15 offbeat hill stations in North India to beat the heat this summer || Summer vacation planning



Lot of folks have started thinking about summer vacations and the destinations they can go to. People living in cities are craving to move towards hills and make best of these vacations. Bhavna asked for a destination today and somehow I didn't have any good response. Adventure lovers are also excited to plan their annual treks or road journeys. This is also the time, when all the touristy places are crowded and much expensive. Are you someone who like peace and don’t mind saving some money for extended vacations? If yes, then this post would help you finding some lesser known hill stations and few tips to plan the vacation.


Before I move on to the destination, let me suggest something on accommodation. If you have never stayed in Home-Stays, this is the best time to try that out and I am sure that explorer inside you would love that experience. If you do a proper research then you would definitely find a good home-stay for you to have a nice experience this summer. And if you are looking for a short-cut, I can suggest a nice cottage in Naukuchiataal, otherwise go through the post and choose your own destination.

In this post, you would not see hill stations like Shimla, Mussourie, Nainitaal, Manali, Dalhousie, Mcleodganj, Rishikesh or Kasauli. These are some of the destinations.


Barot – It’s a quite village in Mandi region of Himachal Pradesh. The village is located around a river full of chilled water. There is no hotel in the village and it's surrounded by brilliant landscapes. There are few home-stays and 2 government guest houses. Weather is brilliant as compared to other hilly areas around Barot valley. If you are curious to know more about Barot, check out our own experience this beautiful valley by clicking the title above. At Barot, we stayed at Negi homestay which is just on the river bank. It has basic rooms, which are clean and she serves good food.


Few weeks back I was at Naukuchiatal which is a peaceful hill station in Uttranchal and near to Bheemtaal & Nainitaal. During the visit, we stayed at Firdaus and it was wonderful experience with never-ending freshness of the hills all around. Let's check out this Photo Journey to know about Firdaus and interesting things around it.Here is the place where we spend a nice weekend - Firdaus We started our journey from Delhi in early morning and reached there by noon. It was a decent drive except few road related issues on the way. Best way to reach Naukuchiatal from Delhi is to take train to Kathgodam and then 30-40 minutes drive. Drive from Kathgodam to  Naukuchiatal through Beemtaal is beautiful...After reaching the place and parking the car, we moved towards the place we were about to spend the weekend. I was very excited about it, as I love spending time in hills :) Here is the view of Firdaus from Parking place. Firdaus is actually surrounded by hills. It's front part faces the lake & an international school on hill top. Generally it's located at a peaceful place with no disturbances. Clouds at Firdaus on that weekend were quite welcoming & slowly we realized that it's a usual stuff there..After keeping all the stuff in rooms, we came out for a cup of tea. There is decent place outside with green lawn surrounded by colorful flowers and plants. Above photograph is processed a HDR in Photomatix, as it's quite challenging to capture hilly details in one shot and I didn't want to miss the cloud play hereFirdaus Lawn is best place to have tea. During the weekend none of us wanted to tea inside the rooms. Either it was lawn or balconies. Weather around this place was wonderful Initially I wanted to capture this frame without face, but Nandan turned back as I was about to click. This is one of my favorite photographs form this trip. This one really shows the mood while having tea at Firdaus.Here is a zoomed view of Naukuchiatal (Lake) from Firdaus. This one is shot through some of trees around Firdaus and there is another photograph which shows Lake-view from balcony on first floor.After some tea outside, it was time to have some rest and gear up for exciting evening around the place. As I entered again, somehow I felt like entering a different pace. Probably this time I was more relaxed and noticed many things insideHere is what we see as we enter from main gate of Firdaus. There is a common seating place on entrance with nice sofa, some comfortable muddhas.On right side of living room, there is kitchen separated with a door and dining area around the corner. Firdaus looks like a typical Hilly House, which we usually see in Bollywood movies. I loved the wood-word inside - Roof-tops, huge windows, furniture etcOn left side of the living room, there is a huge room with double bed & table-chairs etc. This room is quite big and an extra bed can be comfortably fit inside itHere is how we see living-room from this room on ground floor. Now, it was time to go up and explore more. Stairs from living room on ground floor leads to a common lobby on first floor. There is a balcony attached to this lobby. Above photograph shows view of lake and surrounding hills from the same balcBirds keep visiting the place as there are lot of plants & trees around the house.And also there are appropriate arrangement for birds at FirdausThere are some colorful plants and flowers around the place. Entrance of Firdaus is beautifully decorated with flowers in hanging pots Colorful flowers all around the house are very well maintained and there are some vegetable plants as wellFirdaus  has a kitchen garden in the backyard and a farm in front of itKitchen garden had - brinjals, green chilly, potatoes, tomatoes etcNext morning we went up for a walk. It was a simple trek crossing through a village and few hills having amazing view of Lake covered with cloudsDuring the walk we met some sweet faces in the village. all of them were welcoming and it was nice to interact with themStay at Firdaus was wonderful experience and hope to visit this place again with new plans...

