28.6 C
Washington

Paragliding Capital of India – Bir Billing

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Located in in the heart of Himalaya’s near famous tourist destination Dharamshala
in Himachal Pradesh Bir billing is the best place to experience paragliding. “First Paragliding World Cup of India’ was hosted in Bir billing. Bir Billing is a place which provides the option of Paragliding, Trekking to Himachali tribal villages, Mountain Biking, Angling and Camping. Best Season for Paragliding at Bir Billing is October to Mid July.

How to reach Bir Billing ?
Bir Billing is located 70 km. from Dharamshala. Billing is situated north of Bir at the distance of 14 km. on the way to the Thamsar Pass trek, which is leading to Bada Bhangal, tribal
region of Himachal Pradesh. While Billing is the takeoff site for paragliding and Bir for landing;
collectively it is known “Bir Billing”. Bir Chowk is located midway of Baijnath and Joginder Nagar on NH 20 and is a little over 500 km from Delhi.

ViaAir
If you are travelling through air, you have to reach to closest airport which is in Dharamshala which
is 70 km away from Bir. From airport take taxi to Bir.

Via Train
Pathankotisthe nearest place toBir Billing. Nearestrailway station is ahju or kiratpur sahib station. From
there you can take bus or cab. Adirecttrain to pathankotis also an option available,fromthere you can take
toy train thatwill drop you atmandi,frommandi local buses are available. One can reach upto ahju station
by train and come toBir by shared cab or bus.

Via Bus/Car
One has options ranging from the personal car, buses run by HPTMC to luxury Volvo buses. The air
conditionedVolvo buses are themost popularmode of public transport amongstthemetropolitan travellersto
reach toBir.Alltypes of Volvo AC Buses to Mandi are available and fromthere local busestoBir Billing are
available. Long drive lovers can opt for personal car which will take around 15 hours.

Top places to visitinBir Billing
Sherab ling monastery: It is one of the holy temples in Bir Billing. It is surrounded by beautiful forests
and discovering a long – spanning philosophy.
Bir tea factory: Bir tea factory is located near Bir Bazaar where you can expericne beautiful tea
gardens and plantations brimming around the region.
Chokling monestary: Located in the Bir Tibetan Colony, chokling monastery consists of a huge statue
of Padmasambhava which is worth a visit.
Deer park institute: Deer park institute is located in the Kangra district of Bir which provide
meditation retreats for those who are interested.
Barot :A beautiful hilly village famous for trout fishing and angling about 50 km from Bir Chowk.
Kangra Fort:Situated at Kangra, about 60 km from Bir Chowk. You can visit this fort while going to or
coming from Bir.
Tibetan colony: To enjoy friendly culture of Bir the Tibetan Colony is a place. As a whole it shows a
number houses ,temples and local restaurants that you can visit and enjoy.
Apart from all this you can go for – Camping,Biking, Trekking, Mountain Biking etc.

Where to Stay?
Its a small village in Himachal Pradesh known for its paragliding and its natural beauty. It is a Place
from where you can experience best paragliding and this is world’s second highest peak for paragliding. The place is surrounded by mountain and the travel to top of the mountain via paragliding is awesome. You are available with many options like Garden View Hotel ,RS Sarovar Portico,Palampur, Nature Bloom Hotel & Resort,The Citadel Resorts, Jiya, White Ridge Hotel, Kullu Valley Hotel, Hotel Aroma Classic, Shobla International, Sterling Dharamshala, The Divine Hima, The Pavilion By HPCA, Apple Valley Resort, Hotel The Destination, The Exotica Dharamshala, where a couple room with breakfast, lunch and dinner facility will cost around 2500-18000.

Kanha National Park – A Taste of Village Life

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Kanha National Park is full expanse of grassland and forest located in the in the central
Indian state of Madhya Pradesh also known as Kanha Tiger Reserve. In this national
park tigers, jackals and wild pigs can be spotted easily. The elevated plateau of Bamhnidadar
is home to birds of prey. Animals often gather at the watering holes of Sondar Tank and
Babathenga Tank. The park’s flora and fauna are documented in the park’s Kanha Museum.
How to reach Kanha National Park?
Kanha National Park was created on 1 June 1955. Today it stretches over an area of 940 km²
in the two districts Mandla and Balaghat. . Via Air
If you are travelling through air, you have to reach to closest airport which is Nagpur Airport.
It is most suitable for reaching Kanha National Park. Nagpur Airport is directly connected
with Mumbai & Delhi. It is at a distance 266-kms from Kanha. From airport take taxi to
reach to Kanha. The nearest airport is Via Train
Jabalpur is the best suitable place to reach Kanha National Park which is in North-West of
Kanha National Park. It is just 165kms from park. Kanha National Park is well-connected
with all the major cities in such as Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Agra. Local bus, taxi, or cabs
are available to reach the Kanha National Park.
Via Bus/Car
Anyone can reach Kanha which is through National Highway-7 which connects Varanasi
from Kanyakumari. You have the option of state bus, private buses and taxis. Jabalpur is the
closest to Kanha Tiger Reserve i.e., about 165kms. And road condition is also favourable.
Kanha is well connected with Nearest cities like Jabalpur, Raipur, Nagpur.
Top places to visit in Kanha National Park
Bamni Dadar : This place is also known as the sunset point. The Kanha National Park is at it
scenic best at this point.
Kanha Museum : There is a museum at Kanha national park, depicting attributes and
activities of thepark and the tribal culture of the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Where to Stay?
One can experience the view of the magnificent tiger in the wild nature and tigers in its
natural surroundings. A forest of deciduous hardwood, including sal, are interspersed with
stands of bamboo and accented with colourful displays of flowering trees. There are many
options available like Kanha Pride Resort , The Baagh – A Forest Retreat, Grand Tiger
Resort, Motel Chandan, MOGLI RESORTS KANHA,The Celebration Van Vilas, 7 Tigers
Resort,Club Mahindra Kanha, Kanha Village Eco Resort, Wild Chalet Resort, Kanha Eco
Lodge, Kanha Earth Lodge, Prestige Nature’s Nest, Infinity Kanha Wilderness,Tuli Tiger
Resort, Sterling Kanha , where a couple room with breakfast, lunch and dinner facility will
cost around 1200-7500. Facilities available
* Accommodation.
* All Meals.
* National Park Visit (Gypsy Safari).
* Museum Visit.
* Folk Dance with Camp Fire

KUMBHALGARH – Birth place of Maharana Pratap

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Location: Rajsamand district , Rajasthan

Climate: October to February is pleasant, rest all months are hot.

Places to See: Kumbhalgarh FortNeelkanth Mahadeo temple, Parsava Nath Temple, Lakhola Tank etc

Best Time to Visit: October to February

Nested in the Aravali ranges , 84 kms northwest of Udaipur is Kumbhalgarh.Built during the course of the 15th century by Rana Kumbha, Kumbhalgarh is also the birthplace of  Maharana Pratap, the great king and warrior of  Mewar. Kumbhalgarh also separated Mewar and Marwar from each other and was used as a place of refuge for the rulers of Mewar at times of danger.Kumbhalgarh Fort, along with five other forts of Rajasthan, was declared a  UNESCO World Heritage Site under the group Hill Forts of Rajasthan in the year 2013. A lot of travelers who travel to the place love its heritage, its history and numerous other ancient temples and monuments

Climate in Kumbalgarh

Summers (April to June) in Kumbhalgarh are extremely hot and uncomfortable, with temperatures ranging from 33 to 48 degree celsius.Moderate rainfall is observed during the months of July to September. Irregular showers are dominated by strong winds in monsoons. The rainfalls make kumbhalgarh look very beautiful during this season. The winter season starts from the month of October and lasts till February end, and the weather remains pleasantly cool with temperature ranging from 28°C to 35°C.

Tourist Attractions in Kumbhalgarh

Kumbhalgarh Fort – Built on a hilltop 1,100 m (3,600 ft) above sea level, the fort of Kumbhalgarh has perimeter walls that extend 36 km, making it one of the longest walls in the world.The fort was built by Rana Kumbha in the 15th century. Rana Kumbha’s kingdom of Mewar stretched from Ranthambore to Gwalior and included large tracts of erstwhile Madhya Pradesh as well as Rajasthan. Out of the 84 forts in his dominion, Rana Kumbha is said to have designed 32 of them, of which Kumbhalgarh is the largest and most elaborate. The inaccessibility and the hostility of the topography made it a place of refuge for the rulers of Mewar during the time of danger. The famous case is , it served as a refuge to king Udai of Mewar in his early childhood when Banbir killed Vikramaditya and usurped the throne. Prince Udai who later succeeded to the throne was also the founder of the Udaipur City. The fort remained impregnable to direct assault, and fell only once, due to a shortage of drinking water, to the combined forces of Mughal Emperor Akbar, Raja Man Singh of Amber, Raja Udai Singh of Marwar, and the Mirzas in Gujarat. With a wall over 38 km long, the fort is among the largest wall complex in the world, and the second largest fort in Rajasthan after Chittorgarh Fort.

