Places to visit in Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh is perhaps Bollywood’s most preferred Indian destination. While it’s been a favorite shooting spot for tons of movies, it has also been a place a protagonist seeks solace in times of crisis and finds him/herself. From the treks that gave you travel goals in YehJawaniHaiDiwani, the poetic Lootera, the hard-hitting in your face drama Tamasha, Jab We Met, or more, the place has teased you with its serenity, photogenic locations and gorgeous backdrops. Probably for the first time, Bollywood hasn’t lied to us as most of the attractions and activities we’ve seen our heroes witnessing and doing in Himachal is for real. Sometimes, words simply fail to do justice to the beauty of this place and you just lose track of time and yourself in these places. 

Be it the attractions that offer glimpse of the majestic Himalayas to the ones filled with the locals running cafes serving Mediterranean and continental cuisines, Himachal is soulful, alive and refreshing. So, if you’re here, plan a ten-day trip to take in as much of this destination as you can and get to know the place and people better. Also, when you’re making the itinerary, make sure the following make it to your list.

Solang Valley also known as the ‘snow point’ is an alluring snow clad utopia near Manali and lies between Solang village and Beas Kund. Situated at an altitude of 8,500 feet above sea level, it offers a spectacular scenery of enchanting glaciers and snow crest mountain peaks. 

It is a paradise for nature lovers with lush white snow and picturesque background of mountain ranges while offering adrenaline junkies a plethora of different sport activities during the summer and winter seasons such as parachuting, skiing, paragliding, river rafting, zorbing, horse riding, etc. thereby making it a favourite tourist destination across all age groups. 

During the winters, indulge in the exhilarating experience of paragliding, the most thrilling activity for beginners and experts here. As you jump from the higher altitude and glide down with a help of a parachute, witness the mesmerizing views of the snow covered landscape from above.  Ski and skate on the fine slopes of Solang Valley that provide challenging runs for beginners and experts. There are various institutes that provide training and expert supervision to beginners. Take a cable ride, which offers a panoramic magnificent view of the entire valley from a height. Hop on a snow scooter and embark on a hilly ride, exploring the valley and the most exciting, roll in the snow and make snowmen and castles. 

The advent of summers transforms the valley as the snow melts and the lavish green carpet from beneath the snow gets revealed along with the resplendent lakes to begin the adventure of diverse range of activities such as horse riding, trekking camping, rock climbing, rappelling and zorbing, a thrilling adventure of rolling down the valley in an orb.  Paragliding and parachuting can also be done during the summers.

At Solang Valley, the locals offer an opportunity to tourists to dress up in the local traditional attires and also pose for a click with rabbits, yaks and cobras for a fee. Be sure to bargain and enjoy the finery of the garb whilst creating cherished memories.  

There are several staying options at Solang Valley including renting of tents for camping during summer time. 

On the way to Solang Valley, you can also visit the beautiful Hidimba temple located on the top of a hill with breathtaking views. The temple built in 1553, is a shrine devoted to the demon Hidimba who was married to Bheema from the epic the Mahabharata. Built around the cave where Hidimba used to meditate, the temple features a huge rock jutting out of the ground that is worshipped by the devotees as the image of the deity. Surrounded by the gorgeous cedar trees, the temple has a unique architecture of three square roofs and a fourth cone shaped roof, with a 24-meter high wooden tip or ‘shikhar’ above it and intricately carved wooden doors. It has remained untouched and glorious through 460 years.

The best time to visit Solang Valley is between October to February to relish the snowfall, sub zero temperatures and winter activities and between May to June for trekking, in the lush green forests, and summer activities. It is highly recommended to avoid the monsoon season.

 

Location

Manali, Himachal Pradesh

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Solang+Valley/@32.3149675,77.1601689,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x3904873b67f51935:0x711b3f450dfe5abf!8m2!3d32.3149675!4d77.1623576

 

Highlights

  • Solang Valley is one of the most popular ski destinations especially during December - January
  • It is a must visit place for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts
  • A serene scenic beautiful blooming valley with glimmering snow capped mountain ranges 
  • The thrill of paragliding, skiing and zorbing in one destination

 

 

Recommended For

A wondrous experience of snow and adventure for families, friends and thrill seekers

 

How to get to Solang Valley

Air: Bhuntar airport is the nearest airport to Manali  at 10 kms. From there you can hire a cab. 

