Himachal Pradesh is a state in North India. The state’s capital is Shimla. The region shares an international border with Tibet Autonomous Region in the east. Permits are required for some Tibetan-border-area treks and traveling between the Spiti and Kinnaur Valleys.
Himachal Pradesh is a mountainous state. The state’s name literally translates In the lap of Himalayas. The region is known for abundant natural beauty, mountainous landscape, rich flora, colonial British-era hill stations, Buddhist Monasteries, historic toy trains, etc.
MAJOR TOURIST SITES
Major tourist destinations include Chamba, Dalhousie, Dharamshala, Palampur, Kangra, Kinnaur, Manikaran, Manali, Rohtang Pass, Spiti, Shimla, Kasauli, etc.
There are two major national parks and sanctuaries in the region: the Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu district and the Pin Valley National Park. After the winter season, the hillsides and orchards bloom with wild flowers, whild gladiolas, carnations, marigolds, roses, chrysanthemums, tulips and lilies. Himachal Pradesh has around 1200 bird and 359 animal species, including the state animal, snow leopard, ghoral, musk deer, Western Tragopan, etc.
Major festivals and fairs in the state include: Losar - Tibetan New Year, celebrated with processions, music and dancing, and masked performances by monks in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries (February or March); Ladarcha Fair - an ancient trade fair celebrated in Spiti, with Buddhist dances, mountain sports and bustling rural markets (July); Phulech Festival (festival of flowers) in Kinnaur (September); Dussehra celebrations with a huge parade led by the chariot of Rama (September or October); International Himalayan Festival celebrating the Dalai Lama’s Nobel Peace Prize, promoting peace and cultural understanding with Buddhist dances and music (December), etc.
The region has a rich heritage of handicrafts. These include woolen and pashmina shawls, carpets, silver and metal ware, embroidered chappals, grass shoes, Kangra and Gompa style paintings, wood work, horse-hair bangles, wooden and metal utensils and various other house hold items.
Himachali or pahari cuisine has a lot of influence of Punjabi and Tibetan style of food. The use of varied spices like chillies, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric and coriander powder is common and make the food rich and spicy. The specialties of cuisine include auriya kadoo (pumpkin with mustard seeds), channa madra (chick peas in gravy), chicken anardana (chicken with dry pomegranate seeds), sidu (a local bread made from wheat flour), dham (red kidney beans, green lentils and rice cooked in curd), chha gosht (marinated lamb meat cooked in a gravy of gram flour), Kullu trout, etc.
The average temperature in the summers is about 32 °C (90 °F). Winter lasts from late November till mid March with snowfall in alpine tracts.
The best time to visit is in May to mid July and mid-September to early November.
Most Popular Destinations