Pronounced “HIM-a-chal” and meaning “abode of snow”, Himachal Pradesh is one of the few relatively untouched parts of India. Nature lovers will be charmed by its pristine mountain ranges, serene lakes and daring rivers, while those seeking the thrills of an active adventure holiday will enjoy whitewater rafting, hiking or horse riding excursions.
Himachal’s tourism industry is still in its fledgling years – you won’t find a 100-storey hotel here, but instead a network of over 4,000 guesthouses and homestays are dotted around the state. Better still, almost all of these properties are locally owned and run.
The main season for tourism and Best Time To Visit Himachal Pradesh is from October to April (although some adventurous souls hang around until May) but if you can brave the cold – and snow – of winter, there’s plenty to do.
Top 7 Places in Himachal Pradesh
During the summer months, Shimla is full of life and colour. The Mall is alive with locals strolling between stalls selling tea and snacks, while in winter it’s almost deserted save for tourists braving the cold to admire its grand colonial-era architecture. To get the best of both seasons, consider staying in one of Shimla’s homestays or guesthouses that offer panoramic views across the town.
Known for its Tibetan refugee community and monasteries, Dharamshala is a great option for budget travellers visiting Himachal Pradesh. Its popularity has increased in recent years, with accommodation being more easily available than it was a few years ago.
Manali & Solang Valley
Manali is one of the most popular destinations in Himachal Pradesh, with tourists coming from all over the world to experience the ‘Himalayan Riviera’. The town is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery and offers plenty of trekking options, while the riverside villages of Vashisht and Naggar, just a short drive away, are well-preserved examples of traditional Himachali life.
Known for its traditional villages and handicrafts, Kullu is the perfect place to relax and unwind. The town, nestled in the Himalayan foothills at an altitude of 2,000 metres, is one of the oldest communities in India, with beautiful old temples housing shrines dating back to pre-history. The surrounding areas offer a wide range of outdoor activities (especially for skiers), including trekking and mountain biking.
Offering the ultimate in peace and tranquillity, the Spiti Valley lies beyond Manali in a remote and fascinating part of Himachal Pradesh. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and rolling green hills, it’s little wonder that this area is so poetically nicknamed ‘Little Tibet’ – if you’re looking for a tranquil paradise, this is definitely the place to come.
Pin Valley National Park
Himachal Pradeshs ‘green lungs’, the Pin Valley National Park is a stunning place to be. Only two hours from Manali, it’s an easy day trip from the town along a scenic route through forest and mountains, with fabulous views of the reservoir that fills Pench Lake at the heart of the park.
With a busy road running by its side and nearby Tibet on its doorstep, Keylong is an essential part of any trip to Himachal Pradesh is home to a great many national parks, including the Pin Valley National Park, which contains a range of flora and fauna typical of very high altitude mountain ranges. In addition to beautiful scenery and a wide variety of wildlife (including birds such as the saidalee and snow partridge), you’ll also find rare medicinal plants here.
Just across the border from Pakistan and not too far inland, Chandratal is a great place to base yourself while exploring Himachal Pradesh. The town is surrounded by mountains and rivers, and as well as being home to traditional Tibetan settlements, also has a number of young expat communities.
Top 5 Reasons and Best To Visit Himachal Pradesh (in no particular order)
There is no other way to describe the scenery in Himachal Pradesh. Visitors can enjoy some of the most breathtaking views in the world, surrounded by lush greenery and rugged mountains.
Great value for money
Himachal is a fantastic place to visit as it is not yet widely discovered by tourists and hence it remains unspoilt. Prices of accommodation may be slightly higher but food here is quite cheap. And Himachal also offers great value for money in terms of activities and other costs too.
Steeped in history
Himachal Pradesh was once home to the legendary warrior-king Bhim, the son of Lord Ram. Legend has it that he ruled over a huge empire here and, if you visit places like Kangra, one of the many cave temples dedicated to him dotting his lands, you’ll see why.
Travelers will be able to sample country-life in Himachal Pradesh, helping them to see the various ways that the local people live. There are a number of guesthouses and homestays available in Himachal which come with local hosts and allow guests an insight into the culture of this beautiful place.
Lots of things to see and do
There are many places to discover in Himachal Pradesh. From trekking on the high mountain passes to visiting a cave temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Himachal Pradesh is a place never to be missed.
The rapid development of tourism
Himachal has now started developing its infrastructure, such as road connectivity and electricity, in many places and all this has dramatically improved the quality of tourist facilities in Himachal Pradesh. The state has seen a rapid upsurge in the number of hotels and home stays and it can be visited without much hassle even during peak winter months.
Himachal Pradesh is facing the challenge of change. It is up to the state government, its people and its citizens to make good use of the opportunities and make Himachal Pradesh a truly global destination for tourists. To do this, Himachal will have to plan for new hotels, restaurants, transportation facilities and scenic villages that have yet to be discovered by tourists.