Journey to Shimla

Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh as it stands today. Prior to the Independence, Shimla was the most important hill station. It was the summer capital of India during the hot season. Although Shimla was first discovered in 1819, it wasn’t until 1822 that the first permanent house was constructed here. It was many years later that Shimla came to be known as the summer capital. The bridge parties, balls and parades in Shimla were legendary.

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Shimla is at an altitude of 2130 meters. Shimla is a sprawling locale whose suburbs adhere to the slopes. The Mall runs along a ridge. The Mall is lined with majestic English style houses. You find some panoramic views of the valley overlooking the Mall and mountain crests adorning both sides. Steep streets lead away from the ridge where you will find colorful local bazaars on the southern slope.

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There are plenty of theories with regards to the source of the name. If the natives are to be believed, the name came from Shyamali Devi who was the re-incarnation of Goddess Kali. The natives of Himachal Pradesh are called Pahadis.  The languages spoken in Shimla are Pahadi, Punjabi, Hindi and English.

Several modes of transport are available to travel to Shimla. You could get there either by air, train or road. The Jubbarbatti airport is at a distance of 23 kilometers from Shimla. Shimla is connected by air with several major cities making it very accessible. Some of these cities are Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai and Jammu. Traveling from Delhi is a four hour journey up to Kalka by train. From Kalka one needs to change to the narrow gauge track and take the mountain train to Shimla. There are a total of 103 tunnels en route to Shimla. The incredible view this journey offers while cruising and chugging up the mountain at a leisurely pace is out of this world. There are two types of toy trains plying up to Shimla, one of them is a single car which has a glass roof presenting an enchanting outlook and the regular multi coach train. Conversely you could take the road and travel by bus or taxi. One could avail of AC coaches, deluxe and semi deluxe buses from cities such as Chandigarh, Kalka, Amritsar, Jammu, Delhi and other adjoining states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana.

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One could enjoy all sorts of activities in Shimla. Leisurely walks in the evenings are the trend here. In addition to the aesthetic value of the Victorian architecture you inevitably wind up making new friends or even bumping into people you know. The Mall is a seven kilometer stretch of road and the highest point here is called Scandal point where you will find the statue of Lala Lajpatrai.

You also have the option of playing golf at the Naldhera Golf Course. Lord Curzon designed this 9-hole golf course in the 19th century. For people who would like to experience ice skating, there is an ice skating rink, which operates from November to March. Kufri, which is situated at a height of 2501 meters above sea level, has been acknowledged for skiing, but due to the irregularity of snowfall in recent years, Himachal Pradesh tourism has ceased operations now.

Some of the most stimulating and testing mountaineering opportunities in the world are offered by the Himalayas. Camping, Horse riding, Safaris, Trekking, Bungee Jumping, Yak riding, and Para Gliding are some of the sports you can enjoy in Shimla.

The best season to visit would be from May to July or from September to November. If you are interested in catching the snowfall, then you the ideal time to travel there is between the months of December and March.

During the months of March and April you will find clear skies with occasional rain and thunderstorms. The temperature ranges from 10 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius. During summer, which is the month of May and June, the weather is usually clear but the atmosphere could be smoky thanks to the forest fires. The temperature ranges between 16 degrees Celsius to 28 degrees Celsius. The monsoons arrive in the months of July, August and September. The temperature is between 13 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius and it is cool and humid with nonstop showers. Autumn comes around in the months of October and November. The days are generally bright while the evenings are cold. The temperature ranges between 10 degrees Celsius to 23 degrees Celsius. The winter season falls in the months of December, January and February. There is frequent snowfall and the weather is normally dull. The temperature could range from -7 degrees Celsius to 10 degrees Celsius.

Map of Dalhousie

Below is the map of Dalhousie, in Himachal Pradesh. Use the scroller to zoom as per your preference.
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Videos of Dalhousie

Scenery

A short video of the snow covered mountain peaks and other scenery of Dalhousie.

