Himachal Pradesh is well known for being a highly prized destination in India. Home of Manali, a backpackers favourite, and of McLeod Ganj, where lives His Holiness the Dalaï Lama, the state of Himachal Pradesh is the perfect place to admire the Himalayas. Amazing during the winter with its snowy peaks as well as during the summer for great treks, the picturesque landscapes of this place won’t disappoint you. That said, one of the best way to experience Himachal Pradesh and India is to get off the beaten track. This way, you can discover some beautiful hidden jewels and you can be a traveler instead of being a tourist. Here are some of the the best off the beaten track destinations in Himachal Pradesh.
With an outstanding view over the Kinder Kailash massif, the small village of Kalpa is the kind of places you can’t get over with. Although the high mountains are a big part of the beauty of the place, the pine forests and apple orchards are also creating some of the greatest landscapes of the country. If you do make a stop in Kalpa, make sure to go to Hu-Bu-Lan-Khar Gompa, a buddhist temple, as well as to Narayan-Nagini, an Hindu temple complex which is simply breathtaking.
How to reach: Kalpa is easily accessible by bus with the HRTC (Himachal Road Transport Corporation). If you want to go by train from Delhi, the nearest railway station is Shimla.
Shoghi is the place to go for any nature lovers. What could possibly be better than trekking, camping and birdwatching in such a picturesque place, with the sunning Himalayas as a view? Also, there’s a reason why Shoghi is often referred as being the city of the temples; the place is home of many temples, some of them being very ancient. Not to mention that only a couple of kilometres away from the city is Shimla, a travellers’ favourite hill station in Himachal Pradesh.
How to reach: A lot of buses connect Shoghi to the major cities of the state, but it’s also easy to get one going to Shimla and then from there go to Shoghi. Otherwise, there’s also a railway station.
Located in the Mandi district, Barot is a small village developed in the 20s for Shanan Hydel Project, the first hydro-electric power station of India in Megawatt capacity. The valley is way more than that though. This is also a well hidden jewel that offers some of the most relaxing landscapes. The route to Barot from Mandi is also part of fun. Of course, the views are amazing, but terraced fields are also quite interesting to look that. Barot is simply impossible not to like!
How to reach: one of the easiest way to reach Barot by bus is to come via Mandi and to enjoy the beautiful route.
Malana has nothing to envy to the other places listed here; this little village is one of the most unique places to visit in Himachal Pradesh and in all India. It has its own structure and its own lifestyle that people follow strictly. Some even claim that it is the oldest republic of the world. If you think you might have heard about this place before, chances are you may be right. Indeed, Manala has been the subject of many different documentaries before.
How to reach: Malana is a little bit tricky to reach, but it is totally worth it. Hire a taxi from Jari to Nerang where you can stay the night. From there, you will have to around 45 minutes to reach the village.
Narkanda is the place to go if you are looking for a winter getaway. Although it is also very pleasant during the summer time with all the apple, apricots and plums orchards, it is also a nice place to ski. Indeed, Narkanda is home of Tethys Ski Resort, where you can hit the slopes and be amazed by the white and snowy landscapes. You don’t know how to ski? Don’t worry! Narkanda is a great place to take ski courses in Himachal Pradesh. It is your chance to learn this unique sport.
How to reach: the nearest railway station is Kalka where you can then easily go to Narkanda by toy train.
Another small village to appreciate the hills of the Himalayas and the peacefulness of Himachal Pradesh is Bir. This ecotouristic destination is home of many Tibetan refugees. You can see three welcoming monasteries, but one of the true reason why people visit is to enjoy some paragliding. Actually, Bir is the perfect place to go if you are an adventure enthusiast and if you want to enjoy an adrenaline rush with views over some of the greatest mountains of this world. If that’s your plan though, then try to come in September or October.
How to reach: people normally reach by train with a stop to Pathankot. From there, you can easily get a bus to Bir.
If you are looking for a relaxing stop far from the busy cities and a place to be in contact with the raw nature, Shoja is the place to go. You won’t see many tourists over there, but this is only because this place is still unexplored, which is perfect for the true traveler you are. Take a short walk nearby the waterfalls and enjoy the scenic views of the sunsets and the sunrises beside Serloskar Lake. This is only you, the mountains, the water and the green dense forests: the perfect way to appreciate what nature has best to offer.
How to reach: the easiest way to reach is by taking a bus from Kullu, another well appreciated destinations in Himachal Pradesh.
This small place is for sure not going to disappoint travellers including backpackers. Not only it is a great spot to hike, but it is also well known for being a place to party in the forest. Yes, you read correctly! Chalal has an important psychedelic party scene attracting hippies from all around the world. People come here to enjoy some trance music surrounded by the nature and the forests. As you can guess, this is very different from everything else you will see, but this is worth a visit.
How to reach: to reach Chalal, you will have to go to Kasol, another backpackers’ favourite. From there, you will have to go by foot by crossing a suspended bridge. It’s a short and easy hike with breathtaking views.
As you may already know by now, Himachal Pradesh is an amazing state of India to go to if you want to feel the nature all around you. Gushaini is another place where the best thing you can do is simply step back from the bustling life and relax. This is the greatest destination for whoever likes the do some camping and fishing. Just set up a tent beside the river, enjoy some birdwatching and try to catch some fishes. Actually, Gushaini is well known for being a good spot to fish trouts. Otherwise, you can simply appreciate the sound of the river dancing.
How to reach: you can always catch a flight to the nearest airport, Kullu, and then from there get a jeep to drive to Gushaini. Otherwise, you can reach by bus by making a stop to Atu, then to Banjar to finally reach Gushaini.
Not too far from Dharamsala, you can find Palampur, a scenery little town with impressive landscapes including many rice fields. One the nicest ways to appreciate this market town is to explore the numerous tea plantations and to learn more about the process of tea-making. Although this is is a busy place, you will still be able to appreciate the views of the high mountains all around you.
How to reach: Easily accessible from Dharamsala or Mandi. Note that there is also a railway station.