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Himachal Pradesh - Shimla

Shimla is situated in the north-west Himalayas. Shimla, the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, lies about 343 km from Delhi at an altitude of 2,213 meters above sea level. Shimla was declared the summer capital of India in 1864. After India's independence, Shimla became the capital of Punjab till 1966, when it came under Himachal Pradesh. Today, Shimla is a pleasant, sprawling town, set among cool pine-clad hills with plenty of crumbling colonial charm. Shimla is a perfect heaven for those in search of tranquility. Nature has blessed this capital city with innumerable gifts and man has used them to make Shimla one of India's best destinations. Today, Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh and a favourite for filmmakers who wish to incorporate its scenic romanticism in their movies. Shimla is a stark example of the diversity that India offers to tourists. Shimla has been blessed with all the natural bounties which one can think of. It has got a scenic location, it is surrounded by green hills with snow capped peaks. The spectacular cool hills accompanied by the structures made during the colonial era creates an aura which is very different from other hill.


The temperature range is not very high and the maximum temperature rarely crosses 25°C during summers. Winters are cold due to the chilly winds from the upper Himalayas and Shimla experiences quite a heavy snowfall. Around Christmas or last week of December Shimla gets snow. The best season to visit Shimla is between September and November.

How to reach

By Air

Shimla's own Jubbarhatti airport is connected by small aircrafts with Delhi, Chandigarh and Kullu. Chandigarh is major airport on the plains near Shimla.

By Train
Kalka near Chandigarh is the main broad gauge station near Shimla. Shimla has its own narrow gage railway link with Kalka. The slow and pleasant mountain trains from Shimla are timed with main trains at Kalka that further link to main cities of India.

By Road
A good highway connects Shimla with New Delhi and Chandigarh on one side and higher reaches of Himachal Pradesh like Manali on the other side. There are several deluxe buses in summer months connecting Shimla with New Delhi and Manali.

Shimla at a glance

Shimla at a glance :  
Area 31.60 sq. km
Population 1,02,186
Altitude 2,213 metres above sea level
Languages Hindi, Himachali, Garhwali, English
STD Code 0177
Best time to visit May-July and September-November

Places of Interest In Shimla

The Mall, Jahkoo hill, Glen forests, Summer Hill, Chadwick falls, Prospect Hill, The Indian Institute of Advance Studies, Himachal State Museum, Taradevi Temple, Sankat Mochan.

The Mall

The Mall, which runs along the Ridge, is the main shopping centre of the Shimla. Filled with shops and restaurants, you will find the Mall always crowded with tourists. The Gaiety Theatre, which is a reproduction of an old British theatre, is a centre of cultural activities. The Ridge, an open space in the heart of the town, presents excellent view of the mountain ranges. The Mall further joins the Ridge at the 'Scandal Point' where a statue of the nationalist leader Lala Lajpat Rai has been erected.

Jahkoo hill
About 2.5 km from the city lies the Jahkoo hill at a height of about 2455 metres. The peak, highest in Shimla, offers a panoramic view of the town. The Jakhoo temple, dedicated to Lord Hanuman, is also located here.

Glen forests
The Glen forests lie at a distance of about 4 km from the Ridge at an altitude of 1830 metres. An ice-cold stream flows through the forest making it one of the fascinating picnic spots in the city.

Summer Hill
About 7 km from the city, at a height of 1983 metres, is the Summer Hill. This picturesque spot lies on the Shimla-Kalka railway line and has pleasant shady walks in quiet surroundings. The place is also associated with Mahatma Gandhi as he had stayed in the Georgian House of Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur during his visit to Shimla. The Himachal Pradesh University is situated here.

Chadwick falls
You can reach these 67-metre-high falls from Summer Hill from where it is about 45 minutes walk. The falls, surrounded by thick forests, are situated at about 7 km from the city at a height of 1586 metres.

Prospect Hill
A popular picnic spot, the Prospect Hill offers excellent views of the surrounding country. The Hill is a 15-minute climb from Boileauganj and is located at about 5 km west of Shimla.

The Indian Institute of Advance Studies About 4 kilometres from the city lies the Indian Institute of Advance Studies. The institute was formerly the Vice-regal Lodge. Besides the magnificent English renaissance structure, the lawns and woodland of the institute are the other sources of attractions. You will have to buy a ticket to enter the place.

