Destinations of India
Things To Do
The great Himalayas, Shivalik, Nilgiri, Aravali, Satpura, Vindhyachal, Garhwal etc constitute the mountain ranges and Hill States in India. The Indian states located on these ranges are therefore called the Indian Hill States. The Indian Hill States in north India are Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal dotted completely by tourist places, hill stations and pilgrimages. Within these two Hill States of India are tourist places like - Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala, Dalhausie, Khajjiar, Lahaul Spiti (in Himachal Pradesh) and Mussoorie, Nainital, Ranikhet (in Uttaranchal) frequently visited by travelers.
Himachal Pradesh - The Abode of Himalayas
Location: Himachal Pradesh is a captivating part of the Indian Himalayas and is often referred to as the magical showcase of nature's splendors. Verdant green meadows and wide valleys set against imposing snow-clad mountains; limpid lakes, torrential rivers and gushing streams; fruit laden orchards and gentle terraces of corn and tea all characterize this state.
Tourist Destinations: The state is full of hill stations, pilgrimages; adventure sports destinations, and wildlife that attracts a wide range of tourist traffic. Himachal Pradesh is a hill state with an area of 55,673 sq kms, which gets flooded with tourists particularly during the summer when people flock to its hill stations to escape the searing heat of the plains. The major hill stations as well as tourist destinations include Kullu, Manali, Rohtang Pass, Chamba, Dalhausie, Kangra, Khajjiar, Kinnaur, Kufri, Mandi, Shimla, Dharamshala etc.
Dharamshala - The Kangra Valley
Location: Set against the magnificent backdrop of the gigantic Dhauladhar ranges, rising above 4000 meters; Dharamshala, which literally means 'The Holy Refuge' lies perched in the Kangra valley. Founded in 1855, it is one of the 80 hill resorts developed in the seventeenth century by the British Raj.
Tourist Destinations: The lower Dharamshala is the main town at 1250 meters height. The upper Dharamshala or McLeod Ganj from Dharamshala by road is a 10 kilometers drive up the steep path. You can visit lower Dharamshala to see the Kangra Art Museum, which has a treasure trove of the art and crafts of the region. A visit to the Namgyal Monastery, ensconcing the Center of Tibetan Studies is nothing short of mandatory. 'Tsuglagkhang', opposite the Dalai Lama's residence reminds one of Lhasa - it contains large gilded bronzes of the Buddha, Avalokiteswara and Padmasambhava. The other places of interest are the Museum at the Nechung Monastery and the Norbulingka Institute which has become a major center of learning.
Manali - Valley of the Gods
Location: Situated in the central Himachal Pradesh, Manali is at the head of the Kullu valley. It is 280 km north of the state capital Shimla and 108 km from Mandi. Manali is perched at an altitude of 2050 meters above sea level and is spread along the banks of the river Beas.
Tourist Destinations: The oft-visited site in Manali is the Hidimba or Dhungri Temple. Manali is known for its shiny gompas or Buddhist monasteries. With the highest concentration of Tibetan refugees in the entire Kullu valley, it is famous for its Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa, built in 1969. The smaller and more modern Himalayan Nyingamapa Gompa stands nearer the bazaar, in a garden blooming with sunflowers. The Museum of Traditional Himachal Culture, near the Hidimba temple, is worth a visit, which houses artifacts of folk art of the entire Kullu valley.
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Dalhousie - The Strawberry City
Location: Dalhousie is 80 kilometers from Pathankot, is markedly different and off the beaten track. Sprawlled over five hills, Dalhousie has serenity with its own distinctive flavor. Attractive cottages and villas cling to the deodar and pine mantled hills of Dalhousie.
Tourist Destinations: Though spread over five distinct hills - Kathlog, Portreyn, Tehra, Bakrota and Balun, covering an area of 13 sq km - the main center continues to be at Portreyn. The Figure of Eight of Portreyn is the most popular walk in Dalhousie. One of the best viewpoints in Dalhousie is Kalatope, 8 km from the center of Dalhousie. At Panchpulla (Five Bridges) - a good picnic spot-one can find interesting snippets that intertwine India's freedom struggle with Dalhousie. Satdhara has long been known for its mineral water, which was once shipped to England on a regular basis. At Dainkund - the Singing Hill - the passage of mountain winds through the forest that produces a series of effects - depending on the wind's velocity - ranging from a gentle humming to an eerie wail. Tourists also appraise Chamba chappals embroidered with gold thread, cane baskets, colorful woolens, and life-like Chamba dolls - all specialties of the region. Red, black and green Chamba chilies adorn many shop fronts.
