Unforgettable Himachal - The Land of Gods

Himachal Pradesh is a northern Indian state in the Himalayas. It's home to scenic mountain towns and resorts such as Dalhousie. Host to the Dalai Lama, Himachal Pradesh has a strong Tibetan presence. This is reflected in its Buddhist temples and monasteries, as well as its vibrant Tibetan New Year celebrations. The region is also well known for its trekking, climbing and skiing areas.

Tourism in Himachal Pradesh is a major contributor to the state's economy and growth. The mountainous state with its Himalayan landscapes attracts tourists from all over the world. Hill stations like Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala, Dalhousie, Chamba, Khajjiar, Kullu and Kasauli are popular destinations for both domestic and foreign tourists.The state also has many important Hindu pilgrimage sites with prominent temples like Naina Devi Temple, Bajreshwari Mata Temple, Jwala Ji Temple, Chintpurni, Chamunda Devi Temple, Baijnath Temple, Bhimakali Temple, Bijli Mahadev and Jakhoo Temple. Manimahesh Lake situated in the Bharmour region of Chamba district is the venue of an annual Hindu pilgrimage trek held in the month of August which attracts lakhs of devotees. The state is also referred to as "Dev Bhoomi" (literally meaning Abode of Gods) due to its mention as such in ancient Hindu texts and occurrence of a large number of historical temples in the state.

It is also called the Land of the Gods on account of the Hindu belief that deities like Lord Shiva considered the Himalayas their abode, and much of the state is located among the Himalayan mountains. Although modern pop-literature writers online have often also referred to Uttarakhand as the land of the gods because it also contains Himalayan mountains, officially it is Himachal Pradesh that has been considered the land of the gods since before the state of Uttarakhand existed (the UK as it is abbreviated on license plates for automobiles in the state, and the state was founded in the year 2000).A tourism department board on the road when entering Himachal Pradesh from the state of Punjab states "Welcome to the Land of the Gods.

Best Time To Visit Himachal Pradesh : -Often called a retreat from the scorching heat, Himachal Pradesh is best explored during the spring and summer months, i.e. between February and June. It is one of the best vacation destinations for national and international tourists looking for a place with pleasant weather. That being said, the state also undergoes a beautiful transformation during the winters and the monsoons, i.e. between October and February and between July and September respectively.

Local Cuisine of Himachal Pradesh : - Himachal Pradesh apart from being blessed with breathtaking natural beauty, is also a tasteful blend of exquisite pahari cuisine that gives any traveller more than just one reason to fall in love with this beautiful mountains dotted state. Himachali or pahari cuisine has a unique aroma and flavour to it due to the usage of a lot of yoghurt and cardamom and cooking on slow flame. One can clearly see that the Himachali dishes have a lot of influence of Punjabi and Tibetan style of food.The availability of vegetables is a challenge in the hilly and cold terrain of Himachal Pradesh hence, most of the traditional dishes are either non-vegetarian, make use of different types of lentils in them or both. The use of varied spices like chillies, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric and coriander powder is common and make the food rich and spicy; very much to the delight of the tourists that flock to this part of the country almost all year long. The pahari folk also use a lot of dairy products, especially buttermilk, curd and ghee to make their food even more delectable.

Places to Stay in Himachal Pradesh !

Here are my select set of hotels with great views of the snow peaks. Visit the links and read detailed reviews to know about all aspects of the hotel including service and amenities before you decide on one. Remember, only a great view isn't just enough to make a hotel a great one.

Place Of Visit-Sightseeing

Manali : - Manali is a high-altitude Himalayan resort town in India's northern Himachal Pradesh state. It has a reputation as a backpacking center and honeymoon destination. Set on the Beas River, it's a gateway for skiing in the Solang Valley and trekking in Parvati Valley. It's also a jumping-off point for paragliding, rafting and mountaineering in the Pir Panjal mountains, home to 4,000m-high Rohtang Pass.The Mall Road and its bazaar are the town's focal point, while the Old Manali neighborhood is home to traditional stone buildings, apple orchards and the Hindu Manu Temple. Across the Manaslu River on a forested hilltop is wood-carved Hadimba Devi Temple, built in 1553 and dedicated to a Hindu goddess. The Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art preserves local crafts and heritage. In the Tibetan quarter, the Buddhist monastery Gadhan Thekchhokling is recognizable by its yellow, pagoda-style roof.

