I begin my trip to the absolutely gorgeous and vastly diverse Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh in the mid of April in the current year and end my travels in the state at the beginning of July. Himachal Pradesh lies in the Northern part of India. During the course of this time, I traveled to many different valleys in Himachal Pradesh absorbing the magnitude of its landscapes and beautiful cultures. Without a doubt, I witnessed one of the most beautiful landscapes of my life. There’s still a lot left to discover but this post will give you a detailed insight into the valleys of Himachal Pradesh. In this post, I have listed down the valleys i.e. Kinnaur Valley, Spiti Valley, Tirthan Valley, Sainj Valley, Parvati Valley, Kullu Valley, Lahaul Valley. These are the valleys I explored during my 75 days long Himachal Pradesh trip. This post will act as The Ultimate Guide To Himachal Pradesh In India!
I begin my Himachal Pradesh trip with Kinnaur Valley. Places to explore in Kinnaur Valley are Chitkul Village, Sangla, Rakcham, Reckong Peo, Kalpa, Nako. According to one study, Chitkul village has the cleanest air in India. I wrote in detail about the Kinnaur Valley here.
After Kinnaur Valley, I traveled to one of the remotest valleys in India i.e. Spiti Valley. This valley is truly magical. I loved it so much that I explored it twice in the span of my 75 days long Himachal Pradesh trip. Firstly in winter and Secondly in Summer. I wrote in detail about my Spiti Valley winter trip here and my Spiti Valley summer trip here.
After exploring Spiti Valley during winters, I traveled to Tirthan Valley at the end of April. There’s a lot to explore here. From Kaza in Spiiti Valley, I traveled to Reckong Peo- Rampur- Jalori Pass.
There are two famous places to explore at Jalori Pass: Serolsar Lake and Raghupur Fort. I spent a night camping near Serolsar Lake. It was totally worth it! What I really missed during my trip to Himachal Pradesh was my own camping gear. If you are into camping: Not only you will save a lot of money but also gain a lot of adventure. Do hike to the 360 viewpoint spot from Serolsar Lake. You can even trek all the way to Lambri Top with one night stay. Hike to Serolsar Lake is around 3 hrs round trip from the Jalori Pass while Raghupur fort is around 2 hrs round trip from the Jalori Pass. Both hikes offer tremendous views. You can also camp near the Raghupur Fort.
SHOJA, JIBHI, GUSHAINI, BATHAD, SHARCHI
I stayed at Shoja village instead of the usual staying option i.e. Jibhi Village. Shoja is quieter than Jibhi. I made Shoja my base and explored Jalori Pass and Jibhi village. Skip the Jibhi waterfalls and head to “Mini Thailand”. Locally known as Kulhi Katandi. This relatively secluded place is basically a natural pool near the Jibhi village. Perfect place to go swimming and chill. Around 9 km from Jibhi village lies Chehni Kothi. Visit Chehni Kothi to witness the tower made of wood and stone dating back to the 17th century. Gushaini village is around an hour drive from Jibhi village. Gushaini is known for trout fish. You can also do the Gushaini-Rolla-Chalocha-Nada Thach trek. Another trek begins from Pekhri Village (Near Gushaini Village). It goes like Pekhri-Rangthar Top- Marahni Top. These treks lie in the GNHP (Great Himalayan National Park). Therefore, permits are required to do these treks. Bathed and Sharchi are other closely Himalayan villages worth exploring.
My next destination was Sainj Valley. At Sainj Valley, I stayed in the villages of Shangarh and Deori. My route to reach Shangarh was Jibhi-Banjar-Larji-Sainj-Shangarh.
I stayed at Sainj Valley during the lockdown of the second wave in India and made the most of it by indulging in the local culture and exploring beautiful surroundings. The first thing you will notice in Shangarh is the Shangarh’s big ground(meadow). The ground is devoid of any stones. There are several legends floating around behind the ground. I used to take naps on the ground during afternoons and it was such a mind enriching experience. The ground seems to have that mystical quality to it. An hour walk from the Shangarh village will take you to the Barshangarh waterfall. I had a great time hiking and chilling there all by myself! In the Himalayan villages, you will find a particular local deity of every village. At Shangarh, I joined the local villagers for the trek to the Thini Top as they take the idol(sculpture) of the local deity to the Thini top! This majorly steep trek is not for beginners. Another famous trek in Sainj Valley is the Raktisar trek with a night stay at Shakti village.
