About Himachal Pradesh:
Popularly known as the Devbhumi – "Land of the Gods", Himachal Pradesh is a beautiful hill state in India, nestles in north-west region of western Himalayas. The state is landlocked with the Tibetan plateau to the east, Jammu and Kashmir to the north, and the Punjab to the west. However, the state stands apart from its neighbours in terms of its sheer topographic diversity and breathtaking pristine natural beauty. From vast tracts of high-altitude Trans-Himalayan desert to dense green deodar forests, from apple orchards to cultivated terraces, from snow capped high Himalayan mountain ranges to snow fed lakes and gushing rivers.
District break-up of Himachal Pradesh:
- Lahaul & Spiti
Himachal Pradesh, situated in the north of India, is a tourist hotspot that draws visitors from across the globe. Himachal Pradesh tourism is fast growing, contributing a huge share to the national income of the state. This boom in tourism has prompted the mushrooming of numerous hotels and resorts in Himachal Pradesh, greasing the wheel for a greater travel experience
Geographically, the state is surrounded by Tibet in the east, Punjab in the west, and Jammu & Kashmir in the north. Popularly known as ‘Devbhumi' or the ‘Land of the Gods', Himachal Pradesh is a travellers paradise, with lush green valleys, snowy peaks, icy glaciers, enchanting lakes, and green meadows.
Primarily, Himachal Pradesh has three seasons in a year; they include spring, winter, and monsoon. The spring seasons starts frommid February and extends to mid April. The winter season here starts from October and ends in March and is considered an ideal time visit.
The official language of the state of Himachal Pradesh is Hindi. Pahari, which has various dialects and sub languages, is a widely spoken language here. The different dialects of this language include Mandiali, Kulavi, Kehluri, Hinduri,Chameali, Sirmauri, Miahasvi, and Pangwali which are spoken by the inhabitants of Mandi, Kullu, Bilaspur, Nalagrah, Chamba, Sirmaur, Mahasu, and Pangi respectively.
Other dialects, namely, Kinnauri, Lahauli, and Spitian of Bhot origin are also spoken here. All the Pahari dialects are known to have originated from Sanskrit. Punjabi, Dogri, and Kangri are also spoken in various regions of the state. the western parts of the state speak Gujarati. Though the languages followed the Persian script during the Mughal reign, they are presently written in the Devanagiri script.
Tourism in Himachal Pradesh
Each of the 12 districts of the state of Himachal Pradesh tourism has numerous attractions with a wide range of locations for sight seeing, worship, Trekking,Mountaineering ,fishing, River Rafting, skiing paragliding, ice skating, and golf which makes Himachal tourism interesting as ever.
The tourism department of Himachal Pradesh has divided the state into four distinct circles, namely, the Sutlej Circuit, the Beas Circuit, the Dhauladhar Circuit, and the Tribal Circuit. The River Beas flows through famous tourist destinations like Manali and the Kullu Valley. This circuit offers visitors the opportunity to relax amidst forests of deodar and pine trees, alpine fields, rocky slopes, grassy meadows blooming with colourful flowers, and fruit orchards. The Tribal Circuit consists of cold mountains, glaciers, frozen lakes, passes, beautiful monasteries, lamas, and yaks. Marked by rich cultural traditions, this region is a hotspot for breathtaking adventurous activities.
The Dhauladhar Circuit, also known as the outer Himalaya, begins from Dalhousie and ends at Badrinath. This circuit is clearly visible from the Valley of Kangra. The Sutlej Circuit offers a view of the lower ranges of the Shivalik Mountains to its higher ranges. Surrounded by lush green apple orchards, pine forests, deodars, and the River Sutlej, this circuit offers beautiful sightseeing opportunities to visitors.
Nicknamed ‘the Abode of Gods’, this state has numerous Hindu temples including that of Jwalamukhi, Chamunda, Brajeshwari, Chintpurni, Baijnath, Laxminarayan, Chaurasi, among others. Various gurudwaras and churches are also located in different parts of the state, adding to the various aspects of Himachal tourism.Paonta Sahib, Rewalsar, and Manikaran are the major Sikh pilgrimage centres where as, Christ Church Kasauli Christ Church Shimla, and St. Johns Church are the important Christian religious destinations of the region.