Sankat Mochan Sankat Mochan is located on the road to Chandigarh at about 7 km from Shimla. Here a temple dedicated Lord Hanuman can be found. You can also get a fine view of Shimla from here.
Taradevi Temple
Dedicated to Tara Devi, a Hindu version of the Tibetan Goddess Drolma, the temple lies at about 11 km from Shimla on the Shimla-Kalka road. This holy place is also accessible by rail.

Himachal State Museum
The state museum lies at about 3 km from the city centre. It has some good collection of statues, miniatures, coins, photos and other items from around Himachal Pradesh.

Around Shimla

Kasauli, Barog, Craignano, Chail, Kufri, Mashobra, Shali Tibba, Naldhera, Tattapani, Wildflower Hall, Majathal Sanctuary, Daranghati Sanctuary, Hatkoti, Narkanda, Nirmand, Salogra, Sangla, Sarahan


Amongst the various Indian Hill stations is Kasauli. During the 17th century, driven by unsettled political conditions, some Rajput families from Rewari (in present day Haryana) fled their homes. They took refuge in the lower Himalayas, finally settling down at a village called Kasul where there was a perennial spring of fresh water. Today, some three centuries later, the spring is the site of a water reservoir and Kasul has grown into the delightful little hill station of Kasauli. But some locals would believe that Kasauli comes from Kausalya, a mountain stream that flows between Kasauli and Jabli. The name might even have been derived from Kusmawali or Kusmali, meaning flower maiden. Given the abundance with which the hills of Kasauli bloom from spring to autumn, this could well be the truth. Kasauli remains a cantonment where the army is a living presence. The heart of Kasauli, mercifully, has not been overrun by hotels and apartment blocks.


Kasauli enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year. Though the place can be visited throughout the year, the ideal time is during the summer months when the hill resort beats the heat of the plains. Cotton clothing is apt for the summer months whereas woolens are required for the winters.

How to reach

Delhi is connected to Chandigarh by air. From Chandigarh it is a little more than an hour by road to Kasauli. Buses connect Kasauli to many major cities of north India. Private taxis are also available between; to Kalka and proceed by bus to Kasauli, less than an hour away.

Where to stay

There is a PWD rest house and a number of private hotels. There is also the HPTDC run Hotel Ros Common, which is very popular.

Places of Interest

The highest point at Kasauli, known as Monkey Point, is now with the IAF and the site of new family apartment blocks for IAF personnel. Monkey Point commands a panoramic view of the hills, valleys and plains below, with the meandering Sutlej and, far away, the city of Chandigarh.

Lawrence School at Sanawar, six kilometers away, rich in tradition and a world in itself, also attracts tourists. The temple of Nahari Devi, which overlooks a waterfall, is also worth a visit. Nothing has so far affected the fall, not the severest drought or driest summer.

Around town, one can look for the graves of the two Chinese POWs who died here. Or try to find out the names of the two brothers who perished fighting the forest fire that ravaged Kasauli at the turn of the century. Or find the old time mailbox with a cast iron crown on top, a relic of the British Postal Service.

The two main walks around Kasauli, the Upper and Lower Mall are beautiful. The residents of Kasauli walk a lot, for Kasauli was always short on city attractions and meant for getting about on your own two feet, in communion with nature or if you are lucky, a walking partner. The somewhat steep Upper Mall takes you past an important landmark, the Kasauli Club. Founded in 1880 as the 'Kasauli Reading and Assembly Rooms', it was later converted into Kasauli Club. Initially the club provided accommodation to men only, women not being permitted unless it was very cold or if accommodation was going a-begging. Famous for its six tennis courts, its lavish 'tennis teas' and gala Saturday Nights, the club suddenly found itself posed for dissolution in 1947. But saved by the breadth of a hair, it survived to celebrate its centenary in 1980.


A 42-km drive amongst the Shivalik hills brings one to Barog. It is high on the route to Shimla from Kalka. Barog is perched high among the Shivalik hills at a height of about 1,560 m above sea level. The whole area is lush with a spirited green. The luxuriant mountain offers an almost unimaginable range of colors in its folds and creases. Barog lies on Shimla Kalka highway and regular buses and taxis ply from both of these places. Barog is also connected with both places by mountain train and the experience can be memorable. The belly of the mountain holds the longest railway tunnel on the Kalka-Shimla route-exactly 1,143 m long. At the end of the tunnel is a quaint station of wooden proportions. Below, the longest tunnel on the rail route with a mechanical regularly keeps swallowing and spewing out trains


At 2,149 metres above the sea level and 16 kilometres from Shimla, Craignano is a beautiful picnic spot with a hilltop rest house and well laid out lawns and gardens.


