HIMACHAL PRADESH HILL STATIONS
Nestling in the north western segment of India, Himachal Pradesh is also known as ‘Dev Bhumi’ meaning “land of Gods”. To the north of Himachal Pradesh is Jammu and Kashmir; Punjab is to the west and towards the east is Tibet. The state is a beautiful one with the array of mountains, forests of Deodhar and pine, the many rivers and waterfalls, vast tracts of the Himalayan desert, orchards and the snow capped Himalayas.
The pristine natural beauty of the state attracts all kinds of visitors. Himachal Pradesh has also a part of history as the many monuments, temples, mosques, church and Buddhist temples will tell. Many invaders and visitors from afar have left their foot prints on the soil. The tale of Mahabharatha and the Ramayana tells stories of places that have been visited and revisited and of Gods who have also left their imprint on this part of the earth. There are places which are within calling distance of the Gods and there are sacred rivers through which pilgrims attain salvation. There are hard, hostile and inaccessible places that man have ventured and failed and places where they have eventually won.
Himachal Pradesh is one state with a multitude of factors. It will be a mesmerizing experience that may leave the person stunned after the experience and the stories told.
The mountains in Himachal vary in altitudes from 350 to 7000 metres and range from barren brown rugged hillocks to perpetual snow clad mountains. The area in the region is beautiful with verdant green dense forests of Deodhar and Pine trees and lush grass. The fresh fragrance of pine permeates the atmosphere that is sparkling fresh. There are chalets, rivers, rivulets and people. The folks are lively, warm hearted and simple, keeping to their tradition. They have their own period of revelry at festivals that comes with harvest and other occasions that mark the importance of the day.
The hill stations that the tourists come to visit are the Shimla Hills, the Dauladhar range and the Himalayan ranges along the Kullu valley; places like Dalhousie and Manali and adventure out to the Rohtang Pass. There are places the tourists can trek, mountain climb, rock climb and get in to more adventurous activities like para-sailing, rappelling, white water rafting, skiing and heli skiing.
MAJOR HILL STATIONS ARE
- Shimla: Once the summer capital of the British, Shimla has the kind of ambience that creates serenity mixed with exotic beauty of the country side. At an altitude of 2159 metres, it is a wonderful tourist destination. There are activities for those who are adventurous like river rafting, mountain climbing; fishing and angling and for those who prefer the quiet and passive activities, a stroll down the Mall or hanging around the shops and restaurants. The following are familiar spots: 1. Gaiety Theatre 2. Viceregal Lodge 3. Kufri 4. Tatta Pani 5. Shimla City 6. Naldehra 7. Kali Bari 8. Jakhoo Temple 9. Sankat Mochan Temple and a 10. Gurudwara. Autumn and spring are the best seasons for a visit to Shimla and visitors from the lowland will prefer a visit in winter so as to touch and feel snow. The nearest airport link is in Jubbar Hatti, there is a broad gauge line up to Kalka and the meter gauge toy train is an experience from there to Shimla. Shimla is linked to all major cities and towns in Himachal Pradesh.
- Kullu: known as the’ Valley of the Gods’ is a hill resort that is filled with stories and legends that has been virtually picked out from Ramayana, Mahabharatha and Vishnu Purana. There are many temples and monuments to attest the stories. It is one place where the visitor will be a part of the stories. The original name ‘Kulantapitha’ finds itself in these books and it was regarded as lands end by the ancient Hindus. This town is located on the banks of River Beas. The following are some of the popular sightseeing places: 1. Manikaran, 2. Kasol, 3. Katrain, 4. Bijli Mahadev Temple, 5. Jagan Nath Temple, 6. Bajeswar Mahadev Temple, 7. Malana, 8. Kaishdar and 9. Raghunath Ji Temple. The best season will be during summer, from March to June. The place is suitable for adventure activities like white water rafting, trekking and mountain climbing. For activities like heli skiing, skiing and para gliding, the best season will be in the months from December to February. The nearest railway stations are in Joginder Nagar, Chandigarh and Shimla. The airport is at Jubbarhatti. The roads are all well linked
- Manali: Located at 2050 metres above sea level, Manali is a hill resort that is known to the international tourists. Manali has derived its name from ‘Manavalaya’ meaning,’ the abode of Manu’. This again is a part of the legends and it is said that Manali is the point of origin of the human form. There are many temples and caves attesting to the facts and the stories make fascinating reading. The town is situated on the banks of River Beas. The following are the tourist spots: 1. Hadimba Temple 2. Manu Temple 3. Vasisht Hot springs 4. Arjun Gufa 5. Jagatsukh 6. Buddhist monasteries 7. Rohtang Pass 8. Solang Valley 9. Keylong 10. Rahala Waterfalls and 11. Kothi. There are many other places also. The nearest airport is Bhuntar, railhead is Jogindernagar and Manali is well connected by road. Manali can be visited throughout the year. There are various activities like skiing, hiking, mountaineering, para-gliding, rafting, kayaking and mountain biking. The winters are generally below freezing.