Train: The closest station is Jogindernagar railway station. From there, you can either hire a taxi or take a bus.

Road: With well-connected roads, private and state buses run frequently from Delhi, Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab to Solang Valley. Private cars and cabs can also be hired. 

 

Interesting Facts About Solang Valley

  • The guest house of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali is based here. This institute offers training in skiing to the tourists and is the venue for winter skiing festival.  
  • The start of international skiing competition like Alpine Premier League has made the valley a hot spot for local and foreign tourists.
  • Solang Valley has interesting stalls that sell wooden crafts, junk jewellery and woolen gears.

Temples are one of the major attractions in Himachal tourism. Himachal is considered to be connected with the Indian mythologies the Mahabharata and the Ramayana and you can see temples of gods and goddesses associated with the mythology all through the destination. Jakhoo hill is one of the popular attractions in Himachal and is known for its Hanuman temple (the monkey god), which is believed to have been built to signify him setting foot on the hills when he came searching for the Sanjeevani Hills.

Legends say that the hills were massive and huge until Lord Hanuman stepped foot on it made it shrink. Today, the Jakhoo hill stands at an altitude of 2,500 meters from the sea level and is the highest point in Shimla. The place hosts a 108-foot Hanuman statute, standing tall amidst the deodar trees. You need to climb close to 300 steps to reach the place, which comes after a mild trek. Dusshera is probably the best time to visit this place and you can see several paintings and statues of Lord Hanuman.

 

Known for:

The 108-foot Hanuman statue believed to have mythological connection and significance

How to Reach:

You can reach the Jakhoo hill by taking a cab from the Ridge, Shimla or the Mall. Private cabs and shared taxis take you to the place from the Ridge, which is just 2.5 kilometers away from the place.

Cost: Free

Operating Hours:

The temple is open from morning 7 AM to 8 PM during the summer and from 8 AM to PM in the winters.

Any Precautions:

Carry water bottles as a steep climb is involved. Also, be careful with your wallets, snacks, sunglasses and other materials as there are a lot of monkeys in this place that try to snatch things and run away.

Type: Temple

Rohtang Pass is a charismatic snow clad bliss near Manali and a popular layover en-route to Lahaul and Spiti Valley. Situated at an altitude of 3,978 meters above sea level at the Manali – Keylong road, it offers a spectacular scenery and plethora of snow activities to indulge in such as skiing, sledging, paragliding etc. 

It is an ideal spot for trekkers. Though challenging, it is an absolute magnificent trail speckled with enchanting glaciers, majestic waterfalls, imposing mountain peaks and a magnificent view. Some of the popular trek routes are the Manali – Lahaul pass which is 117 km long with Bhrigu lake and sulphur springs in your path, Gulaba to Bhrigu Lake and Batal to Rohtang and Jalori pass.

Indulge in an unforgettable exhilarating experience of snow adventures such as sledge rides on wooden toboggan, skiing, mountain biking, snow scooter, river rafting, paragliding, zorbing etc.

A Rohtang Pass permit at the cost of Rs. 550 is a mandatory requirement to travel to Rohtang and beyond by every visitor. In 2016, the Himachal state government introduced online permits to limit the number of vehicles to 1,200 (800 petrol cars+400 diesel cars) to curb pollution in the area. The drive up to the Rohtang Pass is of immense pleasure as you pass by the picturesque sprawling landscapes draped in white blanket of snow, leaving you spellbound by the mesmerizing natural beauty of nature.

Along with Rohtang Pass, one can also visit the Sonapani Glacier and the peaks of Gaypan, known for its beautiful views and peaceful ambience, Rahala waterfall which is 32 km by road, breathtaking Bhaga and Chandra glacial rivers and the famous holy site - Beas Kund, the source of the Beas River.

There is no staying option at the Rohtang Pass but tourists can stay in Manali which is 50 kms away.

The pass is open from May to November and closed during winters due to snowfall, extreme weather conditions and landslides.

Highlights

  • Rohtang is a must visit place for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts
  • The glimmering snow capped mountain ranges 
  • Ethereal beauty of glaciers and nature in all its glory  

Recommended For

Nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts

 

Location

Himachal Pradesh

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Rohtang+La/@32.3717249,77.2424591,16z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x39047ef0b27a15ad:0xbfdd7e65efefc66b!8m2!3d32.3716426!4d77.2466221

 

How to get to Rohtang Pass

Train: The closest station is Joginder Nagar at a distance of 104 km from Manali. From Manali, you can either hire a taxi or take a bus.