Forty-three kilometres from Shimla lies the lush green town of Chail, a former summer capital of the Maharaja of Patiala. The town is built on three hills, one of which is topped with the Chail Palace, the other with the Chail village, and the third one by the Snowview mansion. Three kilometres from the village lies the world's highest cricket ground at a height of 2,250 metres. Chail is also a hiker's paradise. There is a wildlife sanctuary at a distance of 3 km from here.

Chail at a glance

Chail at a glance :  
Altitude 2,150 m (7,054 ft)
Languages Hindi, Himachali, Garhwali, English
Best time to visit May-July and September-November
STD Code 01792


The clouds, the hills, and the sprawling greens, all these signify Chail, is located in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. Nature is at her exuberant best and words like pollution and deforestation have never entered the dictionary of a person living in Chail. Located on a spur, on a clear day, Chail offers a magnificent and splendid view of the valley. It is an out-of-this-world experience to look down and see the River Sutlej winding its way between the mountains, overlooking at the same time both Kasauli and Shimla (45 km) further via Kufri. It is an even more splendid view in the night, with the distant lights of the surroundings creating its own magic pattern on the horizon. Chail is charming in summer, fascinating in autumn when the fields and the forests are covered with a cloak of russet and gold and, of course, in winter it is nothing less than paradise. Everything about this place is as perfect as perfection can possibly be. The air here is crisp, invigorating and there is some kind of warmth in the snow. The snow remains there until the beginning of the spring when the flowers come out in full bloom. This is the time when the meadows are filled with hyacinth and celandine, while the carmine and rhododendron trees are surrounded by solemn forests of deodar and towering pine trees.

Places of Interest

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh developed the highest cricket field in the world in Chail. Well-kept and scrupulously maintained, more than the excitement of the game, the pitch offers a picturesque view of the surroundings, with tall forest trees all around it.
A must see in this place is the palace of the maharaja. Built on three hills, the palace is on Rajgarh Hill, while the Residency Snow View, which was occupied once upon a time by the British Resident, is on Pandhewa Hill. On the third hill, Sabba Tibba, is the township of Chail. The maharaja had planned this palace as a retreat, replete with all necessary things he'd need for relaxation, and therefore, he built hunting and fishing lodges, which are open to the public. Chail's Mall is worth walking down on. Commercialization seems to be still knocking at Chail.

Chail Sanctuary

Chail Sanctuary lies in Solan District some 45km by road south of Simla. Bounded by a tributary of Giri River to the north-west and south-west, by Solan/Simla District boundary to the north and by Giri River to the south-east. The area under Chail Sanctuary is 11,004ha using digitised maps with an altitude ranges from 701m to 2,180m. Chail is connected by a forest corridor to Simla Water Catchment Area, a 951ha sanctuary to the north. Chail Sanctuary comprises part of the catchment area of a tributary of Giri River. Mean annual rainfall is 1603mm. Temperatures range from 4 C to 28 C.Places of historic interest are the former palace of the Maharaja of Patiala (now a hotel) and Siddh Baba temple. There are 121 villages (including Chail township) inside the sanctuary, with a total population of 8,627 people. There are also 18 private industries, including sawmills, inside the sanctuary. The surrounding area is also densely populated.

How to reach

By Road

Chail is about 86 km from Kalka via Kandaghat (roughly 380 km from Delhi). The approach of Chail is along the Kalka-Shimla route. One has to take a detour from Kandaghat. From Kandaghat, it is an hour and a half's journey by road to Chail.

By Train
The ideal way of covering the Kalka-Shimla track is by the toy train. It takes five hours from Kalka to get to Kandaghat. These five hours mark the beginning of this sojourn into the world of make-belief. The toy train with a maximum of half a dozen bogies chugs through the most thickly forested tracks, breathtaking bends, deep ravines and never-ending tunnels.

By Air
There is always the option of flying to Shimla. This flight operates only when the weather is favorable, but that will be like fast forwarding a wonderful beginning and landing yourself in the middle of a story.

Where to stay

Chail is a very small town on the hills with barely five to six hotels. It has precisely twelve shops and half a dozen hotels on one single stretch and that is the end of it. There are, however, various categories of accommodation to suit every kind of pocket ranging from Rs 600 to Rs 6,000 per day during the tourist season (which is primarily the summer months). Each type of accommodation has a specific name. There are Maharaja suites, Maharani suites, Rajgarh cottages, Woodrose cottages, Monal cottages, Himneel cottages and log huts. The log huts can be a fascinating experience for those who love to live amidst nature. They are situated about a kilometer away from the main building and overlook a valley. From within these huts one can watch the clouds settle down on the valley, the lights shimmering at night and the cold seeping right into your bones. One can also experience total silence and quietude.


