Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh – Jewel in the north of india

“The Home of the Snow” – Himachal Pradesh translated literally – is located in the north of India and has a lot to offer apart from the obvious enchantment of the Himalayan range.

Himachal Pradesh combines various colorful and lively aspects in its cultural but also in its landscape – the dry high altitude desert of Spiti, the fertile-green Lahaul, the large community of Tibetans in exile in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala; Shimla with its British, colonial flair, cliffy Kinnaur with its remote mountain villages, old forts and sacred Hindu sites.

We love Himachal especially for its architectre – particularly the houses and temples built long ago with a lot of timber and even more love of detail!

“Unforgettable Himachal” is the slogan of the official Himachal advertising agency. Once you have visited Himachal, you will know it is truly unforgettable. An experience you will never forget.



Facts & Numbers

Area: 55.673 km2

Capital: Shimla

Population: 6 Millionen

Religions: 95% Hindus, 5% other religions (muslims, buddhists, sikhs, christians)

Best time of travel: For Spiti: June-September / The other regions are affected by the monsoon, the months of June-October witness heavy rains. So the ideal time for travelling there are before and after monsoon – spring and autumn. In winter you can come and do winter activities 🙂

Climate: Except for Spiti, the Himachals climate is strongly affected by the monsoon – especially the regions south of Spiti and Kinnaur are affected by the results of heavy rainfall, like land slides and mud flows. The temperatures vary a lot depending on the different altitudes in Himachal.

“Devbhumi” – the land of the gods, another name for Himachal – is located at the western slopes of the Himalayn range. In the east it shares a border with the Tibetan High Plateau, in the north with Jammu and Kashmir (Ladakh), and in the west with Punjab.





Sights

There is a lot to see – our personal highlights are:

Shimla: A true colonial treasure. The capital of Himachal is located at an altitude of 2,000 m and you can explore it perfectly on foot – many paths are not motorable. A paradise for people who like to walk/hike.

Mandi: here we find 81 old stone temples, so it is often referred to as “Varanasi of Hills”. Not far away from Mandi is another place worth visiting: the holy lake of Tibetans: Tso Pema!

Manali: often discredited as a paradise for potheads, Manali has so much more to offer than its image in the west lets us know: colonial buildings next to old wooden farm houses, temples, bazars and museums. And all that surrounded by high mountains, river Beas and green forests!

Kinnaur: Kinnaur lies between towering mountains of the Himalayan range, many villages are isolated for months at a time, and if you drive through Kinnaur you will see deep valleys and adventurous roads.

Spiti: Spiti is within the borders of Himachal state, but has many things in common with Ladakh and its “big brother” Tibet. Culturally, and geographically! Spiti can only be reached by crossing of high passes and is isolated for months in winter as well.

Lahaul lies between Kullu and Spiti, a region of Himachal also very much affected by the Himalayas. Its district capital of Keylong has ist own special appeal!

Dharamsala: If you visit Himachal you shouldn’t miss McLeod Ganj, the community of exiled Tibetans in Dharamsala. In this former Hill Station of the British you can immerse yourself into the fascinating world Tibetan refugees have built for themselves here. McLeod Ganj is also the official residence of Dalai Lama.



Activities

Himachal is for India what Tyrol is for Austria. There are various interesting activities offered, and those activities are similar to Tyrolean activities as well:

– Trekking
– Skiing incl. heli-skiing
– Mountain biking
– Rafting
– Mountain climbing
– Paragliding
– etc, etc, etc

Winter sports activities are especially interesting for tourists coming from other parts of India, they love it. But please don’t expect the same/western level of facilities, equipment or amenities, but Himachal is developing this area of tourism and if you like to witness that – feel free to come and see for yourself, there is a lot you can do!



Links & further infos

Maps of Himachal Pradesh (overview) >> http://www.mapsofindia.com/himachal-pradesh/

Official website of the Himachal government >> http://himachal.gov.in/

Official website of HH the Dalai Lama, living in exile here in Dharamsala >> http://www.dalailama.com/