How well you can define the ethereal beauty of the nature and the poetry which is flowing through it? The ecstatic heart pounces, celebrates the eternal moments of your life and lends some of the best bejewelled memories.
What can be more fascinating than letting your eyes witness and pen down the magical charm of mighty snowcapped peaks of Dhauladhar range, “Welcome to Himachal Pradesh!!”
“from tiny sapling to blooming flower;
Rhythmic swaying of morning hour”
Beyond the travelling oasis, Himachal paves its own tranquilizing way through emerald green meadows and twilight horizons where it ta
lks nothing but all celestial. The very first sight of this place will let you engage in an enigmatic love affair with its agile winds and panoramic beauty. Himachal Pradesh has always been one the most desirable place to beat the Indian heat and has attracted all, throughout the country and acrosss the globe. If you keep aside the advertised tourist guides and their affixed destinations, it has more to offer, the unsung or offbeat places of Himachal Pradesh.
“walk through your heart and plunge through your soul;
live the moments and grab it as a whole”
When you hike through the lofty mountains and myriad landscapes do take the magician within you for this ride who can weave all the moments to cherish. Let’s dig out more than only places. Let’s celebrate the culture, traditions, cuisines and music. Let’s travel and explore.
The journey to the Himachal’s infamous places wouldn’t accelerate without mentioning the capital of the state, “Shimla”. The capital of the state has always portrayed its charm, which is convoluted with all the seasons. This place is perfect for all the leisure scrapers to get mesmerized by the climate, lush green scenic beauty, heritage, ice skiing. The queen of hills is housing the old british colonial buildings like Christ church, Wildflower hall, Jakhoo Temple, Indian Institute of Advance Studies. This place will always be traveller’s delight. The places in the vicinity like “Kufri”, “Narkanda” will always attract the soul and the body. Then you can feel the enigmatic trance at “Chail”, which is about 45 km from Shimla.
Let’s take a ride from the state's capital and head towards Kullu-Manali district where most of these offbeat places thrive. This place has yet another liaison with nature. This place is adorned with emerald green meadows, dispersed forests of alpine trees including deodar, pine, apple, plum and pear orcahrds in the lap of the snow crested horizons. Indeed, this place is an abode of alluring panaroma, so pack your bags and take a ride towards a place which is not well mentioned in the tourism literature and tucked away from the rest. The place is “Malana”, a small village in the district of Kullu. The name itself is surrounded by some mystique belief that the inhabitants are descendants of Alexander the Great. One can reach here from Manali either by shared jeeps or by local bus. It is approximately 84 km from the main town. After two hours of your travel, you will witness, the peaks of “Chandrakhani” and “Deotila” sheltering the village. The most peculiar thing about this place is that, they have their own administration but you will be amazed by their concept of purity and social structure.
“walk a mile across this tiny nile;
drench a little and sing for a while”
When we are still in Kullu, yet another place which will amuse you is “Kheerganga” in the lap of “Paravati Hill”. This place holds its own significance, by narrating the story of Lord Shiva's meditation for thousands of years. It is trekker's delight. The personification of real beauty you would see in the form of hot water springs and you can spend quality time to rejuvenate yourself. It's totally worth your visit.
Leaving Kullu behind, let's take a 3 km drive towards Manali and here you reach at “Vashist”, which you will see is the hub of hippies after “Kasol” who are plying over to this small yet enchanting place. It is a small suburb adorned with sandstone temples and many hot sulphur springs. It is dotted with many ancient temples. This is one of the recommended place during your Manali visit.
Manali has lot to offer you. The next place which is one of the best trekking trail is “Jalori Jot”, nearly 4 hours drive from Manali. The place is in the vivcinity of “Sareyol Lake”. Put on your trekking shoes and relish some delicious Himachali cuisine at a nearby dhaba.
The next from the kitty comes as hems of the heaven, “Hamta”. Get yourself soaked in its pure ambience, a small village about 2 km from Manali. You can also reach here by PerniAleo Hydro Power Plant and start your curvy clamber and drain all your city tiredness here. Definitely, not many get stumbled and reach this place, but this deep valley with its green trees and candy flossed clouds will instantly make a divine connection with you.
“here is your road, roam and rave;
be little curious , be little naive”
“Brighulake” named after the Saint BrighuMaharaj is a sacred lake, which you can find on your way to very famous “Rohtang Pass”. It is a perfect trail for trekkers. If you want to capture the breath-taking scenic beauty of Beas Valley, this place is the best choice. One more in the vicinity of Rohtang Pass is “Dashir Lake”, which is yet another option for all those who want to take a day’s break and beat the city’s heat. The rugged terrain will offer you something new and fresh.