- Kasauli: Kasauli is a small and beautiful hill station founded by the British in the early 19th century. The small hill station is located at an altitude of 1927 metres and is only 77 kms. from Shimla. Visitors can have a bird’s eye view of Shimla, Chandigarh and the snow capped Himalayan mountain ranges. The place is a beautiful garden town with a lot of flowering shrubs and orchards. There are a lot of tourist attractions in and near Kasauli. They are: 1. Barog, 2. Mandi, 3. Bilaspur, 4. Kufri, 5. Monkey Point, 6. Sanawar 7. Christ Church, 8. Dharampur 9. Sabathu and 10. Dagshai. The best time to visit Kasauli is between April and September. Chandigarh has the nearest airport. The railway station is in Kalka and roads are well connected.
- Chail: 43 kms. from Shimla, this beautiful place is a mesmerizing hill station. Chail has the highest polo and cricket ground. The place came in to the limelight with the British rulers searching for cooler climates during summer in the lowlands. Chail is 2150, metres above sea level and the climate is always pleasant. This was once the summer resort of Maharajahs. The small hamlet is located on three hills; the palace of the Maharajah on Rajgarh Hill, the British on Pandhewa Hill and the third occupied by Sadh Tiba. Sadh Tiba was originally intended for a palace but the Maharajah changed his mind and a temple – Sidh Baba Ka Mandir was built. This pine scented place is a wonderland with orchards and thick foliage, interspersed. The drive to Chail is magical with long winding roads and beautiful sceneries through the valley of Kandaghat. In winter, skiing is possible on the ranges. Some of the other attractions in Chail are: 1. Chail Sanctuary, 2. Saduphul, 3. Kandaghat, 4. The cricket ground 5. Maharajah’s Palace, 6. Sidh Baba ka Mandir. Ideal time to visit Chail is from April to June and October and November. Chail is accessible by road from Delhi. Kalka has the nearest railway station and the nearest airport is Jubbal Hatti airport, 63 kms. away.
- Dalhousie: is situated at an altitude of 6000-9000 feet above sea level. The name Dalhousie had been named after Lord Dalhousie who was the British Viceroy, then. This town was established in 1854 by the British as a summer retreat. Dalhousie is located upon five hills. This town is always pleasant being at the altitude and is a beautiful place with forests of pine and quaint little cottages, churches, monuments and houses dating back to the colonial rule of the past. It is also a treasure from the past as it was under one dynasty after the mid-sixth century. The popular sites in Dalhousie are: 1. St. Andrew’s Church, 2. Panjpulla, 3. Subhas Baoli, 4. Bakrota Hills 5.Banikhet 6. Kalatop 7. Laxmi Narayan Temple, 8.Satdhara and 9. Bara Pathar. The best time to visit Dalhousie is in summer. The nearest airport is in Amritsar, Pathankot has the nearest railway station. Roads connect Dalhousie to all major towns and cities in Himachal Pradesh. and
- Dharamsala: This town is on the slopes of a mountain overlooking the Dauladhar range of mountains. The exotic beauty of the place brings the poet in all the visitors to the place. The mountains, the forests of Deodhars, the sheen of the orchards and tea estates make the trip to this place worthwhile. It is also a place which has accessible snowline. The British had occupied the place during their rule in India, making it yet another hill resort. Dharamsala came in to news in 1959 when the Dalai Lama escaped from the clutches of the Chinese occupation. He has been living in Dharmasala ever since. The town is divided into two: Lower Dharmasala and Upper Dharmasala also known as McLeodgunj, after a British Lieutenant Governor. Lower Dharamsala consists of administrative buildings and quarters. It is Upper Dharamsala which is worth a visit. The Tibetan Government in exile functions from here and is also the residence of Dalai Lama. Some of the popular places are: 1. McLeodganj, 2. St. John’s Church-in-Wilderness, 3. Dharamkot, 4. Pong Sanctuary and Lake, 5. Chamunda Devi Temple, 6. The Kangra Art Museum and 7. Nurpur Fort. Visit to Dharmsala should be avoided during monsoons as there are landslides during the period. The best time is in summer from May to October. Gaggal is the nearest airport; the nearest railway station is at Pathankot and there is an all weather road connecting all major towns and cities in Himachal Pradesh.
The southern side of Himachal Pradesh is hot as that in the plains. The northern side bordering Tibet has mountains ranges and it is in this place that the hill stations are located. This is where people from the low lands come to escape the searing heat of summer and to see snow.