As Robert Frost has famously been quoted, the road less traveled by makes all the difference. It is usual to see people running off to the beautiful hills of Himachal to refresh and rejuvenate themselves, away from the hustle-bustle of the city. However, there have been frequent complaints that the hills no longer provide the solitude and tranquility that they once had, as they are becoming increasingly overcrowded. Not many know about the treasured places that have been locked away in these enchanting hills. A trip to one of these places might as well end up being one of your most cherished experiences as they are totally worth the exploration!
Offbeat Places in Himachal
- Malana VillageThe ancient village lies on the side of Parvati Valley at a height of 3,028 meters above the sea level, in the vicinity of Deotibba and Chandrakhani peaks and has the Malana river flowing nearby. It is one of the oldest democracies in the world. Secluded from the rest of the world, they have an entire culture of their own and are quite strict about their customs. So much so that they consider every non-Malani to be inferior and an untouchable and they might have to pay fines if they even touch their walls. A quick research about their beliefs is highly recommended just so that one may not offend their laws and customs. Otherwise, they are a friendly lot and a stroll through the village would introduce one to temples with the most exquisite carvings and pretty little houses made of wood. The area has now been modernizing quickly and a few people there can even speak in Hindi. A visit to this unique civilization would be rewarding for sure.
Best time to visit– May-August (summer festivals are also conducted at this time)
How to reach there– Take a personal cab from Village Jari to Malana (23 km), as no buses are available to commute and enjoy the scenic views of the waterfalls. The last 4 km’s are an easy trek into the Malana Village.
- Chitkul, KinnaurThis serene beauty is the last inhabited place in the Indo-China border and is situated at an altitude of 3,450 meters, which makes it the highest in the Baspa Valley. Snow-clad mountains, dense forests, apple orchards and the fact that it lies on the banks of River Baspa make the place breathtakingly beautiful. The houses with slate or wooden plank roofs and a Buddhist temple are major attractions. The Kagyupa temple has a precious old image of the Shakyamuni Buddha, a Wheel of Life mandala and four Directional Kings on either side of the door. A firsthand experience of this mesmerizing beauty is a must for explorers.
Best time to visit– May-August
How to reach there– Take a roadways bus from Shimla to Chitkul, which would approximately take a day and a half
- Summerhill, ShimlaThis small town of Shimla lies on the Kalka-Shimla Railway Line and is situated at the height of 2,123 meters above the sea level. It is approximately 5 km’s away from the Shimla Ridge. There are many tourist attractions like the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, which is a research institute with a royal ambiance. Many historic decisions have been taken in the building, including the decision to carve out Pakistan and East Pakistan from Indian (1947). Camp Potters’ Hill is another major attraction and is a good place for overnight camping. A tranquil walk through the scenic views can also be taken to the Shiv Bauri, which is located in lower Summerhill.
Best time to visit– Any time of the year
How to reach there– Lies on the Kalka-Shimla Railway Line
- Bijli Mahadev, Kullu ValleyThe sacred temple of Lord Shiva is located at an altitude of about 2,460 in the Kullu Valley. After a slightly difficult but extremely rewarding trek of about 3 km’s from the Chansari Village, one can finally experience the breathtaking view from the hilltop as there are no taller peaks to disturb the view. The lightning strikes the Shiva lingam inside the temple and breaks it, which is then reconstructed by the temple priest using butter and ‘sattu’. The lightning is considered to be a sign of the divine blessings and hence the name, Bijli(lightning) Mahadev.
Best time to visit– March-September
How to reach there– Take a bus from Kullu to Chansari Village, from where it is a 3 km trek up to the temple.
- Tara Devi Temple, ShoghiAn ancient but well-maintained temple at a hilltop with a panoramic view sounds like the ultimate destination. The Tara Devi Temple is situated at a height of 1,851 meters above the sea level and is only 11 km’s away from Shimla. A perfect place to meditate and get closer to your spiritual self, the beauty of nature can be seen at its best with the serene and ethereal environment.
Best time to visit– March-October
How to reach there– Take a bus from Shoghi bypass all the way up to the temple
- Shoja, Seraj ValleyPleasant weather, a small lake, surrounded by the most beautiful meadows- Shoja is the perfect weekend getaway for all nature lovers. Trekking is another fun part. The Serolsar Lake is 5 kilometers away from the Jalori Pass. If this wasn’t enough, the Waterfall Point nearby is sure to get your pulse beating. Take an adventurous ride uphill through the forests of oaks and rhododendrons and you will end up in the Raghupur Fort with the most rewarding view from the hilltop.
Best time to visit– March to November
How to reach there– Take a bus to Shoja from the Kullu Bus Stand
- Pabbar Valley, RohruWith fruit-laden orchards and swift streams along the quaint little villages, Pabbar Valley is your fairytale dream come true. This sublime beauty is the closest you can get to nature, with cedar, oak and birch forests to give you company. Nearby attractions such as the Hiteshwari Temple and the hike to Giri Ganga make your experience all the more fulfilling.
Best time to visit– Any time of the year
How to get there– Take a taxi/bus from Shimla to Pabbar Valley (85 kms approximately)
- Barot, MandiBreathe and sigh in the unpolluted air as you admire the picturesque landscape of Barot. A treasure for all explorers, a number of popular trekking trails to Bara Bangal and Palampur begin here. You can also enjoy fishing here. Lying quietly along the banks of the Uhl and Lamba Dug rivers, this place will truly quench your thirst for exploration. Across the River Uhl lies the Nargu Wildlife Sanctuary. Around 1.5 kilometers away from Barot, the walk to the village of Multhan will be like an icing on the cake.
Best time to visit– March to November
How to get there– Take a Himachal Road Transport Corporation bus to Jogindernagar. From Jogindernagar, there are buses every half hour to Barot.
- Dharamkot, KangraA few kilometers away from the chaos of McLeodganj and Dharamshala, Dharamkot provides you with the peace that you came for. From eateries and handicrafts market to meditation centers and libraries, its Tibetan heritage gives a quick sneak-peak into the Tibetan culture. The pleasing view of the Kangra valley and the Dhauladhar ranges added bonuses.
Best time to visit– March-November (check out the Prashar, Losar, and International Himalayan Festival)
How to get there– Dharamkot is at a walking distance of 2 kilometers from McLeodganj
- Tirthan Valley, KulluThis valley lies by the Tirthan River, granting you the time to rediscover yourself as you glance at the snow-capped mountains and meadows. The Great Himalayan National Park is another attraction. Trekking, fishing or camping – this place greets all its visitors warmly. Waterfalls and springs en route, this isolated place is perfect for some soul searching or just exploration.
Best time to visit– March-November
How to get there– Take a bus from Delhi to Kullu and get down at Aut, a little before Kullu. Get a taxi for Tirthan Valley, approximately 12 kilometers away.
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