If Manali served a bit then “Prasharlake” in Mandi district will leave you awestuck. It is one of the most beautiful lake in Himachal. It displays the divinity very distinctively with the changing season. One beautiful piece of work in the form of Pagoda shape temple surrounds this lake. In Summers, the meadows are truely breath taking and then in winters the sleeping beauty awakes and you could witness the crystal clear blue water in frozen form which scintillates with the heavenly moonlight. It speaks of unmatched beauty. The Prashar lake trek is for sure, ingenious pick. The same district offers one more beautiful place, “Bir”. This place is home to Tibetian refugee settlement and clusters with great ecotourism and spiritual studies. This place came on the International map last year when the Paragliding World Cup, 2015 was held here. The “Bir-Billing” is now one of the most sorted sites by paragliders.
Himachal has its own “Mini Switzerland” and the place is “Khajiiar”, located in Chamba district and just 24 km away from Dalhousie. It offers the most picturesque pastures and forests. This place can also be cited as an ideal place for camping.
In the Bharmour division of Chamba District, close to the “ManimaheshKailash” peak in the PirPanjal Range of Himalayas, you can find Manimahesh lake which is venue of religious pilgrimage trek during the bhadoseason which happens annually in the month of August-September. The very famous ManimaheshYatra is related to this place. This lake also annexes its significance next to the most famous Mansarovar Lake. A very beautiful story is related to this place, that Lord Shiva created this after getting married to Goddess Paravati.
“Close your eyes, resting on the sights;
gaze the stars, crash into the misty tides”
Let your travel diaries get more enriched with the magical spell of your travel encounters. There are few far flung villages which have been recently explored by the bollywood flicks. The first one is “Sangla”, in the remote Kinnaur district. Kinnaur is approximately 270 km away from Shimla side and 358 km if you reach via Manali. Though distance will let only few to get stumbled and reach here but it is worth reaching and catching glimpse of this heavenly abode full of unparalleled beauty. Sangla valley offers all, right from trekking, nature walks to caputuring some timeless and priceless pictures. It is set in the crux of hulking mountains with sparse population of Kinnauris. If you are a shopaholic, go for a shopping spree and pick up some Kinnauri shawls, woolen socks and their traditional silver jewellery. To explore more you can find a good home stay also.
Another remote village tucked up in the Kinnaur district is “Kalpa”, in the midst of apple orchards and pine trees. Kalpa is the gallery of many Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples. The surrounding place is a small “Chini” village which exhibits rich tradition. If you are lucky enough to be here then let your eyes witness the magnificent marvels of ancient era. On an interesting note, the first voter of free India, Shri Ram Saran Negi is from this village only. Travellers can walk through some nearby villages like “Kothi” and “Raghi”. Definitely Kalpa will leave you spellbound, after seeing the scenic view of “KinnerKailash” on a clear sky.
“weave some memories and leave some footprints;
sneak through boulevards with risible squints”
The story of Kinnaur is incomplete without mentioning “Nakolake”. It is certainly one of the least explored places in Himachal. It is small lake surrounded by poplar trees. NakoMonastry, close to the nako lake is one of its kind , an architectural muse to see. If you are at Nako, travel few miles towards Spiti valley and explore one more unexplored “Tashigang Village”, which houses many ancient caves.
“steer yourself and walk through canyons;
here you and your journey are the best companion”
Kinnaur’s last inhabited village “Chitkul”, close to Indo-Tibet border imparts a rich mystique and traditional atmosphere. This village is predominately inhabited by Tibetian settlements. The passage towards Chitkul will let you see age old Mathi Devi Temple, which one should definitely see for its immaculate Himachali architecture. Now, when you have reached here, you would love to see nearby villages, Wangtu and Karcham which also got placed as Wangtu and Karcham Power Projects. Then there are places like “Reckongpeo”, “Kibber” and “Puh” also.
The next place has been the dream destination for those, who are quite familiar with remote Himachal. The place is “Kaza”, geographically quite similar to Ladakh. Kaza is approximately 156 km from Kinnaur and it is one of the remote village of LahaulSpitidistrict. The “Kee” monastery in Kaza is totally spectacular,it was established way back in 11th century. It marks a place as the largest monastery of Spiti valley. Villages like Kibber, Losar and Lanza can be explored along with Kaza visit. But be warned of the winters which are hard and strictly no for amateur trekkers to avoid getting stuck in freezing temperature without light and water.
