Himachal Pradesh is popularly known as the “Devbhumi, the land of the Gods”, Himachal Pradesh, a northern India state nestled in the north-west region of western Himalayas, that is also known as the ‘fruit bowl’ as it is a source of a huge variety of fruits. It is famous for apples and acres of apple orchards.The Apple Valley of Kotgarh is situated 82 km from Shimla. Apples make up over 80 per cent of Himachal Pradesh Rs. 3500 crore fruit economy.
Himachal Pradesh, a mountainous state, occupies an area of 55,673 square kilometer. Snow-capped mountains, plunging valleys and beautiful monasteries adorn this beautiful state. It is admired by the adventure lovers since it is one of the main hubs for activities like trekking, rafting, skiing and also paragliding. Shilla peak, the highest (6132 meters above sea level) peak in this state attracts a lot of hikers, adventurists, and mountain climbers
Due to its fascinating and diverse natural beauty, it is undoubtedly one of the best and one of the most visited tourist destinations in summers. Popular scenic and serene landscapes where tourists often like to visit are Manali, Shimla, Dalhousie, McLeodganj, Dharamsala among others.
For people of all age groups, be it young friends, honeymooners, families and adventurers, Himachal Pradesh is known to offer every age and type of tourists. Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh and the erstwhile summer capital of India during the British Raj for its most mesmerizing hill-stations and fresh chilly weather.
Another beautiful place in Himachal is Dharamsala, which is the home of the 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso), the foremost spiritual Tibetan leader of the Gelug or “Yellow Hat” school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Tourists from different countries visit Dharamsala and McLeodganj to practice Tibetan Buddhism and get a chance to attend sermons and get a chance to meet the Dalai Lama. According to the latest census, there are approximately 30000 Tibetan refugees in Himachal Pradesh, of which about 11,000 inhabit Dharamsala.
Other touristic places, include Dalhousie, which is spread over five hills and is known for its beautiful meadow and valleys and the awe-inspiring beauty of Kullu Manali makes them a must visit. Besides the major touristic places, Himachal offers a lot of hidden gem regions, especially in the small rural areas, where people can hike and trek in the pristine nature.
Also, Spiti valley is another most visited in Himachal Pradesh, that is a cold desert mountain valley, located high in the Himalayas in the north eastern part. It offers spectacular glimpses of the snow capped Himalayan ranges. The best time to visit this magical place is from March to June, when the temperature ranges between 0-15 degree Celsius during this period.
Himachal also has two popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a man-made marvel the Kalka Shimla Toy Train and another, the well preserved, the Great Himalayan National Park.
The Kalka–Shimla railway is a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow-guage railway, traveling through the hills and villages in this region, was built under the supervision of Herbert Septimus Harington between 1898 and 1903 to connect Shimla with the rest of India. The early locomotives were manufactured by Sharp, Stewart and Company. The track route covers 20 picturesque stations through 103 tunnels, 912 curves and 969 bridges.
The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP), is located in Kullu region, was established in 1984 that is spread over an area of 1171 sq. km at an altitude of between 1500 and 6000 m. The Great Himalayan National Park is a habitat to numerous flora and more than 375 fauna species, including approximately 31 mammals, 181 birds, 3 reptiles, 9 amphibians, 11 annelids, 17 mollusks and 127 insects.
Additionally, Himachal Pradesh is famous for its paintings, handicrafts, woodwork, metalwork, the famous shawls, Thangkas, Dorges, Himachal caps which are worth buying as souvenirs. Best time to visit Himachal Pradesh is between February to June during the spring and summer seasons. Pleasant and most popular time to visit is in winters which is between October and February during the snowfall season. Ideally, 5 to 7 days are enough to see the beauty of Himachal Pradesh.
Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi and Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport in Chandigarh are the nearest airports to reach Himachal Pradesh that approximately takes 12 to 14 hours by road to reach Shimla.
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Photo Credits : Satyadeep Karnati, SUSOBHAN BISWAS, East Med Wanderer, Eliane Dumoulin, Andrey Sulitskiy, Norbu Gyachung, Lensnmatter, Krylovsk