Known as the “Land of the Himalayas”, Himachal Pradesh is endowed with lofty Himalayan mountains, ancient religious sites and a cheerful culture. Blessed with scenic landscapes, Himachal Pradesh also has plenty of forts, palaces, and monasteries that are of utmost cultural and historical importance.
Himachal is well known for its handicrafts. The carpets, leather works, shawls, paintings, metal ware, woodwork and paintings are worth appreciating. Local music and dance reflects the cultural identity of the state.
Apart from the fairs and festivals that are celebrated all over India, there are number of other fairs and festivals, including the temple fairs in nearly every region that are of great significance to Himachal Pradesh.
Besides the snow-clad mountains, lush green valleys, freshness in the air and tranquility in the environment, Himachal is also known for its specialty dishes. The Himachali people pour their heart out in their dishes. Madra, originally a delicacy that belonged to the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh, is made of chickpeas. Dhaam is a dish that is prepared by special chefs known as ‘botis’. Tudkiya Bhath, an authentic rice preparation of the pahadi people, Bhey or Spicy Lotus stems, Chha Gosht, a lamb dish, Siddu, a side dish made from wheat flour, Babru, Aktori, Kullu Trout Fish are some of the other specialties of Himachal Pradesh. Mittha, a sweetened rice mixed with dry fruits and raisins is enjoyed during festivals and special occasions.
Hindi is the official language of Himachal Pradesh and is spoken by the majority of the population as a lingua franca. Pahari is widely spoken in a number of dialects across Himachal Pradesh.
Fairs & Festivals
Festivals in Himachal Pradesh, a multicultural and multi-religious state, provide sufficient spaces for each sect to bloom and prosper. Along with the Hindu community, Himachal Pradesh is home to hundreds of Buddhists, given its border with Tibet and many nomadic groups. With such linguistic and cultural diversity, many festivals of Himachal Pradesh are specific to this terrain and its people. Kullu Dussehra, marked by the deity of Lord Raghunath or Rama carried by the devotees, is the most popular festival in Himachal Pradesh. Losar, which has its roots in Tibetan Buddhism is also celebrated to bring out the uniqueness of Tibetan ethnicity in Himachal Pradesh. Halda is one of the beautiful festivals here closely resembling Diwali, the festival of lights. The Sazo Festival believed to be when the deities depart towards heaven, is celebrated with traditional music and dance performances. The Dhungri Fair also known as Hadimba Devi Fair marks the start of Spring. The main attraction of this fair is the number of awe-inspiring parades and processions locals of different nearby villages carry out as they roll the chariot of Hadimba Devi forward towards the Hadimba temple situated in the sacred forests of Dhungri in Kullu which is where the festival takes its name from.
Kullu-Manali is a popular hill station famous for adventure sports like trekking, camping and river rafting. Solang Valley, Rohtang Pass, Lahaul and Spiti Valley, Bhrigu Lake, the Manali bird sanctuary and the Great Himalayan National Park, Hadimba temple and Sultanpur Palace are some of the attractions here.
The capital and a gorgeous colonial hill station, Shimla is known at the Queen of Hills, where picturesque vistas will greet you at every nook. Some of the best colonial-era architecture can be seen here including the Viceregal Lodge & Botanical Gardens, Town Hall, Gaiety Theatre, Mall Road and 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.
Pine and deodar trees and tree gardens along with snow clad mountains render magic to Dharamshala. Home to both Indian and Tibetan communities, Dharamshala is known as India’s Mini Tibet. Its suburb, McLeod Ganj is famous around the world for being home to the Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama. The Dharamshala Cricket Stadium, St John in the Wilderness Church, The Tibetan Library, War Memorial, Bhagsu Falls, Tsuglagkhang Complex, Namgyal and Gyuto Monasteries are some of the other places to visit.
Known as Mini Switzerland of India, Dalhousie exudes a colonial feeling and is renowned for its heritage buildings that go way back to the early 19th century. This hill station is spread across five hills and is a sanctuary for wildlife lovers and landscape photographers. Khajjiar, Dainkund Peak, Kalatop Wildlife reserve are some places to visit here.
Owing to its higher altitude, Kufri is laden with snow throughout the winter, which makes it an ideal place for skiing enthusiasts.
Mashobra is a lush green expanse in Himachal Pradesh, tucked away at a height of about 7700 feet, ensuring minimal human obstruction in the course of nature to provide you with the most pure and liberating experience of your lifetime. Truly, a well-kept secret!
Famously called the ‘Mushroom city of India’ and ‘City of Red Gold’ due to its abundant mushroom and tomatoes production. Some popular places to visit are the Shoolini Devi temple and Dolanji Bon Monastery.