Badal Mahal is also a part of the main fort. Built by Rana Fateh Singh , the mahal is divided in two sections: Zanana and Mardana Halls for ladies and men respectively.The Zanana Mahal features stone jalis from where the Quess used to see the court proceedings and other events.Decorated beautifully with art paintings the Mahal walls attract a lot of art lovers towards it.

Neel Kanth Mahadeva temple is located on the eastern side of the fort built during 1458 CE. The central shrine of Shiva is approached through a rectangular enclosure and through a structure supported by 24 huge pillars. The idol of Shiva is made of black stone and is depicted with 12 hands.

Parsva Natha temple (built during 1513), Jain temple on the eastern side and Bawan (52) Jain temples and Golera Jain temple are the major Jain temples in the fort.Mataji temple, also called Kheda Devi temple is located on the southern side of Neela Kanth temple. Mamdeo temple, Pital Shah Jain temple and Surya Mandir (Sun temple) are the other major temples inside the temple.

Excursions from Kumbalgarh

Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary surrounds the kumbhalgarh fortress and covers an area of 578 km2 (223 sq mi). The sanctuary extends across the Aravalli ranges, covering parts of Rajsamand, Udaipur, and Pali districts, ranging from 500 to 1,300 metres (1,600 to 4,300 ft) elevation. Its ecoregionis that of Gir forests. Kumbalgarh Sanctuary was one of the places that were considered for the reintroduction of the Asiatic Lion.The sanctuary is home to a variety of wildlife,some of which are endangered species. The wildlife includes the wolf, leopard, hyena, bear, jackal,sambhar, nilgai, etc. The birds at Kumbhalgarh includes the normally shy and untrusting peacock, jungle fowl, doves can be sighted feeding on grains scattered by the jungle guards. Birds like the spur fowl,parakeet,bulbul, pigeon, dove and the great indian kingfisher  can also be seen near the water holes.

Rajsamand Lake is one of the five popular lakes of Mewar. Located 66 km in the north of Udaipur, Rajsamand Lake lies between the cities of Rajnagar and Kankroli. It is also known by the name of Rajsamudra Lake in Rajasthan.The river Gomti is the main supplier of water to Rajsamand Lake.Rajsamand Lake was made the seaplane base of Imperial Airways during World War II, for over six years.

The Rajasthan Tourism Department organizes a three-day annual festival in the fort in remembrance of the passion of Maharana Kumbha towards art and architecture. Sound and light shows are organized with the fort as the background. Various concerts and dance events are also organised to commemorate the function. The other events during the festival are Heritage Fort Walk, turban tying, tug-of war and mehendi mandana among others.

Accommodation – Hotels/Resorts in Kumbhalgarh

Kumbhalgarh also have good hotels and resorts for guest to stay for 2–3 days like Kumbhalgarh Forest Retreat, Ramada, Mahindra, Aoudhi.All sorts of budget Hotels can be found depending on the pocket.

How to Reach Kumbhalgarh.

By Air

Maharana Pratap Airport. Maharana Pratap Airport or Udaipur Airport or Dabok Airport is the nearest Airport, which is approx 65 kms from Kumbhalgarh.From the airport bus and taxi services are available.

By Train

The nearest railway station is Falna which is approx 90 kms from Kumbhalgarh. Taxi services are available from the station itself  depending on a single day or a night stay option.Falna is well connected with Delhi, jaipur, Jodhpur.

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By Road

The most convenient way to reach Kumbhalgarh is to book a private cab from Udaipur. en route to Nathdwara (srinathji) and Haldi Ghati. the distance is approx 100 kms.Rajasthan State Government Roadways provides ordinary as well as deluxe buses which stop at Kumbhalgarh en-route to other cities. The town is connected to Udaipur, Ajmer, Jodhpur and Pushkar by state buses which ply frequently.

VARKALA BEACH – The Papanasham Beach

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Location: Thiruvanathapuram, Southern Kerala

Climate: Hot in summers and pleasant in winters.

Places to See: Janardan swami temple, Sivagiri mutt,  Papanasham beach etc.

Best Time to Visit: October to March, avoid summers, monsoon is good for budget travellers.

Varkala Beach, also known as Papanasham Beach,is a beach in Karkala,along the Arabian Sea.The word Papanasham means wash away sins. It is believed that a dip in the waters of Papanasham Beach washes away all the sins in one’s life.

A little paradise, Varkala is replete with clear, pristine beaches, hills, shrines, lighthouses. Varkala beach is the only place in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea.These tertiary sedimentary formation cliffs are a unique geological feature on the otherwise flat Kerala coast, and is known among geologists as Varkala Formation and a geological monument as declared by the Geological Survey of India.

Climate in Varkala
Varkala has mainly three distinct seasons: Rainy season (June to early December), winter ( December to March) and summer (March to mid-June). Summer temperatures are hot and humid with average daytime temperatures hovering at about 35°C, while in winter the temperature drops to 28°C. The best season to visit is the winter season. The temperature remains comfortable and is apt for visiting the places of interest in and around Varkala. The best months to visit are October , November, December, January and March.
 

Tourist Attractions in Varkala

There are numerous water spouts and spas on the sides of these cliffs.The beach is a haven for sun-bathing and swimming. The evening views of the sunset are worth lingering over. There are several small restaurants and snack shops near and around Papanasham beach, which attracts the maximum visitors both for leisure as well as for religious reasons.

The famous Janardan Swami Temple is situated near the Beach. It’s famous for a 10-day festival held twice a year, called Arattu.

Sivagiri Mutt is another important attraction, located atop the Sivagiri hill.

Kappil Lake, is popular for its serene atmosphere and the coconut plantations. The lake is situated 4 kilometers away from the Varkala town. The backwater and its view from the bridge above the lake is indeed a treat to the eyes. Kappil Lake is an excellent getaway from the daily hassle.

 

Anjengo(Anchengo) Fort & Light House –Anjengo or Anjuthengo originally means a bunch of five coconut trees in Malayalam. The fort here is served to the one time bastions for British East India Company, second to Bombay. Anjengo was raised as a signal station (Light House) in 1695, for ships and cruises from England. The fort,then was one of the major depots for coir and pepper trade for British East India company. Anjengo Fort is situated very close to Varkala town (10-12km away

Varkala Tunnel, Popularly known as Varkala Turuthu, is historic sites and an epitome of architectural excellence that describes the engendering skills and talent of Colonial era in India. The tunnel was constructed to serve as inland waterways for the easy and timely transportation of goods from North to South Kerala.The construction of the tunnel was started in 1867 under the supervision of Travancore Diwan Sir. T Mahadeva Rao and after 14 years of its commencement, the construction of the tunnel was completed in 1880.

Excursions from Varkala

Varkala beach is known for adventure and leisure activities such as boat riding, parasailing, jetting and horse-riding

Ponnumthuruthu Beach

The beach or the island is located 20 away from the Varkala town and is encircled by cool and pristine Anjengo backwaters. Those who wish to get to this untouched and unspoilt beach can take boats from Nedunganda village that would easily take them to the place in around 30 minutes.Visiting during evening time is much rewarding as the view of sunset from the beach is stunningly beautiful and aesthetic. Apart from scenic natural charm, you can also see an ancient temple dedicated to lord Shiva and his half Parvati which is referred as huruthu Kshethram’ by local residents. The temple is believed to be more than 100 years old which has ruined earlier but was rebuilt later. During the auspicious occasion of Sivaratri, a huge number of devotees flock to this place and offer pujas.

Kollam Beach– Kollam beach is located about 20 km from Varkala. The beach is located on the bank of Asthamudi Lake. It is also one of the famous beach of Kerala that attracts lots of tourist.

Thiruvananthapuram– The capital city of Kerala is located about 46 km from varkala. The city has a historical importance and a famous destination. There are various pilgrimage places , historical monuments and many tourist spots to visit. Thiruvananthapuram is the largest city of Kerala.

