Himachal has many hidden hamlets vying to charm you with their pristine natural beauty and cultural innocence. Take the road less travelled to discover the many secret hideaways in the mystical land Himachal.
On the Kalka - Shimla Highway, Barog(1,680 m) has grown from a mere stopover to a full-fledged destination. Surrounded by pine and oak forests, Barog has a commanding setting. Barog makes a conveniently accessible destination and a travel stopover to or from Shimla. Barog once just a stopover on the Kalka-Shimla highway, this town has grown to be a destination in itself. Surrounded by pine forests, it presents a fascinating view of the Churdhar Peak, which poetically translates into 'Mountain of the Silver Bangle'. HPTDC runs hotel Pinewood here and Barog is increasingly becoming a popular conference destination too.
22 Km by road from Joginder Nagar, and 11 Km by the Haulage trolley, Barot packs an enormous range of outdoor activities. The reservoir of the power project is located here. A trout breeding centre making it a wonderful place for angling. Across the river Uhl is the Nargu Wild Life Sanctuary home to the ghoral, Himalayan black bear and a variety of pheasants.
From Wangtu, a road turns off to Kafnu. And here begins one of the most beautiful trek routes in Himachal. To the east, the Bhaba Valley leads to the Pin Valley in Spiti and to the west, the routes move to Kullu through the Parbati Valley
Hillsides covered with thick forests, acres filled with apple orchards, small picturesque hamlets and remarkable views in all directions combine to make Chindi (1,825 m) and the area around it, one of the most beautiful places in Himachal Pradesh. The area is still off the beaten track and yet, has good facilities in terms of roads, small markets and accommodation. Chindi is an excellent off-beat destination that holds the charms that Himachal is famous for. Motorable on Shimla-Mandi highway via Tattapani - A beautiful place in Karsog Valley. Himachal tourism's tourist Resort is opening shortly. One can also visit famous Mahunag Temple (18 Km). Mamleshwar Mahadev Temple (13 Km) Kamaksha Devi temple (19 Km) Pangna Killa/temple (8 Km) and Shikari Devi Temple (18 Km).
Isolated by high mountains and perched atop the plateau overhanging the river Ravi, is the picturesque valley of Churah, in the district Chamba. To ensure a warm and comfortable stay to travellers, home stay facility is also available.
Dominating the entire landscape of fields, forests and ravines is the Churdhar peak, which rises to 3,647 m and is a trekkers’ treat from Nahan and Renuka. Approached by way of Dadahu, Sangrah, Bhawal, Gandhuri and Nauhra, it is a 50 Km trek. A less taxing journey is by taxi or car to Nauhra and thereafter a walk of 16 Km. The climb is difficult but rewarding. The peak offers a fine view of the Gangetic plains and the Satluj river in south, and Badrinath towards the north, a well known Hindu pilgrimage. Also seen are the hills of Chakrata and Shimla from the top. An alternative route to Churdhar is through Rajgarh, an orchard country. Churdhar peak is the highest peak in outer Himalayas. It is like a oasis of alpine area in a ocean of temperate forests.This is an excellent area for trekking during summer and early winters. The view from Churdhar peak is un-paralled. One is sure to come across a large number of multicoloured and agile Monals in the adjoining forests. Trekking from Nohra, Sarain and Pulbahal is tough but enjoyable. There are Rest Houses at Nohra, Choras and Sarain. There is also a Sarai and a Shiv Temple at Churdhar.
On the western extremity of Himachal Pradesh, the village of Dada Siba lies close to the state border with Punjab. Towards the middle of the fifteenth century, the erstwhile princely state of Dada Siba came into being as an offshoot of the kingdom of Guler.
The village holds a rare architectural and art marvel in the striking temple of Radha Krishna. The temple is regarded to have been commissioned in 1830 and was completed in 1835. This was during the reign of Raja Gobind Singh and the work is inferred to have been executed by his son Raja Ram Singh. Specialised craftsmen for the structure were employed and the finest bricks - the 'Nanak Shahi' ones - were placed at their disposal. A portion of the stone came from Jodhpur and special stone for the door posts and lintels was quarried near the fort of Mangarh.
The true worth of the temple lies in its paintings. The sanctum has barely an inch of space that has been not adorned with frescos. Various styles can be discerned in the panels – Mughal, Sikh and of course, various schools of Pahari painting find expression in assorted sections.
Situated on the crest of hill 11 Km from Dharamshala and 2 Km from Mcleodganj, the village Dharamkot is a picnic spot affords a panoramic view of the Kangra valley, Pong Dam Lake and Dhauladhar ranges. Dharamkot village is a good base for trekkers undertaking short and long treks.
18 Km from Dharamshala, Triund lies at the feet of the perpetually snow clad Dhauladhar at the height of 2,975 m. The snow line starts at Ilaqa (3,350 m), 5 Km from Triund. It is a popular picnic and trekking spot. The tracks from Rawa, Dal Lake, Dharamkot and Bhagsunag meet at a ridge known as Galu temple (2,130 m) which has a small shrine and water point. After the snow, the trek across Nullah rises abruptly waving through 22 curves making the ascent tiring and difficult. On the way one can spot many birds and wild animals.
Accommodation is available in the rest house of Forest Department, but water has to be fetched from a distance of about 2 Km. Route guidance, maps, equipments on nominal rent etc. may be had from the Regional Mountaineering Centre, Mcleodganj.
