5 Offbeat Places To Visit In Himachal: Skip Shimla This Summer!

Posted: May 27, 2017

Himachal Pradesh has long been on every Indian traveler’s list, but this list of places to visit in Himachal will get you itching to go again!

With the much anticipated summer holidays on and the mandatory yearly escape from the clutches of the scorching sun, Himachal may not sound new to the traveler in you. From that infamous stroll on the Mall road of Shimla, to the bewitching landscapes of Manali, the adventurous ride uphill to the snow clad mountains of the Rohtang Pass, soaking your weary soul in the peaceful chants at the monastery in Mcleodganj, Dharamshala, to the weekend sojourn in the quaint town of Kasauli; you may think you have had a good dose of the enchanting beauty of this hill state over the years.

But there may be a lot unexplored, a lot that you still need to add to your itinerary for an offbeat and unforgettable holiday in the lap of serenity.

Come let’s begin a journey with me which certainly ensures those ‘wow ‘moments away from your usually mundane lives. Here is a sneak peek into the lesser known, less frequented, calm and captivating holiday destinations which will definitely make you yearn to visit them again.

Here are the five offbeat places to visit in Himachal Pradesh that you must plan for this summer!

Barot Valley

When the British developed this picturesque small village (nearly 60 Kms from the town of Mandi) and set up a Power house way back in the 1920s, it was a mule tail connecting Kullu valley to the Kangra valley. Since then this place with a breathtaking view of the sprawling deodars and Himalayan Oaks perched along the cascading waters of the Ulh river offers the right mix of solitude and the most panoramic view to cherish for years. Surrounded on both sides by parts of the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas, Barot turns into a mesmerizing getaway especially in the monsoons.

It’s a place where you can release your bundled energies, go explore some outdoor activities like a visit to the ‘trout fish breeding centre’, try your luck at fish catching by the river side, go for a walk in the woods, have a closer look at the funicular trolley system built by the colonial rulers, head to the Nagru Wildlife Sanctuary, take a trek to Bada Bhangal or just relax and absorb the charm of the hills. Barot has only a few accommodations available as not many people throng the place. But it is advisable to book the few homestays available or the government rest houses.

barot

On Barot trek, Image credits Ashish Gupta, used under a Creative Commons license 2.0

Banjaar & Shoja

Manali is definitely on everyone’s wishlist once in a life time but away from the maddening crowd of tourists, lies another captivating town, along the Tirthan valley in the Kullu district. On your way from Chandigarh, when you are heading to Manali, about 40 Kms from Mandi, instead of entering the tunnel, take a right turn and you will find your escape just 45 minutes away, with an alluring view of the Larji hydro power project along the calm Tirthan River rising from the bitter-cold glacial lake of Hanskund peak. The entire valley is lush green with alpine grooves, deciduous forests, and the traditional village cottages nestled in the vast apple orchards. It was one of those less frequented destination where you can spend time in peace with nature in the serene home stays and small hotels.

Besides its unmatched beauty which is a treat for your eyes, you can choose from a range of outdoor activities including trout fishing, river side camping, rappelling, river crossing and trekking. Shoja is next to Banjaar and is equally tranquilizing. A stretch of the road is in a dilapidated condition, however, a visit to the Shringrishi temple, the castle temple of Joginis and the Chaini fort in the nearby Chaini village will surely uplift your senses. The Sainj valley is also a place to opt for a day’s visit. You may find a lot of biker groups and hikers here and they may inspire and urge you to indulge in some adventure.

tirthan-valley

Tirthan Valley, Image credits Parth Joshi, used under a Creative Commons license 2.0

Pragpur

An icon of heritage and history, Pragpur, a quiet little village in the Kangra district, barely 66 kms away from the well known town of Dharamshala, holds the distinction of being India’s first heritage village. With its winding alleys, mud plastered walls and slated rooftops, the village has a unique and captivating old world charm far from the hue and cry of modern living.  It has an interesting mix of architecture, varying from Himachali, Rajput, British Italian and even Portuguese.

A 300 year old palatial structure here, the ‘Judge’s Court’, is the perfect accommodation to enjoy a good vacation in the serene environs of Pragpur.  The village also houses Mughal styled heritage havelis, along with the some old structures in the neigbouring village of Garli.

Pragpur is well connected to other attractions near by. A visit to the Pong dam and the stunning rock cut temples of Masroor, are among the must do list if you are in Pragpur.

The Chanshal Pass / Chanshal Valley

You may have headed to Shimla quite a few times and admired its perfect weather and ambience, but this time, take a leap of 105 kms from the erstwhile summer capital and cruise your way to Chanshal Valley in Rohru region if you want a break from your monotonous schedules and if the crowded hill stations don’t amuse you anymore.

The journey from Shimla to Rohru is an enchanting one, with colorful slanting roof tops scattered in the terraced apple and cherry plantations on either sides of the road. Just before Rohru, offering a pristine backdrop is the famous Hatkoti temple located in Jubbal on the banks of the river Pabbar, drawing its historical significance from the Pandavas.

Rohru is a small bustling town, and a gateway to the Chanshal valley. It is also a much favored camping site. Staying here is a good option; however, if you have time and patience you may head 200 kms to reach the difficult terrain of the valley where the road ends at the twin villages of Dodra Kwar and gives you the most splendid view of the snow clad hills. You may trek to the top of the hill if you are an adventure enthusiast and physically fit. A lake known as Saru tal is located on the top of the hills resembling a ‘thaali’. The place has its own elements of awe and grandeur.

hatkoti

Hatkoti/Hateshwari temple, Image credits Varun Shiv Kapoor, used under a Creative Commons license 2.0

Chindi

A little less than 100 kms, away from the traffic and overpowering tourist crowd of the capital city of Shimla, Chindi, a part of the Karsog valley in the Mandi district, is another unexplored destination in Himachal offering absolute tranquility. A green carpet of meadows, ancient temples, soothing weather and a pollution free environment, the place is an ideal holiday spot. A trek to the famous Shikari Devi temple can be quite rejuvenating apart from a soulful respite in the midst of apple orchards. From Chindi you can drive to Lake Prashar, which is 40 km away and is yet another marvel of nature.

Hope this list of some of the less explored tourist places to visit in Himachal will beckon you to pack your bags and plan a trip by the road less travelled very soon!

First published here.

Top image via Unsplash, and other image credits provided within article

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