Ponmudi Hill Station– The hill station is located in Thiruvananthapuram District of Kerala. Lying in the southern Cardamom Hills it is a beautiful serene hill station.

Ponnumthuruthu Temple– Ponnumthuruthu Temple is Shelter a century old temple dedicated to lord shiva and parvathy . Surrounded by the Anjenjo Backwaters , this island set Amidst thick coconut Groves is Accessible by boat from the Makeshift jetty at the Nedunganda Village located 20 km away from Varkala.

Accommodation – Hotels/Resorts in Karkala

Varkala  has all range of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to reasonable Hotels and homestay. Popular Hotels are The Taj Garden retreat, Blue Water beach Resort, Anamika Ayurvedic Resort,The Gateway Hotel. Cuisine here is similar to the areas around it with a dash bit more dominance of seafood and a unique culture about it.  

How to Reach

By Air- Trivandrum International Airport is the nearest airport, which is at the distance 51 Km from the destination.

By Rail- Varkala Railway Station is the nearest railhead that is 3 km away from Varkala.

By Road- Varkala Bus Station is well connected to all major cities of India. Varkala is just 47 km away from the NH 47. Though, this place is connected with all cities and towns, but if you wish you can avail bus from Kochi and Trivandrum to reach the destination.

SPITI VALLEY – The Land of Lamas

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Location: Lahaul & Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh

Weather: Pleasant in summers and bone-chilling in winters

Places to See: Tabo Monastery, Key Monastery, Pin Valley Park & more. 

Best Time to Visit: May to October

The Spiti Valley is a cold desert mountain valley, and a sub division of Lahaul & Spiti district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. The word “Spiti” literally means “Middle Land” or “Middle Country” as it is the land between India and Tibet. It is popularly called “Little Tibet” seeing that its terrain, vegetation and climate are similar to Tibet, along with their rich Buddhist culture. Spiti Valley is a research and cultural centre for Buddhists; and the locals follow Vajrayana Buddhism.

The Spiti Valley is found in the north-east part of Himachal Pradesh, bordered by Tibet, Ladakh, Kinnaur, Lahaul and Kullu. With its sub-divisional headquarters at Kaza, the Valley is the entryway to the northernmost parts of the country. With an average elevation of 4,270 meters, Spiti is more barren and difficult to pass through. It is surrounded by lofty ranges, with Spiti River traversing through the region. The main Spiti valley is divided into eastern and western valleys, which are connected with Ladakh and Tibet (on east), and Kinnaur and Kullu (on west) via high passes.

Lahaul and Spiti are encircled by high mountain ranges. The Rohtang Pass (3,979 m) separates Lahul and Spiti from the Kullu Valley. Lahul and Spiti are separated from each other by the Kunzum Pass (4,590 m). The road connecting these two valleys is often closed in winter and spring due to heavy snow. Spiti, together with its twin valley of Lahaul, has retained its pristine charm as these places are still far-flung from the reach of common travelers. Since it receives heavy snowfall during winters and access to this valley gets blocked, Spiti can be visited only during summers.

Spiti is undoubtedly a beautiful place given to its spectacular sight-seeing options with scenic mountain views and clear rivers. Here you can visit amazing monasteries like Key Monastery, Lhalung Monastery, Tabo Monastery and Dhankar Monastery. Or explore regions like Chandratal Lake which is immersed in pristine natural beauty. For wildlife lovers, there are places like Pin Valley National Park and Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary to spot some rare species of animals. Apart from the exotic wildlife, the Spiti Valley has amazing flora with 62 species of medicinal plants found here. If all that is not enough, the Valley of Spiti also offers great trekking opportunities to places like Parangla Pass, Pin Parvati Pass, Bab Pass, Hampta Pass and many more. Skiing and Yak Safari are other two adventurous activities that can be enjoyed here.

Climate in Spiti Valley

Spiti is marked by harsh climatic conditions. Summers, here, are quite pleasant where the temperature ranges between 26.8°C and 1.38°C. However, the sun can be quite harsh during daytime. Being a typical mountain desert area, it receives meager rainfall of just 170mm annually. Winters are extremely chilling when the temperature touches sub zero levels. During this time, the regions remains completely cut off from rest of the country as all the entryways get blocked due to heavy snowfall. Ideally, summers make the best time to visit the Valley of Spiti.

Tourist Attractions in Spiti Valley

At an elevation of 3,660 meters, Kaza is the administrative headquarters of the Spiti Valley. It is the largest township and commercial center of the Valley, situated along the Spiti River. The town is divided into old (Kaza Khas) and new (Kaza Soma) sections. Surrounded by snow-clad mountains on all sides, Kaza is the one of the coldest towns in India. Its central location makes it an ideal base camp for trekking, mountaineering and tours to other parts of the valley. Located 4 kms from Kaza, the Tangyud Gompa is the major attraction that dates back to the early 14th century. It is constructed like a fortified castle with huge slanted mud walls and battlements.

Located near Kaza, Pin Valley National Park is a national park located in the desert habitat of the Spiti Valley, within the Cold Desert Biosphere Reserve, in the Himalayas region. Established in 1987, this park marks the border between the earlier separate districts of Lahaul and Spiti. The elevation of the park ranges from 3,500 to more than 6,000 metres. Amidst snow-covered slopes, the Park makes a natural habitat for many endangered animals including the snow leopard and Siberian ibex.

Key Monastery, located about 12 kms from Kaza in Key or Ki Village, is one of the biggest and oldest monasteries in Spiti and that’s why it is the prime tourist destination in this region. It enshrines idols of Buddha in meditating position. Located at an elevation of 4,112 meters, this 14th-century monastery is built in the Chinese style of architecture. Kibber, at an elevation of 4,205 meters, is one of the permanently inhabited villages in the Spiti Valley. Located 16 kms from Kaza and 8 kms from Ki Village, Kibber serves as a base for several high altitude treks. It is famous for its monastery and Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary.

Sited at a distance of 56 kms from Kaza, Losar is a small peaceful village where one can spend some relaxing time while cherishing the stunning views of the mountains. It is found in the extreme end of the Spiti Valley. Gette is known for being the highest village in Spiti, at a height of 4270 meters.

Kunzum Pass, at an altitude of 4,590 meters, is a high mountain pass sited on the eastern Kunzum Range. It acts as the gateway to Spiti from Kullu and Lahaul valley. It is located at a distance of 122 kms from Manali. While reaching to this pass, the view of Bara-Sigri Glacier which is the second longest glacier in the world is enthralling. From here, one can enjoy striking views of the Chandra Baga Range and Spiti Valley.

Located at an altitude of 4,300 meters, Chandratal Lake is said to be amongst the most beautiful lakes in the mighty Himalayas. Its name “Chandra Taal” (literally Lake of the Moon) is derived from its crescent shape. Surrounded by snow for most of the year, Chandratal is a paradise for trekkers about 6 kms from Kunzum Pass. This deep blue-water lake has a circumference of 2.5 kms and is the prime source of the River Chandra.

Giu is a small village, at an altitude of 3600 meters, famous for its naturally preserved mummy which is believed to be more than 500-years old. Located 11 kms from Sumdo village, Giu or Geu village has become a major attraction among tourist for this mummified Lama. At an altitude of 3,050 meters, Tabo is a small town on the road between Reckong Peo and Kaza. It is mainly famous for its Tabo Monastery which is believed to be 1000 years old. This 10th-century monastery is often called the “Ajanta of the Himalayas” seeing that it owns rare collection of scriptures, well-preserved statues, wall murals, frescoes, art pieces and wall paintings. Tabo Monastery is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as a national historic treasure of India.

Situated at an altitude of 3,370 meters, Dhankar is a medium-sized village that used to be the capital of earlier Spiti district. It is located between Tabo and Kaza. In local language, “Dhankar” means a fort and that is what Dhankar Monastery once was. Dhankar Monastery is a brilliant example of traditional architectural skills of Spiti. Once has been the castle of the ruler of Spiti, Dhankar, in present times, is a repository of Buddhist scriptures in the Bhoti (local language) script. Dhankar Lake is located above the monastery.