Road: Private taxi and state buses run frequently from Manali to Rohtang Pass, which is almost a 2-hour ride. It is recommended to take a cab as the drive is difficult due to slippery roads and narrow curves.

 

Interesting Facts About Rohtang Pass

  • The name Rohtang means 'ground of corpses' due to the death of numerous people who lost their lives while crossing this treacherous range in bad weather conditions
  • It connects Lahaul and Spiti to Kullu
  • Movies such as ‘Jab We Met’ and ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ have been shot at Rohtang Pass.

 Spiti Valley is an exquisite cold mountain desert in the lap of the Great Himalaya Ranges in Himachal Pradesh. Spiti literally means ‘the middle land’ and is aptly named, as Spiti Valley separates India from Tibet.

Location

Spiti Valley

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Spiti+Valley,+Marango+Rangarik,+Himachal+Pradesh+172114/@32.2461353,78.0174064,14z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x3906a40ef42dc09b:0x52b583a91132a239!8m2!3d32.246137!4d78.034916

Situated at an altitude of 12,500 feet above sea level, the picturesque valley encased by the Himalayas is an exotic destination and gem of Himachal Pradesh. Snow crest alps, snow carpeted pristine landscape, alpine forest, deep ravines speckled with greenery, glistening glaciers, sparkling azure rivers, splendid monasteries and quaint hamlets embellish the valley and exude a vision of a mesmerizing painting. The surreal beauty of the valley and the monasteries allures tourists and trekkers from all over the world.

 

Key Monastery

Key monastery also known as ‘Kye Gompa’ is a beautiful Tibetan monastery perched at an altitude of 4,112 meters above sea level in the Kaza region. Overlooking the Spiti river, it is the most famous and largest monastery in Spiti Valley with a resplendent Lord Buddha shrine and a treasure trove of ancient Buddhist literature, manuscripts, thangkas and murals. The fort like structure of the monastery bears resemblance to Chinese theme and comprises of a striking assembly hall and fascinating Tengyur room which is richly adorned with exquisite murals and paintings. The monastery also serves as a religious center where the lamas receive their education and training. Witness an astounding dance of the Lamas, accompanied with musical instruments such as pipes and horns.

 

Chandra Tal Lake

Located at a height of 4,300 meters, Chandra Tal Lake is the most strikingly beautiful lake in Spiti Valley and the name derives from it’s crescent shape. 6km from Kunzum pass, the lake is a paradise on earth with shimmering crystal blue waters swathed with vast lush green meadows and snow crested alps. The lake is a spectacular vision in the morning when the brilliant rays radiating from the sun bathes the lake in various hues of red, orange to blue and green while at night the pristine waters reflect a still black hue and is a breathtaking unparalleled sight to behold.  Chandra Tal lake is popular with trekkers and campers for its mystic beauty, thrilling trails and the brilliant night sky making it a gorgeous destination for camping.

Tabo Monastery

The Tabo monastery is the oldest and ancient monastery in India. Built in the 10th century, it is perched on an elevated altitude of 10,000 feet above sea level in the cold desert of Tabo. Referred to as the ‘Ajanta of the Himalayas’ as the walls are adorned with mesmeric murals depicting the ancient tales of the Mahayana Buddhist Pantheon and ancient paintings just like in the Ajanta caves, it is a beautiful monastery comprising of 9 temples such as ‘The Temple of the Enlightened Gods’, ‘The Buddha Maitreya’ etc. and multiple stupas. The temple houses various beautiful stuccos of Boddhisattvas, artistic murals, exquisite frescoes, and beautiful paintings along with a priceless collection of manuscripts and works of Buddha and Thangkas. Being one of the most historically significant sites in the Buddhist culture, the Archeological Survey of India has taken over the responsibility of its maintenance and preservation. 

 

Suraj Tal Lake

A picture perfect lake, Suraj Tal is a dream painting come alive especially for photographers. Literally translated as ‘Sun Lake’, Suraj Tal is a spectacular lake, located below Baralacha pass and is most frequented spot by nature lovers, photographers and trekkers. The lake is fed by the Baralacha glaciers surrounded by trails ideal for trekking and mountain biking.

