausani has very limited ones which you can cover in about a day or two. One of the prime attractions here is the Baijnath Temple, an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. A bit of trekking would lead you to the Rudradhari Waterfalls and Caves. The journey to reach the waterfalls and caves is part of the beauty of the destination. Untouched by commercialism, it's nature at its best. Another must visit here is the Lakshmi Ashram, where sunset and sunrise views are quite breathtaking.
    • Munsiyari - Since Munsiyari is not yet that developed, tourist attractions here are very limited. The best place to visit here is the Birthi Waterfalls. You can reach the waterfalls itself through a steep climb. Swimming here is permitted but do so at your own risk. Untouched by human interruption, the waterfalls remain bountiful even during summer season. A very sacred temple here to the locals is the Kalamuni Temple. It's relatively small but exudes some serenity and spirituality to visitors. Lastly, the Thamri Kund, a small lake, reachable only through a two-hour trek is also worth visiting here.
    5. Activities
    • Manali - As mentioned before, Manali is an adventurer's paradise. Whether you visit during the summer or winter, it has plenty of activities that it can offer to you. In Solang Valley, popular winter activities here are skiing and sledging. During summer, you can indulge in paragliding or even zorbing. Rohtang Pass has snow almost all-year round but it's the thickest at the early monsoon months. You can play with snow here or indulge in skiing. The Beas River is also a popular adventure destination for those who'd like to try river rafting. Other summer activities that you can do around Manali are camping, trekking and of course, sightseeing.
    • Shimla - For adventure activities, you need to visit Shimla during the summer. You can indulge in trekking, camping, paragliding and mountain biking in the hill station. During winter, some thrill seekers try out heli skiing which is a bit more extreme than normal skiing. You have to reach Narkanda though to do this and it costs quite a lot. Other winter activities that you can do in Shimla are ice skating and of course, skiing.
    • Mussoorie - For activities, there's the Mussoorie Adventure Park. Some of the activities that you can do here are zip lining, valley crossing, rope walking, rock climbing, rappelling and sky bridging. There are set rates though for each activity and they are best done during the summer season. On the other hand, you can indulge in trekking as well in the Benog Wildlife Sanctuary. Here you can spot wild animals and breath the fresh air courtesy of the forests surrounding you.
    • Kausani - Trekking is the main activity that you can do around Kausani. You can opt for simpler ones like trekking around its tea estates. As mentioned above, you can also trek to reach the Rudradhari Waterfalls and Caves. For those seeking for more thrill, you can trek to reach the Pindari Glacier and the Sundar Dhunga Glacier. These treks are moderate to difficult though so better left for experts in trekking. There are also plenty of nature trails to visit around the region. Relatively unexplored, it's the best place for trekkers to enjoy natural sceneries and trails.
    • Munsiyari - Trekking is also the main activity here. Some treks are easy like the Birthi Waterfalls and Thamri Kund treks. But one difficult trek worth trying out is the Khaliya Top trek. It's about a 10-kilometre trek and you would be rewarded at the end with clear views of the Himalayan ranges. If done during the summer, the possibility of seeing the snow line in the peak is quite high as well.
    [​IMG]
    View from Khaliya Top

    So in summary:

    DestinationAccessibilityHotel OptionsBest Time to VisitAttractionsActivities
    ManaliHighHighestAll-year roundTemples, hot springs, adventure spots, museums and many morePlenty, winter activities like skiing & sledging and summer activities like paragliding & zorbing
    ShimlaHighHighAll-year round with tourists preferring summerColonial structures, temples, viewpoints and many morePlenty, trekking, camping & nature trailing for summer and skiing & heli skiing for summer
    MussoorieHighHighAll-year round but post-monsoon for waterfallsLakes, waterfalls, Tibetan settlement, viewpoints and wildlifeZip lining, valley crossing, rappelling, etc.
    KausaniMore difficultFewSummer for trekking and winter for snowWaterfalls, cave, ashram and templeTrekking
    MunsiyariMost difficultFewestSummer or winterWaterfalls, temple and lakeTrekking
    The verdict:

    DestinationBest for
    ManaliAdventure seekers, those who love snow (winter) and loves sightseeing
    ShimlaThose who enjoy colonial era structures, temples and who don't mind the crowds
    MussoorieThose who love natural attractions like lakes and waterfalls
    KausaniThose who are into trekking, beginners and experts alike
    MunsiyariThose who are into high altitude trekking, experts mainly and those who enjoy remote locations
    There you go, I hope this little guide helps you in choosing between these hill stations. Have fun and enjoy!:)
     

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