Shimla : - Shimla is the capital of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, in the Himalayan foothills. Once the summer capital of British India, it remains the terminus of the narrow-gauge Kalka-Shimla Railway, completed in 1903. It's also known for the handicraft shops that line The Mall, a pedestrian avenue, as well as the Lakkar Bazaar, a market specializing in wooden toys and crafts. Hindu shrines in the area include Kali Bari Temple near The Mall and Jakhu Temple on Jakhu Hill, dedicated to the monkey god Hanuman. The hill is Shimla's highest point, also known for its sunrise views across the Himalayas. The town's British colonial architectural heritage includes Gothic Victorian structures such as Christ Church and the Gaiety Theatre. There's also a mock-Tudor half-timbered library, and the Scottish baronial mansion formerly known as Viceregal Lodge, built in 1888 and now home to an academic foundation. Outside of Shimla are picturesque hill resorts such as Naldehra, as well as Chadwick Falls.

Dharamshala : -Dharamshala is a city in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Surrounded by cedar forests on the edge of the Himalayas, this hillside city is home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile. The Thekchen Choling Temple Complex is a spiritual center for Tibetan Buddhism, while the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives houses thousands of precious manuscripts.Lower Dharamshala comprises a largely Indian community, while a Tibetan enclave lives uphill in the suburb of McLeod Ganj. Near the Dalai Lama's main temple, Tsuglagkhang, is a Buddhist monastery known as Namgyal Gompa. The Tibet Museum provides a historical overview of Tibet's occupation. Cultural establishments include the Norbulingka Institute, a haven for traditional Tibetan arts and crafts, and the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts, which preserves Tibetan opera, music and dance. The city also offers trekking trails leading across the mountains to Triund, the upper Ravi Valley and beyond.

Dalhousie :-Dalhousie is a high-altitude town spread across 5 hills near the Dhauladhar mountain range in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It's home to colonial-era buildings, including St. Francis and St. John's churches, which date back to the rule of the British Raj in the 1800s. A trek up Dainkund Peak leads to Pholani Devi Temple. To the north, Subhash Baoli is a peaceful area with pine trees and panoramic views.

Kullu :-Kullu or Kulu is the capital town of the Kullu district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is located on the banks of the Beas River in the Kullu Valley about 10 kilometres north of the airport at Bhuntar. Kullu Valley is a broad open valley formed by the Beas River between Manali and Largi. This valley is known for its temples and its hills covered with pine and deodar forest and sprawling apple orchards. The course of the Beas river presents a succession of magnificent, clad with forests of deodar, towering above trees of pine on the lower rocky ridges. Kullu valley is sandwiched between the Pir Panjal, Lower Himalayan and Great Himalayan Ranges.

Kasol :-Kasol is a hamlet in the district Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, northern India. It is situated in Parvati Valley, on the banks of the Parvati River, on the way between Bhuntar and Manikaran. It is located 30 km from Bhuntar and 3.5 km from Manikaran. Kasol is the Himalayan hotspot for backpackers. and acts as a base for nearby treks to Malana and Kheerganga. It is called Mini Israel of India due to strong Jewish history and heritage found here. Kasol is a striking tourist destination in Himachal Pradesh. It is like a mini Israel, with numerous Israeli tourists and Hebrew cafes all around. Kasol is also known as 'Little Amsterdam' as it is flanked by hippies from everywhere.

Khajjiar :- Khajjiar is a hill station in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Dating from the 12th century, Khajji Nag Temple is dedicated to a serpent god. Nearby, the high-altitude Khajjiar Lake is surrounded by cedar forest. West, Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary is home to animals including deer and bears. Farther west, Dalhousie is a hill station with mountain views, dotted with temples and 19th-century British churches.

Sarahan :- Sarahan is a small village in Himachal Pradesh of India. It is the site of the Bhimakali Temple, originally known as Bhimadevi Temple, dedicated to the mother goddess Bhimakali, presiding deity of the rulers of the former Bushahr State. The temple is situated about 170 kilometres from Shimla and is one of 51 Shakti Peethas. The village is known as the "gateway of Kinnaur" it being near the old Indo-Tibetan Road. Seven kilometers below Sarahan is the river Satluj. Sarahan is identified with the Shonitpur mentioned in Puranas. Sarahan Bushahr has been the summer capital of Bushahr kingdom, with Rampur Bushahr considered the winter capital. The Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Shree Virbhadra Singh is a member of royal family and is popularly known as "Raja Sahab" at Sarahan. He has been member of the Assembly/Parliament since 1962 and has held the post of Chief Minister six times. His wife Rani Pratibha Devi is also a member of Assembly.