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Chamba

Town Dalhousie, one of beautiful Hill stations of Northern India in Himalayas was founded in 1854 by Lord Dalhousie while India was under British control as colony. Lord Dalhousie made this town as Summer Capital of India being a cold place to match the British nature of climate. But later on in about 1910, there was a high magnitude earthquake which rocked complete belt of Himalayas and Dalhousie was badly damaged. It was found that Dalhousie is at seismic zone. And as such the idea of making it summer capital was dropped and Shimla was selected on its place for the summer capital of British. Dalhousie now is a very busy hill station in summer and during snow fall season. Otherwise it is a calm city and the scenery around is magnificent. There is mainly an army cantonment.

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Khajjiar

Khajjiar sits on a small plateau with a small stream-fed lake in the middle that has been covered over with weeds. It is surrounded by green meadows and dense forests. It is about 6500 ft. (1981m) above sea level in the foothills of the Dhauladhar ranges of the Western Himalayas and snowy peaks can be seen in the distance.

Khajjiar is often called the Mini Switzerland of Himachal Pradesh and was officially baptized thus by the Swiss Ambassador on July 7, 1992. It has a rare combination of three ecosystems: lake, pasture and forest, all in one place.

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Misty Dalhousie

This was shot at Dalhousie in 2007. The serene environment still moves soul for searching for that eternal peace and tranquility, nature challenges the basic existence of human beings and their endeavors….good food for thought.

Entertainment

Watch on as this group have fun in a huge transparent balloon ball.

Will add some more shortly… subscribe to be informed of updates!

Places to visit at Dalhousie

Some of the best churches are found here in Dalhousie. Saint Patrick’s church at Balun, Saint John’s church at Gandhi Chowk, Saint Andrews church and Saint Francis’ church at Subash Chowk are perfect examples of the British jurisdiction in the days of the Raj.

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Saint Patrick’s church was built in 1909. The money to build this church was raised by donations from the officers of the British army. Saint John’s church was built in 1863. It is inspired by the Victorian style. Reverend John H Pratt was its first pastor. Saint Andrews church is more commonly known as the Church of Scotland. Saint Francis’ church is a Catholic church as opposed to the other churches, which are Protestant.

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If you are interested in shopping, you should head for the Tibetan Market, which sells mostly Chinese products.

You should also visit Khajjiar. It is known as the Switzerland of India. There is a spring in the center of a lush valley.

Within the precincts of this region, you will come across the Kalatop-Khajjiar and other national forests and wildlife sanctuaries. The ghoral and the black bear are found here.

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If you want the feeling of standing on top of the world you should proceed to Upper Bakrota. This is the highest place in Dalhousie. Here you will see the army barracks and numerous estates. Bakrota Walk surrounds the area. You could go on a trek here. Some of the mansions here are worth visiting, but unfortunately they are private and entry is restricted.

One of the hills here has no trees and it has the appearance of being bald, giving it the name Ganji Pahadi, which quite literally means bald hill. If you are looking for an enjoyable walk, this is the place to go.

For those who are interested in museums, they should head for Chamba.

There are several spots you can visit for a picnic. Panchpula is a charming spot, where you can take a picnic basket with you.

The people of the Chamba Valley look forward to the Minjal fair every year. This fair goes on for a week and it is celebrated in the month of August. Minjar is an offering of fruit, coconut, few sheaves of paddy and a coin enclosed in a piece of red cloth. The Minjar is offered to the river Ravi.

Culture of Dalhousie

Dalhousie is the first step to the ancient Chamba Hill State. The capital of this region in the ancient times was called Bharmour. This mountainous hill station abounds with old temples, which showcase ancient Hindu culture and art. There are 84 temples ranging from the 7th Century AD to the 10th Century AD. Surprisingly, these temples are in a pretty good condition. The natives here are followers of Lord Shiva, Nag Devta and Devi. Nevertheless the townies and the sovereigns here are followers of Lord Vishnu. These temples were spared the wrath of the Muslim invaders due to their far-flung location. Master craftsmen from the other parts of northern India sought shelter here as the invaders plundered and destroyed the temples there. This was haven to them as the sovereign families were patrons of art and sculpture. You will find many bronze idols made by them in these temples.

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The best of these temples are the Chatrari, the Lakshminarayan Temple in Chamba and the Shakti Devi temple. There are temples that resemble the temples in Kedarnath and Badrinath. These are devoted to Lord Vishnu. They are distinctive because of the Sikhara style. The earliest and primary temples are those that are dedicated to Nag or Devi. Here you will find the basic Pahari style temples. These are found everywhere.

