Himachal Pradesh literally means “in the lap of the Himalayas”. It was named by Sanskrit scholar Acharya Diwakar Dutt Sharma. This North Indian state was helmed as the second least corrupt state by the Transparency International survey in 2005. The area of Himachal Pradesh once cradled the famous Indus valley civilization. It is one of the only three Indian states to have two capitals – Shimla being the summer capital and Dharamshala being the winter one. Surrounded by Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Chandigarh and Uttarakhand, these highlands are worth a visit for any travel enthusiast in search of unexplored beauty of nature. The state has a very well-flourished tourism business and contributes substantially to the economy of the state.
Often referred to as the “fruit bowl” of the country, Himachal Pradesh is rich in flora. Famous for its hill stations, the state also houses a number of rare aromatic and medicinal plants. Several wildlife sanctuaries (about 30 in number), 3 national parks and 3 conservation reserves provide shelter to the 650+ species living in this region. However, the true beauty of Himachal Pradesh is in its handicrafts. The quality of art is such critically acclaimed that they are of high demand among tourists from different parts of the world. Some famous points of interest in Himachal Pradesh are:
Shimla is the summer capital of Himachal Pradesh and is the largest city of the state. It houses South Asia’s largest natural ice skating rink and is often considered as a traveller’s paradise. The Victorian era architecture contrast the green pastures to culminate into a treat for the eyes. There are a lot of things to see, in and around Shimla. These include the Ridge which is the cultural hub of the city, Christ church, Jakhoo and Shimla glen. Another major tourist attraction is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the British-built Kalka-Shimla railway line.
Manali is one of the favourite gateaways of the country. This hill station is ideal for honeymoon as the weather is very romantic and filled with excitement. It is also a good place for adventure enthusiasts as there are scopes for skiing in Solang valley and trekking in Parvati valley. Also, adventure sports like paragliding, rafting and mountaineering can be done in the Pir Panjal mountain range. Some other points of interest are Hidimba Devi temple, Rohtang pass, etc.
Kullu’s name is often taken along with Manali. Located on the banks of Beas river, Kullu is a wide open valley that has the most number of places to visit in Himachal Pradesh. Famous for its scenic beauty, apple orchards and temples, Kullu is a list-topper for anyone looking for a retreat in the lap of nature. Places of interest include hot springs at Manikaran, Tirthan valley, Great Himalayan national park, Kheer ganga, Bijli Mahadev temple, Hanogi Mata temple, Sri Gurunanak devji gurdwara, Chandrakhani pass, Dechen Choekhor Mahavihara Monastery, Kulant pith and many more.
Kasauli is among the best holiday choices in India. Its name is derived from a flower named “kasool” that blooms in volume all over the place. It is just 77 kms away from Shimla and is a quite sweet world in itself. The major attraction of the place is the Monkey point which provides a mesmerizing view of Chandigarh and Kalka, and looks inexplicably spectacular at night. There are some famous churches like the Baptist church and the Neo- Gothic Christ church, that adds to the beauty of the place.
The winter capital of Himachal Pradesh, Dharamshala is located on the edge of the Himalayas and is surrounded by a thick cedar forest. The major points of interest are- McLeod Ganj, which is the home of 14th Dalai Lama and thus, famous for its Tibetan culture; Masrur for its rock temples having carvings similar to that of the Ellora caves; and Kangra museum for housing several potteries, artcratfs and manuscripts that belonged to the Kangra valley culture. The Dal lake is another major attraction known for its beautiful location amidst deodar and juniper forests. Other spots for sightseeing include the Kangra fort, Namgyal Monastery, Dharamshala Stadium, etc.
Dalhousie is blessed with a pleasant climate and picturesque natural beauty. The city is surrounded by snow-capped peaks that are visual treats to both locals and tourists. Khajjiar valley, Karelanu, Bakrota Hills, Panchpula, Salooni and Kalatop are traveller favorites. The peak tourist season is from May to September. Accommodation is Dalhousie is facilitated by the presence of over 600 hotels. Tourism is very well taken care of as it generates the major of the city’s economy. Some other tourist spots to visit are- Dainkund, Alla, Lohali, etc.
Himachal Pradesh really seems to be a handcrafted place being bestowed with scenic beauty at every direction. It is truly a masterpiece of nature’s art and thus, a must visit for any nature lover.
Featured Photo by Srini G