Himachal Pradesh Tourism

Review and Ratings (113)

Read 113 destination reviews with average rating of 4.2/5, out of 835 Himachal Pradesh reviews
Prachi Sahni

Prachi Sahniratingratingratingratingrating5.0/5

9 reviewsPosted 2 years ago

Bir-Billing, Himanchal Pradesh. Paradise for adventure & nature lovers.

Just back from a trek, all tanned! & the tan keeps reminding me of the magnificence of the mountains that I witnessed, because I was in the mountains, literally, for the 3 days. Short trip, yes! But absolutely marvelous!

Bir is a small valley in the Kangra district, Himanchal Pradesh. It takes some 6-7 hours to reach the valley from Pathankot if one chooses a bus & 3-4 hours by car. Bir is also the paragliding landing site. Starting October, one can see several colorful gliders soaring high in the sky. It's a breathtaking sight. Billing is the place from where you are told to jump off a mountain cliff (& if you fail to jump, you are pushed off!! ) which is at an elevation of about 2600M. 15-20 minutes in the sky, flying down to Bir, harnessed to a paragliding chute, & you wish to be transformed into a bird. At least, that's what happened with me! However, the first 2-3 seconds after the jump you know for sure you are dying. But as it goes, Darr kea aage jeet hai (exactly what my trainer told me before pushing me off), after you know it's not your time yet, what you see from up there is unquestionably a wonderful sight to behold, something that at least I thought never existed! I had tears in my eyes when I looked down & realized what a beautiful world we live in. The air seemed to have washed my soul, leaving it fresh & untainted. One experience which cannot be penned down.

Billing is India's best paragliding site & also known worldwide. In fact they host the paragliding world cup every year in October. Oct'15 the world cup had participation from over 47 countries! & Bir is just the perfect landing site, covered with mountains on all sides. Bir is bright & sunny & green. It is the most mysteriously quiet, sleepy little village with lavish meadows, farms & forests.

Adventure lovers can trek from Bir to Billing (there are also cabs available from Bir to Billing for people willing to skip the trek). It was our first trek & I was dead after first 5 minutes into it. Literally! Looking at the mountains & getting inspired to conquer them & actually climbing them are two completely different things! But I managed, I conquered some bit of it & it was satisfying. My legs were dead by the time we reached Billing but I wanted to do it all over again! Mountains are mesmerizing & mysterious; you can never have enough of them.

The highlight of the trip, however, were the zillion stars we saw, while we camped, after darkness had set in, when the only source of light was the moon & the stars. I never thought so many stars existed. It was breath taking; it was my reward for all the hard work I had put in to reach there. I wanted to capture it & share with people to see what is usually not visible from where we are or even for myself to see it again & again. The camera could capture nothing, but darkness. I realized it was a moment not to be shared with anyone. I could only share it with myself & only save it in my memories.

Both these places, Bir & Billing, are unusually & mysteriously quiet. It's a place to turn into an explorer, appreciate the simpler things in life, to be raw, to be you.

& to top it all, the food is awesome! & for the photographers out there it's a treat, especially the valley. This has been undoubtedly the best trip of my life so far. & it a must visit for all adventure freaks. Advice to travelers: Travel light!!

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  • Bir-Billing, Himanchal Pradesh. Paradise for adventure & nature lovers.
  • Bir-Billing, Himanchal Pradesh. Paradise for adventure & nature lovers.
  • Bir-Billing, Himanchal Pradesh. Paradise for adventure & nature lovers.
  • Bir-Billing, Himanchal Pradesh. Paradise for adventure & nature lovers.
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Ruth

Ruthratingratingratingratingrating5.0/5

3 reviewsPosted 3 years ago

A peaceful retreat in the hills-Himachal!

Let me start off by saying I generally am not a fan of travelling. But this trip has turned me inside out. I simply cannot wait for my next adventure. So a friend of mine and I flew from Bangalore to Delhi (end of September 2015), met up with some friends from Delhi, piled into a Ford Figo and set off on our journey at 3:30pm. First stop was Chandigarh. OMG the roads were simply perfect, not a dent in sight. Stopped on the way at little restaurant to have tea and vadas. (most surprisingly, there was a gate next to the hotel leading to a water park and no people strange! )

We got to Chandigarh around 10, packed some lovely dinner and headed to our hotel Aromas. Quite a nice place, clean and comfy. Spent a night, had breakfast and started towards Kasol at around 11 (had meant to start earlier but we just couldn't wake up in the morning). The ride was smooth, drove through Shmila, then through Mandi, stopping for chai and pakodas ( the best ever) in some tiny little shops on the way. On the way I saw some of the most beautiful sights ever. The were midnight! Beautiful parvati river, hint of pale blue against light grey boulders and white sands, the lovely pandor dam, the majestic hilltops and lush green. Soon, around 6 pm it started getting super dark, you wouldn't have thought it were midnight. I have to admit, the pitch black night, the winding roads and the steep cliffs on one side that went all the way down to the river, did make me pray to all the Gods I know!

Funny thing about the signs on the road, till you are 5 kms away from Kasol, you will not see a single sign saying 'Kasol - X kms'. You simply keep seeing sign after sign saying 'Manikaran-X kms'. A bit strange I thought. Finally around 9 pm, we got to the little town of Kasol, deliciously cool and positively buzzing! People of all nationalities roaming around, relaxing at cafes serving all kinds of food, Italian, English, Israeli. We wouldn't wait to go be a part of that bus. We quickly found out hotel, The Sandhya Kasol, barely a 5 min walk from the town, dropped off our luggage, pulled on our sweaters and headed off. The road to the town was completely dark. Was patting myself on the back for having thought of taking a torch. The next minute, I flashed the torch on the ground and what do I see but a fat dead snake! Sweet Jesus. I was so terrified. After that, whichever cafe I went to, I kept asking people around if snakes were common there. Weirdly enough, nobody other than I seemed to have seen snakes there!