Lingti Valley is the longest (60km) and largest side valley of Spiti. This is no less than a living geological museum that comprises shales and fossils dating back 250 million years. Gaya Peak, at a height 6794 meters, is the highest peak in Himachal Pradesh. It is located above the northern head of the Valley, making a stunning monolith where the boundaries of Ladakh, Spiti and Tibet meet. The mountain peaks on the northern side of the Lingti Valley are Pari Lungbi (6160m), Shila (6111m), Chau Chau (Kang Nilda 6303m), Tserip (5974m) and Kuwa (5913m), while on the southern side are Tangmar (5901m), Langma (5761m), Sibu (5700m), and Kamatang (5902m). Lhalung Monastery is one the earliest monasteries founded in Lhalun village of Lingti Valley in Spiti.

Accommodation – Hotels/Resorts in Spiti Valley

Considering the isolation of Spiti Valley, accommodation options are limited to few hotels, guest houses and home stays. Most of the hotels are located in Kaza, though luxurious facilities are still restricted. Guest Houses are available at small villages like Tabo and Losar. Home stays are available in villages of Demul, Langza, Lhalung and Dhankar. If you are staying at hotels, you can eat from their in-house kitchens. There are few restaurants in and around Kaza where Indian and Tibetan dishes are available.

How to Reach Spiti Valley

By Air

Kullu-Manali Airport at Bhuntar is the closest airport to Spiti Valley, though it has few flight connections. Same applies to the Shimla Airport which is connected to one or two destinations. Chandigarh Airport is the major airport that is well-connected to most of the cities. However, from all the airports, you are required either to head Manali or Shimla to cover the remaining distance by road to arrive at Spiti.

By Train

Joginder Nagar Railway Station and Shimla Railway Station are the nearest narrow gauge railway stations. The second nearest broad gauge railhead is at Kangra. Again, the Spiti Valley is accessible only through Manali via Rohtang Pass, or Shimla via Kinnaur by road.

By Road

To access Spiti, there are two road routes that bring you to the Trans-Himalayas. One route is from Shimla via the Kinnaur valley, and the other from Manali via Rohtang Pass. The motorable road (412 km long) from Shimla via Kinnaur up to Kaza remains open for 8 to 9 months. The road passes through Sumdo via Hangrang valley. The Spiti valley starts from Sumdo, which is approximately 74 kms from Kaza. Through this route, it takes a minimum of 2 days, with a night’s halt in Kalpa or Reckong Peo, and even if longer, gives more time to steadily adapt to the altitude. The way from Manali via Rohtang Pass takes about 12-14 hours, depending on road conditions. HPTDC runs regular buses from Manali and Shimla to Kazo. Otherwise, sturdy jeeps or SUVs must be hired to reach the Spiti Valley. For easy understanding, both routes to reach Spiti Valley are stated below.

Via Manali: Manali – Rohtang Pass – Gramphu – Chattru – Kunzum Pass – Kaza (Spiti Valley)

Via Shimla – Kinnaur Valley – Kinnaur – Nako – Sumdo (Spiti Valley) – Tabo – Kaza

KANGRA – Famous For Rich Cultural Heritage

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Location: Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh

Climate: Hot in summers and pleasant in winters.

Places to See: Masroor Rock Cut Temple, Kangra Fort & more.

Best Time to Visit: All round the year (except monsoons from July to September)

Kangra is a cultural town in the Kangra Valley of Kangra district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. At an elevation of 733 metres, the town of Kangra is located at the confluence of Baner River and Majhi River. With the amazing Dhauladhar Range in its backdrop, Kangra valley is one of the most picturesque, green and luxuriant valleys of lower Himalayas. Kangra district is the most important, famous and populous district of Himachal Pradesh. It is popular for its natural beauty, tea gardens and ancient temples. Kangra is full of pleasant surprises with chants of mantras in Hindu Temples, aura of monasteries in Mcleodganj, historical relics in Forts, and trekking expeditions in the mountains.

Kangra had been known by different names like Nagarkot, Trigarta and Bhimnagar in ancient times. Though Kangra has been referred in sacred ancient texts of Mahabharata and Upnishads; in the dated history, the town or region is said to be established by the Katoch – Kshatriya Rajputs of Chandervanshi Lineage. These rulers must have had a stronghold here, which is evident in its forts and the temples. Kangra was exposed to successive invasions; the last being the British domination of the princes of many small hill states. In spite of the attacks and political upheavals, the arts and crafts of the region persistently developed and established its mark. Apart from its flavorsome tea and ancient temples, Kangra is renowned world-wide for its exquisitely designed shawls and miniature paintings.

Climate in Kangra

Here, summers extend from April to June, making the region quite hot (25°C – 38°C). Monsoon showers during July to September give pleasing respite from the hot summers, followed by autumn in October. During October and November, the climate is very pleasant. Winter season lasts from November till February with a brief stint of spring in March. Kangra district has a diverse geography, with altitudes ranging from 400m at Milawan to 5500m at Bara Bhangal. The Indora block falls in a semi-humid, sub-tropical zone where average annual rainfall is 1000mm approx. with an average temperature of 24°C. Dehragopipur and Nurpur blocks fall in a humid, sub-tropical zone where the annual precipitation is between 900m and 2350mm, while average temperature hovers between 2°C and 24°C. Palampur, Dharamsala and Mcleodganj fall in a wet, temperate zone where the temperature varies from 15°C to 19°C, with an annual rainfall of 2500mm. The remaining parts of the district fall in mountainous areas where the average annual temperature ranges from 13°C to 20°C and annual rainfall is 1800– 3000mm.

Tourist Attractions in Kangra

Kangra has a number of places of tourists’ interest. Located in the city center, Bajreshwari Devi Temple is a religious shrine dedicated to Goddess Bajreshwari Devi. It is one of the 51 Shaktipeeths and holds great reverence among Hindus. This temple had been successively looted by invaders. Though it was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1905, it was reconstructed in 1920 and continues to be a busy place of pilgrimage. The Kangra Fort, also known as Nagarkot Fort, is an important attraction just 3 kms from Kangra. This historically significant fort is massive in size and its great architecture is visible in its exquisite stone sculptures, carvings and idols. Adjoining the Kangra Fort is Maharaja Sansar Chandra Museum, which throws a light on the history of this fort along with a great collection of paintings and artifacts.

Chamunda Devi Temple is famous religious shrine dedicated to Godess Chamunda – a form of Shakti. It is located at a distance of 27 kms from Kangra and 10 kms west of Palampur. It is one of the very popular temples thronged by large number of people from far and near. Gopalpur is a small village about 29 kms from Kangra famous for its tea gardens. Gopalpur Zoo is a great place for wildlife and nature lovers amidst lush greenery. The Masroor Rock Cut Temple, also called Himalayan Pyramids, is a group of beautiful monolithic rock-cut temples about 38 kms from Kangra town in Masroor. Built in Indo-Aryan style, this unique monolithic structure is a protected monument. It is located on a hill and also has a huge rectangular water pond. It also offers an amazing view of the Dhauladhars.

Excursions from Kangra

Located about 25 kms from Kangra, Maharana Pratap Sagar (also known as Pong Lake or Pong Reservoir), sited at an altitude of 450 metres, is an amazing place with clear blue waters, lush greens and mighty hills all around.  This lake has been declared a wildlife sanctuary, and is home of a number of rare species of flora and fauna. Apart from fishing and swimming, one can enjoy adventure activities like canoeing, rowing, sailing, and water skiing here. The best time to visit this reservoir is between September and March seeing that the water sports are best accessible during this period.

Jwala Devi Temple is a famous Hindu shrine at a distance of 35 kms from Kangra and 23 kms from Pragpur. It is one of the 52 Shaktipeethas, visited by thousands of devotees every year. Located 38 kms from Kangra, Trilokpur is another attraction famous for its cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Close to the cave are the ruins of a Palace of Lehna Singh Majitha, who once had been the Governor of Kangra Hills during Sikh rule. Dehra Gopipur is a town and a municipal council in Kangra district, at a distance of 37 kms from the town of Kangra. Pragpur, which is the only World Heritage village in India, is sited here. Dera Gopipur also has three other wonderful hamlets, namely Garli, Nagrota Bagwan and Chamba Pattan. Located on the banks of River Beas, Dera Gopipur makes a great base for fishing destinations like Pong Dam, Pattan and Nadaun. The Mangarh Fort, which offers attractive views of the valley and Pong Lake, is close to Dehra.

