Himachal Pradesh the "Abode of snow", spread in an area of 56000 sq km of the western Himalayas is an exquisite joy to the eyes and soul. Rising from the foothills of the Shivaliks bordering the plains of Punjab, it extends to the trans-Himalayan heights of the Zaskar Range, bordering Ladakh and Tibet. Himachal Pradesh continues to be a popular destination for visitors. Visitors and travelers from all over the world come to take a breath in this beautiful hilly state.
The places to lookout for are
Founded by Captain Charles Kennedy in the early 19th century, the summer capital of the British Raj refuses to give away its colonial charm. Now the fast-growing capital of Himachal Pradesh, with its spectacular locations, thickly forested slopes and enlivening climate Shimla attracts countless visitors every year from all over the world. Popular destinations in Shimla are The Ridge, Christ Church, The Mall, State museum, Viceregal Lodge, Naldehra's golf course, Wildflower Hall and The Jakhu hill temple.
'Chail Palace' the centre of attraction of Chail, a stone mansion occupying a flattened hilltop, amid beautiful orchards and gardens is now a deluxe hotel. Chail is a small hill station situated on a wooden ridge and gives a chance to enjoy the splendid nature at its best. This summer capital of the Patiala Maharajas has the highest cricket stadium in the world where the Maharajas invited the Marylebone Cricket Club (the MCC) in 1933.
Kasauli is the place for those looking for peace. The charm of quiet walks shaded by chir pine, oak and horse chestnut trees is simply mesmerizing. Kasauli which is the closet hill station to the plains is at its best just after the monsoon. At this time of the year the hillsides are covered with colourful dahlias and it is total beauty to the eyes. Old fashioned buildings with gable roofs and wooden balconies can be still found in the town. Monkey point is the highest spot in the town and gives clear views of Shimla, Satluj River and Chandigarh.
Once the summer residence of the Rampur Bushahr kings, Sarahan is situated high above the left bank of the Satluj. At a height of 2165 m, the charming panorama of the Srikhand Range adds to the pleasant climate of the place. The twin peaks of Gushu-Pishu and the holy mountain Srikhand Mahadev stand out prominently and offer a great opportunity for trekking. The salient tower temple Bhimkali is the most interesting sight in the town.
Kinnaur, the remote corner of Himachal Pradesh fringing the Tibetan Plateau, is a region of splendid grandeur. The diversity in terrain, vegetation, climate and wildlife has broadly divided this region into Lower, Middle and Upper Kinnaur. Lower Kinnaur embraces both banks of a gorge-like Satluj river. With the arid Zanskar peaks, Upper Kinnaur is a cold desert country of stark, barren mountains interspersed with occasional villages and irrigated fields. The places to visit in Kinnaur are Kalpa (Kinner Kailash Range), Sangla Valley, Nako.
Founded by a Rajput prince in circa 1520, Mandi is held sacred by both Hindus and Buddhists. The old town with the main (Indira) bazaar is huddled on the left bank of the Beas at the southern end of the Kullu Valley, just below its junction with the Uhl River. The Beas Bridge (claimed to be the world's longest non-pillar bridge) is across Sukheti Khad at the east end of town. It is worth stopping a night in this quaint town with 81 temples, a 17th century palace and a colourful bazaar. Popular destinations in the town are the Triloknath Temple, Panchavakrta Temple, Bhutnath Temple and Ardhanarishvara Temple.
Sprawling along the grassy west bank of the Beas, Kullu, the district headquarters hosts the dramatically colourful Dasara. Less commercialized than its neighbour Manali, it is known across India the home of apple growing and the locally woven woolen shawls, but there is little to occupy a visitor. The places worth seeing here are the Raghunathji Temple and Jagannathi Temple.
Set amidst picturesque apple orchards, Manali is packed with Pahari speaking natives. The town has become very popular in the recent years and offers to visitor a great take of experiences. It is a major tourist destination for Indian holidaymakers. Others, together with adventure seeking foreigners, are attracted by culturally different hill people and the scenic treks this part of Himalaya offers. Interesting places in the town are the Tibetan Monastery, Hadimba Devi Temple and the Rohtang Pass.
Lying between the green alpine slopes of the Kullu and Chamba valleys to the south and the dry, arid plateau of Ladakh, the mountainous and landscapes of Lahul manage to get enough rain during the monsoon months to allow extensive cultivation, particularly on terraces , of potatoes, green peas and hops (for beer making). These are other rare verbs have brought wealth to the area. Most people follow a curious blend of both Hindu and Buddhist customs though there are a few who belong wholly to one or the other religion. The places to feel are Rohalla Falls and the Kothi Kodi.
The principal town of the district of Lahul, Keylong is set amidst fields of barley and buckwheat surrounded by brown hills and snowy peaks and was once the home of Moravian missionaries. The local deity 'Kelang Wazir' is kept in Shri Nawang Dorje's home which you are welcome to visit. Also, there is a Tibetan centre for Performing Arts. The town has little to offer, though the views are very attractive and there are pleasant walks.
Dharamshala has a spectacular setting along a spur of the Dhauladhar range, varying in height from 1,250 m at the 'Lower Town' bazaar to 1,768 m at the pleasanter McLeodganj. Surrounded by forests of chir pine, rhododendron and Himalyan Oak, it is set against a backdrop of high peaks on three sides, with superb views over the Kangra Valley and Shiwaliks, and of the great granite mountains that almost overhang the town. Interesting places in the town are Church of St John-in-the-Wilderness, Namgyal Monastery, Kalachakra Temple, the Dalai Lama- who usually leads prayers on special occasions and the Dip Tse-Chok Ling Monastery.
Kangra was once the second most important kingdom in the West Himalyan after Kashmir. Kangra town, the capital, was also known as Bhawan or Nagarkot, and overlooks the Banganga River. It claims to have existed since the Vedic period with historical reference in Alexander's war records. Important places in the town are the Kangra fort and the Brajesvari Devi Temple.
Picturesque Chamba (996 m), is on the south bank of the Iravati (Ravi), its stone houses clinging to the hillside. Some see the town as having an almost Italian feel, surrounded by lush forests and with its Chaugan or grassy meadow in the centre. Place to visit in the town are the Chaugan, Lakshmi Narayan Temple Complex, Hari Ray Temple, Chamunda Devi Temple, Rang Mahal (Painted Palace) and the Bhuri Singh Museum.
In total, Himachal Pradesh, dominated by successive ridges of snow covered peaks is known across India for its early summer climate, its deliciously cool mountain streams and its seemingly endless supplies of temperate fruit. Himachal also offers excellent trekking opportunities.