Himachal Pradesh is the land of abundance beauty, with snow capped mountains, frozen lakes, sprawling river valleys, rocky slopes, green meadows carpeted with wild flowers.
It is the land of monasteries, lamas, beautiful warm people and delicious fruit orchards and threatened Himalayan wildlife.
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The British Empire may have ceased to exit, but its echo lingers on in Shimla (2205m). As the Summer Capital of the British in India, Shimla was the country's focus for the better part of every year and now, is the state capital of Himachal Pradesh. Today, it has well developed facilities, easy accessibility and numerous attractions making it one of India's most popular hill resort. Situated in the lower ranges of the Himalayan mountains, it is surrounded by pine deodar, oak and rhododendron forests. Towards the north lie the snow-covered high-ranges, while the valleys breathe whispering streams and swaying fields. Within the town are host of splendid colonial edifices, quaint cottages and charming walks. Shimla offers a variety of shopping, sport and entertainment activities.
Fagu is a tiny village aside a saddle-like mountain along Hindustan Tibet Road. A rare range of views is visible from here, which include vivid dales and snow clad peaks. The picturesque countryside is dotted with clusters of villages, fruit gardens and nearby terraced fields. Fog characterizes the hillside landscape endowed with romantic ambience. Most of the area is covered with conifers of Himalayan cedar and spruce. Located at an altitude of 2,450 m, Fagu, perhaps have derived its name from the fog itself.
Located at distance of 22 km from Shimla, Naldehra (2044 m) is a heaven for tourists. It boasts of the oldest 9 hole golf course in the country. The well groomed Golf Course is a lovely verdant, perhaps one of the finest and sporty in India. Crowned with a springing turf the Golf Course was suggested by Lord Curzon. He was so enchanted by the place that he gave his daughter Alexendra, "Naldehra" as her second name. It is the venue of many competitions. The Nag temple is also situated here and Naldehra derives its name from it.
This small hill station seems to live in time warp that belongs to the 19th century. The narrow roads of Kasauli (1951m) slither up and down the hillside and offer some magnificent vistas. Directly below is the spread of vast plains of Punjab and Haryana which as darkness falls, unroll a gorgeous carpet of twinkling lights. At 3647 m, the peak of Choor Chandni also called the Choordhar powerfully dominates the lower hills and across the undulating ranges, Shimla is visible.
The upper and lower malls run through Kasauli's length and one can enjoy longs walks. A mixed forest of pine, oak and huge horse-chestnut encircles the town. Its colonial ambience is reinforced by stretch of cobbled road, quaint shops, gabled houses with charming facades and scores of neat little gardens and orchards.
When Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja of Patiala was expelled from Shimla - The Summer Capital of the British India, he decided to create his own capital for the warm months. The little village of Chail was perfect. It lay surrounded by magnificent deodar forests, Shimla was in direct vision and most importantly, Chail at 2226 m was somewhat higher than British controlled Shimla. Today, the Maharaja's creation can be experienced by everyone. And for Himachal Tourism, now owner of the gracious mansion, every visitor is a Royalty. Here is a resort in the true sense of the word. A beautiful Palace with ornate furniture, charming cottages, delightful log huts, thick forests, quiet walks, a 'lovers hill', an orchard of its own, elegant lawns, badminton and lawn tennis court, billiards and even a children's park. Each regally appointed room, each quaint cottage and every warm log hut offers a memorable holiday. Whether you are on a honeymoon and in search of seclusion or wish to organize a conference, Chail offers it all. Then, there are good sightseeing places and possibility of some fishing and trekking. Chail also has the world's highest cricket pitch and polo ground.
Situated at an attitude of 2708 meters on the Hindustan Tibet road, Narkanda offers a spectacular view of snow ranges. This is an ideal retreat for the tourists who seek seclusion in mountains. It commands an unique view of the eternal snow line, the inviting apple orchards and dense forests. Narkanda is famous for Skiing & Winter sports. During these days the slopes come alive with skiers. The skiing at Narkanda was started in 1980 and since then HPTDC is conducting skiing courses every year. Narkanda is a gateway to apple country of Himachal Pradesh.