 

Kunzum Pass

Located at 4,590 meters above sea level, Kunzum pass is a gateway from kullu and Lahaul to Spiti Valley. The drive on the rugged terrains offers a stunning panoramic view of the Chandra Bhaga range, Spiti Valley and Bara Shigri glacier. Trekkers can trek to the pass from Chandra Tal lake. One can also seek blessings at the Kunzum Devi temple by taking a complete circle of the temple in your car. It is believed to protect travelers from any mishaps that may occur on such rough roads. The colourful Buddhist flags swaying in the wind add to the beauty of the place.

 

Baralacha Pass

Located at a great height of 16,040 feet above the sea level, Baralacha Pass is a challenging pass situated on the Manali-Leh highway in the Zanskar ranges. The 8km long pass connects Lahaul to Ladakh and offers trekking, mountain biking and camping opportunities with magnificent views of the mighty snow clad Pir Panjal, Great Himalayas and Zanskar ranges, glorious glaciers and the Bhaga river which originates from Suraj Tal Lake. Embark on an exhilarating adventurous trek and camping to Baralacha Pass from Chandra Tal lake which takes a week to complete.

 

Pin Valley National Park

Set amidst frozen streams is a beautiful Pin Valley National Park situated in the cold desert bio reserve of Spiti Valley. Situated at a height of 3,300 meters, it is home to rare and endangered diverse species of flora and fauna. One can encounter wildlife such as Siberian ibex, Himalayan snow leopard, snowcocks, Tibetan gazelle, wooly hare, chukar partridge amongst others. 22 rare medicinal plants have been discovered here apart from the cedar and deodar trees populating the park. Adventure seekers can also trek to the park through scenic beauty and regal backdrop of snow capped alps.

The best time to visit Spiti Valley is in the summers between May to October as it is cut off from the rest of the world in winters due to heavy snowfalls and thick icing conditions.

 

Highlight

  1. Spiti Valley is a gorgeous snow laden barren desert with breathtaking unadulterated beauty.
  2. Lhalung monastery, one of the earliest monasteries founded by Rinchen Zangpo who is considered a Buddhist ‘Mahaguru’ is a popular attraction. The monastery is adorned by a complex of 9 shrines, each of which is a hub of Buddhist teachings. It is also called the Golden Temple due to the gold leaf deities kept in its shrine.
  3. Dhankar lake at a distance of 5km from Dhankar monastery is a spellbinding natural clear lake perched on a cliff at a height of 4,270 meters with picturesque surroundings.  It can be reached by undertaking a thrilling and arduous trek expedition of an hour from the monastery.
  4. Several villages in Spiti Valley offer a captivating and exciting trek trails with mesmerizing views such as Kibber, Losar, Kormik and Darcha.
  5. Yak and Horse Safaris are the most popular and fun ways to explore the valley.
  6. Adventurists can engage in river rafting at the Spiti river while basking in the beguiling views of the picturesque landscape.

 

Recommended For 

A relaxing and rejuvenating escape into the hills to seek peace and experience a serene culture embraced by the monasteries and tranquil nature.

 

How to get to Spiti Valley

Flight: The nearest airport is Kullu Airport at Bhuntar, Kullulocated at a distance of 245 km. A cab can be hired from there directly to Spiti Valley.

Train: The closest major station is Shimla railway station. A cab can be hired from there directly to Spiti Valley

Road: Several private and state buses ply from major cities to Spiti Valley. Private car and taxi can also be hired.

 

Interesting Facts About Spiti Valley

  • Spiti is surrounded by Tibet in the East, Ladakh in the North, Kullu and Lahaul in the South and Kinnaur in the South East
  • Spiti Valley is scarcely inhabited with the majority of the population being Tibetans
  • The world’s highest village Kormik, is situated in Spiti. It also boasts of having the world’s highest post office and polling station in the village of Hikkim.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Great Himalayan National Park is a celebration of the Himalayas and all the rich flora and fauna it has to offer. Some of the most majestic and beautiful creations have been recorded to be found in the Himalayan region and the national park is built to conserve the ingenious species and the biodiversity of the region. The park is spread across an area of over 1,700 square kilometers through the altitude ranges of 1,500 and 6,000 meters and is home to over 375 species of fauna and diverse flora. It houses over 181 birds, 31 mammals, 3 reptiles, 127 insects, 9 amphibians and more.