Khajjiar - The Sylvan Meadow
Location: Khajjiar is a small grassy meadow located in the picturesque Chamba valley. It is located in the northwestern part of the state of Himachal Pradesh, Khajjiar is 22 km from Dalhousie and 24 km from Chamba. It is perched at an altitude of 1951 m above sea level.
Tourist Destinations: Khajjiar is a small grassy meadow surrounded by tall deodar trees. Khajjiar, known as one of the "most charming spots in the Himalayas", derives its name from its ancient, golden-domed temple of Khajinag. The 12th-century Khajinag temple is a small shrine dedicated to the local Goddess or the Devi. This temple is also known as the Golden Devi temple, as it is adorned with a golden dome and spire. This emerald opening amidst the woods has a small pond at its center. There are two floating islands in the middle of the pond; they are sometimes hidden from view by the tall grass that grows on them. A nine-hole golf course is an added attraction at Khajjiar.
Shimla - The Abode of Goddess Shyamala
Location: Shimla, one of India's most famous hill stations, derives its name from Goddess Shyamala, an incarnation of Goddess Kali, the deity of power and wrath. Perched at an altitude of 2159 m above sea level, it is located in southern Himachal Pradesh. The state capital is at a distance of 343 km from Delhi, 260 km from Manali, and 119 km from Chandigarh.
Tourist Destinations: The hub of Shimla is the Mall, which runs along the Ridge which presents excellent views of the mountain ranges. The six-storeyed Vice-Regal Lodge or Rashtrapati Niwas, about 4.5 km from Scandal Point, attracts many visitors. Nearby is the Himalayan aviary that has a good collection of birds, including the Monal pheasant, Himachal's state bird. About 2.5 km from Scandal Point is the State Museum with a good collection of statues, miniatures, coins and photos from in and around the state. Another major landmarks are the Christ Church and St. Michael's Cathedral. Jhaku temple, dedicated to Hanumanji is at a height of 8048 ft, the highest point of the Shimla Ridge. About 4 km from the Ridge, a sprightly stream flows through the Glen forests at an altitude of 1830 m. Beyond the Glen is Annandale, another picnic spot covered with deodar forests and was once the playgrounds of Britishers. Elysium Hill, on the road leading through Lakkar Bazaar, houses the famous Auckland House, the former residence of Viceroy Lord Auckland.
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Lahaul Spiti - The Lap of Chenab
Location: The largest district in Himachal Pradesh is Lahaul Spiti. The Lahaul region is at an altitude of 3000-3900 m. The Spiti valley is connected to Lahaul through the 4500-m Kunzam pass. The district is named after its two subdivisions where the altitude varies from over 6,500 m in the high peaks to 2,740 m at the exit point of the Chenab River.
Tourist Destinations: The Spiti valley has around 30 monasteries and thus is often known as "little Tibet". The Kyi Gompa is the largest and the oldest monastery in the Spiti Valley. The Chaam festival, held in the month of June/July, is a much-awaited event of this gompa. Kibber or Khyipur, 11 km from Kyi Gompa is the highest settlement in the world (4205 meters) with a motorable road and electricity. The Ladarcha festival held here each July attracts Buddhists from all over the world. The Tabo Gompa is the largest monastery complex of Buddhist religion with nine temples within the complex. The Pin Valley has been declared as a national park, where one might see the snow leopard. The 600-year-old Kungri Gompa here is worth a visit. Kunzam, a mountain pass at an attitude of 4551 meters, with a temple of Kunzam Devi is also a must visit. One can also trek from here to the famous and beautiful moon lake Chandratal (4070 m). Asia's biggest glaciers, Bada and Chotta Sigri, can be seen from here. At Gondhla, one can visit the seven-storey castle of the Thakur of Gondhla. The Guru Ganthal gompa, in Tupchiling, 4 km away, is about 800 years old and an important tourist spot.
Uttaranchal - Land of Gods and Mountains
Location: Carved out from 14 hilly districts of former Uttar Pradesh, rich in flora and fauna, natural and touristic ambience; Uttaranchal houses some of the most important pilgrimage centers in the country. Uttaranchal is a part of the Western Himalayan ranges starting from the Shivalik foothills to Greater Himalayas with Tibet as its northeastern border.
Tourist Destinations: Apart from the Terai region in the Shivalik foothills, the entire state of Uttaranchal is a part of the Himalayan ranges. At 7,817 m above sea level, Nanda Devi in the district of Chamoli is the highest point in the state. The region has many glaciers, passes, meadows, and trekking routes with several major rivers like the Ganga and Yamuna originating from here. A major part of this Himalayan state comes under rainforests and alpine forests that are home to some of the highly endangered wildlife species. The major tourist spots include - Mussoorie, Nainital, Dehradun, Ranikhet, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri etc.