Kufri lies 16 kilometres to the east of Shimla at an altitude of 2,510 metres above sea level. The surrounding countryside here offers you a good opportunity for hiking especially to the nearby Mahasu peak. The town also hosts a winter sports festival.
Kufri is located in the southern part of the state of Himachal Pradesh, in the northern region of India. It is perched at an altitude of 2,510 m above sea level amongst the foothills of the Himalayas. It is 13 km from Shimla. It is famous for its trekking and hiking trails. Adventure-seeking travelers throng Kufri in winters to enjoy skiing and tobogganing along its snow-covered slopes. Kufri is also famous for its nature parks and picnic spots. Kufri's proximity to the hill station of Shimla makes it an important place to visit.


The weather in Kufri is alpine. Summers (April-June) are mild while winters (November-February) are cold. It experiences southwestern monsoon rains in July-September. It experiences heavy snowfall in December-January. The best time to visit Kufri is in summers, between April and June. However, one may also the place between December and February to enjoy snowfall and skiing.

How to reach

Kufri does not have an airport or a railway station. However, Kufri is linked with Shimla, Narkanda, and Rampur by road. Travellers can also hire taxis from Shimla to reach Kufri. The area around Kufri can be explored on horseback. Local fairs and festivals

A winter sports festival is organized every year in the month of February in Kufri. Skiing enthusiasts and adventure seekers participate in this festival.

Places of Interest

In Kufri

There are a number of picnic spots, hiking and trekking trails in and around Kufri. Travelers can explore Kufri and its surrounding areas also on horseback. They can hike through thick forest around Kufri to the Mahasu Peak. The other places to visit in Kufri are the Himalayan Nature Park, which has a collection of animals and birds found only in Himachal Pradesh, and the Indira Tourist Park, which is near the Himalayan Nature Park and provides panoramic view of the locations around Kufri. In winters, the snow-covered slopes of Kufri come alive with skiers and other visitors.

Around Kufri

Simla Water Catchment Sanctuary

Simla Water Catchment Sanctuary is situated adjacent to National Highway 22 and immediately north of Kufri, which lies some 12km by road east of Simla. The area under this sanctuary is 951ha using digitised maps with an altitude ranges from 1,900m to 2,620m. The sanctuary is connected by a forest corridor to Chail Sanctuary in the south. This sanctuary comprises a moderately steep catchment which is the main water supply for Simla. Nine perennial streams flow from this area, the main ones being Churat Nala and God Ki Nala. Mean annual rainfall is 1600mm and temperatures range from 5.4 C to 32 C. Meteorological data are also available from nearby at Simla at 2,200m. Here, annual precipitation is in excess of 1500mm, over half of which falls during the summer monsoon. Mean monthly maximum and minimum temperatures range from 8.6 C in January to 24.1 C in July and from 1.9 C to 15.7 C, respectively. The sanctuary is closed to visitors. There is one rest house inside, and three outside the sanctuary.

Shimla, the capital city of the state of Himachal Pradesh is only 13 km from Kufri. Fagu, which is 6 km from Kufri, is an interesting picnic spot set amongst forests and orchards.

The small village of Mashobra lies at about 13 km from Shimla on Shimla-Naldhera road. The village is surrounded by thick forests and offers some pleasant walks including one to Sipi where a fair is held every year. A temple dedicated to Goddess Durga is worth visiting.

Shali Tibba
A particularly interesting trek involves the highest peak in the Shimla hills, known as Shali Tibba. How to reach Shali Tibba can be approached from Shimla 35 km away by taking a bus till Mashobra and thereafter trek. Trekking arrangements can be made with the Himachal Tourism office on The Mall, Shimla.

Where to stay

Khatnol has the distinction of having a guesthouse. Otherwise Mashobra can be made the base camp, which has a few cheap hotels.

Places of Interest

The actual trek begins from a village called Mashobra, about an hours ride from Shimla. There is a bus one can catch from Shimla, or one can start walking from the town itself. Again, there is a bus from Mashobra to one of the villages closer to the peak. The route along the way is an uphill as well as a downhill ride, into a valley and then out of it. It's mostly forest, but with well defined trails.