 

Location: Kullu, Himachal Pradesh

Known for: Housing diverse indigenous species of flora and fauna and for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Approximate Cost: Rs. 50 for Indians and additional prices for cameras both still and video

Operating Hours: 24 hours

How to reach: You can reach from Shimla by taxis or cabs via the Jalori pass, which is closed in winters. From Delhi, you can either reach Manali by buses or cabs by paying approximately Rs. 10,000 or Rs. 1000 respectively. While taxis will directly take you to the place, if you’re taking a bus, get down at Aut and inform the park and the officials would be kind enough to send a vehicle for a pickup.

Type: Animal and Bird Sanctuary

One of the oldest churches in India, the Christ Church in Shimla is the second oldest church in North India, following Meerut. Following a neo-gothic architectural style, the church took 13 years for completion and was consecrated in the year 1857. A century and a half later, the church still stands tall and majestic, becoming a major tourist attraction and a place of religious significance. The church houses some intricate designs and paintings that depict the life of Jesus Christ. The church became more popular after it featured in movies like 3 Idiots and Black. It’s a haven for photographers.

 

Location: Mall Rd, Lakkar Bazar, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

Known for: Its Heritage, Architecture and for being the second oldest church in North India

How to reach: The Christ Church is a prime landmark and is well located at the Ridge, Shimla. You can walk down to the church from the Ridge or take an Ola from your accommodation and pay nominal charges.

Approximate Cost: Free

Operating hours: 8 AM to 6 PM

Type: Monument

Or popularly known as the Dharamsala stadium, this destination is on the bucket list for thousands of cricket fans out there. Surrounded by Himalayan ranges, the stadium is nestled between mountain peaks and rivers and arrives as one of the best places for a game of cricket. At an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level, it is one of the highest cricket stadiums in India and has hosted one-day internationals, test matches and T20s. With a seating capacity of 23,000 visitors, the stadium is just a delight to sit and catch a cricket match.

 

Location:Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh

Known for: Being one of the highest cricket stadiums and hosts to IPLs and one day internationals

How to Reach: It is easily accessible from Kangra airport, where it’s located just 8 kilometers away from the airport. Taxis and cabs run from Dharmsala and McLeodGunj and charge you approximately Rs. 300 to Rs. 500.

Approximate Cost: Free when there’s no match and priced when there are international matches happening. The price varies from one stand to another.

Operating hours: 8 AM to 7 PM on all days

Type: Notable building

Regarded as the mini Switzerland of India, Khajjiar is more picturesque and idyllic than how they appear on photos. Once you get there, you’ll realize how beautifully it’s nestled between the mountains, with an alluring lake in the center of the landscape. The green spread, horse stables and a private house just before the pine trees make the place resembles the ones you’ve only seen on postcards. Situated in Dalhousie at around 25 kilometers from the prime area, the place also has a board that directs towards Switzerland and reads 6194 kilometers. You can also find activities like zorping and paragliding here.

 

Location:Khajjiar, Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh

Known for: its picturesque backdrop and scenery, resembling a typical countryside setting in Switzerland

How to Reach: From Dalhousie, you can hire a cab or taxi to reach Khajjiar. It takes close to one hour through sceneries and mountains to reach the place, making the drive absolutely worth it.

Approximate Cost: Free

Operating hours: Though open 24 hours, tourists usually leave by 6 PM as its gets risky to get back to Dalhousie with fog and mists covering the mountains.

Type: Landmark

One of the most historic and peaceful places in Himachal, the Dalai Lama temple is one destination every Himachal tourism guide will recommend. Covered by Buddhist prayer flags and wheels along the way, the temple emanates vibes of compassion and tranquility. The place is filled with praying

Lamas and tourists are allowed to join their prayers, spin the wheel and touch and take in the monument. If you’re lucky, you can even catch a glimpse of his Holy Highness the Dalai Lama when he is in McLeodGanj. The temple is easily accessible on foot and vehicle from the mall road, McLeodGanj and is a must-visit for historians, those seeking an inner self, photographers and solo travelers.

 

Location: Temple Rd, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala

Known for: Its the official residence of the Dalai Lama and is known for its historic significance. You can see Lord Buddha sitting here.

How to reach: Walk down from the mall road or grab a taxi (Rs. 250) or an auto (Rs. 120 to 150) from McLeodGanj. You will actually cross the temple before entering McLeodGanj, giving you an idea of how far it is from your place of stay.

