Long ago in the Himalayas, the first settlements took place around the valleys and rivers. Civilisation spread forth from there. Through the jungles, and canyons, and into the most desolate and remote corners of the mountains today. Himachal Pradesh (literal translation: Land of Himachal or Himalayas) is an Indian state which lies completely in the middle and upper Himalayan belt. Aptly nicknamed land of gods, the vast sate can be divided by the several valleys it houses. Each valley has its own major river and characteristics that make it distinct.
McLeod Gunj & Dharamshala (Kangra Valley)
The Kangra Valley houses the entire Dharamshala district. The only airport in the region is Gaggal Airport at Kangra. District Dharamshala includes Dharamshala (the town), McLeod Gunj, (home of the Dalai Lama, and a Tibetan refugee city), Bhagsu (situated above McLeod Gunj, Bhagsu is a hippy, backpacker town) and Dharamkot.
TIP: Don’t miss the Bhagsu cake here.
TIP: Do not miss the trek to Triund. 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.
Pabbar or Rohru Valley
Ringed around the River Pabbar.
Lies in the Solan district.
Kullu (Manali) Valley
The valley houses River Beas, Rohtang Pass, and is the beginning point of many treks. 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.
Close to Manali (or Kullu) Valley, lies Parvati Valley, the home to River Parvati. Also known as devlok, or abode of the gods, Parvati is a visual treat, with lush green slopes and blue skies, rivers and waterfalls. Parvati Valley is also the Hash capital of the world. The famous Malana charas grows here; festered as black sticky deposits on the ripened cannibus sativa plant which grows common weed in the fertile soil. Trek through Kasol and the many villages of Parvati to the hot springs in Kheer Ganga.
Much higher in the mountains toward the West, at 3,000 to 6,000 m altitude, lies Spiti Valley. Spiti, a high altitude desert, with scaling mountains on both sides and a turquoise river flowing though the middle, is home to some of the highest mountain peaks in the world. Stunning Spiti Valley is definitey nothing like anything you have ever seen before. Trek to the Lake of Fairies here.
Kinnaur lies in the North East corner of Himachal Pradesh, near Spiti, and houses three high mountains ranges, namely Zanskar, Greater Himalayas and Dhauladhar, enclosing the valleys of Sutlej, Spiti, Baspa and their tributaries. All the valleys are tremendously beautiful, their slopes covered in thick wood, orchards, fields and picture postcard hamlets.