The most popular, the most frequented, the most happening and the most loves hill station of the entire country and of course for the state of Himachal is probably Shimla. It is the capital of the state and still retains the magnetism and charm of the once status of being the British summer capital of India. The entire hill town is speckled with buildings that remind us of the British legacy and throbbing mass of tourists buzzing through the busy streets clearly asserts that Shimla is indeed the state capital. The Lakkar Bazaar with its charming array of wood crafts, the Jhaku Temple for the religious souls, the Visceral Lodge for the lovers of history and tradition, the Himachal State Museum and the famous and tourist friendly ever populated Ridge makes for a complete holiday package. The dreamy eyed can feast their eyes on the beauty of the surrounding forest and meadows and the lovers of fun, bustle and excitement can have their quota filled among the lengthy pedestrian shopping malls, the heritage hotels, the fascinating eateries, the bakeries and cafes, the Kufri and Fagu Ski Resorts, the nature walks and the bird parks.
Manali is a hot favourite destination for tourist all across the globe. Manali is enchanting with its picture-perfect landscape, glorious range of snow-capped peaks, infinite opportunities to play and have fun with snow and the cascading and swiftly flowing river Beas spreading its aura and charisma. The ripe fruity flavour of the fruit orchards, the peace emanating from the numerous holy shrines, the aroma of pine, fir, spruce and cedar fills the air with magic and mysticism that has everything from laid back travellers to enthusiastic back-packers. Manali is bound to create some everlasting impressions for honeymooners and newly-weds because of the sheer romanticism that fills its air along with its perfect serenity and seclusion. Manali trip shall not be complete without a visit to the Hadimba Temple that sits pretty on account of its remarkable architectural grace and poise nestled among the towering deodar trees offering a spectacular view of the thick woods and green meadows against the magnificence of the mighty Himalayas. Manali offers grand experience with its Vashishta Ashram well known for its natural hot water springs offering healing properties and a relaxation of every body and souls, the Manikaran Gurudwara and the Manu Temple.
The adventure freaks can have the time of their lifetime with a dash of skiing in the Solang Valley and hard trekking across the Parvati Valley, exciting skiing experience with adrenalin-pumping paragliding, electrifying river rafting and thrilling mountaineering sessions across the Pir Panjal mountain ranges. It is also the gateway to the ever alluring Rohtang Pass.
Dharamshala and McLeodganj
Sky high snow-covered peaks that mix with the clouds, an enthralling and soul-soothing natural beauty and solemn chanting of the Buddhist priests and the prayer bells ringing ever so often – marks the unending charm of Dharamshala and McLeodganj. The majestic Dhauladhar ranges provide a gorgeous backdrop for these two quaint little hilly towns. Dharamshala is a unique combination of peace, solitude, religion, beauty deeply blended with the strange customs, rituals and traditions of the Tibetan traces. The Bhagsu Falls spreads an enthralling beauty with its height and magnetism and charms travellers through and through. The Bhagsunath Temple is set in a pristine location and offers a breath-taking sight for travellers to enjoy. Buddhism prevails in every nook and corner and it is sight to watch the flame-orange-clad monks – especially the cute little ones roaming the streets, riding bikes and driving cars. There are quite a few monasteries spread all over. Out of these the Namgyal Monastery is the most famous of all as it is the home of Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans. The freshness and peace in the air mix with the deep throated chanting in chorus that fill the air and lend an unparalleled spiritual experience. The hilly terrain makes Dharamshala and McLeodganj an ideal location for nature walks and trekking.
The cedar-crested hilly town of Dharamshala is the place to experience the culture and traditions of the Tibetans in exile. Kareri Lake is less trodden destination that serves as a camping site for trekkers and hikers. Gyuto Monastery is the abode of around 500 monks who meditate and learn Buddhist philosophy is also another tourist attraction. Jwalamukhi Temple, Naddi Village, Dal Lake, Kangra Fort and Kangra Museum, the Tea Gardens and the Norbulingka Institute are among the other major attractions of Dharamshala-McLeodganj.
Dalhousie is another dreamy and enchanting mountain town spear across the mighty Dhauladhar Ranges. The mesmerizing old-world charm of the place lends it the fame of being the mini Switzerland of India. The greenery of the mountain forests, the flowering meadows, the fast flowing mountain rivers, the misty mountains and especially the Victorian charm and the ancient British aura lends this mountain town a uniqueness that charms the hearts of the travellers that trod the paths of Dalhousie. Panch Pulla makes for a modest trek amidst greenery and mountain forest. Satdhara Falls is breathtakingly beautiful and its water is said to contain healing properties on account of mica and has the power to cure many ailments and diseases. The Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary with its bevy of flora and fauna such as leopard, bear, deer, langur, jackal, black bear, Himalayan black marten, pheasants and barking goral is simply thrilling and full of excitement. Dainkund Peak with its luscious green surroundings, thick forests and tranquil picturesque mountains is a haven for photographers and offers a mesmeric view of the sleepy meadows and villages all around from a stupendous height of 2755 metres. Ganji Pahari, Chamera Lake, Subhash Baoli should be the other highlights topping tourist attractions chart in Dalhousie. Trekking and rock climbing are among the most popular adventure activities in Dalhousie.
Palampur is gifted with thick cover of pine and deodar forests and undulating tea gardens with frolicking streams encircling the terrain. The water bodies combined with greenery spread around and the mighty snow-covered Dhauladhar Ranges create a mountain magic that is spell-binding. Palampur produces very fine quality tea and is a desirable sojourn for tea lovers. Palampur as a tea hub was discovered way back in the pre-independence era when it was converted by the British into a bustling trade and commerce hub. The English-style architecture in combination with the serene and verdant landscape offers an out-of-the-world charm to tourists pouring in from all quarters. Palampur is one of the lesser known or lesser hyped hill stations of Himachal and hence is a coveted destination for the off-beat tourists and travellers who shun too much crowd during vacations. There are a host of wondrous places offering joy and happiness to the tourists. Neugal Khad is a natural marvel steeped in beauty. Tashi Jong Monastery is the home of Tibetan refugees and is a brilliant example of beholding the Tibetan ways of life. The unending green and wavy tea gardens make Palampur the undisputed Tea Capital of North West India. Saurabh Van Vihar is a peaceful and tranquil picnic spot to spend some quality time with the family in open air among fresh environs and fascinating natural beauty. Andretta Pottery is an exciting place to learn pottery making and clay crafting. Baijnath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of the most beautiful temples of Kangra Valley.