Generally known as the ‘fruit bowl of India’, Himachal Pradesh is famous for many special reasons. Being the picture perfect mosaic of beauty and culture, this place is one of the most widely visited states in India and probably houses the most number of tourist destinations ( each having unique weather conditions and natural treasures at different points of elevation) after Uttarakhand.
Speaking of the British Raj, Shimla, present day capital of the state, was the special summer administrative region. Today, Shimla tourism attracts the largest chunk of tourists in summer seeking a relief from the scorching city heat. A train ride from the national capital of Delhi to Shimla is the best way to romance the hills, pine forests and snowy valleys. Further, the romance is deepened by a completely Colonial setting this city offers. Old buildings from the time of the Raj, crowded streets filled with summer weary travelers markets flocked by fruit vendors, everything in Shimla represents a perfect world. Comes the winter, the same warm streets turn in to white sheets of snow and the fun quotient takes a different nature. But, no matter, what time of the year it is, Shimla is one place that always remains crowded. Thanks to the sense of nostalgia in the air, a visit to Shimla is always special to the people from all over the world.
However, the place also offers wooded ravines in the solitary mountain pathways which are perfect for a rejuvenating walk. Otherwise, Shimla is a trekker’s paradise too. Not to forget the other adventure sports options. Thus, Shimla offers everything from a shopping filled family vacations to adrenaline rushed adventure seekers. Ideally, these are the exact things a popular hill station offers.
Moving upwards from Shimla, tracing the Bias River, there lays another charming small town named Kullu. A small valley on the river bank, Kullu is known as the valley of the gods as the vast emerald Deodar forests remind one of a forbidden charm. Usually, Kullu is visited as a part of a Shimla-Kullu-Manali route, where travelers on the way to Manali stop by just to spend a lazy evening by the Bias River or to buy the famous Kullu handloom shawls.
Following the same river trail, as you move upwards, the deodar forests begins to recede and beds of organized cultivations starts appearing. The scenery mostly filled with ripe apple orchards and wooden houses- typically indicates the existence of a nearby town. And, the apple orchards lead to this neat and clean town of Manali. Like many other places in the state, Manali shares a very interesting mythological connection. From the Vashistha Ashram to the Hidimba Devi temple- Manali is strewn with many signage of the past. But, rather than sightseeing, this place is ideal for a lazy summer vacation spent in the woods. Roadside cafes, ice cream stalls and picnic spots under the blue sky are the best things to indulge in while at Manali. Paragliding over the green valley is also a favourite with the tourists. Usually, Manali is used as the base for a trek up to the Rohtang Pass that leads to Ladakh. The pass is open only in summers as high altitude makes it difficult to scale the snow in winters.
Apart from this Shimla-Kullu- Manali circuit, Himachal tourism has other interesting hill stations like Dharamshala that falls in to the Kangra Valley and unlike the other spots in the state, is the most accessible spot in winters. The snowline in this part of the Himalayan region is easily breakable which is why this place is used as a winter time administration zone. McLeod Ganj in the suburbs is the main region of activities. Part from the breathtaking beauty of the region, Dharamshala is famous for being the home of the current Dalai Lama and the exiled Tibetan government. Popular among tourists for great Tibetan food and natural beauty, Dharamshala is a quite establishment signifying the bliss of life in a small town. Thus, the place offers a pefect gateway from the hectic city life.
Steering the compass to the Shivalik range in Himachal Pradesh, one can find another tourist friendly district called Chamba. Bordering the beautiful state of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, Chamba is another quiet hill station. Unlike Shimla and Manali, this region still retains its natural purity and stillness. What makes this place special is the co-existence of an old city life and a rustic culture. The combination makes Chamba a place to explore and get acquainted with the great Himalayan lifestyle. From old churches, temples, monuments, fairs, museums-Chamba is one small place stuffed with many wonders.
Moreover, for a state like Himachal Pradesh that is blessed many natural wonders, every inch is a spot to explore and discover. Apart from the crowded streets, lonely roads and eternal discoveries await every traveller in every step. Taking excursions out of the famous towns in to the wild is an option that ends with many new beginnings. Places like Nahan, Lahual Spiti, Palampur-are also catching up with the other popular tourist places in the state. The state tourism board offers many facilities to tourists to explore adventure and relax in different parts of the state thus making it a destination offering every possible mode of thrill and bliss.