Backpacking Himachal Pradesh: The land of gods
Himachal Pradesh is an Indian state that lies in the upper Himalayan mountain range. It is a stunning labyrinth of winding roads, snow capped mountains, valleys, rivers & rivulets, waterfalls, lush jungles and arid deserts. Himachal Pradesh is divided into several valleys. Each valley is a different settlement with its own unique culture, traditions & festivals, gods and even language. Read about the valleys of Himachal here. Backpacking Himachal Pradesh is one of the most intense as well as fun experiences you will have on your India trip. Do not miss this.
Weather and when to go
Best time to visit: April to October
Where to go
McLeod Gunj & Dharamshala: McLeod Gunj is the home of the Dalai Lama, and is a Tibetan refugee city. Above McLeod Gunj, lies the hippy backpacker town of Bhagsu. Beautiful, and ridiculously cheap (though now getting more expensive),
TIP: Don’t miss the Bhagsu cake here. Buy from Singh Corner.
Above Bhasu, lies Dharamkot. Also worth a visit. Do not miss the trek to Triund (highly recommended). Weather permitting, sleep in one of the caves, then trek down to the river for a chilled wash. Next, trek up to the Snow Line Cafe.
Old Manali & Vashisth: A few hours East of Dharamshala, lies Manali, a bypass city or a transit point, with the highest National highway in Himachal Pradesh. Backpackers usually head up to the quieter and cozier towns of Old Manali and Vashisth with its hot springs.
Parvati Valley: Also known as devlok, or abode of the gods, Parvati is a hidden paradise, with green slopes and blue skies,rivers and waterfalls. Parvati Valley is the Hash capital of the world. The famous Malana charas grows here like common weed in the fertile soil. Trek through Kasol and the many villages of Parvati to the hot springs in Kheer Ganga.
Spiti Valley: Much higher in the mountains beyond Manali, at 3,000 to 6,000 m altitude, lies Spiti Valley. Spiti is a mountainous, high altitude desert, framed with scaling peaks on either side and a turquoise river flowing though the middle. Various treks start from here. From the arid, Mars like landscapes, unparalleled beauty and sheer untouched-ness of the landscape, Spiti Valley is nothing like anything you have ever seen before.
I have personally made so many trips to Himachal that I don’t even have count anymore. And each time, the land of gods has something for me. I have worked here, travelled here, trekked on torn tendons (not recommended), fallen in love and fallen every-time in love with the mesmerizing beauty here. There’s something divine about the Himalayas! A must, must do.