Location: Himachal Pradesh is a mountainous a state situated in Northern India. It is bound on the north by Jammu and Kashmir, by Punjab on the west, by Haryana on the south-west, by Uttarakhand on the south-east and by the Tibet Autonomous Region on the east. Most of the state lies on the foothills of the Dhauladhar Range.
Climate: Himachal Padesh has three distinct seasons – summer, winter, and rainy season. Summer lasts from mid-April till the end of June and most parts become quite hot, except those in alpine areas which experience mild summer. Average summer temperature in the state varies between 28 degrees to 32 degrees centigrade. Winter season lasts from late November till mid March. Several areas, particularly those at an elevation of 7000ft or more receive snowfall.
Rainy season is from late June to October. Some places receive quite heavy rainfall. However, there are some other areas like Lahul and Spiti Valley which receive scanty rainfall.
Cuisines: Meat is preferred in Himachal Pradesh by all because of its the cold weather. Cuisines, however, differ in different parts of the state. The cuisine of Himachal Pradesh is typically a mix of Punjabi and Tibetan culture. However, due to its location in the Himalayas, geographical and climatic conditions have played a part in the cuisines. Traditionally they have been eating meals where rice, wheat breads, and lentils are dominating. Aromatic spices and thick and rich gravy are used as base of many dishes. Momos and noodles are also very popular dishes in the state. These are also quite popular with the tourists.
Cattle rearing is common in Himachal Pradesh because of its cold climate. This has ensured a wide variety of milk products too are consumed. They also prepare tea of various kinds and this is an indispensable part of Himachal cuisine.
The most celebrated non vegetarian cuisine of Himachal Pradesh is the Kullu Trout and Chicken Anaardana. Most ubiquitous vegetarian dishes are Maahni (urad dal prepared with dried mangoes) or Madra (lentils made with yoghurt) while Indra is a dish prepared of black lentil (urad dal). Every area seems to have evolved its own version of these recipes. Dham is a traditional festive meal that is cooked only by botis (a particular stream of chefs who are brahmins). It is an elaborate meal and the preparation begins a night before. It starts with rice, green gram (moong dal) and a dish of kidney beans (rajma) cooked in yoghurt. This elaborate cuisine ends with sweet rice.
Things to do: Himachal Pradesh has a lot of places which are absolute gems. They are loved by tourists. The very approach to Shimla from Kalka is interesting itself with the UNESCO listed railways passing through a scenic route. Once in Shimla people can enjoy colonial buildings in Shimla, the Ridge and the Mall. Dharamsala offer entirely different kind – the Tibetan exile government is based in Macleodganj in Dharamsala. Dalai Lama Temple complex is something anyone will relish to see. Solang Valley in Manali is a must see for tourists, and do is Hidimba Temple and Rohtang Pass. Manikaran Gurudwara is also a pious place to visit and enjoy.
Dalhousie and Spiti Valley are two lovely and scenic places in Himachal Prasesh. There are plenty of opportunities for trekking and camping. There are several lakes and waterfalls in different places in Himachal.
1) Shimla: Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh, is one of the most attractive places in Himachal Pradesh. Spread between an altitudes of around 7000ft to 8000ft, Shimla is home to some lovely colonial buildings like Viceregal Lodge and Christ Church. It is connected to Kalka by a unique railway route – now listed among UNESCO world heritage sites – which has as many as 806 bridges and 103 tunnels. It served as the summer capital of India under the British. In the present day Shimla is on the priority list of tourists. It is also a hub of education and research institutes.
2) Manali: Manali is a popular hill station of Himachal Pradesh, situated in the Beas River Valley in Kullu district. Predominantly cool, Manali is a nice place for skiing and other adventure activities – trekking, climbing, mountain biking, paragliding, and rafting. It is also popular among honeymooners. It is home to the famous Rohtang Pass. Manali is also famous for cultivation of apples, plums and pears.
3) Dharamsala: Dharamsala is a popular hill station in Himachal Pradesh. McLeod Ganj, near Dharamsala, has served as headquarter of Tibetan government in exile ever since Dalai Lama took political asylum in India in 1959. It is a very popular hang-out for foreigners, backpackers and students of Buddhism.
4) Dalhousie: Dalhousie is a hill station in Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh. Developed as a summer resort for the British troops during Lord Dalousie’s tenure as British Governor General, Dalhousie is situated on five hills at an elevation of 1,970 metres above sea level. Located on the western edge of the Dhauladhar mountain range of the Himalayas, it is surrounded by snow-capped peaks.
5) Khajjiar: Khajjiar is a hill station in Chamba district, located approximately 24km from Dalhousie. Located at an altitude of 6500 meters above sea level, Khajjiar is situated in the foothills of Dhauladhar range. Surrounded by meadows, lakes and forests, Khajjiar is often referred to as Mini Switzerland. It offers plenty of trekking opportunities to tourists.
6) Solan: Solan, located 46 kilometres south of Shimla, is located at an average elevation of 1,600 metres. It is known for production of large quantities of mushroom and tomatoes. Lots of pharmaceutical companies have medicine making plants based in Solan. It has also emerged as an education hub in recent years.
7) Chail: Chail, former summer capital of the princely state of Patiala, is a beautiful hill station located 63 km from Shimla in the Shivalik hills. Chail, situated on an average elevation of 2250 meters, is spread across three hillocks — Rajgarh, Pandewa and Sadh Tiba – covering an area of over 72 acres. Chail has a dense cover of pine and deodar trees. It is not as crowded as Shimla. But its lush green outfields, stunning view of the mountains and captivating natural beauty makes it a fine place for tourists. There are lots of trekking opportunities in Chail – treks from Chail to Shimla and from Chail to kali temple, and to Choor Peak are more popular ones. Chail Palace, Chail cricket ground and Chail Polo ground are popular places to visit on a trip to Chail.
8) Lahul & Spiti: Lahul and Spiti used to be two different districts till 1960, when they were merged into one district. Keylong is the administrative center of Lahul and Spiti. Kunzum la or the Kunzum Pass (altitude 14,931 ft) is the entrance pass to the Spiti Valley from Lahaul. Spiti is more barren with an average elevation of the valley floor of 14,009ft. It is enclosed between lofty ranges, with the Spiti river rushing out of a gorge in the southeast to meet the Sutlej River.
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