Think of endless mountain ranges, covered with trees and sometimes snow, the sun dipping out of sight as birds come back to roost and the air, fresh, crisp and sweet and you’ll know you’re in Himachal Pradesh, one of northern India’s most beautiful states. Known for its mountain resorts and towns such as Dalhousie, Shimla and Manali that contribute to Himachal tourism greatly, the state is also famous for its apple orchards, as well as trekking and climbing trails and of course skiing in the areas with snow.
Himachal Pradesh tourism brings a variety of experiences to the traveller, be it a visit to Shimla with its quaint colonial buildings or the distinct Buddhist vibe with its many temples and monasteries everywhere. There are lots of small towns to see and explore and a Himachal tour will take you to places like Kullu with its apple orchards and Manikaran with its hot springs to name a few.
Geography of Himachal Pradesh
Located in the western Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh is a mountainous state with several steep hills and curving roads that take you from one city to another. Himachal’s neighbours are Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. With around 38% of the state being covered with forests, Himachal has rich flora and fauna. The capital of the state is Shimla and it is the largest city in Himachal Pradesh.
Climate of Himachal Pradesh
The word Himachal means ‘land of snow’ and the state has been aptly named because of the many mountain ranges it contains that are covered with snow. Since there is so much variation in elevation, there are several changes in climatic conditions as well. There are three main seasons in Himachal – summer, winter and rainy season and snowfall is common during winter.
Culture of Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh has a unique culture that sets apart its people distinctly. From their colourful dresses to their simple and rustic lives, there is much to note about the people of Himachal Pradesh. While the population here is mixed with a Hindu majority, there is also a tribal population while there is a strong Buddhist presence in areas like Lahaul and Spiti which makes Himachal tourism all the more interesting. While Hindi is the common language here, Pahari is another language that is spoken predominantly. There are several interesting handicrafts and arts that have emerged from this state, but your Himachal tour is incomplete if you don’t get a colourful Himachali cap for yourself when you are here.
Himachal Pradesh tourism brings thousands of people to this state, especially to popular cities such as Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala, Dalhousie and Kasauli to name a few. There is much to see and experience here, no matter which cities or towns your Himachal tour covers. For instance, Manali is great for those who enjoy backpacking and other adventure sports such as paragliding, rafting or mountaineering. There are several temples here such as Hidimba Devi Temple or Manu Temple while the Manali sanctuary is also a great place to spot musk deer or the ibex.
Alternatively, enjoy Himachal Pradesh tourism with a distinctly Buddhist vibe when you visit Dharamshala which is the home of the Dalai Lama, where you can visit the main temple of Tsuglagkhang and Namgyal Gompa, a Buddhist monastery. There are plenty of traditional Tibetan Arts and Crafts to be seen here. There’s also the possibility of going on trekking trails to Triund.
The capital city of Shimla is renowned for the colonial architecture that lives on here, especially in The Mall area which has the famous Gaiety Theatre and Christ Church, which are Gothic Victorian structures. Shimla is a popular destination for Himachal tourism, a place where there is an intriguing mix of the old and new. There are gorgeous views of sunrise that you can enjoy here, while the Lakkar Bazaar specialises in wooden toys and crafts make for good souvenirs or gifts. One of the amazing things to do here is to go on the Kalka Shimla railway which is a narrow-gauge railway travelling through a mountainous route offering some dramatic and brilliant views of the hills and villages. Also, tourists inevitably find themselves drawn to The Ridge, an open space right at the centre of the city, where all cultural activities take place regularly.
It would be extremely remiss to talk of Himachal tourism and not mention Dalhousie. A favourite hill station for those who are looking for quiet views, a sense of peace and panoramic views, Dalhousie is actually spread across five hills. Some lovely colonial era buildings such as St. John’s and St. Francis’ churches add to the allure of this town. The British era town offers beautiful views of the snow-capped Himalayas.
Another favourite Himachal tourism spot is Kasauli. This small hill town has pretty gabled colonial era houses and a Christ Church with a striking green roof. Nature lovers will enjoy walking through the Gilbert Nature Trail that takes them through lush countryside where there are plenty of interesting birds to observe.
Most tourists head to Narkanda which is 65km away from Shimla and turns into a ski resort in the winter. There’s a lovely Hatu temple perched on top of Hatu peak offering beautiful scenic views from the top. The Tannu Jubbar Lake is an excellent tourist spot, serene and so very stunning with the trees surrounding it. Narkanda is also known for its apple orchards.