Himachal Pradesh is a state in the northern part of India. Situated in the Western Himalayas, it is one of the eleven mountain states characterized by an extreme landscape featuring several peaks and extensive river systems. Himachal Pradesh shares borders with the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to the north, and the states of Punjab to the west, Haryana to the southwest, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh to the south.
The state shares an international border to the east with the Tibet Autonomous Region in China. Himachal Pradesh is also known as 'Dev Bhoomi' or 'Land of Gods and Goddess.' The predominantly mountainous region comprising the present-day Himachal Pradesh has been inhabited since prehistoric times, having witnessed multiple human migrations from other areas. Throughout its history, the region was ruled mainly by local kingdoms, some of which accepted the suzerainty of larger empires.
Handpicked popular adventure activities to try in Himachal Pradesh
Before India's independence from the British, Himachal comprised the hilly regions of Punjab Province of British India. After independence, many of the hilly territories were organized as the Chief Commissioner's province of Himachal Pradesh, which later became a union territory. In 1966, hilly areas of neighboring Punjab state were merged into Himachal, and it was ultimately granted full statehood in 1971. The city of Shimla was the summer headquarters of pre-independence British rulers; it is now the state capital and, at an elevation of about 7,100 feet, one of the largest and most popular mountain resorts in the country. Formerly a union territory, Himachal Pradesh became a state of India on January 25, 1971. Area 21,495 square miles. Pop. 6,856,509. Himachal Pradesh, state of India, in the extreme northern part of the Asian subcontinent. It is bounded by Jammu and Kashmir union territory to the northwest and Ladakh union territory to the northeast, by the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the east, and by the states of Uttarakhand to the southeast, Haryana to the south, and Punjab to the west.
Himachal Pradesh occupies a region of scenic splendor in the western Himalayas, offering a multi textured display of lofty snow-clad mountains, deep gorges, thickly forested valleys, large lakes, terraced fields, and cascading streams. Indeed, the state's name refers to its setting: Himachal means "snowy slopes," and Pradesh means "state." Himachal Pradesh is spread across valleys with many perennial rivers flowing through them. Around 90% of the state's population lives in rural areas. Agriculture, horticulture, hydropower, and tourism are essential constituents of the state's economy. The hilly state is almost universally electrified, with 99.5% of the households having electricity as of 2016. The state was declared India's second open-defecation-free state in 2016. According to a survey of CMS – India Corruption Study 2017, Himachal Pradesh is India's least corrupt state. Tourism in Himachal Pradesh is a significant contributor to the state's economy and growth.
The Himalayas attract tourists from all over the world. Hill stations like Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala, Dalhousie, Chamba, Khajjiar, Kullu, and Kasauli are popular destinations for domestic and foreign tourists. The state also has many important Hindu pilgrimage sites with prominent temples like Naina Devi Temple, Bajreshwari Mata Temple, Jwala Ji Temple, Chintpurni, Chamunda Devi Temple, Baijnath Temple, Bhimakali Temple, Bijli Mahadev, and Jakhoo Temple. Manimahesh Lake, situated in the Bharmour region of Chamba district, is an annual Hindu pilgrimage trek held in August, attracting lakhs of devotees. The state is also referred to as "Dev Bhoomi" due to its mention in ancient Hindu texts and many historical temples.
Himachal is also known for its adventure tourism activities like ice skating in Shimla, paragliding in Bir Billing and Solang valley, rafting in Kullu, skiing in Manali, boating in Bilaspur and trekking, horse riding, and fishing in different parts of the state. Shimla, the state's capital, is home to Asia's only natural ice-skating rink. Spiti Valley in Lahaul and Spiti District, situated at an altitude of over 3000 meters with its picturesque landscapes, is an essential destination for adventure seekers. The region also has some of the oldest Buddhist Monasteries in the world. Himachal hosted the first Paragliding World Cup in India from 24 to October 31 in 2015. The venue for the paragliding world cup was Bir Billing, which is 70 km from the tourist town Macleod Ganj, located in the heart of Himachal in Kangra District. Bir Billing is the center for aero sports in Himachal and is considered as best for paragliding. Buddhist monasteries, Trekking to tribal villages, and mountain biking are other local possibilities.