The route follows a lovely walk through forest, hitting quite a few villages on the way. Another option for those who might find the going rough, is to walk just halfway up till a village called Siri and then take the bus up to Gulthaini, which is just below Khatnol, the last village before the peak. The bus also heads straight up to Khatnol, but then it's better to miss that than the whole point of the trip. Through orchards and scrub, one gets a glimpse of what the Himalayas could have been like if man had left the region untouched.

Gulthaini to Khatnol is an uphill climb, about four km of heavy walking through forest and scrub. It's more important to ask for directions along this route. Khatnol has the distinction of having a forest rest house, which is the only place to stay, unless one is carrying tents along.

One must plan on setting off by early morning, with water and food. It's again an uphill climb to the peak, and afternoon temperatures advise against jaunts at that time of the day. There's a pukka path, which leads right to the top, ask the locals point the way to it. Once on it, one can't get lost. If one is lucky, one might get to see a bear.

On reaching the temple, it all seems to be worth it as the view is magnificent. On a clear day, one can make out the snow-capped peaks of the northern ranges, and the eagle-eyed will be able to see the Doordarshan TV Tower in distant Shimla.

* Its a good idea for people with delicate stomachs to stock up on mineral water as the locally available variations seems to be fortified with about nineteen non-essential vitamins and minerals.


A pleasant little town, Naldhera is famous for having the oldest and the highest golf course in India. The town, perched at an altitude of 2,050 metres, is around 23 km from Shimla. An ancient Nag temple is also situated here. It is said that Lord Curzon was so enchanted by this place that he named his daughter after it.


Tattapani is located at about 65 km from Shimla on the Shimla-Mandi highway. The place is famous for its hot water springs that have sulphur content. You can also visit the nearby Hindu temples and Shiv Goofa at Saraur (4 km).

Wildflower Hall

This building at Charabra, about 13 km from Shimla, was built as residence of the then British Commander-in-Chief Lord Kitchener. The place was run as a hotel by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation before it was severely damaged in a fire in 1993. The hotel is under renovation and is expected to reopen soon

Majathal Sanctuary

Majathal Sanctuary lies in Simla District, some 76km by road from Simla to the south-east. Bounded to the north by the Sutlej River and to the south by a mountain ridge. The area under Majathal Sanctuary is 3,164ha using digitised maps with an altitude ranges from 900m to 1,966m. Darlaghat Sanctuary lies to the south-west on the other side of the mountain ridge. This sanctuary comprises a short section of the southern side of the Sutlej Valley. The terrain is steep. Mean annual precipitation is 1040mm. Temperature ranges from 1 C to 29 C. Places of religious interest include Harsingh Temple. There are 17 villages, with a total population exceeding 700 people, inside the sanctuary. There is one rest house in the sanctuary.

Daranghati Sanctuary

Daranghati Sanctuary comprises two separate units situated 60km immediately east of Rampur Bushahr in Simla District. The area under Daranghati Sanctuary is 2,701ha using digitised maps. The two units of the sanctuary lie either side of Dhaula Dhar, an intervening range of hills that forms part of the Middle Himalaya. Part I to the north forms the southern catchment area of the Manglad Gad. Three main rivers, including Wajadi Gad and Gharat Gad, flow northwards into Manglad Gad. Part II to the south encompasses the southern catchment area of the Nogli Gad. Main rivers flowing northwards through Part II into the Nogli Gad include Bankdari Nala, Rigir Gad and Setlu Nala. Manglad and Nogli are eastern tributaries of the Sutlej River. The area between the two units is settled and cultivated. Conditions are temperate, with cool summers and severe winters. Annual precipitation is 625-900mm, with heavy monsoonal rains from July to September and frequent snow falls from January to March. Temperatures range from 8 C in winter to 28 C in summer. There are several wooden temples in the vicinity featuring an unique architecture There are two villages, one logri (farmstead) and one thach (summer settlement) within the sanctuary. The surrounding area is heavily populated with 26 villages and other settlements. There are four rest houses inside the sanctuary, including one at Daranghati, and an inspection hut at Kashaport.


Some 105 kilometers east of Shimla, in Jubbal Tehsil on the banks of the river Pabar, lays the mysterious valley of stone temples Hatkoti. Close by stands a small village by the name of Parhaat. At Hatkoti, two other small mountain streams Bishkulti and Raanvti join the Pabbar. The color of the Bishkulti (vish-khalti) water is somewhat grayish.With the convergence of the three water streams (sangam), according to the Hindu mythology makes Hatkoti a place fit to be a pilgrimage.