The Great Himalayan National Park, the Pin valley National park, the Renuka Sanctuary, the Pong Dam Sanctuary, the Gopalpur Zoo, and Kufri are the destinations that are popular among nature lovers of Himachal tourism. A glimpse of the royal heritage and the archaeological marvels of the region can be seen at the Kangra Fort, the palaces of Jubbal, the Naggar Castle, the Kamru Fort, the Gondla Fort, the Christ church, Chapslee, the Wood Villa Palace, and the Chail Palace.
Showcasing the aesthetic art forms from the ancient royal era of the region are the many museums and galleries located here including the State Museum, the Kangra art Gallery, the Bhuri Singh Museum, the Roerich Art Gallery, and the Sobha Singh Art Gallery. Promising a time of leisure and serene ambience are the many beautiful lakes, such as the Prashar Lake, the Khajjiar Lake, the Renuka Lake, the Gobindsagar Lake, the Dal Lake, the Pongdam Lake, the Pandoh Lake, the Manimahesh Lake, and the Brighu Lake.
Himachal Pradesh is also popular as a city of fairs and is known various celebrations like the Winter Carnival Shivratri, the Ladarcha Fair, the Minjar Fair, the Manimahesh Fair, the Phulech, the Kullu Dushera Lavi Fair, the Renuka Fair, and the Ice Skating Carnival. Destinations like Bir, Manali, Bilaspur, and Rohru are known among tourists for aero-sports like paraGliding and hang Gliding. These are some of the undeniable aspects of Himachal Pradesh tourism.
Dalhousie is a quiet town, with a sense of enchantment. This hill station spreads over five low-level hills at the western edge of the Dhauladhar range, just east of the Ravi River. The picturesque town is interspersed with the colonial-era buildings, low roofed stalls and hotels. The pine-covered slopes around it are intersected with paths and treks, which are ideal for short undemanding walks.
The gateway to the Chamba Valley, this colonial town was established in 1854 by the British governor-general Lord Dalhousie.
In & around Dalhousie the visitable places are:
Subash Baoli: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose spent a large portion of 1937 contemplating here. A nice secluded place.
Panjpulla: It means five bridges. It is a picturesque spot with water flowing under the five small bridges. A samadhi of Sardar Ajit Singh, uncle of Bhagat Singh, adds to its importance. A small fresh water spring Satdhara is close by.
Bakrota hills: Visit for a brisk walk round the hills and have a view of snow clad peaks. It is 5 km from Dalhousie.
Kalatope: It is a picnic spot and a wild life sanctury, 10 km from Dalhousie and offers a fine view of the countryside.The little Kalatope Sanctuary has a variety of wildlife such as ibex, deer, bears and leopards.
Bara Pathar: It is 4 km from Dalhousie enroute Kalatope. In village Ahla here, there is a Temple of Bhulwani Mata.
Dainkund: It is 10 km from Dalhousie. On a clear day this tall peak (2745 m) affords a birds eye-view of the hills, verdant valleys and the Beas, Ravi and Chenab rivers threading their silvery passage down to the plains.
Khajjiar is often referred to as "Gulmarg of Himachal Pradesh".
Just 27-km from Dhoudar the beautiful little plain of Khajjiar is one of the favourite retreats for visitors. The saucer-shaped meadow, ringed by pines, has a lake set in the middle, complete with a floating bland. A little golden-spired temple of Khajjinag belonging to the 12th century and a picturesque golf course complete this pretty picture. A picturesque spot with an emerald, saucer shaped meadow set amidst a dense deodar forest, it has a lake as it's centre with a floating island, a forest rest house, a little temple with a golden spire and a golf course.
Located at a height of 2250 metres Chail is one of the smallest Himalayan hill resorts When Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja of Patiala, was expelled from Shimla, he decided to create his own summer capital, which was Chail. Lying just 45 kms away from Shimla, surrounded by a thick cover of deodars and situated at a higher altitude, Chail was a perfect choice in the British-controlled Shimla.