The history of this mountainous state is complex and fragmented. It is known that several so-called Aryan groups filtered into the more productive valleys during the Vedic period and assimilated the pre-Aryan population. Later, successive Indian empires—such as the Mauryan, the Gupta, and the Mughal, all emerging in the Indo-Gangetic Plain—sought to exercise varying degrees of control over trade and pilgrimage routes into the area and between India and Tibet across the Himalayas. Ladakh controlled the remote, predominantly Buddhist site that is now the district of Lahaul and Spiti from the decline of the Mughal Empire until the early 1840s when it briefly came under the Sikh rule. Also, during this period, warring semiautonomous petty rulers controlled the trade routes and desirable segments of agricultural and pastoral land in the other areas of present-day Himachal Pradesh. British dominance of this region followed the Sikh Wars of the 1840s and continued, directly or indirectly, for the next 100 years.
Around the time of Indian independence in 1947, there was a popular movement to end feudalism in the region, and the princely state of Suket virtually surrendered to peaceful demonstrators. Subsequently, Himachal Pradesh was constituted as a province in 1948. It consisted of 30 princely states and was administered by a chief commissioner, who represented the government of India. Between 1948 and its achievement of statehood in 1971, Himachal Pradesh went through various sizes and administrative forms. It became a substate under the Indian constitution of 1950. In 1954 it joined with Bilaspur, and in 1956 it became a union territory. Himachal Pradesh was enlarged in 1966 by the merger and absorption of numerous Punjab hill areas, including the regions surrounding Shimla, Kangra, and Kullu, Lahaul, and Spiti district parts of the communities centered at Ambala, Hoshiarpur, and Gurdaspur. Early in 1971, Himachal Pradesh became the 18th state of India; Y.S. Parmar, who since the 1940s had been a leader in the quest for self-government in Himachal Pradesh, became the state's first chief minister.
Himachal Pradesh was one of the few states that had remained largely untouched by external customs, mainly due to its rugged terrain. With remarkable economic and social advancements, the state has changed rapidly. Himachal Pradesh is a multireligious, multicultural as well as a multilingual state like other Indian states. Western Pahari languages, also known as Himachali languages, are widely spoken in the state. Some of the most commonly spoken individual languages are Kangri, Mandeali, Kulvi, Chambeali, Bharmauri, and Kinnauri. The Hindu communities residing in Himachal include the Brahmins, Kayasthas, Rajputs, Sunars, Kannets, Rathis, and Kolis. The tribal population of the state consists mainly of Gaddis, Gujjars, Kanauras, Pangwalas, Bhots, Swanglas, and Lahaul. Himachal is well known for its handicrafts. The carpets, leather works, Kullu shawls, Kangra paintings, Chamba Rumals, stoles, embroidered grass footwear, silver jewelry, metalware, knitted woolen socks, Pattoo, basketry of cane and bamboo, and woodwork are among the notable ones.
Of late, the demand for these handicrafts has increased within and outside the country. Himachali caps of various color bands are also well-known local artwork and are often treated as symbols of the Himachali identity. Through their dance and music, the Himachali people entreat their gods during local festivals and other special occasions. Apart from national fairs and festivals, there are regional fairs and festivals, including the temple fairs in nearly every region, that are of great significance to Himachal Pradesh. The Kullu Dussehra festival is nationally known. The day-to-day cuisine of Himachalis is similar to the rest of northern India, with Punjabi and Tibetan influences. Dal, rice, vegetables, and chapati form the staple food of the local population. Non-vegetarian food is more preferred and accepted in Himachal Pradesh than elsewhere in India, partly due to the scarcity of fresh vegetables on the hilly terrain of the state. Himachali specialties include Siddu, Babru, Khatta, Mhanee, Channa Madra, Patrode, Mah Ki Dal, Chamba-Style Fried Fish, Kullu Trout, Chha Gosht, Pahadi Chicken, Sepu Badi, Auriya Kaddu, Aloo Palda, Pateer, Makki Ki Roti, and Sarson Ka Saag, Chouck, Bhagjery and Chutney of Til.