From Shangarh, I walked all the way to Deori village. It took me a couple of hours. Deori or Deohari is known for the Pundrik Rishi Lake. It is a sacred lake in the Sainj Valley. In Deori Village, I stayed at Heritage Kaffe Homestay. From Deori, I did the Bunga top trek. Like Thini top trek in Shangarh, this trek is also done by the local villagers with their local deity. It took me 5-6 hours for the round trip. It is a really gorgeous trek. There’s ground at the top of the Deori Village. An ideal place to witness sunsets. Do explore the nearby villages of Manyashi, Devgarh, Sarahan. Himalayan villages are best explored by wandering and getting lost in them 🙂
My next stop was Parvati Valley. My route was as follows: DEORI-BHUNTAR-KASOL-MANIKARAN-KALGA. I stayed at Kalga Village in Parvati valley before moving to Waichin valley.
KASOL, GRAHAN, CHALAL, MANIKARAN
Kasol is the tourist hotspot in Parvati valley. I don’t see any reason to stay in Kasol since all the attractions are far from Kasol village. Kasol is best suited for people who are looking for more comfort, better internet and relatively less cold. There’s a nice hike from Kasol to Grahan village and Kasol to Chalal village. Around 4 km from Kasol lies the beautiful Manikaran Gurudwara(Sikh Temple). Do visit to seek the blessings.
KALGA, PULGA, TOSH, KUTLA
Around 15 km from Manikaran lies the village of Kalga. After crossing the Barshaini Parvati river dam, you need to hike for 15-20 minutes to reach Kalga Village. I made Kalga village my base to explore the surroundings. There are many homestays and cafes in Kalga Village. I stayed at Village and Wild Cafe. The famous Kheerganga trek originates from Kalga. It took me around 3 hours for the round trip to Kheerganga. You can even trek to Kheerganga via Bunbuni pass from Kalga village with a night camping at Bunbuni. Make sure to take a dip in the hot springs at Kheerganga. Explore the nearby villages of Tulga and Pulga. In Pulga, head to the sacred forest to soak in the beautiful nature around. I did another trek from Kalga which goes like: KALGA-TOSH VILLAGE-KUTLA VILLAGE-BUDDHABAN GROUND-GLACIER VIEWPOINT. You can reduce the journey by driving from Kalga to Tosh. From Tosh village, I would say it is 4 hours round trip. You will witness several waterfalls on the way. You can even camp at Buddhaban ground.
MALANA VILLAGE, WAICHIN VALLEY
To reach Waichin valley, my route was as follows: KALGA-MANIKARAN-KASOL-MALANA DAM. From the Malana dam, I hiked for an hour or so to reach the Waichin valley. There is a small settlement with several homestays/cafes. I stayed at Monk Hut In Bela Moon Cafe. I would highly recommend staying here instead of the highly overrated Malana village which seems like a dumpster-cum-village. The good news is there’s internet connectivity at Waichin valley! I walked from Waichin valley to Malana village. There is a way from the mountains but it was closed during my visit. So I get down to the main road and reached Malana village entry point. From the entry point, I hiked to Malana village. It took me around 90 mins or so in total for one way. From Waichin valley you can trek to Dev Roopa. It is a sacred place for locals. It is a couple of days long trek. Another famous trek around is the Chanderkhani trek.
My next destination was Manali. My route was as follows: WAICHIN VALLEY-MALANA-MANIKARAN-JARI-BHUNTAR-MANALI. I stayed in the beautiful village of Vashisht near Manali. Highly recommended!
