Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
The valleys of Himachal Pradesh are abode of natural beauty and cultural richness. Passing through these valleys, you will feel as if you have stepped into an altogether new world. The surroundings, people, their customs and traditions will leave you completely awestruck.
One of the most beautiful valley, though not so much explored till recent times. That's Chamba valley or Ravi valley for you. The major towns lying in this valley include Chamba, Bharmour, Dalhousie and Khajjiar. Small villages and hamlets also occupy a large part of the valley. In its lower parts, wild olive, pomegranate and fig trees grow along with acacia, shisham and pipal. Rice fields too can be found in the lower regions of the valley. The upper mountainous region have fields of maize, wheat, barely and other cereals, however these are usually small in size and are terraced. The northern mountain slopes are blanketed with forests while the southern part is devoid of any of forests. Presence of medicinal herbs and colourful flowers have made this valley both beautiful and useful for humans.
The Kangra valley is not only important because of its scenic natural beauty, rather there is also a cultural mixture to be seen here. The major town of this valley of Himachal Pradesh is Dharamshala which has the 'White Ranges', Dhauladar looming large over it. Dharamshala itself is spread over an area of varying altitude. The Lower Dharamshala, at 1,380m has more of its focus on business while the Upper Dharamshala, at 1,700m is a treat for the lovers of culture. Within the Upper Dharamshala lie Mcleod Ganj and Forsyth Ganj. The former of these two has a rich Tibetan settlement while the latter one has more of a British flavour lingering in it. The natural beauty of the valley can best be enjoyed during the winters when fresh snow spread their white charm throughout. As far as the vegetation of the valley is concerned, it is mixed tropical and sub Himalayan varieties. There are oak and Himalayan cedar growing at higher altitude.
The beauty of this valley speaks for itself, however, unfortunately only a part of it has been able to put itself on the international map. There are high passes, towering mountains, sparkling lakes and gushing river sprinkling their beauty all through the valley. Adding a unique charm of their own are the monasteries and temples. Lahaul has a mix of Hindu and Buddhist population as such these monasteries and temples are large in number. Many of these monasteries (there are eighteen of them) are so old that it is actually difficult to find an exact date of their construction. The peace of this region takes a back seat during the June's full moon night when the Ghantal festival is held at Lahaul's Guru Ghantal monastery. Apart from the lovers of natural beauty, adventurous tourists too find the Lahaul valley extremely inviting as trekking is a good option out here.
Surrounded by mountain peaks, Parbati Valley has a number of small towns, villages and hamlets spread over its area. Jari, Kasol, Pulga, Manikaran are just few of them. Jari is somewhere in the middle of the valley while Kasol, divided into old and new, is a new favourite for just hanging out. A trail from Manikaran leads up to Pulga village and later to the hot springs at Khirganga. This is the place considered to be the meditating ground of Lord Shiva for around 2000 years.
The Pin Valley has been declared a National Park. There are snowy crags, cliffs and crevices standing in isolation and housing the predatory Snow Leopard and Ibex. Around 1600 tribals too have made the periphery area of the Pin Valley their home. They put up in sun baked mud brick house. The best time to visit the Pin Valley is during summers between the months of June to October. Trekking along a shepherd used route is a wonderful idea as you get to see plenty of blooming flowers and rare medicinal herbs enroute. Villages and gompas will also make for a pleasant sight during a trekking expedition. From the Pin Valley, it is also possible to undertake trekking to the Parbati Valley.
Leave aside all your hesitation and excuses and visit this beautiful valley for it is said that its snow covered peaks, sparkling lakes, dense forests, terraced field of maize and paddy and fruit laden areas have a magical effect on a tired soul. The best visited places in Solan Valley include Kasauli, Dagshai, Solan town, Kandaghat, Chail, Nalagarh, Sabathu and Aski. Solan valley is perfect for just anyone, whether he/she is looking for a peaceful time amidst natural beauty or intend to get a bit adventurous. Spring is the best time to visit because during this period the valley becomes a riot of colours with a number of flowers blooming.
This is a mini Greece in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The people here insist that they are of Greek origin and there are a bit of proof also to back this claim (the language for example). Malana Valley has its own governance system and appoints its own President and Prime Minister. Outsiders are not allowed to touch anything in the village, neither people nor things. Marriages are not a one time affair here since most of them (both men and women) marry anywhere between 10 - 15 times. To reach Malana, a 12 km trek for about six hours from jari is the best and the easiest.
This middle country valley has Buddhists forming major portion of its population. Monasteries are the prime attraction of this valley. Another attraction is the Gataur Mela of September wherein Lamas worship God 'Chaugayal'. Following day, in the evening Chham dance is performed and saur is thrown in the fire.
Pangi valley is extremely secluded region. Infact, during winters and springs, its connection with the outer world seemed to be zapped. People occupying areas of this valley include the tribals of Pangwal and Bhot. Adventurous trekkers can really have a time of their life passing through foaming river, the high crags of the gorge and the difficult terrain.
This valley is situated on the Indo Tibet border and hence the influence of Buddhism can be greatly seen in this region. The people here are mostly Hindus and Buddhists. A considerable portion of the landscape here is covered with barren and rugged mountains where rainfall is scanty.