Tourist places in and around Chail
The Chail Palace built in 1891, is a standing testimony of the royal heritage of Chail. Another popular tourist attraction of the destination is the Chail Wildlife Sanctuary that offers a rare opportunity to observe the indigenous flora and fauna of the region. Species found in the sanctuary include the Indian muntjac, leopard, crested porcupine, panther, wild boar, goral, sambar, and European red deer. The cricket and polo ground in Chail is located at an altitude of about 2444 m above sea level, it is one of the highest cricket venues in the world.
The Gurudwara Sahib the Kali ka Tibba and the Maharaja's Palace are other major tourist attractions of Chail. Considered as a paradise for hikers, the place is also ideal for trekking and fishing.
Nahan is situated on an isolated ridge in the Shiwalik hills, overlooking greenfields. Nahan is a well laid-out picturesque town, known for its cleanliness and dust free streets. Saint and princes are linked with the origin of Nahan. The city was founded as a capital by Raja Karan Prakash in 1621. Another version recalls a saint who lived with a companionable Nahar on the site where the Nahan palace now stands "Nahar" means a Lion and probably the town takes its name from this saint. Nahan situated at an altitude of 932 meters, is a good base for visits to the surrounding areas viz. Renuka, Paonta Sahib, Trilokpur temple and the Suketi Fossil Park. It has a pleasant climate throughout the year and is watered by man made lake and decorated with temples and gardens. It is the headquarter of Sirmaur district.
- Ranzor Palace: Ranzor Palace is one of the prime attractions of Nahan. Also known as Royal Palace of Nahan, the palace has only recently been opened for public visit.
- Rani Tal: The royal family that ruled the region of Nahan had made special arrangements for tehir family entertainment and leisure. The Rani Tal (Queen’s Lake) is one such spot where the entire Lake was earmarked for the royal family. However, with passage of time, the lake has been developed as a picnic spot and attracts hundreds of nature lovers everyday.
Apart from the eating joints and boating facility the high dome Shiva temple is also an added attraction which galvanizes the visitors to the lake.
- Suketi fossil park: The Suketi Fossil Park is world famous for its display of Fossils and life size fiber models of some of the extinct species that roamed these lands.
- Renuka Wildlife park: The Renuka Wildlife park is visited by the tourists all the year round. Here tourists can take up various jungle tours and sight wide varieties of animals in their natural habitat.Sprawling on an area of 4.028 sqkm, the wildlife sanctuary also has a temple and a lake, which attracts tourists all the year round.
Monkey point : 3.5 km from Hotel Ros Common, a hill which derives its name from Rishi Man-Ki who used to worship an idol of Lord Hanuman and later the summit was crowned with a small temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman and presently being looked after by the personnel of Air Force, stationed here. The area being restricted from security point of view, no belongings like Camera etc are allowed.
Baba balak nath temple : 3 km on the Hill top is a famous temple of Sidh Baba Balak Nath.
Shirdi sai baba mandir : Built in 1989 the famous temple is located half km away from Garkhal. The idol of Sai Baba was built at Jaipur and the burning flame in this temple signifies the divine power of Sai Baba of Shirdi.
tourist destination for the honeymoon lovers. It is an excellent place for a holiday, a favorite resort for trekkers to Lahaul, Spiti, Kinnaur, Leh and Zanskar regions in Kashmir valley. The landscape here is breath taking. One sees well-defined snow capped peaks, high mountains which are surrounded by silent snows and deep boulder strew gorges, the Beas river with its clear water meanders through the town. On the other side are deodar and pine trees, thick forests, tiny fields of wild flowers, small picturesque hamlets and fruit orchards. Manali is also a sacred pilgrimage place for the Hindus. December to February are the best season for snow-skiing and heli-skiing in Manali. The climate of Manali is very cold. The summers are cool and the winters are also very cool. Due to its altitude the climate of Manali is loved by one and all. The best time to visit Manali is in the month of May and October.