Himachal Pradesh is one of the states that lies in the Indian Himalayan Region, one of the world's wealthiest reservoirs of biological diversity. As of 2002, the IHR is undergoing large-scale irrational extraction of wild, medicinal herbs, thus endangering many of its high-value gene stock. To address this, a workshop on 'Endangered Medicinal Plant Species in Himachal Pradesh' was held in 2002, and forty experts from diverse disciplines attended the conference. According to the 2003 Forest Survey of India report, legally defined forest areas constitute 66.52% of the size of Himachal Pradesh. Vegetation in the state is dictated by elevation and precipitation. The state is endowed with a high diversity of medicinal and aromatic plants. Lahaul-Spiti region of the state, being a cold desert, supports unique plants of medicinal value, including Ferula jaeschkeana, Hyoscyamus niger, Lancea tibetica, and Saussurea bracteata.
Himachal is also said to be the fruit bowl of the country, with orchards being widespread. Meadows and pastures are also seen clinging to steep slopes. After the winter season, the hillsides and orchards bloom with wildflowers, while gladiolas, carnations, marigolds, roses, chrysanthemums, tulips, and lilies are carefully cultivated. Himachal Pradesh has around 463 birds, 77 mammalian, 44 reptiles, and 80 fish species. Great Himalayan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Pin Valley National Park are the National Parks located in the state. The state also has 30 wildlife sanctuaries and 3 conservation reserves. The state bird of Himachal Pradesh is the Western tragopan, locally known as the jujurana. It is one of the rarest living pheasants in the world. The state animal is the Snow leopard, which is even rarer to find than the jujurana.
Himachal is in the western Himalayas. Covering an area of 55,673 square kilometers, it is a mountainous state. Most of the state lies on the foothills of the Dhauladhar Range. At 7,025 m, Shilla Peak is the highest mountain peak in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The drainage system of the Himachal is composed of both rivers and glaciers. Himalayan rivers criss-cross the entire mountain chain. Himachal Pradesh provides water to both the Indus and Ganges basins. The drainage systems of the region are the Chandra Bhaga or the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, the Sutlej, and the Yamuna. These rivers are perennial and are fed by snow and rainfall. An extensive cover of natural vegetation protects them. Due to extreme variation in elevation, significant variation occurs in the climatic conditions of the Himachal.
The climate varies from hot and sub humid tropical in the southern tracts to elevation, cold, alpine, and glacial in the northern and eastern mountain ranges. The state's winter capital, Dharamsala, receives hefty rainfall, while areas like Lahaul and Spiti are cold and almost rainless. Broadly, Himachal experiences three seasons: summer, winter, and rainy season. Summer lasts from mid-April till the end of June, and most parts become very hot with the average temperature ranging from 28 to 32 °C. Winter lasts from late November till mid-March. Snowfall is common in alpine tracts. The Siwalik region has hot summers, temperatures rising above 38 °C, cool and dry winters, and a wet season, with rains brought by the southwestern monsoon. As elevations increase farther north, the climate becomes wetter and more relaxed. In the Great Himalayas, winters are bitterly cold and snowy, with temperatures dropping below –18 °C.
Himachal Pradesh is a great place to indulge in Pahari cuisine. Kangra is known for Andhra, a savory preparation of chickpeas cooked in a variety of spices. Dham from the northern districts consists of a full meal consisting of fresh red kidney beans and green lentils served with rice and curd. A popular snack among the Himachali folk is the babru, a version of kachoris served with yummy tamarind chutney. Among the meat preparations, chha gosht is a popular dish with a lamb marinated and cooked in spicy gravy. If you visit Himachal during the festive seasons, you will be enticed by the aroma of freshly baked akotri, a special cake made of wheat.