MANALI, VASHISHT, SETHAN
I stayed at Bodh Guest House in Vashisht Village for INR 200 a day. Vashisht village is famous for the hot springs located at Vashisht Temple and Jogini Falls. It is best to make the village your base to explore the surrounding places in Kullu Valley. Places to explore in and around Manali are Hidimba Temple, Naggar Castle and Old Manali. Take a beautiful forest walk to reach Old Manali from the Manali market. When in Old Manali, you can do the day’s long Lama Dugh Trek. Visit the beautiful neighbouring village of Sethan. Sethan is famous for its Igloo stays. Several famous long treks originate from Manali i.e. Hampta Pass Trek, Deo Tibba Trek, Bhrigu Lake Trek etc.
ROHTANG PASS, SOLANG VALLEY
Around 14 km drive from Manali will take you to Solang Valley. Solang Valley is known for the ropeway and Paragliding. Do the hike to the Anjani Mahadev Temple for beautiful views and the beautiful waterfall. After Solang valley, head to the tourist favourite Rohtang Pass. Rohtang La is a high mountain pass located at the elevation of 4000 m. You are going to witness 12-15 ft long snow walls here! A lot of snow-related activities are done here.
Thanks to the recently inaugurated Atal Tunnel, Lahaul Valley can now be visited year-round. Atal Tunnel has also reduced the travel time by a significant amount to reach Lahaul Valley from Manali. Lahaul valley is also known as a gateway to the dreamy Ladakh.
SURAJ TAL, DEEPAK TAL, BARLACHA LA PASS
I explored Lahaul Valley as 2 days trip from Manali. I met another solo traveler and we or more like he decided to rent a bike(since I hate driving) and drove all the way to Barlacha La Pass with a night halt at Zing Zing Bar(A small settlement with several cafes). At Zing Zing Bar we stayed at Palhamo Dhaba for INR 200 per person. An absolutely amazing lady run this Dhaba. Around 9 km before Zing Zing bar, you will witness the beautiful Deepak Tal Lake and Around 19 km after Zing Zing bar you will witness the spellbinding Suraj Tal Lake. It is one of the highest lakes in the World. Suraj Tal Lake is 800 m long located at an elevation of around 16000 ft. Around 4-5 km drive from the Suraj Tal Lake will take you to the mountain pass of Barlacha La. When we reached there, it starts to snowfall and it adds to the magical views around. I explored these places at the end of June and it was really really cold especially at night. There are several villages/towns on the way to Barlacha La Pass worth exploring i.e. Sissu, Keylong, Jispa, Darcha.
My Himachal Pradesh Road Map was as follows: HARIDWAR-SHIMLA-KINNAUR VALLEY-SPITI VALLEY- RAMPUR- TIRTHAN VALLEY- LARJI-SAINJ VALLEY-BHUNTAR-PARVATI VALLEY-BHUNTAR-MANALI-KULLU VALLEY-LAHAUL VALLEY-MANALI-SPITI VALLEY-KEYLONG-LADAKH
FOOD, ACCOMMODATION, TRANSPORTATION
Let’s talk about the expenses. I did Hitchhiking and used only public transport while navigating in Himachal Pradesh. There is bus connectivity (For remote places, there may only be one bus a day) to all these places that I have traveled to during the course of my Himachal Pradesh Trip. Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Enquiry numbers are here. You can get a room/dormitory bed anywhere between INR 200-400 at these places. Do try the local dish i.e. Siddu. It is a wheat and yeast bread filled with varied fillings. I generally go for Thali which includes Dal, Roti, Veg dish, Rice, Salad for anywhere between INR 100-150. In remote places, you will get Maggi, Rice + Dal/Rajma, Paranthas. My monthly expenses ranged from INR 14000-20000. While staying in homestays at Himalayan villages, you will get accommodation including food(Don’t expect too much) anywhere between 400-700 a day. If you are going to leave your comfort zone at your home and explore Himachal Pradesh, you are truly in for a treat 🙂
PS: Please keep the mountains garbage-free. Let’s preserve our prestigious Himalayan region. For us and the future generations to enjoy 🙂