If you actually want to see the real beauty of Kangra valley, head towards Pragpur which is a notified “Heritage Village” by the State Govt. Pragpur is an ornamental village that has many places of historic, religious and cultural importance. About 45 kms from Kangra, this village has several streams that merge in the River Beas. The Taal, constructed in 1868 by the Nehar Committee, is a pond in the heart of Pragpur village. Many heritage structures like the 250-year old Nehar Bhawan, Bhutail Niwas, the Dhunichand Bhardial Serai, and the Radha Krishna Mandir, surround the Taal. Another attraction is the Judge’s Court which is a mansion showcasing the Indo-European style of architecture. Chintapurni Mata Temple is a famous holy shrine of Hindus, about 27 kms from Pragpur. Also known as Chhinmastika Dham, the temple is thronged by pilgrims throughout the year, especially during Navratras.

Baijnath Temple is a famous shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, located on the Pathankot-Mandi National Highway about 52 kms from Kangra and 16 kms from Palampur. This 9th-century temple is built out of stone in the Shikhara style of architecture. The Lingam enshrined in its sanctum is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in the country. The temple observes much festivity during the Shivratri Fair, held every year. Nurpur is a historical town at a distance of 62 kms from Kangra. Earlier known as Dhameri, Nurpur is famous for its Nurpur Fort built by Raja Basu. The renowned Brij Raj Swami Temple is located inside the fort. It is the only temple in the world where Lord Krishna and his devotee Meera are worshipped. Nurpur with its magnificent history and structure definitely deserves a visit.

The district of Kangra also offers great trekking opportunities from different sites to Kareri Lake, Triund, Indrahar Pass, Moon Peak and Jalsu Pass. Apart from these sites, some of places worth mentioning and visiting are Dharamsala, Mcleodganj and Palampur.

Accommodation – Hotels/Resorts in Kangra

Kangra has plenty of places to stay, ranging from homestays, guest houses, lodges, hotels as well as resorts. In fact, it houses many ancient structures that have been converted into heritage hotels to experience the royalty by guests. Some of the major heritage hotels are Taragarh Palace Hotel, The Judge’s Court, Grace Hotel, The Chateau Garli, etc. Besides luxurious, there are accommodation options for every segment of travelers in Kangra. Eating out is not a problem in Kangra as there are number of restaurants, food stalls and eateries available throughout the region.

How to Reach Kangra

By Air

Kangra has its own airport at Gaggal, at a distance of 13 kms from the town. The airport is well-connected to Delhi via flights. From here, taxis can be easily hired to reach the town. You can also board buses from Kangra bus stand to arrive at different major destinations in the district of Kangra.

By Train

Kangra has its own railway station which is well-connected to all the major towns and cities of the adjoining states. You can either board buses or hire taxis to reach the desired location.

By Road

Kangra is well-connected through a network of roads. HPTDC runs regular buses from Dharamsala (21 kms), Palampur (36 kms), Pathankot (90 kms), Jammu (190 kms), Amritsar (200 kms) and Chandigarh (230 kms) to Kangra. One can also rent out cabs to reach Kangra.

HAMIRPUR – Martyr’s Land

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Location: Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh

Weather: Hot in summers and pleasantly cold in winters. 

Places to See: Deotsidh Temple, Nadaun, Sujanpura Tira & more.

Best Time to Visit: September to March

Hamirpur is a culturally appealing town that also serves as the headquarters of the Hamirpur district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is one of the less frequented places which can attract anyone with its natural beauty and cultural innocence, in Himachal. The district Hamirpur is the smallest district of Himachal Pradesh. It has earned the reputation of being the “Martyr’s Land” (Veer Bhumi) despite the fact that the entire state is called “Gods’ Land”. People of Hamirpur are considered brave; probably that’s why the armed forces prefer to take them as they make professional soldiers.

Hamirpur was once under the control of Raja Hamir Chand from 1700 to 1740 and it was named only after him. It was carved out of Kangra district in 1972. Geographically, the River Beas separates Hamirpur from Kangra; it also forms two tributaries, Maan Khud and Kunah Khad, which flow across either sides of the district, to the adjacent Sutlej. Hamirpur district is abode to mango trees, and innumerable pine forests. It is also reputed for being one of the most eco-friendly and cleanest districts in India.

Climate in Hamirpur

The weather of Hamirpur is marked by extremely hot summers and pleasantly cold winters. Summers extend from the month of March till mid-June, with the maximum temperature of 45ºC and minimum of 28ºC respectively. It is followed by the south-west monsoons which last till September. From October till mid-November, post-monsoon period prevails. Winter season is essentially from mid-November to February. During winters, the temperature lingers between 19 ºC and 32 ºC. So, the ideal time to visit Hamirpur is between September and March when the climate is pleasant for sightseeing.

Tourist Attractions in Hamirpur

Hamirpur has several places to explore in and around the town. To begin with, Tauni Devi Temple is a renowned temple on Hamirpur-Awa Devi Road at a distance of 12 kms from Hamirpur. Dedicated to Goddess Tauni, who is said to be the sister of Goddess Durga, this 200-year old temple is highly revered by the locals. It also conducts an annual fair in the month of Ashran (June-July), and is attended by a large number of devotees. Awah Devi Temple, also called Jalpa Devi Temple, is a 250-year old shrine located on a hilltop at a distance of 24 kms from Hamirpur. Jalpa Devi is also worshipped as Kul Devi (Clan’s Deity) by few locals. The temple is visited by large number of Hindu devotees to seek the blessings of the Goddess.

Excursions from Hamirpur

If you want to explore some more places around Hamirpur, Sujanpura Tira is a small beautiful town located at a distance of 24 kms from Hamirpur. Once had been the capital of Katoch Dynasty, Sujanpur is famous for its Fort which was built by Raja Abhaya Chand of Kangra in 1758. In the early 19th century, Sujanpur was the home of the renowned Raja Sansar Chand, who was an ardent lover of the Kangra School of miniature paintings. Some of the places to see here are the Chaugan along with Murli Manohar Temple, Narbadeshwar Temple and Gauri Shankar Temple. Narbadeshwar Temple is a 200-year old temple built in Bhitti style by Maharani Prasanni Devi, the wife of Raja Sansar Chand. Most of these shrines have amazing paintings adorned on the walls. Sujanpur also offers good angling opportunities and other adventure sports like rafting and trekking.

Nadaun is a picturesque town located in the foothills of the Shivalik Range on Shimla-Dharamsala Road about 27 kms from Hamirpur. Located on the banks of the River Beas, this town gained popularity when the Kangra rulers shifted their capital here after they lost Kangra Fort to the army of Jahangir. Nevertheless, it lost its grandeur when Raja Sansar Chand re-captured the Kangra Fort. It’s famous for its Palace building at Amtar (Nadaun Fort, or Amter Fort), which was once the royal residence of Raja Sansar Chand. Though the Fort is in dilapidated condition, yet it attracts visitors by its impeccably done wall paintings, frescoes and exquisite architecture. Other important sites are the Old Shiva Temple and Gurudwara. Nadaun also offers activities likes fishing and angling in the Beas River. You can also visit the famous shaktipeeth of Jwala Devi which is just 14 kms from here.

Another major attraction in Hamirpur is the famous Deotsidh Temple. Deotsidh Temple is a cave temple located on the border of Hamirpur (45 kms from town) and Bilaspur (40 kms) districts. Dedicated to Baba Balaknath, it is considered to be the same place where the sage meditated. The temple has a great significance among the local people and is visited by innumerable pilgrims throughout the year.

Accommodation – Hotels/Resorts in Hamirpur

There are a number of hotels, guest houses, lodges and homestays to suit the budget and requirements of guests in Hamirpur. Some of the popular hotels are Hotel The Hamir, Hotel Dream Valley, Hotel Prince Residency, Chopra Residency, etc. Almost all the hotels have in-house restaurants that offer lip-smacking dishes from different cuisines. Some of the popular restaurants are Celebrations (Kohta), Darbar Cafe House (Near Gandhi Chowk), and Maya Hotel and Restaurant (Near Bus Stand).

How to Reach Hamirpur

By Air

Kangra Airport at Gaggal is the nearest domestic airport at a distance of 83 kms from Hamirpur. The second nearest airport is Chandigarh International Airport, about 175 kms from the city. It is well connected to major cities like Amritsar, New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Goa, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Leh. Once you reach there, you can board buses or rent out cabs to arrive at Hamirpur.

By Rail

Una Railway Station is the nearest broad gauge railway station about 80 kms from Hamirpur. The nearest narrow gauge railway station is Ranital (Pathankot-Joginder Nagar railway line). From both the stations, buses run at regular intervals. Or else, taxis can be hired to reach at your own pace.

