Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Himachal Pradesh

The Land of Himachal 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.


The State is bordered by Jammu & Kashmir on North, Punjab on West, Haryana on South, Uttar Pradesh on South-East and China on the East.

Shimla

The town lies between 2,100 m and 2,300 m With all its intricacies, history seems to have been the mortar for every brick and stone that has built Shimla. As the summer capital of British India for well over a century it was the seat of one of the most powerful governments in the world. From its cedar-shaded heights, one fifth of the human race was ruled and the decisions made those decades ago affect our lives to the present day. Pictures


Chadwick falls

The town of Shimla rose in the nineteenth century when the Gurkha Wars came to an end in 1815-16 and the victorious British decided to retain certain pockets as military outposts and sanitaria. In 1822 the most rigorous of dandies and the greatest of sticklers for form Captain Charles Pratt Kennedy, Political Agent to the Hill States directed that a house be built for him at the village whose name is variously reported as Sheyamalaya Shumlah, Shimlu and Shemlah. Kennedy House led the vanguard of the hundred-odd houses that were to scatter themselves by 1841 over every level or gently inclining space. Lured by the climate and terrain scores of European invalids began moving to the station and the only stipulation of the local chief who owned the land was that no tree be cut or cattle slaughtered.

In 1864 the Viceroy, John Lawrence anointed Shimla – then spelt Simla, as the summer capital of British India. With Lawrence came the Viceroy Council, the Imperial Secretariat, representatives of the Indian princes and foreign envoys. As the town grew to become the workshop of the Empire, an awed visitor observed, every pigeonhole cradled an embryo of a war or death. Despite the fact that up to the time of Indian independence in 1947, Shimla officially remained only the summer capital, yet the Government spent more time in these hills than at the actual capital Calcutta and later New Delhi. As the bearer of the Viceregal sceptre this tiny pocket became the cynosure of British Empire. Imperial grandeur, and all the panoply and trappings of power came along for the ride. And there was a popular local saying that went, “You cannot sleep the nights in Simla for the sound of grinding axes”. A social whirl of parties, gymkhanas, balls, fancy fairs and affaires du Coeur ensured that a heady mixture of scandal and intrigue constantly wafted through the town.

Sankat Mochan Temple

Quite inevitably the freedom movement had a close connection with Shimla. Ornithologist and former Civil Servant, Allan Octavian Hume created the Indian National Congress which spearheaded the struggle while living in the town. Stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, C. Rajagopalachari, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya and Maulana Azad regularly visited Shimla. Major events that took place in the town were the Simla Conference in 1942, the deliberations of the Cabinet on and finally the decision to partition India.

And while the British Empire may have ceased to exist, its echoes linger on in the architecture and ambience of this hill resort. The elements of nostalgia may be strong but Shimla also has a youthful vigour in its pace. Its easy accessibility and several other attractions have made it one of India’s most popular hill resorts. There are many unforgettable walks, day-excursions by the dozen, a variety of convenient shopping and entertainment museums, and ice-skating in winter. Shimla is the base or the unwinding point for numerous exhilarating routes to the state interior.

Today the town is distinctive for its variety of architecture. It has one of the rare surviving urban forests, made all the more unique, for its species are temperate to alpine ones in what is otherwise a tropical zone. And then Shimla’s famous Mall offers one of the longest stretches of pedestrian shopping in the world.

Within and around Shimla, the public and private sector offer an enormous range of accommodation that range from modern to heritage hotels. Like satellites placed around the centre, there are many resorts in Shimla’s periphery that are full-fledged destinations in their own right. These are located at Mashobra, Naldehra, Kufri, Shilon Bagh and Chail. En route by road from Kalka there are Parwanoo, Dharampur and Kasauli.

Tourist spots around Shimla

If you are fond of walking, Shimla will unfold parts that remain hidden to vehicles. Combinations by car and then on foot are possible in several areas. It is suggested that you take a direction for the day and cover the places of interest.

The area around the Institute of Advanced Study has several walks. Combine these with visit to the State Museum and expand if you will towards Kamna Devi.

Tara Devi and Sankat Mochan can be linked with a short train ride to Tara Devi station. The Himalayan Queen that leaves Shimla at 10.15 am is recommended.

Jakhoo can be combined with a stroll and shopping on the Mall and in Lakkar Bazaar. The Lower Bazaar that runs parallel to the Mall at a lower level has the flavour of a typical Indian market place. Trinkets that can be purchased here include silver jewellery. You can also walk towards Chotta Shimla and Raj Bhavan the residence of the state Governor. The recently created rooms of Himachal Darshan offer a glimpse of the various district in the state. Jakhoo has several paths that criss-cross the hill a good walk is along the old Five Benches Road near the microwaves link tower. The Bharari spur also has many walks that can be done in a few hours or carried over the day


Summer Hill Station
Nature

Some routes offer a greater variety of Shimla trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns. If you are lucky some bird species can also be sighted. Some suggested places are:

The Glen, and the narrow forest trail that runs above it and loops around Summer Hill. The Bharari spur. Towards the villages of Kamina and Pabo. Trek route down from Kamina to Tattapani.