Hadimba temple : Built in 1553 with a superbly crafted four tiered pagoda roof, it is famous for its exquisitely carved doorway.
Manu temple : This is dedicated to the sage Manu situated at old Manali.
Vashisth : Well known for its hot springs. There are old temples dedicated to the sage Vashisth and to Lord Rama.
Monastries : There are three recently built Tibetan monasteries at Manali.
Jagatsukh : The one time capital of Kullu. Here are old temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and to Sandhya Gayatri. The Arjun caves are just ahead.
Solang valley : In a picturesque setting this has good ski slopes and picnic spots.
Rohtang pass : On the road to Keylong is the Nehru Kund (6km) which is a clear water spring scenic spot named after the Late Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. Kothi (12km) is a picturesque village and has a thrilling view of the deep gorge through which the Beas swiftly races. The beautiful Rahalla falls (16km) are at at altitude of 2500m. A crucial link on the old trade route and still the gateway to trans Himalayan Lahaul, the Rohtang Pass is at height of 3978 m.
Palampur is the tea capital of northwest India. Set on the rising slopes of Kangra Valley before they merge with the Dhauladhar ranges. But tea is just one aspect that makes Palampur a special resort. Abundance of water and proximity to the mountains has endowed it with mild climate. The town has derived its name from the local word "pulum', meaning lots of water.
The place enjoys a healthy climate and the pine scented air is said to have curative properties. The scenery presents a sublime and beautiful contrast- the plain presents a picture of rural loveliness and repose, while the hills are majestic. Behind this town stands the high ranges of Dhauladhar Mountains, whose peaks remain, covered for most part of the year. Situated in and about the middle of the Kangra Valley, it is convenient base to explore the surroundings.
This hill station is not only known for its numerous tea gardens and paddy fields but it also known for its colonial architecture and temples. Palampur and places around it are popular for adventure sports like hang-gliding and trekking.
PRIME ATTRACTIONS of PALAMPUR
Neughal Khad: Close to the temple of Bundelmata temple, is this 300-metre-wide chasm through which the Neugal stream flows.
Andretta: The charming village, spread below the thickly wooded hill and sprawling plains of the Kangra Valley was once the home of the famous painter Sardar Sobha Singh and the playwright Ms Norah Richards. Now Andretta is a centre for various artistic activities such as pottery and is just 13-km away from Palampur.
Baijnath: Noted for it's ancient temple, which was built in 804 A.D. and dedicated to Shiva Vaidyanatha. Its tall shikhara carved in stone is framed by the imposing snow capped peaks of Dhauladhars. The linga enshrined in its sanctum is one of the 12 jyotirlingas in the country. Every year during the Shivratri fair, thousands of pilgrims descend on Baijnath for the colourful fair and festivities. It is 16-km from Palampur and 56-km from Dharamsala.
Bir and Billing: Sheltered by the mountains and surrounded by tea gardens, Bir serves as a landing ground for hang & Para gliders as well as known for it's Buddhist monasteries and Tibetan handicrafts. One of the best aero-sports sites in the world, Billing is 14-km from Bir. The mountain ranges set like an amphitheatre, offer opportunities for high altitude and cross-country flying for more than 200-km.
Chamunda Devi: The famous temple dedicated to the goddess Chamunda is 25-kms away from Palampurand Yatri Niwas here provides an excellent accommodation for the visitors.
Gopalpur: Situated 13-km away from the town, Gopalpur consists of a mini zoo.
Tea Factory: The cooperative society tea factory provides an insight to the processing of Kangra Tea.
Temple of Bundelmata: Walk through tea gardens and open fields or drive to reach this temple built about five centuries ago.
Al-Hilal: A few kilometers from the city of Palampur is Al-Hilal, a place of unparalleled charm. During the conquests of Kangra by Maharaja Renjit Singh, this place was a military bastion.
