Dense alpine forests, frosty snow clad peaks, walking trails fit for a romantic stroll – the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh with its spell binding beauty and vast array of quaint hill stations can make any summer retreat look pale in comparison. With such popular summer retreats as Shimla, Kullu, Manali, Dalhousie and Dharamshala in its repertoire, it continues to be as big a draw for modern India as it was for the erstwhile officials of the British Raj and with good reasons. Here are the top five reasons to holiday in Himachal:
The Sheer Beauty of Shimla
Declared the summer capital of Colonial India, Shimla has the famous Mall Road which one of the longest shopping enclaves in India. Unaffected by the tropical heat which takes the rest of the country in its sweltering grasp, Shimla’s cool climes, pine and deodar clad hills, and walking trails continue to draw large crowds each year. Explore the capital of Himachal located at a height of ,2205 metres by visiting the Mall Road, Christ Church, Shimla Ridge, Tara Devi Temple and Summer Hills town.
Settled by the English in the 19th century, this quaint hill retreat is named after India’s former Viceroy Lord Dalhousie. It is a great getaway, if you want to avoid the crowded streets of Shimla, Kulu and Manali. Chilly even in the summer heat, Dalhousie is dotted with beautiful colonial houses that offer panoramic views of the surrounding hills and forests. Go for lazy picnics under the sun, enjoy sightseeing tours, and don’t forget to visit the Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary!
Dharamshala - The Mini-Lhasa
Surrounded by snow-capped peaks on three sides, the beautiful valley of Dharamshala hosted His Holiness the Dalai Lama for a while. Hundreds of Tibetan refugees and Buddhist monks continue to call it home and visiting this retreat will provide a wonderful insight into the history, lifestyle and culture of the Tibetan people. Dharamshala offers great trekking opportunities to surrounding hills and is the take-off point for the tiny, yet delightful hill station of McLeodGanj. There are beautiful temples, museums and a war memorial, besides gorgeously sloping tea estates and the Dharamshala Cricket Stadium, the highest in the world. With so much on offer, Dharamshala is sure to keep you busy!
Water Sports and River Rafting in Manali
Another great getaway, this place is not for the faint-hearted. While snow-capped peaks await your arrival, Manali is also gaining reputation as an adventure sports destination. Adrenaline junkies can have a field day braving river rapids, zip-lining, parasailing, and horse riding in Manali. It also makes for a great take-off point to exotic destinations such as Lahaul and Spiti which lie in close proximity.
Mahashivratri Celebrations in Mandi
Known as the Varanasi of the Hills, this erstwhile princely state is not only a beautiful summer destination but also a great way to participate in Mahashivratri celebrations observed across the country. Famous for its many temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Mandi hosts the International Mahashivratri Fair, which is a great draw for both domestic and international tourists. A week long event that starts on February 18, 2015, it includes cultural events, fairs, exhibitions and religious rituals.