In LahaulSpiti, “Tabo” is the next travelling spot which is one of the holiest but banal place. The ancient Tabo monastery which takes the time back to 10th century is located here. The ideal time for the Tabovisit is during the “Kalachakra festival”, which is very popular festival in the Himalayan region and is held in the month of July.
“Dhankar”, this place is suffused with holy and rhythmic breeze which surrounds this land, located between Kaza and Tabo. It is yet another residence of several Buddhist monks. It is regarded as the home to ancient DhankarGompa belonging to the Geluga section of Buddhism.
If you are already in love with Kaza, then you will surely love this moon lake, popularly known as “ChandarTaal Lake”. The blue-turquoise glittering water of the lake will mesmerize you. This lake can be accessed via “Kunzum Pass” between May to October. The spring offers the best time to relish its beauty enveloped with wild flowers which are carpeted over the meadows. If ChandarTaal is the beauty than “SurajTaal Lake” in the lap of “Bara-Iacha-La” pass on Manali-Leh highway is one of the highest altitude lake in Indian Himalayan region. It is fifth highest lake in India. It is defined as traveller’s delight and attracts one and all.
“there is quest , quest to know;
You know it is time, time to let yourself flow;
Cruising is magical and mystique;
Let the tranquillity turn the new leaf”
There are various myriad landscapes in our country that are picture perfect to travel, hike and trek. They all let us believe that best moments in the life are not clicked but captured. And undoubtedly you can take a lot from these mighty peaks. The more you get imbibed, more you feel sublime.
Travel diaries would be incomplete without trying traditional authetic mouth-watering delicacies from this state which you can never find in regular hotel menu. Here in Himachal Pradesh food preference change from one region to another. Do favour your taste buds with the rich Himachali aromas and flavours. The very famous is “Sidu”. It is a sort of bread baked out of wheat flour and eaten with clarified butter, lentils or mutton. Then try out some “Ankalos”, which is prepared with rice flour. When you are at far flung areas places of LahaulSpiti and Kinnaur, you would love “Astori” made up of wheat flour mixed with plant of bucketwheat. Now, hail little down from the upper Himachal, and you will get some flavoursome “Patande”(sort of pancakes). Savour yourself with other dishes too, which are convoluted version of its rich heritage and magnificent culture.
One place, where you would love to go and relish is “Dham”, the exotic marriage supper on the zenith of the festive food preparation. It is prepared by Botis , ancestral Brahmin chefs which is relished by one and all from the family, relatives, friends, villagers. This authentic Dham is served on patals, a plate made of leaves. Some of the delicacies served in the Dham are “Mahni”, “Madra”, “Khatta”, “Rehru”, “MaashDaal”, “Pateer”,”Meetha” and“Babru. All are made up with aromatic spices without the usage of any onion, garlic and ginger.
If food has let your taste buds to celebrate then tap your feet on some local folk music and dance forms, popularly known as Natis, Nritya, Nagas, Lasa, Drodi and Dangi. Every district has its distinct style to perform them. The local music and dance forms reflect the distinct and vibrant magnetic identity of this state. Through their implausible variant dance forms, they entreat their religious beliefs and deities, especially during local fairs and festivals. Your heart and soul would be elevated to some divine abstract, when you will be the part of it.
Himachalis exhibit the flare of their exquisite craftsmanship during the fairs like “KulluDusshera”, the very famous one. Then you would also love “Shivratri Fair” of Mandidistict, “Minjar Fair” of Chamba, “Naina Devi Fair” (Bilaspur) and “Renuka Fair” (Sirmour). The people adorn themselves with colourful dresses which adds panache to their simplicity and warmth.
The craftsmanship of this state is worth praising. You simply can’t resist buying it. If you are a shopaholic, you would bargain but you will buy. “Pashmina Shawl” , the pretty product is highly demanded by all throughout the country.You can also adorn yourself with colourful Himachali caps and silver jewellery.
“This is Himachal Pradesh...!!!”, so pack your luggage, travel, trek and hike, plunge into yourself, challenge your limits and let yourself get free, learn nature’s wisdom, blossom yourself. Let’s travel!
“Start your voyage of dreams with windy nights and scintillating beams”
Image Credit : Department of Tourism, Himachal Pradesh