How to reach

One can either take the Shimla-Theog-Kotkhai-Khara Patthar-Hatkoti-Rohru motor road or the Dehradun to Hatkoti route, which passes through Chakrata, Deoban, Tiuni and Arakot. Hatkoti is at a distance of 105 km from Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh

Local fairs and festivals

Twice a year, during the Chaitra Navratra (April) and the Asvin Navratra (October), the temple complex reverberates with the sounds of bells and cymbals and khartals. On both occasions a fair is held, attracting pilgrims from far and near. Those who worship Durga in the form of Shakti sacrifice a goat or sheep, those who worship her in the form of Vaishnavi, offer flowers and halwa. Himachali folks make offerings of parched rice and homegrown walnuts, as these are considered highly acceptable to the Devi. In the past, a buffalo (Mahish) was sacrificed, a practice which has been banned by the government now.

Places of Interest

In Hatkoti

The Hatkoti temples have suffered at the hands of time. Further down the river Pabar, there used to be many more temples of this nature, with elaborately carved stonewalls and doors made of wood. But most of these temples have been reduced to rubble. At the heart of the Hatkoti valley stand the hills of Sunpuri, merging into each other, making it sacred for the localities to call it the Ardhnarishwar. Surmounting this hillock is a small temple with another finely chiseled image of Mahishasurmardini, made of stone. Small temples scattered nearby are said to have been built by the Pandavas and the local people call them 'Panzo Pandoora Ghaurdoo' (The toy houses of the five Pandavas). A charoo (large bronze vessel) stands battered with age on one side of the mandap of the Mahishasurmardini temple securely chained to an image of Ganesha positioned inside the temple.

Around Hatkoti

Khara Patther is an upcoming skiing hotspot, which falls en route to Hatkoti from Shimla. Besides, if one is in a pilgrimage mood can visit Giri Ganga, a few kilometers away from Khara Patther.

Narkanda, at 8,100 feet, 440 km from Delhi and is a two hours drive from Shimla. It is slightly higher than Shimla (7,400 feet) and the road linking the two runs almost near the crest of the mountain with a gradual ascent. One is constantly treated to a bird's-eye view of the different valleys as the road twists and turns from one spur to another. Especially breathtaking is the view of Narkanda from Fagu, a small village en route.

How to reach
The fact that Narkanda is on the National Highway connecting Shimla to Kinnaur (the old Hindustan-Tibet road to Shipki La) means that there is never a shortage of buses connecting one with Shimla. Shimla is at a distance of around 60 km and it takes only two hours to drive down to Narkanda from there.

Where to stay
Accommodation options in Narkanda are rather limited. The Himachal Tourism Corporation hotel, a bit away from the settlement, and the P.W.D. Rest House located just below a pine forest on a mountain slope offer luxury and the warmth of Himachali hospitality.

Places of Interest
What gives Narkanda its awe-inspiring view of the snowy peaks is the fact that it is located on the ridge of the last watershed before the Himalayan range. Below Narkanda, to the north is the Sutlej Valley and beyond it is the snowy massif. The ridge on which Narkanda stands is the watershed between the Sutlej on the north and the Giri river. The sleepy town of Narkanda sits astride the watershed between the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. The best season to go to these mountains is autumn. The setting sun offers a spectacular sight. A better view is obtained from the nearby Hattu peak, which is nearly 2,000 feet higher than Narkanda, and just over an hour's trekking distance from it. The area around Narkanda is also the orchard region of Himachal, where cherry, apple etc are grown. One can see empty and packed crates of these fruits on the roadside, at various points on the way. Narkanda is also an upcoming hot spot for adventure sports like skiing.

Nirmand, a sprawling village to the south of Kullu district is a place, which is often referred to as 'the Kashi of the Himalayas'. Nirmand is perched atop the mountain range, standing like a sentinel opposite Dattanagar on the Hindustan-Tibet road. Incidentally, Dattanagar is also a holy site on account of its having been founded by Sage Dattatreya who is venerated in a shrine. The area is rich in herbs of various kinds and the sight of fruit trees laden with golden apricots, green almonds, plums, cherries, pears and luscious apples are sufficient compensation for the pains taken to visit such far-flung areas. Although Nirmand does not boast of much scenic splendor, the area all around and beyond such as Arsu, Bashleo Pass and the villages all along the route are a trekker's delight. Trekkers can go to Jalori Pass and Banjar, visiting numerous picturesque and interesting villages that have much to offer to the curious traveler.