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The customs and ethnicity of these natives were completely isolated from any external influence. The Rajput Hindu family ruled over the area from the 7th Century AD till as recently as the year 1947. Neither the Muslims nor the British had much authority here. The conformist attitude of the locals remains alive even today.

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The natives of this land were a tribe of nomadic shepherds. They were called the Gaddhis. They stayed on the lower areas during the winters while they move to the higher areas during the hot season. The center of their culture is the Bharmour. The Gaddhi women wear silver ornaments.

In the Pangi Valley, you will find the Pandwals. They are naturally good looking and healthy people. Another set of tribal people live in the Pangi Valley. They are called the Bhots. These Bhots are a cross between Mongol and Aryan races. The Bhots follow the Hindu as well as Buddhist cultures.

This tribe practices Polygamy. One woman might be married to two of more brothers. The Gujjars too are found in these parts. They are followers of Islam. They depend on dairy products for their livelihood. One more tribe called the Dhogrias is indigenous to this region. They are found in Lakarmandi. They are different in terms of the way they make a living. They use underground kilns to burn wood and make coal.

Knowing Dalhousie

Are you looking for those good old days while enjoying the serenity and allure of a hill station? Don’t fret, Dalhousie is the place to go! Situated in the Chamba district of western Himachal Pradesh, it holds tremendous appeal. In Dalhousie you will have a feeling of being transported back in time. Dalhousie is spread over an area of 14 square kilometers over five hills. Kathlog, Potreyn, Tehra, Bakrota and Balun combine to make Dalhousie. The town’s altitude varies from 1525 meters and 2378 meters. Covered under a blanket of flowering rhododendrons, deodars, pines and oaks, Dalhousie has a great aura about it. The beautiful churches and colonial style houses built here are sure to fascinate you. A beautiful sight of the plains is visible from here. The river Ravi winds its way through the landscape like a snake slithering on the land below. The Dhauladhar Mountains bathed in snow are simply mesmerizing.

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Dalhousie is actually named after Lord Dalhousie, the British Viceroy in India, who established this town in 1854. He was captivated by its aura and panorama. The tranquil environment is favorable for people looking to unwind and recuperate. The honeymooners too love this place for the privacy it offers them. If you are looking for modern facilities and lifestyle, this may not be the place for you.

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The weather could be quite deceptive as you will find it nice and warm in the mornings and mid-day but come evening and the weather will change drastically. The nights can be chilly so you need to pack suitable clothes for the occasion.

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You can approach Dalhousie via Pathankot, Chandigarh and Amritsar among others. It is a 2- 3 hour drive from Pathankot. Buses are available for Dehradun, Dharamshala, Chamba, Delhi and Pathankot to Dalhousie. Moreover, you could hire a taxi to bring you in from Pathankot. The fare is quite reasonable. You can get to Pathankot by train from different cities in India. You also have the choice to fly in all the way up to Pathankot.

There are several places you could trek trails here in Dalhousie. You could go on picnics at picnic spots and waterfalls, or even camping. Dalhousie is a great place to come close to and bond with nature as there isn’t much else to do. Your hotel might arrange a barbeque for you. Star-gazing is good way to spend some time as you feel pretty close to the stars. If you are looking to go to Khajjiar, your best mode of transport would be the ponies.

Map of Kullu Manali

Below is the map of Kullu and Manali, in Himachal Pradesh. Move the scroller towards “+” to zoom in and “-” to zoom out.
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The tag is only of Manali in this map, however, Kullu is very close so there was no point putting 2 maps.
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Kullu and Manali videos

Manali Hill Station

One of the best videos of Manali hill station! Manali’s cool atmosphere provides a perfect haven for the ones afflicted by the hot Indian summers. It is famous for adventure sports like skiing, hiking, mountaineering, para gliding, rafting, trekking, kayaking, and mountain biking. It also offers hot springs, spectacular religious shrines and temples, Tibetan Buddhist temples, and trekking in the surrounding mountains.

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Rohtang Pass

Beautiful scenery of Rohtang Pass covered in snow.

