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Discover the Natural Beauty of Himachal Pradesh

Posted: 21st January 2015 14:45

If you are travelling to India for the very first time then prepare for a major culture shock.  Ranked the seventh largest country in the world with a population over a billion, it’s a big and busy place that can be overwhelming.  It takes a brave man or woman to attempt to keep up to the bustling lifestyle of the big cities in India.  One glimpse at the traffic in Delhi is enough to drive someone to the edge.  However not all of India is about living life at 100 miles an hour.

There are plenty of tranquil destinations to visit for a spot of relaxation and rejuvenation so why not combine your city breaks with a countryside escape in the picturesque Himachal Pradesh region?  Located in North-West India, Himachal Pradesh is famous for its natural beauty.  In stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of built-up Delhi, Himachal Pradesh is the least urbanised state in India with nearly 90% of its population living in rural areas.   With plenty to discover, here are four picks worth placing on your India itinerary.

Khajjiar

Often referred to as the “mini Switzerland of India”, Khajjiar is a peaceful paradise located in the Chamba district away for any major towns or cities.  The tiny hill village is nestled on high ground, surrounded by a stunning landscape of rich meadow pasture and pine forests with a stream-fed lake running through the middle.  Khajjiar swaps beeping car horns and angry drivers for the sweet sound of birds singing and streams flowing, ridding any stress and frustration from your system.   

Put on your walking shoes and stroll along the lake to catch glimpses of the native wildlife in their natural habitat.  Since Khajjiar is situated at the base of the Dauladhar Mountains, get your camera ready to snap some panoramic views of the beautiful setting.  The thick layer of earth also makes a comfy spot to tuck into a picnic.  Learn about the culture in the Khajji Nag, a Hindu temple that dates back to the 12 Century AD.  Bask in the beauty of the wood-carved shrine and ancient snake carvings on the walls. 

Malana

Take a trip down to Malana and step into another world, largely untouched by modern civilisation.  Known as the “little Greece in Himachal Pradesh”, the remote Indian village is situated alongside the Malana River close to the majestic peaks of Chandrakhani.   With just 1,700 inhabitants, the close-knit community live by their own unique lifestyle and social structure and are the remaining speakers of the ancient Sino-Tibetan language of Kanashi. 

Due to its location in the Himalayan region, Malana has a very extreme climate.  It’s generally warm and humid with heavy bouts of rainfall now and then.  Summer is the best time to go, especially between May and August as the village is more accessible for tourists.  There is plenty of nearby accommodation options to choose from including a few basic guesthouses in the village.  The best way to reach Malana is on foot.  From the village of Jari which connects to Kullu Valley, it’s a picturesque six hour walk with loads of natural beauty along the way.  Magnificent waterfalls and the Malana Nala stream are amongst the sights. 

Andretta

For culture vultures and art enthusiasts seeking a quiet break from modern life, Andretta is perfect.  Situated in the Kangra district on the foothill of Dhauladhar, about 14km from Palampur, the small village is famously known as an artists’ colony.  Tourists come from all corners of the earth to witness its beautiful art collection of paintings and pottery.   Located near the main intersection of town is the Sobha Singh Art Gallery, named after the famous painter who lived in Andretta for three decades.  It is well worth your time, with free admission and plenty to learn about.    

Meanwhile on the other side of town is the Andretta Pottery and Craft Society.  Take a class and learn the basics from the experts.  If you are not the hands-on type, then check out the Terracotta Museum next door and learn about the life of world-renown Andretta Pottery.   It also features the work of local village potters from the neighbouring regions and pieces from around the globe including several from England.  The secluded environment makes Andretta one of the most peaceful spots in Himachal Pradesh. 

Kullu

One of the most majestic districts of Himachal Pradesh, Kullu stretches from the village of Rampur in the South to the Rohtang Pass in the North.  It is home to the idyllic Kullu Valley, boasting some of the most jaw-dropping sights in India.   Trek along the grassy banks to capture stunning photos of the roaring rivers, thick pine forests and mountain villages scattered around the valley.  The climate is cool and humid, making Kullu a popular tourist spot to escape the summer heat of the mainland.  The Beas River is perfect for fishing and white water rafting, with many small businesses offering their services all year round. 

If you seek local attractions then head to the capital town, also known as Kullu.  The area is rife with Sikh and Hindu temples that are rich in Indian history.  For the ultimate relaxing experience, you should check out the famous hot springs at Manikaran, where the water is poised to have curative powers.   

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