Sangla :- Sangla is a town in the Baspa Valley, also referred to as the Sangla valley, in the Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh, India, close to the Tibetan border.Sangla Valley or the Baspa Valley starts at Karcham and ends at Chitkul. Sangla is the major town in the valley with a petrol pump, Bank ATMs, Post Office, Restaurants, Bar, mid range hotels and shops. The valley is surrounded by forested slopes and offers views of the high mountains. Its location in the greater Himalayan range gives it a milder climate than the plains. Until 1989 outsiders could not enter the valley without a special permit from the Government of India, due to its strategic position on the Indo-Tibet/China border.

Kalpa :- Kalpa is a small town in the Sutlej river valley, above Recong Peo in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, Northern India, in the Indian Himalaya. Inhabited by Kinnauri people and famous for its apple orchards. Apples are a major cash-crop for the region. The local inhabitants follow a syncretism of Hinduism and Buddhism, and many temples in Kalpa are dedicated to both Hindu and Buddhist gods and goddesses. The average literacy rate of Kalpa is around 83.75%. One of the famous music director of Himachal Pradesh, Surender Negi, is from Kalpa. India's first ever voter Shyam Saran Negi also belongs to Kalpa.

Kaza :- The town of Kaza, Kaze or Kaja is the subdivisional headquarters of the remote Spiti Valley in the western Himalayas in the Lahaul and Spiti district of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Spiti is a high altitude or cold desert having close similarities to the neighbouring Tibet and Ladakh regions in terms of terrain, climate and the Buddhist culture. Kaza, situated along the Spiti River at an elevation of 3,650 metres above mean sea level, is the largest township and commercial center of the Spiti valley.

Tabo :- Tabo is a small town in the Lahaul and Spiti district on the banks of the Spiti River in Himachal Pradesh, India. The town lies on the road between Rekong Peo and Kaza, the sub-divisional headquarters of Spiti. The town surrounds a Buddhist monastery which, according to legend, is said to be over a thousand years old. The Dalai Lama has expressed his desire to retire to Tabo, since he maintains that the Tabo Monastery is one of the holiest. In 1996, the Dalai Lama conducted the Kalachakra initiation ceremony in Tabo, which coincided with the millennium anniversary celebrations of the Tabo monastery. The ceremony was attended by thousands of Buddhists from across the world. Tabo Monastery's spiritual head is Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche.

How to reach Himachal Pradesh

by Air: - There are three domestic airports that connect Himachal Pradesh to the rest of the country. These are located at Kullu-Manali, Dharamshala and Shimla. The airports have flights from Himachal Pradesh to Delhi and Chandigarh. You can conveniently travel via air and get down at the airport closest to the cities you wish to visit.

by Rail: -The kind of rocky terrain that Himachal Pradesh is located on, makes it slightly inconvenient to construct railway tracks. However, with best efforts, a train does run into the state from Pathankot in Punjab. Travelers can drive up to Punjab or take a flight and then take a train to Himachal Pradesh. By train, it takes only about seven and a half hours long. People usually take overnight trains to Himachal so that they reach feeling refreshed. The important railway stations in Himachal are Solan and Una. There is also a toy train available that connects Himachal to Kalka. Opting for a train proves to be great option as they are usually affordable, comfortable, well maintained and a lot more fun than a flight journey.

by Road :-The advantage of states situated in the hills is that you can plan a comfortable road trip. The distance from Delhi to Himachal Pradesh by road can be covered in just about 7 hours or maximum 7 and a half hours. The roads are very well maintained and even during the monsoon season, it is safe to drive up to the state, just needs a little caution. Himachal Pradesh is very well connected to the major cities. To reach Himachal by road, you can hire cabs or even take a bus. A bus journey is usually affordable and comfortable too, as the buses stop from time to time and allow people to try out the hill roadside chai and some local delicacies.

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