Once the capital of the princely State of Bushahar, Rampur is presently one of the biggest commercial town of Himachal Pradesh. It is located on the left bank of river Sutlej. The town was once a major center on the old trade route to Kinnaur, Tibet, Ladakh and China. Even today the tradition is as vibrant as ever. Famous International Lavi Fair is held in November and Faag Mela in March every year.
The Gods were generous when they have gave Sarahan (2165m) its settings. Located halfway up a high mountain side, the road to Sarahan winds past flowering Pine trees that give way to stately Oaks. Dozens of small streams rush past. The fields and orchards that surround the small villages with their slate roofed houses, compose pictures of pastoral perfection. Above Sarahan, a many deodar trees rides the slopes and higher still, encircling the Bashal peak, are trees of smooth birch and variety of wild flowers and rare medicinal herbs. This sparsely populated tract is steeped in ancient legends and here is the famous Bhimakali temple regarded as one of the Fifty One sacred Shaktipeethhs. The temple's unusual architecture and wealth of carvings have made it a resplendent example of what is loosely called the Indo-Tibetan style. Deep down the alley flows the river Sutlej and across lies the snow-clad Shrikhand peak.Saharan is the base for numerous treks and is the gateway to Kinnaur. It is a place of pilgrimage, a heaven for nature lovers and the temple complex attracts a variety of admirers. Here is a place that offers extraordinary travel experience.
Situated at the height of 2758 m above the sea level and 110 km from Sarahan, Kalpa is a beautiful and main village of Kinnaur. Across the river faces the majestic mountains of the Kinner Kailash range. These are spectacular sights early in the morning as the rising sun touches the snowy peaks with crimson and golden light.
Situated at an altitude of 3600 meter above sea level on left bank of river Spiti is presently the headquarters of Spiti sub division. Translated, 'Spiti' means the 'middle country' - a name obviously given as a result of its ties with both India and Tibet. With freckles of green over a dry, weather-beaten face, Spiti is a cold desert where the monsoon rain never comes. It is characterised by stark beauty, narrow valleys and high mountains. A century ago, Rudyard Kipling in Kim called Spiti "a world within a world" and a "place where the gods live" - a description that holds true to the present day.
Situated at an altitude of 3350 m, Keylong is the headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. The region is strange, exciting, primitive mountainous and delightful. Rudyard Kipling said of the region "Surely the God live here this no place for men." The route to Lahaul takes a traveler over Rohtang Pass (3980 ml), Koksar (1st village of Lahaul) Sissu, Gondla and crossing the river Chandra Bhaga at Tandi.
One day, Varvasvata, the seventh incarnation of Manu found a tiny fish in his bathing water. The fish told him to look after it with devotion as one day it would do him a great service. The seventh Manu cared for the fish till the day it grew so huge that he released it into the sea. Before departing, the fish warned Manu of an impending deluge when the entire world would be submerged and bade him to build a sea worthy ark. When the flood came, Varvasvata and seven sages were towed to safety by Matsya, the fish which is regarded as first avatar of Lord Vishnu. As the water subsided the seventh Manu's ark came to the rest on a hill side and the place was named Manali (2050 m) after him.As the flood slowly dried, here arose a place of breath- taking natural beauty which was only appropriate at Manali that life began again. Today this legendary cradle of all human kind is a prime holiday destination. There are high mountains surrounded by snow and deep boulder strewn gorges. There are thick forests full of cool breeze and bird songs. There are fields of wild flowers, small picturesque hamlets and fruit laden orchards.
Situated on the left bank of river Beas at an altitude of 1851m, Naggar - an ancient town commands extensive views, especially to the North West of the valley. Naggar was the former capital of Kullu. It was founded by Raja Visudhpal and continued as a headquarters of the State until the capital was transferred to Sultanpur (Kullu) by Jagat Singh in 1460 A.D. Today this ancient and beautiful Palace is a popular tourist spot.