Thapalia Mehra Gaon (Naukuchiataal) - Naukuchiataal is much greener place as compared to other taals in Kumaun region and it's not a crowded place. There are 2 very popular resorts here, but here I am sharing about a peaceful village from where lake is visible and has a beautiful cottage to stay. If you are more than 4, then you can book the whole cottage which has 3 rooms and can spend the time the way you want. It's one of my personal favorite and I can spend a whole week at this beautiful place surrounded by green hills & continuously moving clouds.


Barog - Have you ever imagined to stay on a small railway station surrounded by green hills and your morning starts with beautiful sounds of colorful birds all around? Of-course, the railway station has some well maintained rooms. Barog is beautiful place  and I love it's tiny railway station on Kalka-Shimla route. Situated at a peaceful location. If it sounds weird, I would suggest to check this. Even after that if it doesn't sound convincing, then know more about the place and find other homestays, resorts around this place. I haven't yet stayed in these railway guest-rooms of Barog but that's in my list and hope to do that soon. I have been there multiple times for day picnic, when visited friends in Solan or Shimla. 


Recently some of us were on Kinnaur Trip and there is place called Jeory on the way. Sarahan is approximately 30 kilometers from Jeory and it's a beautiful town located on hill-top with amazing views of snow covered hills of Kinnaur. Bheemakali temple of Sarahan is most popular place to visit and this Photo Journey shares some of the moments spent around Bheema Kali Temple.Bheema Kali Temple has a huge campus and different temples inside the campus. There are two main temples, out of which one is accessible to everyone during normal days.The Second one is opened on some special occasions and Devi only allows Raja Virbhadra Singh to open the door of that temple. Shri Bheema Kali Temple is located in Sarahan town of Himachal Pradesh in India which is dedicated to the mother goddess Bhimakali, presiding deity of the rulers of former Bushahr State. The temple is situated about 180 km from Shimla and is one of 51 Shakti Peethass. The temple complex has another three temples dedicated to Lord Raghunathji, Narsinghji and Patal Bhairva Ji (Lankra Veer) - the guardian deity.Architecture of Bheema Kali Temple is beautiful. Whole campus is built with Stone and wooden blocks. It seems some part of the campus has not even cement to fix the joints. Whole campus is very well maintained and there is enough security as well.Here is one of the doors of the Bheem Kali temple in Sarahan Town. It's made up of silver with beautiful carving. There is also some text written, mostly in Hindi and Tibbatian scripts. Most of the carved forms are different gods and linked through some old stories.Sarahan was the capital of rulers of former Bushahr State. Bushahr dynasty earlier used to control the state from Kamroo. The capital of state later was shifted to Sonitpur. Later Raja Ram Singh made Rampur as the capital. It is believed that the country of Kinnaur was the Kailash mentioned in Puranas, the abode of Shiva. With its capital at Sonitpur this former princely state was extended up to entire area of Kinnaur where for sometimes Lord Shiva disguised himself as Kirata. Today, the then Sonitpur is known as Sarahan. Banasura, the ardent devotee of Lord Siva, eldest among the one hundred sons of great ablative demon King Bali and the great grandson of Vishnu votary Prahlad, during the Puranic age was the ruler of this princely state.(Courtesy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhimakali_Temple)According to a legend, the manifestation of the goddess is reported to the Daksha-Yajna incident when the ear of the Sati fell at this place and became a place of worship as a Pitha - Sthan. Presently in the form of a virgin the icon of this eternal goddess is consecrated at the top storey of the new building. Below that storey the goddess as Parvati, the daughter of Himalaya is enshrined as a divine consort of Lord SivaThere is a small market around Bheema Kali Temple and there are enough shops to have lunch or light snacks. Apart from that local caps can be bought from this fellow. He was very welcoming and offered good discounts for us :). We had asked for rates in Rampur Market, but he had better stuff and reasonable prices. There are many other shops in the town where some local stuff can be procured. On top of all that, most of the folks were really sweet to interact with.During our visit, we were looking for ladies wearing Dhaatu but couldn't gain the courage to ask anyone to get clicked by us. And just outside the Bheema Kali temple, this lady asked us to click one of her photograph and show her how we click. Probably she was noticing us clicking & reviewing photographs around the temple. We clicked few shots and showed to her. She shared some tips to improve and finally approved few of the shots. After final approval, she invited us to her hotel nearby but we couldn't go because it was time to head back as we had booked guest-house in Jeory.Here is a nearby sight, which is popularly known as Hawa-Ghar. This point has very clear view of Kinnar-Kailash Hills and place was quite windy. We spent around 30 minutes here to enjoy the breeze and take rest. This place is isolated form hustle bustle of the town. When we reached, there was only one person sitting here. Probably this place was least used by localites, as everyone has Hawa-ghar around their own houses :)Whole place was surrounded by Pine or Deodar Forests and smell was awesome in the middle of these forests. It was really an amazing experience to roam around Bheema Kali Temple and Sarahan Town. Meeting different people, visiting one of the amazing temples in this region, Hawa Ghar, a huge house of old kingdom etc.The town Sarahan is known as the gateway of Kinnaur. Down below at a distance of 7 km from Sarahan is the River Satluj. Sarahan is identified with the then Sonitpur mentioned in Puranas.Before entering into the main temple, everyone needs to lock mobiles, wallets or anything else which is made of leather and then wear a cap. Above photograph shows Aneesh wearing the holy cap and standing on right side of lockers everyone gets to keep everything safe.

