Located in the Western Himalayas, the North Indian state of Himachal Pradesh is a well known tourist destination that is visited by tourists and travelers from all over the world. Known for its natural beauty of the Himalayan mountains and river valleys spread all over the state, Himachal Pradesh has many popular hill stations such as its capital Shimla, Kullu, Dharamshala, Manali, Khajjiar, Kasauli, etc. The state also draws attention of many hikers and trek lovers due to its many adventurous and beautiful treks such as Hamta Pass trek, Prashar Lake Trek, Triund Trek, Kheerganga and Tosh valley trek and many more. The state also has some of the high altitude mountain passes such as Rohtang La, Kunzum pass, Baralacha La, Jalori Pass to name a few and crossing these passes is an adventure for many.
The region also provides its tourists various options for indulging in adventure activities such as skiing in Solang Valley [near Manali] and Kufri [near Shimla], River rafting [in Beas river near Kullu], Paragliding [in Bir and near Manali], Ice skating in Shimla to name a few. Overall, its a state that caters to the interests of many tourists.
In April-May 2019, we did have a marvelous nature retreat as we traveled to this gorgeous state. My parents joined us for this trip which was for 9 days and we tried to cover some of the popular regions of the state. This was our customized package tour from Sampurna Yatra and they provided an Innova for our travel within Himachal. The Sampurna Yatra package costed us about INR 78000 which included accommodation (at good hotels), food and transfers.
Below is the brief itinerary of our trip that started from Bengaluru.
Day 1: Bengaluru to Amritsar by flight. Pick up from Amritsar Airport and drop to Khajjiar (24kms from Dalhousie)
Overnight stay at Khajjiar
Day 2: Khajjiar and Dalhousie sightseeing - Subash Baoli, Satdhara Falls, Panjpulla, Khajjiar Lake and Khajji Nag Temple, Shiva Statue. Stay at Khajjiar
Day 3: Khajjiar to Dharamshala - visit Dal Lake, Dalai Lama Temple [Namgyal Monastery], Bhagsu Nag Temple and waterfalls, Chime Gatsal Ling Monastery. Overnight stay at Dharamshala
Day 4: Dharamshala to Manali - On the way visit Chamunda Devi Temple, Palampur, Baijnath Temple, Kullu river rafting and visit to a Shawl factory at Kullu. Overnight stay at Manali
Day 5: Manali Local sightseeing - Half day local sightseeing includes Hadimba Temple, Club House, Van Vihar and Tibetan Monastery. Evening at leisure. Overnight stay at Manali
Day 6: Gulaba and Manali sightseeing - Visit snow capped mountain valley on the Manali-Leh highway upto Gulaba [Rohtang Pass not yet open]. Snow adventure activities such as skiing, snow tubing. On the way back to Manali, visit Vashisht Temple and hot springs. Evening at leisure. Overnight stay at Manali
Day 7: Manali to Kasol - On the way to Kasol, visit Vaishno Devi Temple near Kullu and proceed to Kasol, checkout the beautiful Parvati valley and proceed to Manikaran. Langar at Manikaran Gurudwara and Temple visit. Overnight stay at Kasol
Day 8: Kasol to Shimla - On the way, visit Hanogi Mata Temple, Pandoh Dam, Sundernagar Lake and then proceed to Shimla. At Shimla visit Mall Road, Lakkar Bazar , Christ Church, Rani Jhansi Park. Overnight stay at Shimla
Day 9: Shimla to Chandigarh - On the way visit Pinjore Gardens.
Chandigarh to Bengaluru by flight
a) Exploring "Mini Israel" [Kasol], "Mini Switzerland" [Khajjiar] and "Little Lhasa" [McLeod Ganj]
b) Visit to some of the famous temples of the region such as Hadimba Temple, Vashisht Temple, Kullu Vaishno Devi Temple, Hanogi Mata Mandir, Baijnath and Chadumda Devi Temple
c) Hot springs, Shiva Temple visit and Parvati river valley retreat at Manikaran, langar at its Gurudwara
d) River rafting in Beas river near Kullu
e) Travel on the Manali-Leh highway to explore the snow capped regions and snow activities such as skiing near Gulaba
f) Bhagsu Waterfalls excursion
g) Visit to some of the beautiful monasteries such as Dalai Lama Temple, Manali Gompa and Chime Gatsal Ling Monastery
Our Himachal travel began with visiting Khajjiar. Often called "The Mini Switzerland of India" due to its topographical resemblance to the European country, Khajjiar is a small hill station in the Dhauladhar ranges of Himalayas situated in Himachal Pradesh and about 24kms from Dalhousie. This is a place with an unique ecosystem with a lake (known as Khajjiar Lake) in the centre, surrounded by thick forest of cedar trees (deodar or devdar) and a large green pasture. The lake consists of a floating island with patches of grass floating on the surface. The lake is also home to hundreds of fishes.
From Amritsar, the cab from Sampurna Yatra picked us about 130PM [Flight journey from Bengaluru is about 3 hrs] and as we headed towards Khajjiar via Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Dalhousie, we had our lunch and evening snacks on the way at a Punjabi Dhaba. Dalhousie is about 200kms from Amritsar and takes around 5 hrs.
The journey from Dalhousie to Khajjiar is very beautiful and is full of deodar trees and snow all around. It takes about 1 to 1.5hrs to reach Khajjiar. Just about 2 kms from Dalhousie is Beeji's Park (near Dalhousie Public school) which is a small tidy park well-kept by the Army which displays some of the army artillery and fighter jets and also has a garden. This is visible from road side and entry is free.
We reached our hotel [Shining star resort, a hill resort which is 5 minute walk from Khajjiar lake and located amidst lush greenery] around 8PM. The hotel rooms provide amazing views of the valleys and snow capped mountains. These rooms also have a spacious balcony.
On our next morning, we did start our sightseeing by first visiting the Shiva Statue and Jagadambe Temple. These are located just about a km from the hotel. The bronze statue of Shiva is about 85 feet (one of the tallest in Himachal Pradesh). With the mountains in the backdrop, the statue is a visual treat.
We then explored some of the sightseeing places in Dalhousie such as Subash Baoli, Satdhara Falls, Panjpulla. These places provide good views of the surrounding landscapes.
Around lunch time, we were back to Khajjiar. After having lunch at a small restaurant near the lake, we then visited Khajji Nag temple dedicated to serpent god which was built in the 12th century. Then we spent enough time walking around the lake on the pastures and in the thick forests witnessing some amazing views of the Himalayas.
There are activities such as zorbing and horse riding which are added attractions.