Mussoorie - The Hill Resort
Location: Mussoorie, like other hill resorts in India, came into existence in the 1820s or thereabouts, when the families of British colonials began making for the hills in order to escape the scorching heat of the plains. Mussoorie's name is derived from the Mansur shrub (Cororiana nepalensis), quite common in the Himalayan foothills.
Tourist Destinations: Most people ascend the 400 meters or so from the fashionable Mall to the historical Gun Hill. The Hawa Ghar is the most inviting resting places. The two-kilometer walk from Library Chowk to the colorful Municipal Garden or Company Bagh, is yet another favorite walk in Mussoorie. Beyond the garden with its artificial lake, one can move towards Cloud End. In the vicinity can be seen the estate of the first Surveyor General of India, Colonel George Everest (later sir George Everest), after whom the world's highest mountain is named. Even the walk towards Charleville and the Tibetan settlement of Happy Valley is a rewarding experience. However, there are challenging walks as well, such as the ones to Benog Hill (7,000 feet high) and to Lal Tibba, the highest peak (8,000 feet) at Mussoorie. Near Lal Tibba is Childer's Lodge, where a powerful 'coin-operated' binocular is available for surveying the mountains around. One can also view the series of snow-capped mountains.
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Nainital - The Abode of Naina Devi
Location: Nainital is situated on Kathgodam-Nanital Highway surrounded by the sapphire-like Naini Lake, surrounded by densely wooded hills and rich pastureland, the home of the tiger, leopard, ghoral and pheasant. The names of two Englishmen are always linked with the discovery of the Lake at Nainital. One of them G. W. Traill, Commissioner of Kumaon and Garhwal. On the other hand, P. Barron, a trader in sugar from Shahjahanpur and an intrepid traveler who went full steam to colonize it in 1839.
Tourist Destinations: The entry point at Tallital (lower end) leads to the Mallital (upper end of the lake). You can also enjoy a boat ride here. For yachting enthusiasts there is a yacht club with its temporary membership. Mallital has a Gurdwara and the Naina Devi temple complex. Seven hills surround the Nainital Lake and provide excellent trekking spots. Ayarpatta, Deopatta, Handi Bandi, Cheena, Alma, Laria Kanta, and Sher-ka-Danda-and more add on the list. Cheena (Naina) Peak, at 8,568 feet-the tallest of all-commands a superb view of the Himalayas with an intriguing bird's-eye view of Nainital. Kilbury, the second highest, has a forest rest house that offers a quiet weekend. Sher-ka-Danda hill is known for its spectacular snow view. Tiffin Top (Dorothy's Seat), Land's End, Hanuman Garhi, with its famous temple and its glorious sunset, Uttaranchal Government observatory, Satellite Tracking Center are other must visits. Ayarpatta Hill is a haven of trees-oak, fir, deodar, pine and rhododendron. On this hill stands Gurney House, home of the great Jim Corbett, now a museum of Corbett memorabilia.
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Ranikhet - The Road to Himalayan Panorama
Location: Ranikhet is a small hill station set in the Kumaon hills and is known for its ancient temples. Located at an altitude of 1824 m above sea level in the northern part of Uttaranchal, Ranikhet is 59 kms from Nainital and 50 kms from Almora.
Tourist Destinations: Ranikhet offers a magnificent view of the great Himalayan peak of Nanda Devi (7816 m). Travelers can walk around the town and its sylvan surroundings. The Jhula Devi temple and the Chaubatia orchards are within walking distance, south of the main Mall Road. Bhaludham, 3 km away from the main town, is an artificial lake. Upat Kalika, 4 km towards north of Ranikhet offers a panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges along with a nine-hole golf course. There are a number of places to visit near Ranikhet. The famous ones include Nainital (59 km), Almora (50 km), Dwarahat (38 km), Sitalakhet (35 km), Tarikhet (8 km) and Khairna (22 km).
How to Reach Hill States India
The three airports of the state at Bhuntar, Gaggal, and Jubbarhatti connect the state with Delhi and Chandigarh with regular flights from Indian Airlines. The longest railway line is from Pathankot in Punjab to Jogindernagar in Himachal Pradesh. Other railway tracks touch Shimla, Solan, and Una. The airport in Uttaranchal is Pant Nagar (Nainital). Regular flights operate during the summer. The hill stations like Kathgodam, Nainital, Ranikhet, Mussoorie, Almora, Kasauni etc are well connected through frequent bus services.
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