Himachal Pradesh: India’s snow-kissed land
Himachal Pradesh, India’s snow-laden province, is the 21st largest state in India and there are records to show that this hilly region has been inhabited since pre-historic times. All through its history, the region has been ruled by local kings and empires.
The main occupation of the people is agriculture, horticulture and hydropower, all made possible because of the several perennial rivers that flow through the state. It is the same rivers that have lent their charm to the picturesque vistas that the land is dotted with.
The famed Silk Route of days of yore passed right through Himachal Pradesh, and connected the far corners of China, Tibet, Ladakh and Kashmir. And even today the state pulls in tourists for its rich handicrafts and culture, and the beautiful, undulating landscape with its mountains, valleys and rivers.
|Himachal Pradesh: A Quick View of the state|
|Capital||Shimla and Dharamshala (its winter capital)|
|Population||7.6 million (as of 2018)|
|Currency||Indian Rupee (INR)|
|Time Zone||UTC+05:30 (IST)|
|Area||55,673 square km|
Highlights of Himachal Pradesh: things to see and do
There is much to do and see in Himachal Pradesh, and the state offers you myriad opportunities to do exactly that which your heart desires. You can choose to relax and enjoy its stunning beauty. Or you can spend a romantic getaway with the love of your life. Perhaps you wish to heed the spiritual call and discover yourself. Or if you are an adventure junkie, the many winter sports options are what will create the perfect holiday for you.
Places to visit
Once you know what you wish to do in Himachal, it is simply a question of planning your itinerary. Along with some of the more popular destinations like Kullu-Manali, Shimla, Dalhousie and Dharamshala, do go on an offbeat vacation by picking one of these unexplored places:
Himachal Pradesh is also known as the Land of the Gods. Nearly every town has its own deity, and each has a rich mythological past. These sacred shrines attract devotees from across the world and also contribute to tourism. When in Himachal, do try and visit these popular places of worship, among others.
The jungles of Himachal Pradesh offer a thrilling wildlife experience that is unparalleled, simply because of the presence of rare wild animals that are indigenous to this region. The state has numerous national parks and sanctuaries where you can get a glimpse of these untamed creatures. You can either go on a trek, book a spot on a safari or even camp out in the open to truly enjoy the state’s wildlife. Add these fabulous sanctuaries to your itinerary.
Art and Culture
Himachal Pradesh is a fine example of the arts and culture of the hilly regions of India. Its unique topography means it has developed its own distinct style of handicrafts and that can be spotted across the state. Travel anywhere in Himachal Pradesh and you should be able to pick up some amazing piece of this beautiful land.
Himachal also has a long list of dances performed for various occasions, many in front of temples and its presiding deity. People dress up in their traditional finery and dance to their heart’s content.
The people of Himachal Pradesh love festivities, and there is a reason to dance, feast and celebrate life every day. Do not miss the many fairs and festivals of the state and enjoy the elaborate rituals and traditions that are unique to this region.
Himachal Pradesh has a distinct flavour and that is captured brilliantly in its cuisine. Whether you eat at a street joint or sit down at any of the authentic cafes, you will taste the heart and soul of Himachal in the food. Some of the typical dishes that you cannot miss when in Himachal Pradesh include the dhaam, chana madra, kaale channe ka khatta, tudkiya bhath, bhey or spicy lotus stems, siddu, babru, aktori, chha gosht, kullu trout fish and of course the Tibetan dishes. End your sumptuous meal with mittha, a preparation of sweetened rice and dry fruits.
Interesting facts about Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is a mountainous state in the western Himalayas, and most of it lies in the foothills of the Dhauladhar range. On its north is the state of Jammu & Kashmir, to its west is Punjab, Haryana lies towards the southwest and Uttarakhand to the northeast. It rubs international borders with Tibet on the east.
Himachal Pradesh is a snow-laden land and it is spread across numerous valleys, with meandering rivers, deep valleys, and stunning vistas. The perennial rivers Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and the Yamuna pass through the state, irrigating its fertile lands. Many adventure seekers are also drawn to Himachal for the numerous sports activities that they can indulge in.
Timings: when you should visit
Himachal Pradesh has tremendous variation in its elevation, and that affects the climatic conditions in the state greatly. The southern parts experience hot and humid weather, and as you move up north and to the east, the weather gets steadily cold and glacial. Dharamsala receives heavy rainfall, while Spiti and Lahaul are cold and receive almost no rain.
Himachal Pradesh has three broad seasons – summer, winter and the monsoon.
Summer is from mid-April till end June, and this is when it can get very hot except high-altitude areas which experience a mild summer. Late November until mid-March is the Himachal Pradesh winter and there is snowfall in the northern regions of the state.
The best time to visit when winter is waning, and summer is yet to hit with its full fury. The months from February to end of April are considered to the best for travellers.
By rail: Himachal is known for its quaint narrow-gauge railways – the Kalka-Shimla Railway and the Pathankot-Jogindernagar line, of which the former is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Riding on these lines gives you spectacular views of the surrounding landscape and is a treat you don’t want to miss.
A broad-gauge railway track connects Amb and Una to Delhi.
By road: Himachal Pradesh has an extensive road network that connects every part of the state to the rest of the country. Many people opt to drive down from neighbouring states. Alternatively, there are several private and state-owned buses running through and outside Himachal Pradesh.
History: a land since even before time
Himachal Pradesh is home to many tribes. These include the Dagi, Khasa, Hali, Koli, Dhaugri, Kanaura, Dasa and Kirat tribes, who have occupied these lands from the time of the Indus Valley civilization.
A series of kings and empires came, conquered and have lived in Himachal Pradesh since then. Some of the more noteworthy were the Gupta Empire, King Harshavardhan, Rajput princes, Timur, Sikander Lodi and even the Delhi Sultanate. However, on the whole, the provinces of Himachal Pradesh enjoyed their independence to quite an extent. Then came the Kingdom of Gorkha, who conquered Shimla and slowly expanded their empire. But their rule was not to last too long once the British came in. The Gorkhas were expelled and the British became the dominant force in the region.
It was after Independence, in 1948 that 28 princely states of the region were integrated into the province of Himachal Pradesh. Finally, in 1971 the state of Himachal Pradesh was born.
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.
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.