Himachal Pradesh is a picture-perfect state that impresses visitors with scenic hill stations, quaint villages, snow-covered mountains, lush valleys, diverse flora and fauna, unblemished nature, and abundant trekking trails. It is a veritable haven for nature lovers, adventurers, and backpackers. Here's our pick of the top places to visit in the 'Abode of Snow. '
On the banks of the Parvati River lies a photogenic hamlet of Kasol, also referred to as the 'Little Israel of India.' Laidback and serene, Kasol is popular among backpackers and hippies, and with good reason. The stunning landscape of snow-capped mountains, lush valleys, scenic waterfalls, and undisturbed trekking routes makes it a paradise for nature lovers and trekkers. In contrast, the abundance of charming cafes, budget-friendly stay options, and relaxed vibe make it a fantastic spot to backpack through. While you're in the region, it is worth exploring the nearby tiny hamlets, such as Chalal, known for its trance and psychedelic parties; Malana, known for its Malana Cream; Rasol and Tosh, which are replete with lush greenery and tranquillity.
Also called the Queen of Hills, Shimla is a gorgeous colonial hill station, where picturesque vistas will greet you at every nook. A perfect place to wander, Shimla showcases some of the best colonial-era architecture, including the Viceregal Lodge, the Town Hall, Gaiety Theatre, and the Christ Church. The city's location at the foothills of the Himalayas amidst the lush greenery and snow-covered mountains makes it a perfect place for Trekking and other outdoor fun. The appeal of the Queen of Hills increases manifold when the winter sets in – the entire city gets enveloped in snow, a sight to remember!
At an elevation of 1,900 meters lies a small colonial town of Kasauli. The city has little in terms of attractions, commerce, and population. However, precisely where its beauty and appeal lies – its pure air, serene and peaceful vibe, and abundance of nature attract travelers. The places you can visit include the Baptish Church, Christ Church, Kasauli Brewery, Monkey Point, Nahri temple, and Kasauli Club.
Nestled in the upper reaches of Kangra Valley, Dharamshala enjoys one of the best climates in Himachal. Surrounded by snow-laden peaks of Dhauladhar mountains and lush pine and deodar forests, the town is brimming with cultural and architectural attractions, along with a significant number of restaurants, cafes, and shops catering to its extensive multicultural Indian and Tibetan communities. Its suburbs, such as McLeod Ganj, Dharamkot, Sindhbari, Ramnagar, and Naddi, are worth exploring. Also, with a plethora of trekking trails, waterfalls, and scenic valleys, the town beckons adventurers from across the world.
At an altitude of 3,810 meters, Spiti Valley is a remote village up in the cold desert mountains. Even though it is relatively isolated, plenty of spiritual and adventure travelers are gradually making their way to Spiti to explore its many Buddhist monasteries scattered throughout the area and indulge in thrilling activities, such as Trekking and mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and wildlife spotting. In addition, it is surrounded by several high-altitude villages, like Tabo, Kaza, Dhankar, Kibber, Komic, and Langza, which can also be explored on your trip to Spiti.
Situated at an altitude of 2,050 meters on the River Beas valley, Manali is a picture-perfect hilly retreat that draws in hordes of tourists every year. The picturesque landscape comprising lush pine and deodar forests, snow-covered mountains, scenic meadows, waterfalls, and valleys attracts adventurers and nature lovers alike. Alternatively, the ancient temples and Tibetan monasteries beckon spiritual enthusiasts.
In the Kinnaur district of Himachal lies a small yet charming village, Chitkul, which is perhaps the last inhabited village near the Indo-China border. There isn't much to see and do in the hamlet. However, its scenic landscape encompassing lush green vegetation, snow-laden mountains, apple orchards, and tranquil vibe makes it an ideal place for those looking to be at one with nature – in peace. Of particular interest is its quaint houses, complete with wooden or slate roofs, and a temple that houses a 500-year-old deity of the town.
Despite its tiny size, Bir Billing is the it-place for paragliding in India. Also called the 'Paragliding Capital of India,' Bir Billing boasts salubrious weather year-round and a spectacular landscape, attracting thrill-seekers and backpackers from across the world. The place offers panoramic vistas of the undulating beauty of the Himalayan mountain ranges.