Approximate Cost: Free

Operating Hours: 8 AM to 8 PM

Any Precautions: Do not carry cigarettes or alcohol inside the premises. It’s a religious place just like yours. So refrain from taking selfies. Also maintain silence for as long as you’re there.

Type: Buddhist Monastery

Why you should attend this event

It marks the birth of a new year and signifies the onset of prosperity and new beginnings. The festival is dedicated by the locals to the Goddess of wealth and prosperity – ShashikarApa. Lamas decide the date of celebration and the location of celebration and people enjoy the festivities together. People usually contribute wood of cedar trees for the bonfire as it signifies unity. It happens for two days in the month of January.

Who should attend

Those who want to explore different cultures and understand people and traditions better should definitely pay a visit to this festival during January.

Why you should attend Lohri

Celebrated in the regions of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, Lohri marks the beginning of the harvest season. It is the time rabi is harvested and is triggered by music, dance, get-togethers and vibrant festivities. People buy and dress up in vibrant colors and light community bonfires and come together forgetting cultural, racial and any differences that could stand in their way. Celebrated on the 13th of January, the festivities are held for a day.

Who should attend

Travelers are in this region during this time should take time off their schedules and witness this phenomenal gathering. It gives you a chance to get closer to their culture, understand their background and appreciate their love for nature.

Why you should attend this event

True to its name, the event is a carnival of food, dance, music, and fun. Started in the year 1977 to promote tourism and culture, the winter carnival has just been getting better every year. Four decades later, it still stands for its significance but multiplying manifold in its festive spirit. The event comprises of procession from the Hadimba temple in Manali, folk dance, skits and plays, and a contest to determine the Winter Queen and Mr. Manali, skiing contests, food festival, band competition, adventure sports and more. The carnival scene along the slopes of Manali and the mall road make it a delight to simply be part of it.

Who should attend

From people who are into studying culture to those of you who love to have fun on an everyday basis must visit the carnival. It’s too much fun to miss it and regret later.

One of the most popular destinations to do paragliding, paragliding should definitely be on your list of things to do in Himachal. Popular during the summers, you have two options for paragliding – a lower altitude glide that is brief and sweet and a higher altitude glide that is more adventurous and not for the faint hearted. For the latter, you need to take a gondola ride (cable car) and deboard at a point, trek for a few minutes from there and get ready for the fall.

Once there, you will be couched like a kangaroo and just rely on a sheet of plastic that will be the only thing your life will be clinging on to for the following few minutes. However, it’s safe and is done by trained professionals. Before the fall, your instructor will ask you to not think twice and keep running till the edge of the cliff and leave, where you will freefall for a few seconds to suddenly soar into elevation after your parachute opens. Exciting? Wait till you get there, questioning your decisions.

 

Location Bir and Solang Valley

For: Groups of friends and solo travelers

Difficulty level: Moderate to difficult

Approximate Cost: Rs. 3,000 during peak season and Rs. 1,500 during off season. You can combine this with other activities for combo deals.

Why you should do it: To get closest to flying and feel the cold Himalayan winds gushing through your face. To scream your heart out and feel accomplished after you land.

Tips: Do not carry your cellphones, wallets or anything that could fall off when paragliding. Check for safety measures and ask for helmets before flight.

Truly a paradise for adventure enthusiasts, Himachal is one of the most appropriate places to indulge in river rafting. The perennial rivers flowing out of Punjab make it perfect for rafting across various regions of Himachal. The currents in these rivers are rapid and hit a scale of 4 to 6. They are often ferocious and people are often chosen only after a mild fitness test. Oh yes, you are also required to sign on a document that says you are responsible for your own life. Reassuring? Totally worth it! If you’re in the months of April to September, don’t hesitate and plunge into your boats to experience what the hitting of glacial water feels like.

 

Location: Manali-Kullu, Bilaspur (GobindSagar), Dalhousie (Chamera Lake), Kullu (Beas), Chandrabagha (Chenab) and Chamba (Ravi)

For: Families, friends groups, honeymoon couples

Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult

Approximate Cost: Rs. 600 per person

Why you should do it: It is one of the safest places in India for river rafting and its best to overcome your fear of water. The thrill that the maneuvering boats offer while moving over rocks and opposite currents is a sweet slap in your face that will make you scream, cheer and smile.

