About 60 years after the British left, establishing a number of beautiful places as hill stations in Himachal Pradesh, the charm of these summer retreats have remained intact. Shimla, Dharamsala, Dalhousie and Manali are star attractions in Himachal Pradesh. Nonetheless, these beautiful escapes have seen the wind of change and many are shedding their old coat and embracing the new modern look. - hide more about Himachal Pradesh
Time has not faded their appeal. They still attract travellers like never before. Yes, the number of tourists visiting Himachal Pradesh, India has certainly increased many folds and many of the quaint places may not be as charming as they were in the past. The good part, however is that hill stations have become accessible and places to stay are easy to find. Though, the roads connecting many offbeat places of tourist interest in Himachal Pradesh are not in good condition.
Recent history of Himachal takes us to post independence era when 30 princely states were united to form Himachal Pradesh. Later in 1966, when Punjab was partitioned into Punjab and Haryana, some parts of Punjab were merged with Himachal Pradesh. The state as it is known today came into being in 1971, when it became the 18th state of the Indian Union. The state lies in the north of India and is bordered by Jammu & Kashmir on North, Punjab on West & South West, Haryana on South, Uttar Pradesh on South-east and China on the East.
Himachal Pradesh is predominantly a hilly state that sees surge in tourism in the months from April to June and then from September to December. However, there are tourist destinations (Manali, Shimla & Dharamsala) favorite among honeymooners and those bitten by the travel bug who visit these popular places throughout the year. Apart from the cooler climes in summer, snowfall is another draw that attracts tourists to the heights of Himachal Pradesh during winter.
It is in fact the topography and geography of Himachal Pradesh that defines the tourism character of the state. It is covered by low Shivalik range in the south and trans-Himalayan range in the north. This ascent from low rise hills to high rise mountains brings in focus on adventure tourism. This can be explained as we go north from Dharamsala, which lies in south at an altitude of 1,700 meters to Lahul Spiti, the northernmost district at 6,500 meters. Tourism and apple production are two main pillars of Himachal’s economy.
If you understand the valleys in the state, it becomes simple as well as exciting to understand tourism in Himachal Pradesh. The Kangra Valley in south with Dharamsala and its close cousin McLeodganj; Chamba Valley in west with Dalhousie; Kinnaur region with its untouched towns and villages; Kullu Valley in the centre famous for its apples; and the northern most Lahul Spiti boast of some 1000-year old Buddhist monasteries and culture, present overview of tourism in Himachal Pradesh. In between there are many known and not so known places that draw tourists from all over the world.
Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh is among the most popular hill station and is easily accessible. Its beauty and easy connectivity has made it a favourite among honeymooners and those looking for an easy escape from Delhi and neighbouring cities. Chail, Kufri, Narkanda and Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh are good getaways for those planning to visit less crowded hill stations.
Note: Avoid Himachal Pradesh during rainy season as there may be chances of landslides during this period.
Highlights of the state
Hill Stations: Shimla, Manali, Dharamsala, Narkanda, Dalhousie
Wildlife: Great Himalayan National Park, Pin Valley National Park, Churdhar Sanctuary, Chail Sanctuary, Maharana Pratap Sagar Sanctuary, Kanawar Sanctuary
Pilgrimage: Chamunda Devi Temple, Baijnath, Jwalamukhi Temple, Bajreshwari Temple, Manimahesh, Chintpurni, Paonta Sahib, Rewalsar, Manikaran
Adventure: Kufri (Skiing), Bir & Billing (Paragliding)