So I calmed down and went to the Moondance Cafe, ordered a hot chocolate (excellent! ) and shakshouka (not so excellent) and my friends ordered a could of other things which were just so so. Tip to those who wish to eat out here. All restaurants close by 9. Be here before 8:15 if you have any hopes of getting served! Walked around town a bit, found an interesting Shiva Shanti Cafe. (Not really my kinda place, but my friends seemed to love their stuff :) )

The next day after breakfast, we left for the Himalayan Village. I simply cannot tell you how amazing this resort is. A bit on the pricey side, 7K for a cottage per night but we managed to get a lot of great discounts on Yatra and other sites and ended up paying around 5K per night for a cottage. Take my word for it, it is totally worth the money). The resort and its cottages are just so beautiful, private and luxurious. Lots of greenery around, surrounded by hills and the parvati river gushes just opposite the hotel. And if you do stay here, I hope you get to try their rustic apple juice. Loved it!

I cant really describe the cottages. Instead I shall put up some pictures. It was my personal heaven for two days. Oh and as though their lovely location, amazing architecture and perfect service weren't enough, they have brilliant food! I can't recall all of it but the mutton rogan josh and the apple almond halwa are must haves. In the evening, the hotel arranged a driver and a car for us to go see the village of Tosh. The driver was such a hoot! Told us all about Kasol and said he would take us to a lot of fun places. So to get to Tosh we had to drive up a long way. Tosh is pretty much the last proper village on those hills and the road just ends there. It started raining quite badly and finally we got all the way to the top.

From there, a village stretches ahead and we would have to climb up by foot. Now most normal people would have been OK with that climb but I have severe cleanliness OCD and lets just say the village was not ahem clean. Mostly because of the rains I guess. We climbed and climbed ( you need to be a bit more fit than I am to enjoy this stuff) and got to a cafe at the top of the hill, I think it was called the Rainbow or something. From there you could see beautiful snow covered peaks! Not sure it was worth the climb but my friends (normal people) loved every minute of it. I must say something here. Apples and weed grow wild here! I personally love apples more, just saying. Someone climbed back down after spending time stuffing our faces at the cafe.

Drove back to Kasol and had dinner at the Evergreen cafe. OK there is a lot of hype about this place. The ambience is kinda nice. But the food sucked. So nibbled this and that and went to shop for souvenirs. Chillums! Beautifully carved marble ones.. Thought it would be a good showcase piece. So we all got one each, different shapes and sizes. I picked up something that looked like a pretty weapon. Turns out it was a chillum cleaner... I intended on using it for self defence :)

Back at the hotel, we sat outside in the lawn, freezing, but having fun till the wee hours of the morning. The next morning, my friends set off to Malana and Magic Valley. My OCD brain was a bit traumatized by the muck in tosh that I decided to skip it. I spent the day sitting at the hotel, sketching the beautiful scenery around me. Ordered all manner of amazing food and drink. It was like a day at the spa! Friends got back in the evening and showed me pictures quite a loss for me because the place was stunning! So if anyone is planning to go, do not miss Malana and Magic Valley.

The next day eaaarly morning at 6, we checked out of the hotel. The hotel staff was so kind as to pack breakfast (aloo and gobi parathas! ) and even a bottle of their signature apple juice for us. I could've kissed the receptionist. Got out safely without blundering and drove half way back when we changed our plans and thought we'd check out Dharamshala and drove the other way. But that I think, should be another story.

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Himachal Pradesh Overview

Situated in North India, Himachal Pradesh (Abode of Snow) is surrounded by Jammu & Kashmir on the north; Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh to the south; Uttaranchal to the south east and the Chinese territory of Tibet to the east. The state is mostly covered by the low Shivalik hill range towards the south and the dramatically high trans-Himalayan ranges as you go north. Thus you can proceed from hill-town Dharamsala in the south, at 1700m, to Lahaul-and-Spiti, the northernmost district, at 6500m. This geography and the resultant cool-to-snowy climate, define Himachal's tourist attractions as well; in fact, tourism and apple-growing run the economy of the state. Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, and Parbati are the main rivers.   Given its mountainous nature, Himachal can best be understood in terms of its valleys. In the southern Kangra valley, Dharamsala and sister town McLeodganj are the focus of the Dalai Lama's Tibetan government-in-exile. In western Himachal lies Chamba Valley, with Dalhousie, a British-time hill station. Towards the east, all the way to Tibet lies the Kinnaur region, which was off limits for tourists till 1992 and contains villages and lifestyles that are still untouched by modernity. In the centre, the Kullu valley is famous for its apples, producing about 9000 truckloads of them every year. Here, Manali town is a good base for adventure sports such as paragliding, skiing, river rafting and trekking. December-March are good months for winter sports or to see the snow. The northernmost Lahaul-Spiti district is isolated, snow-bound terrain accessible only between July-October, with some well-preserved 1000-year old Buddhist monasteries and culture.   Himachal's capital Shimla, developed by the British in the mid-19th century as a hill station that helped them escape hot summers, is full of colonial architecture and churches. Shimla makes a good base for less-crowded hill destinations such as Chail, Kufri, Narkanda, or Kasauli, all located at comfortable altitudes of 2000-2750 metres.