Tips: Never carry anything with you for rafting. Just go with your attire and lifejackets and pay attention to the instructions. You don’t have to book in advance as there are a lot of places to get started with river rafting.

Thanks to the topography of our country, snow is unknown for most states and is blessed to a few. Himachal is one such region. Its altitude, climate and conditions make it most appropriate for skiing and snowboarding. If you’ve ever imagined yourself replicating some action packed scenes from James Bond movies or Inception, Himachal is one place that will take you closest to live your dramatic dreams with its skiing activities. From almost an altitude of 9,000 feet, you will glide down a terrain that is crisp and a location that is all white and dark. Sudden plunges as high as 500 feet will leave you in euphoria for what just happened and make you scream in bliss. Skiing in Himachal is not to be missed.

 

Location: Solang valley and Kufri

For: Groups of friends, couples and mature adults

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Approximate Cost: Starting at Rs. 300 per person. Price for gears separate

Why you should do it: It’s simple. You can’t imagine doing something gigantic of this sort back home. Wear those boots, cover your skin, grab that stick and get skiing.

Tips: Be very careful when selecting your gear because it directly influences your safety. The larger your ski, the better the experience is. Slide at a speed comfortable to you. Your heroics can prove expensive to you or others around you

You can have a glimpse of the scenic locations on boats, gliders, cabs and vehicles but nothing comes close to the personally feeling the soil beneath. Trekking in Himachal is one of the most enriching experiences ever and with every kilometer you cover, you learn something new about the place, the locals, the food, or yourself. Through jaw-dropping locales, green spreads of grasses and landscapes, clear blue skies and composed water streams, you will get close and personal with nature and all of its beautiful offerings.

 

Locations: Chandratal, Manali, Beas Kund, Pin Parvati pass, Baralacha la, and more

For: Trekkers, nature and mountain enthusiasts

Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult

Approximate Cost: Rs. 3000 onwards per person

Why you should do it: To touch, feel and breathe nature vested along the Himalayan foothills. To get closer views of the majestic peaks and to experience sunset over the mountains.

Tips: Though most trek operators provide basic gears, carry essential utilities like power bank, spare SIM cards, steel water bottles, glucose powders, snickers, hats, sunglasses, mosquitoes and insect repellants, spare clothes, camera and torch lights.

Sounds like a mix of illiterate and illuminati, right? In Dharamsala, the Café Illiterati is popular for three things –the stunning views of the Himalayas, its food and unique concept of blending books and food. If you’ve always wanted to be in a place surrounded by books, a perfect corner and a piping hot cup of hot chocolate, subconsciously you’ve been dreaming about café Illiterati. You can work, you can chill, and you can eat, drink and if you’re lucky, watch musicians and foreigners jamming their favorite songs on live performances. Though located at a distance from McLeodGanj, it’s worth every effort.

 

Must eat: Belgian waffles, coffee, soup selections, bruschetta and lemonade

Approximate Cost for two: Approximately Rs. 1,500

Address: Jogibara Rd, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176219

Contact: 085880 46101

Opening hours: 10: 30 AM to 9 PM

Hide Out Café is the restaurant for all seasons and reasons. From your cravings of cheesy pasta or schezwan noodles to burgers and fries, Hide Out Café takes care of your palate cravings and serves you with the best of the ingredients. Not just the food, even service is of top notch with managers and waiters going an extra mile to offer you a pleasant dining experience. Their vision with the restaurant is clearly evident from the food they serve you and is a delight to dive into the orders along with others waiting for a gastronomic treat. Go visit and you’ll be happy you did.

 

Must eat: Pasta, pancakes, cheesecake, garlic bread, coffee, burgers and sandwiches

Approximate Cost for two: Approximately Rs. 800

Address: Shop no 30, 1st floor, The mall, Adjacent to fire station, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh 171001

Contact: 0177 265 3100

Opening hours: 8 AM to 10:15 PM

If you’ve been to McLeodGanj and answer no when somebody asks you if you’ve visited Tibet Kitchen, you haven’t been to McLeodGanj. Tibet Café is probably the closest and the best possible way relish Tibetan cuisine. The place is not as grand or vibrant as you think. It’s small yet cozy and you’ll find pictures of the Dalai Lama on the walls that have a Chinese influence. You’ll be noticing all these until your food arrives. When it does, you wouldn’t care less about the décor because the food in front of you is simply blessed with good things. Considering the weather and the food temperature and ingredients, Tibet Kitchen is the best place to be in McLeodGanj.