Trekking: Several trek routes lead out of Palampur, particularly over the Dhauladhar Mountains towards the town of Chamba. Treks of 5-8 days duration are viable from May to October. Some of the interesting treks from Palampur include Palampur to Holi over the Shingar pass, Palampur to Dharamsala via Indrahar Pass and Baijnath to Manali over the Thamsar pass.
Hang/Paragliding: Twenty-eight kilometers from Palampur is an important center for the adventure sport of hang/paragliding. It also has numerous Buddhist monuments and is famous for its Tibetan handicrafts. The town of Billing, which is 42 km from Palampur and 14 km from Bir, is also an important center for hang-gliding.
Fishing: There are ample opportunities for the angler between 1st March to 1st June and 1st September to end of October for Mahaseer fishing in and around Dehra Gopipur, Nadaun and Pong Dam.
Kullu was once known as Kulanthpitha, which means the end of the habitable world. Beyond rose the forbidding heights of the Himalayas, and by the banks of the shining river Beas, lay the fabled 'Silver Valley'.
Here is the core of an intricate web of numerous valleys - each of which is a visual delight and seems more beautiful than the other. The mountain scapes remain spectacular whether in brilliant sunshine or in the haze of the mist. The 'Silver Valley' has nature's treasures that lie carelessly scattered as flowers on the high meadows.
The town of Kullu has long been a centre of faith. In the 17th century, Raja Jagat Singh installed here an idol of Lord Raghunathji, which he brought from Ayodhya. As a mark of his penance, he placed the idol on his throne and it became the presiding deity of the valley.
PRIME ATTRACTIONSRaghunathji Temple: In the 17th century, Raja Jagat Singh of Kullu commiteda great wrong. To atone for the sin he sent a senior courtier to Ayodhya for a statue of Lord Raghunath - Lord Ram. This temple was built by Raja Jagat Singh to house the image and even today, is greatly revered. The shrine houses an image of Shri Raghunath in his chariot.
Bijli Mahadev Temple: Set on a spur that offers some spectacular views, this temple is famous for its 20m high rod that periodically draws lightning, which shatters the 'Shivalinga' and scorches the building. Using only butter as adhesive, the 'linga' is then carefully pieced togetherby the temple pundit.
Basheshwar Mahadev Temple, Bajaura: This 9th century Shiva Temple is renowned for its intricate stone carvings
The Vaishno Devi Temple: 4-km along the Kullu to Manali road is this temple with a small cave having an image of goddess Vaishno or Durga.
Jagannathi Devi Temple: This temple is in Bhekhli village, 3-km from Kullu. It's a stiff climb but from the temple one can catch fine views of the town.
Akhara Bazar: Known as one of the main bazaar, where Kullu caps, shawls, 'pattoos', gudmas, 'puhlas' and 'namdas' or rugs are sold in plenty.
Sultanpur Palace: It contains some fine examples of the Kullu style of miniaturepainting, characterised by simple rural scenes and the lack of human subjects.
Naggar: For 1400 years Naggar remained the capital of Kullu. Its 16th century stone and wood castle is now a hotel run by Himachal Tourism. Here, a galleryhouses the paintings of the Russian artist, Nicholas Roerich. Naggar also has three other old shrines.
EXCURSIONSBajaura Temple: On the banks of the river Beas, about 200 m off the Kullu Mandi road at Hat or Hatta, is situated a massive pyramidal structure temple, decorated with images of Durga, Vishnu and Ganesh in the outer 3-sided shrines. Floriated scrollwork can be seen on the exterior walls. Inside this Shiva temple is a large yoni-lingam. It is 15-km from Kullu.
Parvati Valley/Manikaran: At 1737 m, here am hot sulphur springs that bubble next to the by waters of the Penal river. The place is revered by both Hindus and Sikhs Treks from here lead to Pulga, Khirganga and Mantalai' a stretch of considerable natural beauty. The route finally reaches the Pin Parvati Pass (4802 m), which opens into the Sutlej valley.
Kaisdhar: A picturesque spot, situated across a steep hill known for its magnificient scenery and innumerable walks.
Kasol: An open glade by the banks of the river Parvati, Kasol makes a good holiday destination. Clean white sand separates the lush green grass from the stone, this place is well known for trout fishing.