Dalhousie is a year-round holiday destination but looks all the more stunning in the winter months when the entire hill town is blanketed in white sheets. Brimming with mountains, cascading waterfalls, lakes, and lush pine and oak trees, adventure enthusiasts love to come to Dalhousie to partake in outdoor activities, like Trekking, river rafting, canoeing, kayaking, and camping. At the same time, the peaceful atmosphere and pristine nature lure nature lovers and peace seekers alike.
Khajjiar is a tiny slice of paradise amidst the dense deodar forests, verdant meadows, and the snow-capped Himalayas. Nicknamed the 'Mini Switzerland of India,' visitors can explore its gorgeous scenery, get up-close with the exotic wildlife at the Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, and participate in outdoor activities, such as forest trekking, zorbing, horse riding, and paragliding at the Khajjiar Lake. An unmissable spot here is the 12th-century Khaji Nag temple. Dedicated to the Lord of Serpents, the temple stands out with its beautiful architecture, a concoction of Hindu and Muslim styles.
Himachal Pradesh is a beautiful state and is a popular tourist destination for Indians, especially among newlyweds and youngsters. This is the land of Gods that have been bestowed with snow-capped mountains, fast-flowing streams, and valleys, which tend to sink on the ground. Along with the beautiful landscape and scenic beauty, the state is also synonymous with adventure sports. Tourists flock to the state each year to enjoy the diversity of adventure sports in Himachal Pradesh.
Himachal Pradesh is blessed with gorgeous mountains and mesmerizing views that are to die for. The spectacular mountains have given rise to Trekking as a famous adventure activity practice in the land of mountains. Trekking is one of the adventure sports in Spiti Valley that you should not miss out on. Numerous paths are traveling through thick forests that are surrounded by snow-clad mountains and creeks. The beautiful scenic landscape is sure to offer you a wonderful trekking experience. There are 270 trails for Trekking in Himachal for adventure enthusiasts to experience the most fantastic time of their life.
Glacial rivers surround Himachal graciously while making it an ideal place for many water sports such as rowing, river rafting, canoeing, water skiing, etc. This is among several of the best adventure sports in Himachal Pradesh that have been popular for ages. However, this white water offers a thrill beyond imaginable. While shooting through rough rapids where tall pine forests surround you, snow-capped peaks, and blooming rhododendrons, adventure enthusiasts are going to have a memorable experience.
Camping in Himachal is a popular outdoor activity where the campers leave the urban regions and shift closer to nature. This is another adventurous sport that is in high demand in Himachal Pradesh. Tourists worldwide gather here to experience camping while staying in a tent or base camp. It is a great way to feel and experience the charm of the land's beauty. While remaining among the peaceful surroundings, camping enthusiasts can feel one with nature. The individuals can experience a wide range of camping activities such as water activities, aqua zorbing, and various physical activities. There are several places to do adventure sports in Himachal Pradesh.
This is one of the most exciting adventure activities offered as it is not for the faint-hearted. It requires a lot of physical stamina and fitness. Not everyone can do this successfully. The topography of Himachal Pradesh has been highly blessed with hills, rocks, and cliffs, which are ideal for performing this adventure sport. Most rock climbing is performed in Manali, an institute named Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports. This is where interested individuals can avail themselves training of this beautiful sport.
Rappelling is one of the many adventure sports offered here and is perceived as one opposite of rock climbing. This involves descending a cliff or steep incline with the help of a rope. It is a sport that anyone can perform as it is a much safer option that uses the usual strength, unlike rock climbing. In most of the places where rock climbing is completed, you can enjoy rappelling as well. Enjoy the scenic beauty while descending a steep incline using a rope.