By Road

Hamirpur has a good network of roads, and can be reached via different routes. Buses from all the towns and cities of Himachal Pradesh are available for Hamirpur. It is easily approachable from Sunder Nagar (80 kms), Mandi (83 kms), Solan (162 kms), Shimla (166 kms), Kalka (170 kms) and Chandigarh (177 kms).

KONARK – Dedicated to Sun God

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The name Konarka is derived from the sanskrit word Kona (meaning angle) and word Arka (meaning sun) in reference to the temple which was dedicated to the Sun god surya. Konark a medium town in the Puri district in the state of Odisha, it lies on the coast by the Bay Of Bengal. Approx 65 kilometers from the state capital, Bhubaneswar, It is the site of the 13th-century Sun Temple, also known as the Black Pagoda. built during the reign of Narasimhadeva I, the temple is a world heritage site run by Archeological Society of India.

Built in 13th Century , and designed as a gigantic Chariot of Surya , the Sun God, the chariot has twelve pairs of wheels pulled by seven horses.During its glory , the main idol of Surya used to remain in air with the help of huge magnet at the peak and one at basement. Around 1627 , the then King of Khurda , took the sun idol from Konark to Jagannnath temple in Puri.

The city also hosts the famous annual dance festival called Konark Dance Festival, every December , devoted to the classical dances of India including Odissi (the state dance).

How to Reach:

One can reach Konark either from Bhubaneswar or from Puri . From Bhubaneswar airport it is just 66 kilometer . Deluxe busses and taxi services are available. One can take a bus or taxi from Puri railway station, which is approx 35 kms.

CHAMBA – Abode to 1000-Year Old Temples

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Location: Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh

Climate: Pleasant in summers and chilly in winters

Places to See: Laxmi Narayan Temple, Manimahesh Lake & more.

Best Time to Visit: March to June

Chamba is a scenic hill station located about 55 kms from Dalhousie. At an altitude of 1,006 meters, it serves as the headquarters of Chamba district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. Situated at the confluence of the Ravi River and its tributary Sal River, Chamba is found in the Chamba Valley. The name Chamba is shared by the town, the district and the valley where the town is located. Elongated in shape, the town of Chamba has been built in the foothills of Shah Madar on successive flat terraces. Even though the region is primarily mountainous, Chamba comprises many large parts of flat lands.

Chamba Valley is essentially an isolated valley system, delimited by three mountain ranges. It is located between Dhualadhar and Zanskar Mountain Ranges. While the Dhauladhar Range cuts it off from Kangra Valley, it also has Pir Panjal Range which separates it from Lahaul and Kashmir Valley. It is marked by the River Ravi which runs through its entire length in east-west direction often forming deep canyons. The Chamba district is bounded by Jammu and Kashmir to the north-west and west, Ladakh area of Jammu and Kashmir and Lahaul and Bara Banghal of Himachal Pradesh to the north-east and east, Kangra to the south-east, and Pathankot district of Punjab to the south.

Though Chamba was established by Raja Sahil Verma in 920 AD, the history of the region can be traced back to 2nd century. There are many temples in the area that are considered to be as old as 4th century. Chamba is also famous for its handicrafts crafted out of wood and hand-woven textiles. There are many small emporiums where artisans make handicrafts, footwear and textiles which are sold world-wide. Their prime attraction is the Pahari Paintings. As of today, Chamba has become a getaway for people seeking respite from the chaos of cities. Even if it has emerged as a tourist place, Chamba has still retained its old-world charm.

Climate in Chamba

Chamba generally has alpine weather, where summers are pleasantly warm while winters are chilling. Summers, here, extend from the month of April till June, with temperatures ranging between 38°C and 15°C. Monsoons start from July and exist till September, getting an average rainfall of 785.84mm. Autumn sails in after monsoon and lasts till November. From December till February, the region experiences winter wherein the maximum recorded temperature is 15°C and the minimum goes to 0°C. After winters, Chamba gets a brief stint of spring during March and the summer begins once again.

Tourist Attractions in Chamba

While enjoying its pleasant climate, one can cherish the amazing sights of snow-capped mountains and lush green forests in Chamba. Like most of the ancient cities, Chamba is divided into two parts – Old Town and New Town. Found on the lower slopes of Shah Madar Hill on the east of Chaugan, the Old Town generally has all the heritage monuments comprising palaces and temples. Here, you come across the 10th century Champavati Temple, which is believed to have marked the birth of the town. This temple is built in the Shikhara style with elaborate stone carvings. It is dedicated to Goddess Mahishasuramardini. Laxmi Narayan Temple is a major temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is said to be constructed during 10th– 17th centuries. It is an architectural marvel and designed in such a manner that it is always pleasant inside no matter what is the temperature outside.

Some other ancient structures in the old settlement are Sita Ram Temple, Bansi Gopal Temple, Kharura Mohalla, Hari Rai Temple, Sui Mata Temple (famous for its annual Sui Mata Fair), Chamunda Devi Temple, and the Akhand Chandi Palace (converted into a college). Rang Mahal is another attraction by the bygone era built by Raja Umed Singh, in Surara Mohalla of Chamba. The palace has been converted into an emporium, and handicraft lovers, here, can splurge in paintings, handloom shawls, slippers, etc.

In the mid-19th century, Chamba started developing on the lines of British administration. A cabled suspension bridge was constructed across the Ravi River to connect the two parts (old and new). Some of the notable structures built during the colonial period are the temples in the Jansali Bazar, Gandhi Gate (Curzon Gate), Shiva Temple, the Chaugans, the Church of Scotland, Chamba Library, Bhuri Singh Museum, and the administrative buildings of the British period. The Church of Scotland, also called St. Andrews Church, is a well-preserved protestant church built in 1903. It is a quiet sanctuary for people looking for class antiquity. Bhuri Singh Museum is an amazing place to check out the originally written pages from the Mahabharata and the Upanishads. Besides this, there are many rare artefacts, brass and copper coins, Basholi and Kangra style paintings on display.

The Chaugan is the main hub of all the activities in Chamba, encircled by majestic administrative buildings and the old Akhand Chandi Palace. It is a vast expanse of green land, measuring 800m in length and 80m in width, which is a rare sight in hill-stations. It was developed by the British by merging five small chaugans into a single chaugan for use as an esplanade and sports complex in 1890. While hosting the annual ‘Minjar Mela’ (fair), the entire ground turns into a flea market. Otherwise also, it’s a great place to shop handicrafts, stone and metal artefacts, and the famous Chamba and Kangra paintings.

Excursions from Chamba

Chamera Lake is a tranquil place with beautiful surrounds located about 11 kms from the town. The lake is the result of Chamera Dam, and both of them are truly a sight to behold. Enjoy a boat ride and immerse yourself in the vast expanse of natural beauty. Bharmour is a small picturesque town surrounded by high mountain ranges, and is said to be the ancient capital of Chamba district. Located 64 kms from Chamba, it is famous for its scenic beauty and ancient temples. Chaurasi Temple Complex is the major attraction which comprises 84 shrines, some of which are said to be 1400 years old.

Bharmour also serves as the base for many trekking trails, besides the well-known Manimahesh Yatra. Situated in the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas at an elevation of 4080 meters, Manimahesh Lake is a paradise for trekkers as it requires a 13 kms trek to reach. It remains closed for most of the year due to heavy snowfall. Manimahesh means jewel of Lord Shiva and the beauty of this place is true to its name. The Lake looks absolutely breathtaking with its crystal-clear waters amidst lofty mountains. The pilgrimage is generally conducted in the months of August and September. Seeing the high influx of pilgrims, the Government of Himachal Pradesh has declared it as a state-level pilgrimage.

Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary is the second largest sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh. Located at an altitude ranging from 2,195m to 5,040m, it is about 15 kms from Kugti village, 30 kms from Bharmour and 87 kms from Chamba. It has innumerable water rivulets which are originating from glaciers. Kugti Sanctuary is known to have a diversity of rare flora and fauna. Tundah Wildlife Sanctuary is another sanctuary connected to Kugti by a forest corridor, at a distance of 59 kms from Chamba. Sechu Tuan Nalah Wildlife Sanctuary is a renowned wildlife reserve extending between altitudes of 2550 and 6072 metres. Spread over an area of 102.95 sq kms, it is characterized by animals typical to the higher altitudes of the Himalayan Mountain Ranges.

