Magical, mystical mountains – The Himalayas are nothing but other-worldly. I recently took a trip to Himachal Pradesh, North of India, which is surrounded by these mighty mountains covered by snow. We took a flight from Mumbai to Chandigarh) and we hired a car to take us to Himachal Pradesh. The first glimpse of the Himalayas (after almost 8 hours in the car) was unbelievable. It felt surreal and it was breathtaking. With them as our travel partners, we reached Dharamshala, a vibrant hamlet in Himachal Pradesh. Some of the spots which are a must see there are the Bhagsu Nag Waterfalls and temple, the Dal Lake, and the Church. Anywhere you go, the Dhauladhar range of Himalayas makes sure that you have amazing vistas to marvel at. For those who are cricket buffs, the cricket ground at Dharamshala is a must-visit.
It is nestled between the mountains and an array of hues of greenery around. The roof of the beautiful pavillion is akin to that of a monastery. It is absolutely hypnotic. The sun-kissed peaks, the greenery and the overall nature’s bounty make it almost impossible for you to leave the premises. But then, you got to, because you have other places too to explore!
One of the best parts of the trip, though, was the cable car or a Gondola type ride from Dharamshala to McLeodganj, another very popular tourist destination. McLeodganj is the place where if you are lucky, you can meet the honourable Dalai Lama as well! But coming back to the Cable Car ride, it has been set up recently. It costs 500 INR for a trip from Dharamshala to McLeodganj and back. If you want just a one way ticket, it is 300 INR. If you take a round trip ticket, you would have to comeback before 5.30 pm. It takes around 12-15 minutes one way. But you want it to never end. It is one of the things to not miss when you are in the region! For those who would like to avoid the one hour or so long and winding drive in from Dharamshala to McLeodganj or vice versa, can surely consider this option. So, if you go around 10 am, you can spend the entire day at McLeodganj. Take a leisurely stroll around the streets, shop at the Tibetan market, or get a cup of coffee at one of those quaint cafes offering mesmerizing views of the valley below. Then of course, you can have traditional North Indian fare or just go for Italian, Chinese, or the local cuisine for lunch.
Take the cable car back to Dharamshala to enjoy the rest of the evening at the hotel, air bnb or the homestay you might have booked yourself into.
The best season to visit this region would be March onwards till October. Although after April, till August or September, it would be the peak season (pun unintended!). So March or early April can be a great option. For those who haven’t seen snow, like me, March is an ideal time. I got to see snow for the first time ever in my life. It was truly magical. At first glance it looked like a giant thermocole sheet! I encountered snow on the way to Khajjiar from Dalhousie. Khajjiar is around 24 kms from Dalhousie. it lies on a small plateau with a small stream-fed lake in the centre and is also called the mini Switzerland of India. This, by no means is an exaggeration! The high-altitude Khajjiar Lake is surrounded by cedar forest and Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary. It is surely a delight for the enthusiastic instagrammers as no matter what you do, the photographs are sure to come out fantastic, thanks to the stunning natural beauty of the area. You simply cannot have enough of it. This is one of the best reasons to visit Himachal Pradesh.
Mine was a short trip, but in those 4 days, the Himalayas completely lured me with their beauty and magnificence. Everything seems still around these mountains. No wonder they say that if you are looking to clear your mind, get a taste of spirituality, Himalayas are the place to be. That is what makes Himalayas so special and that is why they are famous. While on my way back to the airport, I couldn’t help thinking, that these mountains are shrouded in this unexplained mystery, and not just snow and splendor.