Although the list of adventure sports in Himachal Pradesh is unending, angling, better known as fishing, it is one of the most popular ones. It is perceived as an essential adventurous sport in Himachal Pradesh and a vital means of living. The vast abundance of fresh river water makes the sport an ideal activity to perform. There are varied fishing farms that are constructed over rivers performing angling. The fish which you can quickly get here are mahseer and trout fish. This is the perfect recreation for many naturists who love practicing the sport as an outdoor hobby. The famous places where you can enjoy this sport are Sarvari, Sainj, Parbati, Tirthan, and Hurla.
Skiing in Himachal is among other famous adventure sports, drawing tourist sand adventure seekers to the state of Himachal Pradesh. There are two kinds of skiing performed here, one being Alpine kin and the other being Nordic kind. The Alpine style involves skiing down steeply inclined slopes, while the Nordic type is a bit more challenging and comprises jumping and cross country skiing. The Slopes of the Himalayas, including Pir Panjal, Shivalik are ideal for performing this sport. The best time to practice the sport in winter, especially from mid-December to February. Skiing enthusiasts are sure to satiate themselves and find what they are looking for.
This is a more complex kind of skiing and is performed in higher altitudes on mountain slopes, which are not explored well. If you need to take the sport to a higher level, it is essential to test the skills well. The sport is performed on the slopes around Rohtang Pass, Deo Tibba, Chandrakhani Pass, and Hanuman Tibba. This is offered by a private operator based in Manali. This is the perfect adventurous sport for tourists to explore greater heights and breathtaking glaciers. Tourists love the adrenaline rush while flying above 6000m.
This is one of the most thrilling adventure activities in Solang Valley that makes you feel alive. It makes you feel like a carefree bird who has the freedom to fly anywhere with the help of its wings. Soak in the fresh air with this adventurous sport and wander around the mystical mountains. A training institute in Himachal Pradesh, namely Himachal Aero Institute, situated in Bilaspur, offers you the proper training to start your paragliding career. The state has plenty of popular sites where you can try paragliding. Its breathtaking scenes are going to offer you a lifetime experience. This sport, too, is not for the faint-hearted and has expert guides who guide you through the entire experience.
Zorbing is instead a new adventurous sport in India and is practiced widely in Himachal Pradesh. It is an enjoyable and exciting sport that involves rolling down the slope of a hill in a light ball, which is known as a zorb. This recreational sport activity has a few other names, such as sphering and globe riding. Individuals trying it can experience a complete 360-degree view of the entire place while thriving inside the zorb. It is a widely popular adventure sport that lets you experience the beauty and all activities very well. The person herein rolls the hill downwards in the zorb. It is widely preferred by individuals of all ages and especially kids.
Trekkers love practicing this sport in Himachal Pradesh, and it is complete heaven for trekkers. A large number of tourists visit here every year for Trekking. Trekkers can lose themselves to nature with the scenic hiking trails surrounded by spectacular paths and views. You can even carry your equipment or hire them from the trekking organizers nearby. Pir Panjal, Dhauladhar, and Spiti Valley are popular spots for hiking. The state has a lot to offer to hiking lovers who love the mystical forests and hill stations.
Jeep Safari is another enthralling manner of experience of the Himalayas and running through the ups and downs of the track of Himachal Pradesh countryside. Trans Himalayan Jeep safari is something that is on the top priority bucket list of every adventure enthusiast. The trail commences from Shimla and passes through Kinnaur, Spiti, and goes up till Lahaul while passing through the Kunzum pass. This is preferred among adventure sports in Himachal Pradesh for couples.
Mountain Biking is one of the relatively new adventure activities in Himachal Pradesh. It includes cycling on unmetalled, rugged trails of the state or sometimes even cross country. This adventure sport amalgamates the excitement and is slowly gaining popularity among thrill-seekers. The uneven and challenging terrain mixed with the breathtaking beauty it offers is simply awe-inspiring.
This adventure sport is much elegant and safer as compared to other thrilling ones in this destination. Ice Skating can be enjoyed in Himachal and two other exciting activities, including figure skating and ice hockey. There is Asia's oldest skating rink that you can find in Himachal, built naturally of snow. Make sure you travel to the city during the winter season to take part in this activity.
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