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himachal pradesh

Himachal Pradesh is an Indian state situated in the northern part of the sub-continent. It is situated on the western part of the majestic Himalaya mountain range in India, and has an extreme landscape with several peaks and extensive river systems (patterns formed on the land by rivers flowing across the state).

History

The mountainous region that the present-day Himachal Pradesh occupies has reportedly been inhabited since pre-historic times.

In medieval period, the region was mostly ruled by various local kingdoms, until before 17th century. During the British Empire’s rule between 19th century and 20th century, this area also included the hilly regions of Punjab Province (a province that was part of British India at the time).

After independence from the British rule, many of the hilly territories were grouped together to form the Chief Commissioner's province of Himachal Pradesh and it later became a union territory. In 1966, hilly areas of neighbouring state of Punjab were merged into this province and it achieved complete statehood in 1971, finally becoming the state of Himachal Pradesh.

Cities

Himachal Pradesh is one of the least-urbanized states in India – its total urban population being less than 10 percent of the whole country’s.

Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh, and one of the largest well-established cities in the state. Besides Shimla, there are more than 50 towns in the state, including: Dharamshala, Mandi, Kullu, Manali, Dalhousie, Kasauli.

People and culture

Himachal Pradesh has a population of 68.6 lakhs or 6.86 million (as of 2020) of which more than 90% are Hindus, and the rest constitute of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains

Buddhist and Tibetan culture are predominant in many areas in the state such as Dharamshala and Shimla.

Himachal has many pilgrimage sites, and is also known as Dev Bhoomi (translating to “Abode of Gods”).

Language

Hindi is the main language of Himachal Pradesh and is spoken by the majority of the population. 

Besides this, Sanskrit is an additional official language of the state, though it is mostly only used in context of educational and symbolic (literature) purposes.

Food

Himachali cuisine is mostly dominated by red meat and wheat flatbreads.

Himachali Dham is a platter of traditional food served on festivals, weddings or other special occasions and this includes most delicacies of Himachal cuisine like: Tudkiya Bhaath (a slow cooked rice dish), Rajma Madra (a kidney beans dish), Kadhi, Roti (unleavened Wheat dough flatbread) and some traditional sweets. Often includes some Himachali snacks like: Siddu, Babru, Patrode, Cheela (pancakes made with different flours) etc.

Travel/Transportation

Trains and Buses are major modes of inter-city transportation within Himachal Pradesh. For travel within cities, there are many other modes such as taxi/cabs, buses, and private vehicles like 2-wheelers and cars, or even walking and cycling.

Airports – Himachal Pradesh has a total of 3 airports, which are all domestic - connecting to cities within the state as well as other parts of the country. The state doesn’t have international airports as yet, but the nearest international airports where you can catch flights to other countries are Chandigarh International Airport in Chandigarh and Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi.

  • Shimla Airport, Shimla
  • Kangra Airport, Gaggal
  • Kullu-Manali Airport, Bhuntar

Railway Stations – Himachal Pradesh has a 57 train terminals/railway stations throughout its area, that connect to other cities and towns within the state as well as those in other states in the country. Some of the major train terminals and junctions in the state are:

  • Shimla railway station, Shimla
  • Shoghi railway station, Shoghi town
  • Una Himachal railway station, Una
  • Joginder Nagar railway station, Joginder Nagar
  • Barog railway Station (Solan district)
  • Dharampur Himachal railway station, Dharampur
  • Kangra railway Station, Kangra
  • Solan railway station, Solan

Bus Terminals – Himachal Pradesh has its own line of state-run HRTC (Himachal Road Transport Corporation) buses which provide the connection between all the cities and towns within the state and also neighbouring states. These buses can be boarded at HRTC stops/terminals that are available in every major district and town in the state. The prominent town/city bus terminals in the state are located in almost every city and town - they can be easily found and are conveniently accessible.

Attractions

Himachal is known as “Mini Switzerland” or “The Switzerland of India” for its popular Himalayan hill station towns that people frequent for their snowy weather, incredible views and adventurous activities like skiing, fishing, paragliding, and so on. Apart from these, Himachal has various pilgrimage sites and beautiful Tibetan monasteries, and also some ancient forts.

Some places worth visiting and experiencing in Himachal Pradesh are:

  • Hill stations like Manali, Kasauli, Kullu
  • Khajjiar Lake
  • Kangra Fort
  • Dharamshala
  • Bir, Billing (world’s second-best Paragliding site)
  • The Tibetan Opera
  • Naggar Castle
  • The Kalka Shimla Railway
  • Baijnath Temple
  • Chokling Monastery

WEEKEND GETAWAYS

Himachal also has some off beat places to explore or travel to for a short vacation or a weekend getaway. These places are blessed with natures gifts and an amazing weather that can make you forget the chaos of routine life and be a retreat for the mind and soul. Some such popular places in HP to visit for a short and sweet vacation or peaceful time are –

  • Barog
  • The Great Himalayan National Park
  • Tirthan Valley
  • Barot
  • Choordhar
  • Fagu
  • Mashobra
  • Chanshal Pass
  • Kharapathar

ADVENTURE EXPERIENCES

Himachal is a place full of exciting adventure sports for the adventure lovers and people who want to have a taste of adventure or something interesting to do. Here are some of the top places for adventurous and fun things to do in HP –

  • Trekking and Hiking (from Kinnaur to Kailash, Spiti to Garwal, Bar to Bhangal or Bharmour to Padum)
  • Paragliding (at Bir Billing, Manali)
  • Rock Climbing (at Manali - Patalsu Peak, Pir Panjal - Friendship Peak, Mount DeoTibba, or Shitidharmountain)
  • River Rafting (at Kullu Manali, River Beas)
  • Camping (at Lahaul, Spiti, Dalhousie, Kinnaur, Manali)
  • Mountain Biking (bicycling) at many places like Leh-Manali highway, Manali-Damp Hug, Kaza-Losar, Tabo-Kaza, Shimla-Rampur.
  • Fishing and Angling (at many places including Kuru Village, Chamba Oattan, Dehra, Sari Marog and Pong Dam Reservoir)
  • Skiing and Heli-skiing (during winters in Pir Panjal, Shivalik, Rohtang Pass, Hanuman Tibba, etc.)
  • Rappelling (i.e, climbing down a cliff with the help of a rope; popular at places like Kasol, Kothi, Dalhousie, Shuru, Aleo, Chhatru, Tirthan Valley)

HISTORICAL PLACES

Himachal has many ancient monuments and temples that history buffs and architecture enthusiasts will love. Here are some of the best historic places to check out in Himachal Pradesh –

  • Kangra Fort, Kangra
  • Hadimba Devi Temple, Manali
  • Tabo Monastery, Tabo
  • Rashtrapati Niwas Palace, Shimla
  • Champavati Temple, Chamba
  • Nurpur Fort, Nurpur (a historical fort that is around 900 years old!)
  • Jaitak Fort, Nahan
  • Rock Cut Temple (An 8th Century Monument)
  • Naggar Castle, Kullu
  • Kuthar Fort, Solan district
  • Baijnath Temple, Kangra district
  • Chokling Monastery, Bir