Shoja: At 2692 m, this is a vantage point for a complete panorama of the Kullu area-snow peaks and valleys, meadows and forests, rivers and streams.
Raison: By the banks of the Beas-and on the Kullu-Manali highway- Himachal Tourism runs a camping site here. This place is ideal for a taste of adventure and for spending a quiet holiday in solitary splendour.
Karrain: At about midpoint on Kullu-Manali road, this is the home of lush orchards and famous for bee-keeping and trout fishing. Khatrain is the widest point in Kullu Valley and is overlooked by the 3,325 m Baragarh peak.
Largi: Largi is a small hamlet, 34-km south of Kullu via Aut, offers the best trout fishing and scenic beauty in the valley. The rest-house there is in a stunning location where two Himalayan torrents, the Sainj and Tirthan, meet. Fishing permits can be obtained from Kullu and Largi itself.
Jagatsukh: Jagatsukh is the most ancient Kullu capital, situated on the left bank, between Nagar and Manali. Around the Jagatsukh secondary school playground there are two ancient temples - the small shrine of Gaurishankar and the larger chalet-roofed temple to the goddess Sandhya Devi, the stone base of which is much more ancient than the 19th-century wooden verandah and roof.
Deo Tibba: Also known as Indralika, this 2,953 metres (9,687 ft.) high snow dove Jagatsukh, has a legend around it, with Arjuna. He started performing 'tapa' at this mountain, under the advice of Maharishi Vyas, in order to obtain the powerful Pasupata Astra from Indra.
Banjar: It is about 58-km from Kullu at an altitude of 1,534m (5,000 ft.). Banjar is famous for its panoramic beauty and trout fishing in river Tirtham.
Nirmund: Situated in outer Seraj of Kullu district, Nirmund is at present a block headquarter. Known as 'Chhoti Kashi', it was once a seat of great scholars and intellectuals.
Bathad: A beautiful spot at a distance of 67-km can be approached by road from Kullu. It is recognized for adventurous games such as hunting, trout fishing and breathtakingly beautiful sites.
Malana: 30-km from Khatrain, near the beautiful Chandrakhani Pass, which offers striking views of Deo Tibba is the mysterious village of Malana. The village is basically famous for its temple of Jamlu and its distinct and fully reserved social and cultural set up.
Pulga, Khiranga and Mantalai: Almost level walk of two hours along Parvati river is Gattigarh, the rest place for trekkers. Around 4-km ahead on right side of river Parvati lies Pulga, which looks like the twin sister of Manali. Khiranga hot water fall is situated in beautiful natural setting and its water contains medicinal property. One thing has to be noted that taking bath in its water will put greasy touches to the body, unlike Manikaran, where one feels the touch of dryness. Covering another two kilometers from Khiranga lies Mantalai.
The one-time summer capital of the British, Shimla is a gorgeous hill station in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Located at an average height of 2,200 meter, Shimla is unique with its unparalleled glittering beauty. Set in the midst of impressive hills and dense jungles this hill town has its own charm. Its elegant streets, plummeting torrents and salubrious climate make it a thriving hotspot for honeymooners. Shimla is also the kick off point for the rest of Himachal, with well-knit roads.
Attractions in Shimla
This scenic journey takes the passengers through 103 tunnels, crossing more than 800 bridges and viaducts. The toy train runs on a narrow gauge and moves slowly between the flanked mountains, through mesmerising valleys and pine, fir and deodar forest glades.
The train arduously climbs on the steep cliffs and halts at various places where tourists can capture the spectacular glimpse of nature in their cameras. In fact, the train runs in such a slow motion that tourists can get down for a quick picture and get back on the train in a jiffy.
Dharamsala is famed as the holy abode of Tibetan Charismatic Leader Dalai Lama and houses the Tibetan Government in exile. Dharamsala is a synonym for Buddhism in India. Situated on the upper hilly terrains of Kangra valley and set against the scenic backdrop of exquisite Dhauladhar Mountains. The gorgeous city is distinctively divided as upper and lower divisions with two altitude ranges.