 

Must Eat: Thukpas, momos and mixed noodles

Approximate Cost for Two: Approximately Rs. 600

Address: Jogiwara Road, House #1 | McleodGanj, Dharamsala 176215,

Contact: +91 189 222 1980

Operating Hours: 10 AM to 9:30 PM

Probably one of the finest places to party in Shimla, Moksh gives a laidbackvibe and stands true to it. Visitors mostly come to chill, grab a couple of drink and pass time. While the décor is really commendable and ultra-modern, the food and the cocktails are classic. A variety of DJs come and perform here and you can find yourself grooving to Indi-pop, R & B, and EDMs. The name of the nightclub translates to salvation, which is justified. You get discounts if you’re an in-house guest and pay an entry fee if you’re visiting the club.

 

Must Try: Wine selection, pasta and finger food

Opening hours: 7:30 PM to 12:00 AM

Location: Near Lift, Mall Rd, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh 171001

Anything that has Ritz as its prefix is bound to be good and this place at the Ritz Bar and Restaurant is no exception. Situated at the Mall road, Shimla, the place is known for its visiting DJs, music and cocktail selections. Probably one of the most popular clubs in Shimla, the place offers commendable ambience and good food. If you’re a fan of Bollywood nights, this is the place you should visit when in Shimla. The location, the drink selection and the music will offer you the best of clubbing experience. To enter, you have to pay an entry fee of approximately Rs. 500, which might increase during the weekends.

 

Must Try: Cocktails and finger food

Opening hours: 7:30 M to 11:00 PM

Location: Ritz Bar & Restraunt The, Ridge, The Mall, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh 171001

After you’re done traveling or touring for the day, if you want to head out to somewhere refreshing, an ideal place to visit is the Rendezvous bar and restaurant. If it has been a hectic day, this is the place you should choose to unwind, have a sip of your favorite drink, looking at the views or probably striking a conversation with people there. No matter if you’re alone, with a group of friends or on a date, this place has a place for everyone. Situated at the Scandal point, the bar and restaurant will ensure you have a great time. With friendly staff and decent ambience, the cozy place is sure to make you feel good.

 

Must Try: Monkey Glad, Dosa varieties and samosas

Opening hours: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM

Location: Scandal Point, The Mall, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh 171001

The Mall is where the shopping scene in Shimla is. As much as chaotic and noisy as it looks, the place is equally vibrant and full of life. You’ll find enthusiastic people walking all around the place and some searching for their friends. A blend of both branded and street shopping, the Mall is where you will find wooden souvenirs, shawls, mufflers, scarves and Tibetan jewelry.

 

Timing: The shopping avenue is open all days the week from 9 AM to 9 PM.

Known for: Kinnauri winter garments, Tibetan jewelry and Pashmina shawls

Bargaining: Being flocked by tourists, consider bargaining your birthright in the mall road. Thought it’s not possible in branded showrooms, feel free to strike best deals with vendors outside.

Visited heavily by tourists in Kullu, the Akhara Bazaar is the go to place for them for all things woolen. Besides taking home a tangible piece of memory, shopping is also the best way to understand culture, lifestyle and art and Akhara Bazaar stands as an example of all the three. From foreigners to Indian tourists, the market is visited by all and no itinerary is complete without dropping by here.

 

Location: NH 21, Kullu

Timing: 9 AM to 9 PM

Known for: Woolen shawls, mufflers, puhlas, pattoos, rugs and more in local designs and patterns

Bargaining: Street shopping at its best, you can bargain to your heart’s content in Akhara bazaar.

Whether you’re looking for a Buddha statue for your relatives or Tibetan handicrafts for your home décor, Dharamsala will surprise you with its series of shops at the Kotwali market. From prayer wheels and flags to hand-woven carpets and shrugs, you can find everything with a touch of Tibetan finesse added to them at Dharamsala. Plus, the location and the weather at the place makes shopping all the more calm and refreshing.

 

Location: Kotwali Bazaar Road, Sudher, Dharamshala

Timing: 9 AM to 9 PM

Known for: Tibetan carpets, shrugs, murals, paintings, wall hangings, home décor and Tibetan souvenirs

Bargaining: If you’re experienced and good at bargaining, you can bag maximum items at reduced prices. But make sure you carry cash because your cards may not be accepted here.

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