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Himachal Pradesh - the land of the
eternal snow peaks - takes in the transition
zone from the plains to the high Himalayas
and in the trans-Himalayan region of Lahaul
and Spiti actually crosses the mighty
barrier to the Tibetan plateau.
Himachal is dominated by mountains and their associated rivers and valley. The mountains include Leo Pargial (6791m) in Kinnaur; Deo Tibba (6001m) near Manali, Kinnaur Kailash (6050m) to name a few.
The mountain passes, such as the Rohtang La (3978m), Baralacha La (4950m) and Kunzum La (4551m), are pivotal points between culturally distinct regions. 'La' is a Tibetan word meaning pass. In winter, Lahaul and Spiti are completely isolated when these passes are blocked by snow.
Shimla, the Capital of Himachal Pradesh
Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh was once part of the Nepalese kingdom and was called Shyamala, another name for the Goddess Kali. It is gained fame under the British who made it their Summer Capital. And after the construction of the Kalka - Shimla railway line in 1903, the town really bloomed. Located at an altitude of 7,267 feet, is inhabited around a crescent - shaped ridge, which is blessed with perennially cool air and amazing views. It provides superb panoramic sights of the valleys, and the lofty peaks of the great Himalayan range, on both sides. The colourful local bazaars of Shimla are sprawled over the southern slopes of the ridge. The town still echoes of its colonial past with neo-Gothic Churches and imperial buildings dotting this beautiful hill station.
Just 40 kms away from Kullu to the north, Manali is situated near the end of the valley on the National Highway leading to Leh. The landscape here is breath taking. One sees well-defined snow capped peaks, the Beas river with its clear water meanders through the town. On the other side are deodar and pine trees, tiny fields and fruit orchards. It is an excellent place for a holiday, a favorite resort for trekkers to Lahaul, Spiti, Bara Bhangal (Kangra), and Zanskar ranges. From temples to antiquity, to picturesque sight-seeing spots and adventure activities, Manali is a popular resort for all seasons and for all travellers. .
The popular hill station of Dalhousie is located in the Chamba Valley, at the foot of the spectacular Dhaula Dhar range of the Himalayas. The lush cover of vegetation that adorns the town comprises of towering pines, deodars, oaks, and the beautiful rhododendron plants. Dalhousie also houses many fine specimens of colonial architecture especially, its old churches. The views that the resort has to offer are alone, worth a visit - to the north, one can gaze at the majestic mountains of the Dhaula Dhar range, that culminate in the Pir Panjal mountains of Kashmir, to the south, the plains of Punjab are discernible. Far below, the beautiful river Ravi can be sighted meandering its way through the plains.
Set against the backdrop of the dramatic Dhaula Dhar Mountains, Dharamsala is one of the principle towns of the Kangra valley. With dense pine and deodar forests, numerous streams, cool healthy air, attractive surroundings and the nearby snowline, Dharamsala has everything for a perfect holiday. It is a charming town with elegant bungalows nestling in thick conifer forests.
Surrounded by the Kullu Valley in the south, Ladakh in the north and Tibet in the east, the twin valleys of Lahaul and Spiti are nature at its wildest. The region remains cut off from the rest of the world for much of the year. It was closed to visitors, till recently, because of military and political reasons. The area encompasses glaciers, high ridges, broad valleys, pastures and has a minimum elevation exceeding 3000 m. This is a high altitude cold desert dotted with famous monasteries, villages dotted like oasis in a stark, brown and dry landscape, miles of rolling pastures, 6000 m peaks and swollen rivers which turn into mere trickles in winter.
The Kangra valley is one of the most picturesque valley of lower Himalyas. The valley, sheltered by the sublime Dhauladhar range, is green and luxuriant. It provides a tremendous contrast in nature of places to be visited. Dharamshala is full of Buddhist air whereas ancient Hindu Temples like Brajeshwari, Baijnath, Jawalamukhi and Chamunda Devi dot the country side. The history of Kangra valley dates back to the Vedic times more than 3500 yrs. ago.