Salooni is an important town 56 kms from Chamba. Its strategic location makes it a great vantage point to enjoy some of the finest views in this kaleidoscopic topography. It overlooks into the picturesque Bhandal valley. Salooni is also famous for its Apple orchards, vegetables and scariest roads. Bhandal Valley is a scenic valley located about 22 kms from Salooni, at the western boundary of Himachal Pradesh. It serves as the base to the Chamba to Kishtwar trekking trail. Gamgul Wildlife Sanctuary is another sanctuary located in the Bhandal valley in Salooni tehsil of Chamba district.

Accommodation – Hotels/Resorts in Chamba

Chamba has a number of hotels, motels, lodges, guest houses and tent accommodation in hilly terrains & camping sites. Here, you won’t generally find luxurious accommodation but the basic ones which are comfortable enough. As far as restaurants are concerned, most of the hotels have in-house kitchens that offer Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisines. In the city center, you can see many restaurants which serve delectable food. Though there are many street stalls selling noodles, soups and dumplings.

How to Reach Chamba

By Air

Pathankot Airport is the nearest airport at a distance of 120 kms from Chamba. However, it has no connecting flights as of now. The other closest airport is at Gaggal, Kangra Aiport (125 kms). It is well-connected to Chandigarh and Delhi, besides few other cities. From here, you can hire cabs or board buses to reach Chamba.

By Train

Pathankot Railway Station is the nearest broad gauge railway station at a distance of 120 kms. It is well-connected via regular trains from cities and towns of the adjoining states. You can either broad buses that run at regular intervals, or hire cabs to arrive at Chamba.

By Road

Chamba is well connected by road through a wide range of road network. HPTC runs many buses at regular timings from different towns and cities like Shimla, Chandigarh and Delhi to Chamba. Or else, you can rent a taxi to reach Chamba for a more comfortable journey.

Kinnaur – Land of Fairytales

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Location: 235 kms from Shimla in North-East Corner of Himachal Pradesh

Climate: Summers are pleasant while winters are too cold. 

Places to See: Sangla Valley, Ribba, Reckong Peo, Chitkul & more.

Best Time to Visit: April to October

Kinnaur is one of the twelve districts in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. Also known as the “Land of Fairytales”, Kinnaur is a beautiful region dominated by splendid mountains, green valleys, meandering rivers, orchards and vineyards. This second least populous district of the state is accessible only via the Old Hindustan-Tibet Highway to rest of the country. Kinnaur shares its eastern border with Tibet, and the Tibetan influence is evident in its culture.

Kinnaur consists of three high mountains ranges, namely, Zanskar, Greater Himalayas and Dhauladhar, including valleys of Sutlej, Spiti, Baspa and their tributaries. It is divided into two main valleys, Sangla Valley (also referred as Baspa Valley) and Hangrang Valley, and three administrative areas, Pooh, Kalpa, and Nichar. Its valleys are outstandingly beautiful, with slopes smeared in thick forests, orchards, fields and scenic villages. Kinnaur also houses the highly revered 4,573-meter-high Kinner Kailash Mountain that has 79-feet high vertical rock formation, resembling a Shivalinga.

According to the sacred Hindu texts of Puranas, the people of Kinnaur are considered as halfway between men and gods. Some of the other legends from Mahabharata say that Kinnaur has been a major place of stay for Pandavas during their period of exile. As per the provable history, Kinnaur was a division of the erstwhile princely state of Bushair. Later, it was under the control of various invaders and finally, under the influence of the British. The various forts, which are even present today, are exemplary of the times that this region had witnessed. The mixed culture and traditions of various dominances and nearby regions can be seen here.

Climate in Kinnaur

Kinnaur is a mountainous area, ranging in altitude from 2,320 to 6,816 meters above sea level. It essentially observes temperate climate attributable to its high elevation, with long winters from October to May, and short summers from June to September. Spring season is observed during April and May, while September and October are reserved for Autumn. Only the lower parts of the Sutlej Valley and the Baspa Valley get monsoon rains, while the upper parts are considered to be arid regions and fall mainly in the rain-shadow area. Since winters are extremely cold here, the best time to visit Kinnaur is during the months of April till October.

Tourist Attractions in Kinnaur

Kinnaur is a laid-back region that has been bestowed with beauty by the Mother Nature. It makes a great place to unwind and rejuvenate, away from the bustling cities. Kinnaur and its adjoining valleys are well-known for trekking and other adventure sports. One of the most popular trekking trails is Parikarma (revolution) of Kinnar Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva. Some other famous trails are Bhaba Valley and Sangla Valley. Rupi Bhaba Sanctuary is a great place for nature lovers, located on the banks of Sutlej River close to Rampur Bushahr in Kinnaur. It is one of the prominent sanctuaries with a great diversity of flora and fauna. Still, if you want to explore, there are numerous places of tourist interest.

Sarahan

Sarahan is a small hamlet that tourists can visit on their way to Kinnaur. This village is known for housing the Goddess Bhimakali Temple. The temple is made of timber and stones. It is dedicated to the goddess Bhimakali (the local version of Kali).

Reckong Peo

Located at an altitude of 2670 meters, Reckong Peo – also the headquarters of the Kinnaur district – is located at a distance of 260 kms from Shimla. It is a great place to enjoy the striking view of the Kinner Kailash Mountain. Peo is known mainly for its apple orchards, along with the stately deodars and the fresh scent of pine trees.

Kothi

Kothi, also called Koshtampi, is a small ancient village just below Kalpa. It is about 3 kms from Reckong Peo. Like other places of Kinnaur, Kothi is also marked by fields, fruits trees as well as vineyards, offering a beautiful landscape.  It is also known for a temple dedicated to the Goddess Chandika Devi, which is highly revered by locals here.

Kinnaur Kailash

Kinnaur Kailash, locally called Kinner Kailash, is a 6050-meter high mountain – sacred for both the Hindus and the Buddhists. The Kinnaur Kailash Range borders the Kinnaur district in the south and is marked by the Kinnaur Kailash (6050m) and Jorkanden (6473m) peaks. Jorkanden is the highest peak in the Kinner-Kailash range; it can be easily seen from Kalpa. The Kinnaur Kailash trek is called Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama and is up to the Shiv Lingam. It is said to be one of the most difficult pilgrim treks. The trek, or parikrama, starts from Tang Ling village and finally finishes in Sangla on the other side of mountain. One other trek route, comparatively small and easy, also begins from Tang Ling village and reaches to the top of Shiv Lingam (4640m).

Kalpa

At an average elevation of 2,960 metres, Kalpa is about 265 kms from Shimla at the base of the Kinnaur Kailash range. It takes about half an hour to reach Kalpa from Reckong Peo (14 kms). Kalpa is a small heritage village in the Sutlej river valley, famous for its apple orchards, pine-nut forests and temples. Sapni Fort is an archeological attraction situated in Sapni Village near Kalpa. This seven-storey high fort is an epitome of architectural grandeur. On its fifth floor, there is a temple dedicated to Goddess Kali. It offers an amazing view of the Kinner Kailash range and the village. Another attraction is the Narayan-Nagani Temple, which is an excellent example of local craftmanship. Kalpa also has a number of Buddhist monasteries including the Hu-Bu-Ian-Car Gompa, which is believed to be founded by Rinchensang-Po (950-1055AD). Kalpa is still not commercialized and that’s why, it doesn’t have any fancy hotels or restaurants. Though there is no dearth of stunning views and surroundings to soothe your soul.

Khab

Khab is a small tranquil village located in the Sutlej river valley close to the India-Tibet border. Located at the confluence of Sutlej and Spiti rivers (also known as Khab sangam), Tashigang Gompa is an ancient Buddhist monastery accessible from Khab.

Shipki La Pass

Shipki La is a major mountain pass and border post for trade with China, other being Nathu-La in Sikkim and Lipulekh in Uttrakhand. The river Sutlej enters India (from Tibet) through this pass. Located close to the town of Khab, Shipki La is an offshoot of the ancient Silk Road and is one of the highest motorable passes in the world at an altitude of 5669 metres. This border is presently used only for small-scale local trade across the border.

Namgya

At an elevation of 3048 meters, Namgya is located on the left bank of the Satluj river – about 2 kms above the confluence of Spiti and Satluj. Namgya is the closest village from the Indo-China border. It’s the last trading village in the area and passageway to Western Tibet (Shipki La Pass is just 13 km from here). It is surrounded by appalling barrenness and desolation. However, there are fields of barley, buckwheat, turnips, apricots and vines on the other side of the river close to the habitation. Lagang Temple is a famous Buddhist temple, which is a must-visit place.