How to reach
Located in Outer Saraj, 700 metres above the waters of the Sutlej, Nirmand is approachable by bus from Rampur Bushahr, 95 kilometers from Shimla. Four kilometers short of Rampur, one crosses the bridge spanning the Sutlej River and turns left. After a 19 kilometers long bumpy journey along the road, one ascends up to the village of Nirmand.

Local Fairs and Festivals
Every 12th year, the famous bhunda ceremony is performed at the kothi. In the earlier times a human used to be it made to slide down the thick rope into the pit of the valley and perish. However this custom has changed a bit now so that the human has been replaced with a goat.

Places of Interest
The pilgrimage to this holy site (Parasram kothi) begins from the northeast end of Nirmand. At this entry point are located two temples, one of Chandika Devi, which is the main shrine, and on its side a miniature stone shrine of Shiva dating back to the medieval period. The Chandika temple has neither any elaborate architecture nor any sculptural embellishment, although the wooden doorway to the sanctum is a replica of one seen in the Dakhani Mahadev temple nearby.

The village is well worth a visit for a lover of temples, sculptures and antique sites, also for pilgrims, large numbers of who visit this place all through the year. Most of them are itinerant sadhus, for whom, since the earliest times, a special site-a large compound surrounded by shelters-has been allocated in the center of the village.

From the kothi, walking straight ahead, there is a magnificent flight of broad stone steps leading down the slope to the modern looking hut-shaped temple of Ambica Devi, the most frequented shrine for the pilgrims. Facing the shrine is a pair of lions in obeisance to the goddess. The stone paved way leads to Kurpan Khud, Bashleo Pass and down to Manglaur to meet the Inner Saraj road.

To the southwest of the Ambica temple stands the Shiva Temple in a woeful state of neglect.

A small town, a few kilometers away from Shimla having beautiful scenes of nature. How to reach

Located on National Highway 22, Salogra can be reached from Kalka either by rail or bus.
Where to stay
One can stay in hotels or in government guesthouses a few kilometers away in Solan. Shimla can be the ultimate destination that is just two hours away from Salogra. Once in Shimla, there is no dearth of boarding and lodging facilities.

Places of Interest
Krol Ka Tibba, almost 5 km away from the hamlet of Salogra, beckons you. Climb up the mountain right behind the quaint Salogra railway station. Walk up past the cottages until you are 50 m above. First, the fields accost you questioningly. A goat track, past fields and craggy rocks takes you beyond numerous villages en route. There are no road signs, no lampposts, only a wild and beautiful pathway to guide you. If in doubt, ask the occasional villager, the way to the spring. You climb gradually and the sites left behind appear tiny and insignificant. The comfort of bricks and curtains is lost in the comforting presence of the green mountain ahead. On this route, you encounter a stretch that only the bold and daring should take. There is space only for footsteps as you go round a mountain. For the not so adventurous, it is safer to go up across the middle of the mountain and cross, instead of skirting round the edges. Ahead, the rocky mountains rise with authority and disdain to their fellow accomplices. More than half of their rise is straight and clear. The effect of a drawing on canvas is created. The remaining portion of the mountains is covered with a dense growth of trees. The wooded head stands as a magician in front of its restless audience. The trek takes one into layers of foliage till the gurgle of a gushing stream is heard, which pours forth from the womb of a mountain and gives life force to people below. A room has been built on top of the stream to protect the source from being polluted. Pipes run from this place to the thirsty hamlet below. A similar stream is close by that creates a rippling sound to fill the space. The water at this spring source is sweet and satisfying.

Nightfall at Salogra is particularly charming. As dusk approaches, a blue haze falls on the mountains and gradually sucks up the silhouetted sharp mountain lines. Far ahead, straight as the crow flies, is a high mountain. In distance, those are the city lights of Shimla-a cluster of radiance. The passionate moon only breaks this reverie.

The journey back to Kalka, however, in the evening can be charming. The twists and turns of this vintage railway take one through dark tunnels and thick foliage. The mountains around are lit at random.

Connectivity with life is established again at Kalka but not without memories of solitude and the freedom of mountain breeze.


