Human life is all about making memories – ones that you will cherish forever and ones that will leave you choked with emotions. And if there is one place in India that will leave you with unlimited memories and with a major part of you behind, it is Himachal Pradesh. The land of the majestic mountains; the Himalayas will stir in emotions like no other place on earth. You’ll realize there’s something more than just the snow-capped peaks and the blue horizons. You will notice that as you enter the place, the roads are awaiting to tell you a story and that each hairpin bend is welcoming you with rewarding views of the mountains and valleys. The apple orchards that cross you by make you wonder on god’s mysterious ways of wrapping beauty in some of the smallest creations.
When you reach your hotel, the smile on the locals’ face will show you what hospitality is and that everyone in Himachal Pradesh is going an extra mile to create beautiful moments to you. From fun in the crowd moments to your intimate rendezvous with the mountains and the pristine streams arising out of them, you’ll realize that a thousand miles away from home, you’ve found another. The majestic mountains talking to you about staying rooted despite touching the sky and the lush green terrain explaining to you the significance of spreading happiness wherever you go will leave you speechless and make you realize these are the things that make life worth living.
That is Himachal Pradesh for you – the land of valleys, mountains, apple orchards, monasteries, mysticism and enchantment.
Currency: Indian Rupee
Time Zone: IST (UTC + 5:30)
Area: 55,673 square kilometers
Official Language: Hindi
Capital’s Calling Code: 0177
Himachal Pradesh is one of the most picturesque states in India. Landlocked by some really fertile and magnificent states, Himachal Pradesh literally translates to the abode of snow. It shares its borders with Jammu and Kashmir along its northern frontier, the Tibet region along its east, Chandigarh and Punjab on its west and Haryana and Uttarakhand along its southwest and southeast respectively. Land to some of the most majestic mountain ranges – Dhauladhar region – Himachal Pradesh is considered as the Western Himalayas. It boasts of enchanting tourist hillstations, pristine rivers and streams coming out of glaciers and rivers, making them perennial and blessed with ingenious species of flora and fauna.
It is known for its influx of tourists in the popular cities of Shimla, Kufri, Dalhousie, McLeodgunj, Solan, Kullu, Manali, Spiti, Lahaul and more. Himachal is also nature’s playground, offering Indians a chance to get hands on with some winter games like snow skiing, river rafting and more. Himachal Pradesh is also the producer of the highest quality apples in India and other organic fruits and fruits based derivatives.
The history of Himachal Pradesh goes back to the times of one of the first civilizations known to exist – the Indus Valley Civilization, which is between 2250 B.C. and 1750 B.C. It was the time the region was inhabited by tribes Haili, Dagi, Khasa, Kinnar, Koili, Dhaugri and more. It was not until the vedic period that the region came under the view of the Gupta dynasty, especially Harshavardhana, when he conquered several regions and set up Janapadas or small republics and handed them over to local chieftains.
Though these republics or kingdoms enjoyed significant independence, they were also subject to frequent invasions and conquering by Sikander Lodi, Mahmud Ghazvi and Timur. They also fell to the Mughals, paying tributes at regular intervals to the Mughal rulers.
During the British rule, the then rulers of the region went head on head with the British in the Tarai belt region, briefly after which they ended up getting expelled from the Sutlej Provinces. When the first revolt against the British broke out in 1857, the region still remained inactive and uninvolved with exceptions from a very few provinces. A few states like Bilaspur, Mandi and Chamba made significant progress under the British rule and during the World War I, most rulers from the states showed their loyalty to their business by providing them with materials and men.
After the exit of the British, Himachal became a part C state in the year 1951 and a union territory in 1956. In 1970, the parliament passed the State of Himachal Pradesh Act after which Himachal Pradesh was merged as one of the Indian states in 1971. The 18th state of India had its first chief minister as Dr. Yashwant Singh Parmar.
Being an Indian state, Himachal Pradesh is secular and has people from diverse religions making a livelihood along the regions. Though Hinduism is one of the most commonly followed religion in Himachal (around 95% of the total population), people belonging to Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Sikhism also live spread out in the state.
While Muslims are along Solan, Una, Chamba and Sirmaur, you can find Buddhist settlements in Spiti and Lahaul regions, and Sikhs in the major towns and cities of the state. Muslims constitute to about 3 to 5% of the population and Sikhs and Buddhists constitute to about 1.16% and 1.15% respectively.
In Himachal Pradesh, Hindi is the most commonly spoken language and is the state’s official language. Besides Hindi, you can also find people speaking pahari – or the language of the mountains and Punjabi. Being a tourist destination, English is widely recognized and spoken by the locals and thus it gets an additional status as a secondary official language. You can greet the locals with a Hi or a Namaste and Bhaiji to greet someone respectfully in the state.
Indian Rupee is the currency in use in Himachal Pradesh, where there coins and currency notes available for transactions. Coins have denominations of Rs, 1, 2, 5 and 10 and notes have denominations of Rs. 10, 20, 50, 500 and 2000. The destination has a lot of foreign currency exchange counters and ATMs where you can get your currencies exchanged or get local currency withdrawn from your account.
The price and its surge depend on the time you intend to visit and the city you intend to stay. Himachal Pradesh boasts of a high influx of tourists from around the world and country, immensely comprising of millennial. That’s why you will find several state-of-the-art hotels, resorts and backpackers hostels. Most of the places of accommodation cater to the requirements of foreigners, making stays pleasant for both Indians and visitors from abroad. While the resorts and eco-friendly retreats can cost around Rs. 22,000 for a night, the family accommodations can cost you approximately Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 7,000 for a night. And then there are backpackers hostel which offer dorm beds at Rs. 499 per night and private rooms at Rs. 2,500 per night.
Food and beverages are comparatively cheaper and you could spend anywhere from Rs. 400 to 500 for a day for food. Most hotels offer complimentary breakfast, leaving with you lunch and dinner expenses that you can choose from dhabas to family restaurants.
There are several ATMs set up across the important hill stations of Himachal Pradesh such as Shimla, Kufri, Kullu, McLedoGunj and Dalhousie. However, they are only situated around the towns or the bus stands. If you’re accommodation is a few kilometers away from the prime location, it is recommended you carry enough cash as some hotels do not accept cards for payments. Also, if you’re doing adventure sports, you will have to pay them by cash and there are no point-of-sales in place for transactions. You can use cards in restaurants, renowned hotels and spas, outside of which you’ll have to be prepared with cash. Being high in tourism, the ATMs tend to get out of cash very often as well.