Pooh

Pooh, locally pronounced Spuwa, is one of the administrative areas and is 71 kms from Reckong Peo. Located above the NH-22, this village is dominated by green fields, vineyards, apricots, almond and grape orchards.

Nichar

At an elevation of 3150 meters, Nichar is a notable village situated between Taranda and Wangtu on the left bank of Satluj River, about 5 kms above Wangtu. It’s primarily known for being one of the administrative areas, apart from its naturally beautiful landscape.

Bhabha Valley

Bhaba Valley is a picturesque valley (with altitude ranging from 1483 to 5500 meters), situated along the Bhaba River. It’s a great trekking destination for which trek starts from Wangtu and a road turns off to Kafnu. The trek meanders through single crop fields of Mastrang and a mixed forest of conifers, taking through little clearings of potato and buckwheat till it reaches the meadows of Mulling (3350 meters). It offers scenic splendors with stunning landscapes and picturesque surroundings, comprising dense forests and lush green flower strewn meadows. Bhabha Valley, in a nutshell, is a heaven for nature lovers.

Sangla Valley

Sangla Valley, or the Baspa Valley, is a beautiful region that extends from Karcham till Chitkul. The valley is exceptionally beautiful; on the left bank of the Baspa River are snow-clad mountains, while on the right bank are apple orchards and wooden houses. Sangla is the major town in the valley, surrounded by forested slopes. The Baspa River flows through the Valley, which is loaded with apple orchards, apricot, walnut, Cedar trees, and glacial streams. The main villages in the valley are Chitkul, Rakcham, Batseri, Themgarang, Kamru, Chansu, Buraa, Shong, Kilba and Sapni. This region is known for growing the best quality apples in the world. Sangla Valley remains closed for six months during winter (from December till May) due to heavy snowfall. Sangla is accessible from Karcham where the old Indo-Tibet road connects the NH-05.

Chitkul

Sited on the banks of Baspa River, Chitkul is the last and highest village of the Sangla Valley. It is the last inhabited village on the old Hindustan-Tibet trade route. Chitkul is around 28 km from Sangla and 40 kms from Karcham. It is about 6-hour drive from Reckong Peo, passing through some of the most dangerous roads of the world. On the way, there are small villages namely, Roghi, Sangla and Rakcham. Chitkul is the last point in India where one can travel to without a permit. It is world famous for its fine quality potatoes. It’s primarily known for its scenic beauty, wooden-roof houses, a local goddess Mathi Temple and a Buddhist temple. The Kagyupa Temple is highly revered for its old image of the Shakyamuni Buddha, a Wheel of Life mandala and four Directional Kings on the door. ‘Hindustan Ka Aakhiri Dhaba’ is a frequently visited stop-over for tourists coming here.

Kamru

Kamru is a scenic village located in the Sangla Valley, at an altitude of 2,700 meters. Once an ancient capital of the Bashahr principate, it is well-known for housing the oldest fort of Himachal Pradesh. Kamru Fort is a tower-like fort that has shrines dedicated to Lord Badrinath and Kamakhya Devi.

Rakcham

Rakcham is a beautiful quaint village enroute Chitkul from Sangla (14 kms). It’s a place for a quiet holiday, with snow-clad mountains, Deodar trees and pines all around. You can also indulge in an 8-km trek (takes about 3-4 hours to and fro) to Rakcham Glacier, which is altogether a great experience. Here all you see is beautiful sights of nature’s bounty. Rakcham Chitkul Sanctaury is a popular attraction located between Sangla Valley and Chitkul. At an altitude of 5500 meters, this is one of the major wildlife reserves in Himachal Pradesh. It is spread over an area of 34 sq km and is a delight for the trekkers and nature lovers.

Hangrang Valley

Hangrang Valley is the second largest valley (first being Sangla) sited along the border of Kinnaur with Spiti and Tibet. It comprises of eight towns, namely, Nako, Chango, Leo, Hango, Shalkar, Sumra, Yangthang and Malling. It is least populated because of its rugged geography. Nako and Chango are its biggest towns as well as the passageways to this valley. Hangrang Valley is stony and spiked. Further, scanty rainfall becomes an additional reason for its barrenness. Since cultivation is difficult here; a large proportion of the population depends on animal husbandry for its livelihood. Almost every village is found near a rivulet that provides water to the locals. Chuling is the smallest village of Hangrang Valley, just before Hango Village. Hango is a beautiful village that makes an amazing place for trekkers. Leo village lies beside the Spiti River and is famous for its green velvet apple orchards. Nonetheless, Hangrang Valley is famous among trekkers of all sorts.

Chango

Chango is the most populated village out of the eight towns of Hangrang Valley. It is watered by two perpetual rivulets. Chango is famous for the Willow trees, which are locally called the “Changma” tree. Probably, Chango is named after this tree itself. Tirasang Sanctuary is a famous attraction, dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava.

Nako

At an altitude of 3625 meters, Nako is a scenic village located close to the Indo-China border with Reo Purgyal (highest mountain in Himachal Pradesh) as its backdrop. It is about 3 kms above the Hangrang valley road and is 119 kms from Kalpa. With amazing surrounds, Nako is a great place for nature lovers and trekkers in Upper Kinnaur. It is the highest village in Hangrang valley, famous for its Nako Lake and Nako Monastery. Though Nako Lake is almost vanished, Nako Monastery is a nice attraction and is one of the oldest monasteries in the trans-Himalayan region. Nako also has a rock with imprints of the legendary Guru Padmasambhava. Nako also serves as the base for the trek to Pargial Peak and is on the way to the Thashigang Monastery, where an image is believed to grow hair. Though new concrete and tin structures are getting constructed to expand the infrastructure for tourists, Nako still has a traditional charm of its beautiful wood, lime and stone made houses.

Moorang

Moorang is a small village located on the left bank of river Satluj in the Middle Kinnaur. It is about one and a half hour drive from Reckong Peo (33 kms). It is basically famous for its Moorang Fort, which is about 40 kms from Kalpa. Moorang is linked with the Dwapar Yuga; this Fort is believed to be built by the Pandavas during their period of exile. Located on a hill, Moorang Fort is surrounded by mountains on three sides and by river Sutlej on the fourth side. To reach the Fort, you need to hike on the steep hill. Moorang Fort is a square structure, made up of wood and stone, and is a group of tall and small buildings. Unlike other forts, it does not have the fortifications. Lipa-Asrang Sanctuary is a must-visit attraction, near Moorang. With elevation ranging from 4,000 to 5,022 meters, this sanctuary is spread over an area of 30.89 sq km. It has an amazing variety of flora and fauna. One needs to take prior permission to explore this sanctuary.

Ribba

At an altitude of 3745 meters, Ribba or Rirang is another large populous village located about 14 kms from Moorang and 25 kms from Reckong Peo. It is found between the villages of Purbani and Rispa, on the northern side of the Kinner Kailash. Ribba along with Rispa are famous for their grapes orchards and locally-made wine called Angoori.

Accommodation – Hotels/Resorts in Kinnaur

Kinnaur has got various places to stay which offer the best of hospitality to their guests.  Here you can find different categories of hotels, most of them are centered in regions like, Sangla, Kalpa, Rakchham, and Nako. In smaller areas, there are many small-scale hotels, guest houses and homestays which treat their guests with utmost love and care. In fact, there are numerous restaurants in major towns which serve scrumptious meals.

How to Reach Kinnaur

By Air

Shimla Airport, at Jubarhatti, is the nearest airport at a distance of 235 kms from Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh. However, Dehradun Airport (Uttarakhand) is about 154 kms from Kinnaur. From both the airports, buses and taxis are available to reach the destination.

By Train

Kalka Railway Station is the nearest railhead about 356 kms from Kinnaur. After getting down at the station, you need to board buses which run at regular intervals. Otherwise, you can hire taxis to reach Kinnaur.

By Road

Kinnaur is best accessible by road. It is well-connected by road with cities like Shimla (235 kms), Chandigarh (350 kms) and Delhi. NH-22 connects Kinnaur with rest of the country. However, the road remains closed for six months due to heavy snowfall in the region. Himachal Pradesh Transport Corporation runs many buses to different parts of Kinnaur.