Sangla, 589 km from Delhi and 230 km from Shimla, is a valley that spreads over 42 km at a height of 2,700 meters above sea level. Incidentally, it is only 30 km from the Tibetan border. A little north of Sangla, around 20 km away, lays the border post Chitkul. Sangla lies on the banks of the Baspa River that runs nearly 900 meters deep in some places. Mount Kailash, said to be the abode of Shiva, is nearby. The road to Sangla is narrow, rough, and hazardous, taking one through Wangtu and Karchham. It is crudely carved out of rocks and runs parallel to the river that is deep down in the forge. At some places, there is barely enough space for the bus to wriggle through the rough road and the rock above

How to reach

By Road
Sangla can be approached either through Shimla or from nearby Chail. The drive, around 8 to 10 hours, is through very picturesque areas like Kufri and Narkanda. The road gradually winds down till Rampur (900 meters) famous for its annual Lavi Fair. From Rampur upwards, the road narrows down at times into difficult terrain up virtual steeps while the Baspa River forms a turbulent companion through most of the route.

By Train
One can also take the hill train from Kalka, near Chandigarh, to Shimla and add another wonderful experience to the whole journey.

By Air
The nearest airport is in Jubbarhatti, Shimla to which regular flights take off from Delhi.

Where to stay

A handful of hotels can be found either at Sangla town or on the approach to Chitkul. One can also stay at the Forest Department Guesthouse, the PWD Guesthouse, or the Banjara Camps at Sangla Valley by the side of the Baspa River. There are also some 3/4-roomed hotels at Chitkul about 26 km further north of Sangla.

Places of Interest

What Sangla Valley has to offer, however, are the delightful Banjara camps. Situated amidst apple orchards adjoining the quaint and typically Kinnauri village Batseri with the Baspa River flowing right next to it, trout fishing can be one experience. Moreover, Sangla valley is one of the few areas in India where paragliding facilities are available.

Sangla is home to some rare herbs and spices, including the exotic black cumin seed, flora (chilgoza orchards besides apples) and fauna and the best cider this side of Suez. Batseri and Rakcham, the two nearby villages, so untouched yet by the outer world, are showcases for uncomplicated lives and lifestyles. The icing on the cake is, however, the glacier point. Across the Baspa River, off Banjara camps, and through a small forest, one is suddenly face to face with a rough, stony riverbed. During the period when the entire Kinnaur valley lies hidden behind a thick cloak of snow, this is one of the points where glaciers come hurtling down. The sudden barren streak down the mountainside is a reminder that there are facets of nature yet unfathomable to human minds.

From Sangla Valley, a drive to Chitkul, situated at 3450 meters, about 20 km away from Banjara camps, is a must. The road passes through one of the most scenic routes ever, over streams that do not recognize the boundaries of roads and through forests that gleefully butt into the road. Chitkul is the last village on the Indo-Tibetan trade route and the Tibetan influence makes its presence felt. A 4-km walk and you arrive at Nagasthi, the last Indian outpost. No civilians are permitted beyond this point, for across the mountains lie Tibet. Here the mountains turn craggier, less green, and more barren.


Soaked in nature's beauty, Sarahan is flanked on the banks of the meandering Sutlej River. The way to Sarahan through Fagu, Theog, Narkanda, Rampur, and Jeori is extremely scenic-traversing through mountains flanked by steep cliffs on one side and deep ravines on the other, dense emerald pine forests, terraced farms, apple orchards. Weather

The ideal season to visit Sarahan and its adjoining areas is between April and June. After this the monsoons begin. September to November are good months to go and one can get a glimpse of snow in Kufri and Narkanda.

How to reach

By Air
The airport nearest to Sarahan is Jubbarhatti in Shimla.

By Road
From Shimla, Sarahan is at a distance of 175 km. One has to then take a bus or a private taxi to go to Sarahan.

By Train
Another alternative is to take a train to Shimla and then take a private taxi or a bus run by the Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) to Sarahan. There is no airport or railway station at Sarahan; so, the only access is by road.

Where to stay

There is a Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (HPTDC) Hotel in Sarahan by the name of Hotel Shrikhand.Places of Interest Once in Sarahan, one beholds a range of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks and one of them is the Shrikhand Peak. The rather peculiar thing about this peak is that it is only one whose tip remains uncovered with snow. In the evening, sunrays adorn the peaks and the sight is simply stupendous.

In the heart of Sarahan is the temple of Goddess Bhima Kaali, a marvelous example of hill architecture, the temple complex at Sarahanis set against the incredibly beautiful backdrop of high ranges and forested slopes. Built in a mixture of the Hindu and Budhists styles, it was the temple of Bushair rulers of Rampur (Shimla). The palaces of the royal family are adjacent to the temple.