Colonial Architecture

Most of Shimla has diverse colonial forms culled from all over Europe.

English Renaissance: With a castle-like appearance is the former Viceregal Lodge which is now the Indian Institute of Advanced Study. This is surrounded by assorted cottages.

English Home Counties Marketplace: The Mall

Neo-Gothic: Gorton Castle now the office of the Accountant General and formerly the Imperial Civil Secretariat; the Secretariat of the Himachal Government at Ellerslie; and the Gaiety Theatre on the Mall

Norman- Baronial: District Courts.

Swiss- Bavarian chalets: The Chalet Day School and Cedar Lodge (Punjab Government Rest House).

Tudor: The Library on the Ridge and Barnes Court

Churches: Christ Church, St. Andrew and the deconsecrated churches of St. Andrew’s, All Saints Chapel.

Others: Yarrows, various schools and college and cottages all over town.

Tara Devi Temple
Places to visit: Chadwick Falls, Chindi, Craignano, Fagu, Hatkoti, Indian Instt. of Advanced Studies, Jakhoo temple, Jubbal, Khara Paththar, Kotgarh, Mashobra, Naldehra, Narkanda, Prospect Hill, Rampur, Recong Peo, Sankat Mochan, Sarahan, Summer Hill, Tara Devi, Tatta Pani.


Dalhousie is a hill station full of colonial charm that holds lingering echoes of the Raj. Spread out over the five hills, the town is named after the 19th century British Governer General Lord Dalhousie. It was popular with the British Army personnel in 1860's. The town’s varying altitude shades it with a variety of vegetation that includes stately grooves of pines, deodars, oaks and flowering rhododendrowns. Rich in colonial architecture, the town preserves some beautiful churches. St. John church is the oldest one built in 1863, St. Francis was built in 1894, St. Andrew in 1903 and St. Patric in 1909.


There are also magnificent views of Chamba valley and the mighty Dhauladhar range with its awe-inspiring snow covered peaks filling an entire horizon. By road Dalhousie is about 555 km from Delhi, 52 km from Chamba via Banikhet and 46 km via Khajjiar and the nearest railhead at Pathankot is 85 km away. 

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.



Bara Pathar: It is 4 km from Dalhousie enroute Kalatope. In village Ahla here, there is atemple 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.



The historic town of Mandi (800 m) is built along the banks of the river Beas. It has long been an important commercial centre and the sage Mandva is said to have meditated here. This one time capital of the princely state of Mandi is a fast developing town that still retains much of its original charm and character. Today, it is a district headquarters. Mandi is renowned for its 81 old stone temples and their enormous range of fine carving, it is often called the 'Varanasi of the Hills'. The town has remains of old palaces and notable examples of 'colonial' architecture. The temples of Bhutnath, Trilokinath, Panchvaktra and Shyamakali are among the more famous ones. The week long international Shivratri fair in Mandi is the major attraction of the area every year. In the year 2011 the fair was celebrated from 3rd-9th March. In the fair the activities like cultural programmes in the evenings, exhibitions, sports etc. are the major attractions for the tourists as well as locals.

Triloki Nath Temple


Panchvaktra Temple


Pangna Fort

Chamba

The town of Chamba, the district headquarter of Chamba district is situated in the western Himalayas between north latitudes 32°10' and 33°13' and east longitudes 75°45' and 77°33'. The town stands on a plateau on the right bank of the Ravi river valley between Dhauladhar and Zanskar ranges south of the inner Himalayas. This town was founded by Raja Sahil Varman when he conquered the lower Rani valley from the petty chiefs called Ranas and Thakurs in the beginning of 10th Century. It seems the original name of the town was Champa as mentioned in Kalhan's Rajtarangani. In the bansauli or genealogical rolls of the Chamba Rajas a reference occurs of place which was adorned with highly fragrant Champaka trees and guarded by Goddess Champavati or more popularly known as Chameshni. The temple was built by Sahil Varman in the honour of his daughter Champavati who is worshipped as a goddess in Chamba. Champavati temple became the family temple of the ruling family.