At a distance of 85 Km from Mandi, Janjehli is one of the virgin tourist place, where tourists find serene beauty of nature. It is also a paradise for hikers, offering treks up to a height of 3,300 m. After covering 32 Km by a motorable road up to Gohar and rest of the journey is on foot. In the middle of thick forest, forests (15 Km from Gohar) is Bajahi.There is a beautiful and well furnished rest house to stay overnight, from here Janjehli is a scant 20 Km away through bridle path. The famous unique temple of Shikari Devi is about 15 Km from Janjehli. In this valley tourists can also visit Kamrunag temple and sacred lake there. It is an accessible destination and a travel stopover to or from Shimla.
The wide Karsog Valley lies below Chindi and has good excursion spots. Apple orchards add thir attraction to the area and Chindi is surrounded by them. Karsog valley in the Mandi district is famous for apple orchards and dense forests. In the Karsog area Kamaksha Devi and Mahunag are the famous temples. Karsog is situated at a distance of 125 Km from Mandi and is also accessible from Shimla (100 Km) via Tattapani. The place Tattapani is famous for hot water springs on the side of Satluj river.
Full of grandeur and tribal majesty is the land locked valley of Pangi, 173 Km from Chamba via Sach Pass (4,414 m). It is one of the sub-division of Chamba district surrounded by the Peer Panjal and Zanskar ranges. Killar is the sub-divisional headquarter of Pangi Valley. Beyond the reach of tropical monsoon rains, the valley is one of the off-beat challenging tourism destinations in the State. Approach to the Pangi valley is across the high mountain passes like Sach, Chehni and Rohtang Pass. The Valley is remained land locked for about six months due to heavy snow fall.
There are beautiful valleys within Pangi region like Sural, Saichu, Kumar-Parmar, Hundan and Sechu. All these valleys are connected with Zanskar. People of Pangi valley are mainly Hindu with a small population of Buddhist. Some people live in higher reaches of the valley called Bhatoris such as Sural Bhatori, Hundan Bhatori, Parmar Bhatori, Chasak Bhatori and Hilu-Twan. There are number of exciting treks from Pangi valley to Keylong (Lahaul valley), Manali (Kullu) and Kishtwar in Kashmir.
Pangi Valley is now connected by road from Chamba via Sach Pass (4,414 m) and from Manali via Rohtang Pass (4,116 m) and Lahaul valley. Best season to visit Pangi valley is between May to October.
Located at an elevation of 2,000 feet above sea level, heritage village Pragpur is ideally suited to explore the Kangra valley. The area has several streams that drain into the river Beas. Many places of historic, religious and cultural importance are within easy reach. With its equitable climate, easy access, safe passage and rich flora and fauna, Pragpur and its surroundings offers an ideal location for village tourism. The ambience of the heritage zone of Garli-Pragpur is zealously protected by the local residents. In their endeavours that Garli-Pragpur retains its unique character, panchayats preserve their heritage buildings. Several heritage structures are now being restored using original techniques but with modern facilities to facilitate tourist.
The most important place of tourist interest in Sirmaur is the sacred and picturesque lake of Renuka, 38 Km from Nahan via Dadahu. It is one of the most beautiful lakes in Himachal Pradesh having crystal clear waters. It is shaped like a sleeping women. As per a legend Renuka was the mother of the legendary saint Parsu Ram, who killed her in obedience of the orders of his father – the sage Jamadagni. After her death, lake Renuka was formed surrounded by stepped fields of golden corn. Even today, each year in October/November (after Diwali), a fair is held to celebrate the immortality of Renuka and her son. The key-notes of the colourful fair are the festivity and devotional exuberance. It lasts for a week in which cultural programmes and folk dances are organised for the entertainment of visitors. Several idols of Parsu Ram, believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and other local deities, are carried in decorated palanquins in an impressive procession to Parsu Ram Tal. Before the idols are installed in the temple, they are given a bath in this holy lake which today symbolises a mother’s head.
This valley starts 57 Km short of Kalpa which has been named after a beautiful and populous village Sangla. Sangla is situated on the right bank of Baspa river 17 Km. from Karcham. Journey from Karcham onwards is enjoyable and adventurous throughout the valley. The natural scenery all around and the eternal snow view are picturesque and charming. It is also known as Baspa Valley since Baspa river flows through this area. This is the most charming valley in the entire District of Kinnaur. A temple dedicated to Nages god is worth a visit and other places are Sapni, Rackchham, Kilba, Kamru Fort which can also be visited. There are post offices, banks, rest houses for the convenience of the visitors.
If a landscape had the powers of casting spells, then the Sangla valley would be a magician extraordinary. Once seen, it is a place that can never be forgotten. Even the rushing waters of the Baspa river, that flow through its 95 Km length, seem to absorb some of the magic and slow down to savor its snow-frame beauty. 2 Km from Sangla is the fort of Kamru (300 m) its tower like architecture resembles that of the Bhima Kali complex and this was the origin of rulers of Bushehar. Chitkul (3,450 m) is the last village of the valley and beyond lies Tibet.
This is a vantage point for a complete panorama of the Kulla area. It provides an encompassing view of snow peaks and valleys, meadows and forests, rivers and streams. Bifurcating from Aut from the National Highway, Shoja is just 5 Km short from Jallori Pass. A walk of 5 Km from the Pass takes you to the Sarolsar Lake among deep forest. The road further to JallorI Pass connects to Rampur, Narkanda and Shimla via Ani and Luhri.
Sujanpur was a refuge of Sansar Chand Katoch, a great ruler of Kangra region from 1806 till 1824. Known as a builder and patron of pahari miniature paintings, a fortified palace at Tira overlooking Sujanpur town, remnants of 'Barahari Hall' and some exquisite frescos on the walls of Narbadeshwar and Gauri Shankar temple are testimony of Sansar Chand's abilities. Holi, a festival of colours is celebrated with fervour in March - April.