Home to the Tibetan leader, this is the perfect place to learn about Buddhism and the Tibetan struggle for Freedom. The city is dominated by the Tibetan populace while still retaining the British fervor and English lifestyles. Numerous Buddhist Viharas or Gompas, presenting great cultural values and Tibetan architectures, are the main attractions of Dharamsala.
Dharamsala has a vibrant environment with dense green forests with Deodar trees and pine trees. Blessed with many clear and unpolluted streams it is an ideal retreat for nature lovers. This place has been renowned as one of the best picnic spots in India.
Attractions of Dharamshala:
Norbulingka: Literally the Jewelled Park, this drew inspiration from the Dalai Lama’s summer palace and is a fine example of Tibetan craftsmanship. It is an institute that was established to preserve and teach ancient Tibetan arts. Among the teachings are thangka making, statue making, carpentry, traditional Tibetan image sculpting, woodcarving and metal crafting. The thangkas are bright illustrations of traditional Tibetan gods created as per details laid down in the ancient manuscripts. You can also place orders for these in the painting department.
Church of St John-in-the-Wilderness: Located a little outside Little Lhasa en route to Lower Dharamsala, this church stands silent amidst towering oaks and deodars. An old, though well-built structure, it has withstood the attacks of time and comes across as a neo-gothic church with exquisite stained glass windows showcasing John the Baptist with Jesus. The graveyard adjacent to it is the resting place of the British Viceroy Lord Elgin, and is marked by a miniature marble cathedral-like structure.
Tsuglakhang: This is the main temple complex in Dharamsala, built without cutting a single tree! In fact it is based on trunks of growing deodars, held in place by adjustable iron rings. The main deity inside is a 9 ft high gilded Buddha on a lotus seat. Also located within are 12 ft high gold images of the Padmasambhava and Avalokiteshwara. In fact, it is believed that some elements of the temple were brought from the originalTsuglakhang in Tibet. The temple also provides beautiful views of the neighbouring Dhauladar peaks. Evening is the best time to visit it when prayers and other rituals are conducted by the Dalai Lama. The courtyard is the centre of activities as the monks make preparations for the Kalachakra ceremony. The café here is also the best place to try out some Tibetan herbal tea and South Indian coffee.
Namgyalma Stupa: This Buddhist stupa is surrounded by prayer wheels, located centrally in McLeod Ganj. It is dedicated to the Tibetans who lost their lives fighting for their homeland. There is a shrine with an idol of the Sakyamani Buddha and reflecting a typical indo-Tibetan style of architecture. This stupa is a hub of activity through the day as you watch devotees turning turn the prayer wheels and chant mantras.
Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts: This institute was established as early as 1959 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as an attempt to preserve Tibet’s unique performing arts. The institute houses over 112 members proficient in various arts, singing, playing instruments and dances. Along with these, there is a handicrafts section, with produces in-house costumes and props needed for the performances. A special highlight of the TIPA is the Traditional Tibetan Opera, which hosts the annual 9-day Shoton Opera Festival marked by Lhamo performances. Performers, dance and perform to the tune of cymbals and drums, and sport vibrant Tibetan masks. Another annual festival is the 3-day Yarkyi Festival, which is held in August to commemorate the establishment of TIPA. Along with cultural performances, it is marked by sporting competitions like soccer, basketball, badminton and volleyball. To make its presence felt across the world, TIPA also organizes several tours, showcasing Tibetan culture to audience across the world.
Losel Doll Museum: Located inside the Norbunlingka Institute, this doll museum houses more than 160 different dolls. It is probably the best place where you can get a glimpse of the original Tibetan costumes, most of which don’t exist in reality anymore.
Dal Lake: Located 2 kms from McLeod Ganj, this is a small lake set amidst forests and hills. It is a scenic picnic spot and you can even feed the goldfish that abound here. The locals consider this lake extremely sacred and it is believed that a dip here fulfills wishes.