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Hadimba Devi Temple

Comment: They have a festival at hadimba every year, called kali mata, in which they whack off the heads of many lambs, chickens, a couple pigs and a buffalo. It all goes into the pot (except the buffalo) and is cooked by the locals from manali, vasisht, and dhungri.

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Vashisht Hot Springs

Vashisht was Lakshman’s Guru in our epic Ramayana. He used to live around this area. This village has abudant supply of hot water from the Sulphur springs. The entire foreign crowd seems to be halting here at Vashisht, Manali for its both warm and pious.

We will add some more videos soon.

Adventure sports in Kullu Manali

The much sort after sport at Manali is skiing. You can be kitted for skiing at the Solang Nullah during the winter months of January to March while in the summers the Rohtang La is good. The institute of Mountaineering at Solang Nullah is considered to be pretty good. They also offer courses in kayaking for those interested in this sport. You could go kayaking in the Beas River. One could also opt for Heli skiing at the deep snowfields.

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Hiking is very popular in this region as the climate is pleasant and the panorama adds to the joy. If you are here especially for the trekking then the best path would be to begin at Solang Valley and proceeding to Dhundhi, from where you go on to Dussar Lake and carry on to Manali. The vista on this route is beyond belief. The wholesome winds and the uncontaminated environment transcend the senses. Normally this trek would take 5 days or so.

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In Manali you can find several good hiking trails. Hiking up the 12 kilometers of the western banks of the Beas to the Solang Valley is remarkable. Another 6 kilometer hike Lama Dugh meadow up the Manalsu Nala in the western part of Manali town can be very refreshing.

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One could also experience paragliding on the slopes of the Solang Nullah during the summers. Travel agents could arrange a trip for you that would comprise of lodging, boarding, equipments and a guide.

If you are in the area of Pirdi, you can partake of rafting down the Beas but that would be wholly dependant on the season. This is a 16 kilometers stretch descending to a place called Jhiri.

Those who enjoy fishing can obtain daily permits from the HPTDC at Patikhul, Kasol, Katrain and Kasol in the Kullu Valley.

Kullu Tourism – Kullu Manali

Just like Manali, Kullu too is a land of temples. Only 4 kilometers from Dhalpur, you will come to a small cave in which an idol of Goddess Vaishno Devi is preserved. A drive of 45 kilometers from Kullu will take you to Manikaran. Manikaran is well known for its hot springs. The water here is hot enough to cook rice, vegetables and lentils in it. And yet thousands of people take a holy dip in these hot waters. This place is a celebrated pilgrimage spot for Hindus and Sikhs alike. A Gurudwara is sited here aside from Ramchandra and Shivaji temples. You will be informed of a myth here about Lord Shiva and his celestial bride, Parvati, who lost her ear ring at this place. This caused the water on the banks of Parvati River to turn blistering hot. The priests at the temple will narrate an exciting tale to you.

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A drive 10 kilometers across the Beas River from Kullu will bring you to Bijli Mahadev temple. If you have the inclination and fortitude to conquer a mountain, you will arrive at an exquisite temple with a 60 feet high staff. There is a belief that the staff draws the blessings of God via this staff in the form of lightening. On the main road, 15 kilometers south of Kullu in Bajaura, the famous temple of Baheshwar Mahadev has fine stone carvings and sculptures.

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Kullu is well known for several fishing spots in the vicinity. Banjar, which is 58 kilometers south of Kullu is a great place for trout fishing in the river Tirthan. There’s a charming little village called Larji where trout can be caught. This is 34 kilometers from Kullu. The sight of the rivers Sainj and Tirthan conjoining before it meets with the Beas is quite lovely. Kasol is situated on the banks of the Parvati River. The sand here is amazingly white.

Naggar was the capital of Kullu for almost 1400 years. The scenic beauty here is beyond compare. A great many temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Lord Krishna, Sundari and Tripura are found here. There is a quaint old fort which has been built around a courtyard with verandahs facing stupendous views over the valley. Inside the courtyard there is a small temple containing a slab of stone with an intriguing legend about how it was carried there by wild bees.

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On the hill above the castle is the Roerich Gallery. This is a fine old house with exhibits of the artwork of both Professor Nicholas Roerich and his son.