At 1737 m, on the right bank of river Parvati. this place is famous for hot sulphur springs revered by both Hindus and Sikhs pilgrims. Thousand, of pilgrims take dip in holy water. The water of the spring is also said to have curative value which cures many skin diseases. According to an ancient saying Manikaran is also connected with Lord Shiva and His divine concert Parvati.
Kullu (1220m) was once known as Kulanthapitha - the end of the habitable world. Beyond rose the forbidding heights of the Greater Himalaya, and by the banks of the shining river Beas lay the fabled Silver Valley. Kullu got its first motorable access only after independence. The long centuries of seclusion have however allowed the area to retain a considerable measures of its traditional charm. Here is the core of an intricate web of numerous valleys, each of which is a visual delight and seems more beautiful than the other.
The Silver Valley has nature's treasures that lie carelessly scattered as flowers. This wealth nestles by every tree in the splendid forests, bursts forth in the blooms and in the fruit of every orchard. Here are riches which cannot be measured and echo down the ages with the words of every myth and ancient legend and glow in the warm smiles of its gentle people. There is pleasure in every step you take in these enchanted valleys and in every gurgle you hear in the clear mountain streams.
Often called India's Switzerland, the exquisite glade of Khajjiar (1960m) has a circumference of about 5 km. Along its fringes, thick forests of deodar climb the slopes, the snow-line rests above these woods. At Khajjiar there is a 12th century temple dedicated to KhajjI Nag. Within the temple are life size wooden images of the five Pandav brothers.
In western Himachal Pradesh, the hill station of Dalhousie is full of old world charm and holds lingering echos of the Raj era. It covers an area of 14 sq. km. and is built on five hills - Kathlog, Patreyn, Tehra, Bakrota and Balun. It is named after the British governor General of the 19th century, Lord Dalhousie. The town's average height is 2036 m, and is surrounded by varied vegetation - pines, deodars, oaks and flowering rhododendron. Dalhousie has charming colonial architecture, including some beautiful churches. Its location presents panoramic views of the plains and like a long silver line, the river Ravi twists and turns below Dalhousie. The spectacular snow-covered Dhauladhar mountains are also visible form this enchanting town.
The High snow clad Dhauladhar ranges form a magnificent backdrop to the hill resort of Dharamsala. This is the principal township of Kangra district and overlooks wide spread of the plains. With dense pine and deodar forests, numerous streams, cool healthy air, attractive surroundings and the nearby snowline, Dharamsala has everything for a perfect holiday. It is full of life and yet peaceful. The headquarters of His Holiness the Dalai Lama are at upper Dharamsala. Covering a wide area in the form of twin settlement, lower Dharamsala (1380m) is a busy commercial centre. While upper Dharamsala (1830m) with the suburbs of Mcleodganj and Forsytheganj, retains a British flavor and colonial lifestyle. The charming church of St. John in the wilderness is situated here and this is the final resting place of Lord Elgin, a British Viceroy of India during the 19th century. There is also a large Tibetan community who have made this place their home. Numerous ancient temples like Jwalamukhi, Brijeshwari and Chamunda lie on the plains below Dharamsala.
In local parlance, the word for lot of water is "pulum". This is what has given Palampur (1249 m) its name and its water has given the valley so much of its character. Countless streams criss-cross the landscape and in their intricate mesh, hold tea gardens and rice fields. The town came into being when tea plantation was introduced in the 19th century and Palampur became a focus for the planters. Kangra tea, with its center at Palampur, has been internationally acclaimed since then.
To further bless the area with remarkable natural beauty, the Dhauladhar ranges rise dramatically just beyond Palampur. The town itself has interesting colonial architecture and the area around is richly garnished with historical temples and forts and scores of picturesque hamlets.