Bhagsunag: Located barely a km from McLeod Ganj, Bhagsunag is home to an ancient temple and a beautiful waterfall. This is another scenic spot you can walk around in.
Chinmaya Tapovan: This ashram is located almost 10 kms from Dharamsala and houses a 9 m high idol of Lord Hanuman, a temple dedicated to Lord Rama, a meditation hall and a health and recreation centre.
Jwalamukhi Temple: Located close to Dharamsala, this temple derives its name from the eternally burning flame from rock in the sanctum. This flame is said to be the manifestation of Goddess Sati and offerings of rabri, misri, milk and fruits. Near the flame, two pools of clear water flow, fed by the underground springs. Though the water seems to be boiling, it is actually refreshingly cool! This temple is the site of the vibrant Navratri Festival held in honour of the goddess.
Famed for its stone temples, this city has popularly called as the 'Varanasi of Hills'. The majestic palaces and finely carved temples speak out the princely elegance of this pictorial town. Elegant mansions of Victorian era add the charm of this beautiful picnic spot. Mandi is believed to be the place where the great sage 'Mandav' had undertaken his penance and legends say that his reparation was so severe that the rocks were turned black due to it.
A swiftly emerging tourist destination, Mandi is an ideal location for shopping. The Tibetan handicrafts and Handlooms put for sale is really eye catching. Holidaying in Mandi proposes an exclusive picture of a thriving city with numerous striking and blessed places to roam in, hot streams with curative characteristics and startling trekking grounds.
Apart from the glorious monuments and amazing natural spectacles, Mandi is also renowned for its fairs and festivals. Since most of the temples in this hilly terrain are in the name of Lord Shiva, Mahasivarathri is celebrated here with much pomp and enthusiasm. A write-up of Mandi with out mentioning the much attractive Nalwar Mela would not be fair. The herd of bullocks in colorful makeup steals the show in their credit.
Tourist Attractions of Mandi:
Lahaul and Spiti are two remote Himalayan Valleys of Himachal Pradesh, lying on the Indo-Tibet border. Lahaul and Spiti valleys, together form a district in Himachal Pradesh. Strange, exciting, primitive, these valleys are unsurpassed in mountain scape, in the rugged beauty of their rocky escapements and the splendor of their snow covered peaks. Lahaul is marked by a central mass of uniformly high mountains and massive glaciers. The Bara Shigri, Chota Sigri, Samundari and Sonapani glaciers are some of the glaciers which are found here. The two rivers, Chandra and Bhaga which rise on either side of the Baralacha La, flow through the narrow Chandra and Bhaga valley.s and nourish the Lahaul valley. Lahaul is a land of fascinating Buddhist art and culture. The monasteries of Lahaul-Spiti are rich repositories of ancient murals, thankas, wood carving and golden images of Padmasambhava. The valley lies at a height of 2745 metres above sea level. Summer in this valley is cool and pleasant with green grass and alpine flowers. There are little monsoon in both these valleys and this enables climbers and trekkers to enjoy a long and unbroken season in perpetual sunshine to explore the wilderness and grandeur of the inner Himalaya. This unique feature makes Lahul-Spiti as an ideal destination for tourists and trekkers in the month of July, August and September. Keylong is 115 kms. from Manali and is the District Headquarters of Lahul-Spiti District.
Attractions in Lahaul & Spiti:
The main tourist attractions in Lahaul are the monasteries. The Khardong and Shashur Monastery are some of the famous monasteries which are found in Lahaul. The other places in Lahaul are Gondla, Tandi, Guru Ghantal Monastery, Keylong, Tayul Gompa, Sissu, Koksar, Jispa, Gemur, Darcha, Baralacha La pass, Sarchu, Shansha, Triloknath Temple and Udaipur. Khardong is the largest monastery in Lahaul and located across the valley from Shashur. It is believed to be built in 12th century. The Monastery has a large library of Kangyur and Tangyur volumes of Buddhist scriptures in Bhoti. Keylong is the district Headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti on the main road to Leh over Rohtang. It is an oasis of green fields and willow trees, water streams surrounded with brown hills and snow capped peaks.