Chamunda Devi


Chaurasi Temples
Manali

Just 40 kms away from Kullu to the north, Manali is situated near the end of the valley on the National Highway leading to Leh. The landscape here is breath taking. One sees well-defined snow capped peaks, the Beas river with its clear water meanders through the town. On the other side are deodar and pine trees, tiny fields and fruit orchards. It is an excellent place for a holiday, a favorite resort for trekkers to Lahaul, Spiti, Bara Bhangal (Kangra), and Zanskar ranges. From temples to antiquity, to picturesque sight-seeing spots and adventure activities, Manali is a popular resort for all seasons and for all travellers. Pictures


Arjun Gufa


Rohtang Pass


The Great Himalayan National Park

The most charming and beautiful Kulu valley spreads out its charm on either side of river Beas. The valley runs north to south of this river and is 80kms. long and about 2kms. at its broadest. Yet with awe inspiring glens and mossy meadows encircled by the rushing streams and meandering brooks, flung east & west, a fairly wide area is open to the tourists, the trekkers, the mountaineers, the artists and to anyone who wishes to escape the heat & dust of the plains to breathe the exhilarating air of the Himalaya and enjoy the spectacle of the variegated mountain scenery. The valley is also famous for its exquisitely woven colourful hand made shawls and kullu caps.

Kullu Dussehra


Bijli Mahadev Temple


Bajaura


Banjar Valley
Solan

Blessed with a pleasant climate all the year round. Solan is a district headquarter and has the famous temple of Shoolini Devi and from Solan the Jatoli village (15 km) and the temple of Lord Shiva and on Rajgarh road the Buddhist Monastery (18 km) may be visited. Known as the "Mushroom city of India" Solan has an old brewery (11 km) and a sprawling horticulture and forestry university at Nauni (16 km). HPTDC hotel at Barog and other pvt hotels & restaurant are available at Solan.

Kuthar fort


Arki Fort


Nalagarh Fort


Kasauli


Parwanoo


Dharamshala

This is a hill station lying on the spur of the Dhauladhar range about 17 kms north- east of Kangra town. This hill station is wooded with oak and conifer trees and snow capped mountains enfold three sides of the town while the valley stretches in front. The snowline is perhaps more easily accessible at Dharamshala than at any other hill resort and it is possible to make a day's trek to a snow-point after an early morning's start. Dharamshala is also the headquarter of the Kangra district.

Baijnath Shiv Temple


Tibetan Monastery


Bajreshwari Devi Temple


Bhagsunag falls


Jwalamukhi Temple
Kangra

The Kangra valley is one of the most picturesque valleys of lower Himalayas. The valley, sheltered by the sublime Dhauladhar range, is green and luxuriant. It provides a tremendous contrast in nature of places to be visited. Dharamshala is full of Buddhist air whereas ancient Hindu Temples like Bajreshwari Devi, Chamunda Devi, Baijnath Shiv temple and Jwala Devi ji dot the country side.


The history of Kangra valley dates back to the Vedic times more than 3500 years ago. The area was exposed to successive invasions, the last being the British domination of the princes of many small the hill states. Despite the onslaughts and political upheavals, the arts and crafts of the region continued to develop and found lyrical expressions. Crafts like the exquisitely designed shawls and miniature paintings of this region are internationally appreciated.





Paonta Sahib

Paonta Sahib is a sacred town built in the memory of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs. The road passes through Sataun and follows the Giri River along the beautiful scenery. Situated on the banks of Yamuna River, Paonta Sahib is a bustling township with growing industries. It is one of the important holy places for the Sikhs. It retains tangible memories of Guru Gobind Singh in the form of his weapons and a majestic Gurudwara. It recalls his presence even in the name of the city which is derived from Paonta meaning "foot", either because he set foot on this place or, according to an alternate story, he lost an ornament which he wore on his foot called "Paonta" while bathing in the Yamuna river.



There is a legend in this town that surrounds the ruins of this old capital of a princely state. Sirmouri Tal, not very far from Paonta Sahib was destroyed by the curse of a court dancer when the the ruler went back on an oath to give half of this kingdom in case she crossed a narrow gorge on a rope. This, she did but the wily ruler the offered her the entire kingdom if she could dance her way back. She started back but as she was half way across, he cut the rope hurling the helpless girl into the stream. Floods followed which swept away the city, the ruler and the royal house, as a result of dancer's curse. Vishawkarma temple and few other Hindu temples are also located in Paonta Sahib. The water of river Yamuna is being dammed down stream of Paonta which will soon have a water reservoir where water sports will be organised.

How to Approach

Paonta Sahib is easily approachable from Nahan (45 km) and there is regular bus service connecting the places. One can also come from other routes by bus or car/taxi from Dehradun (45 km), Haridwar (117 km) and Shimla (180 km)............
http://famousindiantouristplaces.blogspot.com

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  2. Thanks for such an informational post. The Himalyan hills and towering trees of Solan provide the perfect backdrop for long walks in uncharted territories. One can always book their stay at hotels in Solan in advance to enjoy a hassle-free holiday.


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