Sarahan (Shimla) - Sarahan is located on a high hill in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh. This small village is 25 kilometers away from Shimla-Kalka highway. When going towards Kinnaur, one needs to take a right cut from Jeori town. Sarahan has famous Bhimakali Temple, which looks beautiful with white backdrop of snow covered Himalayan peaks. Here is one HPTDC hotel, a guest house and few home-stays there. There are lot of apple orchards around the place and Shrikhand Mahal is another popular place which belongs to Raja Virbhadra Singh. 


Recently some of us were on Kinnaur Trip and there is place called Jeory on the way. Sarahan is approximately 30 kilometers from Jeory and it's a beautiful town located on hill-top with amazing views of snow covered hills of Kinnaur. Bheemakali temple of Sarahan is most popular place to visit and this Photo Journey shares some of the moments spent around Bheema Kali Temple.Bheema Kali Temple has a huge campus and different temples inside the campus. There are two main temples, out of which one is accessible to everyone during normal days.The Second one is opened on some special occasions and Devi only allows Raja Virbhadra Singh to open the door of that temple. Shri Bheema Kali Temple is located in Sarahan town of Himachal Pradesh in India which is dedicated to the mother goddess Bhimakali, presiding deity of the rulers of former Bushahr State. The temple is situated about 180 km from Shimla and is one of 51 Shakti Peethass. The temple complex has another three temples dedicated to Lord Raghunathji, Narsinghji and Patal Bhairva Ji (Lankra Veer) - the guardian deity.Architecture of Bheema Kali Temple is beautiful. Whole campus is built with Stone and wooden blocks. It seems some part of the campus has not even cement to fix the joints. Whole campus is very well maintained and there is enough security as well.Here is one of the doors of the Bheem Kali temple in Sarahan Town. It's made up of silver with beautiful carving. There is also some text written, mostly in Hindi and Tibbatian scripts. Most of the carved forms are different gods and linked through some old stories.Sarahan was the capital of rulers of former Bushahr State. Bushahr dynasty earlier used to control the state from Kamroo. The capital of state later was shifted to Sonitpur. Later Raja Ram Singh made Rampur as the capital. It is believed that the country of Kinnaur was the Kailash mentioned in Puranas, the abode of Shiva. With its capital at Sonitpur this former princely state was extended up to entire area of Kinnaur where for sometimes Lord Shiva disguised himself as Kirata. Today, the then Sonitpur is known as Sarahan. Banasura, the ardent devotee of Lord Siva, eldest among the one hundred sons of great ablative demon King Bali and the great grandson of Vishnu votary Prahlad, during the Puranic age was the ruler of this princely state.(Courtesy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhimakali_Temple)According to a legend, the manifestation of the goddess is reported to the Daksha-Yajna incident when the ear of the Sati fell at this place and became a place of worship as a Pitha - Sthan. Presently in the form of a virgin the icon of this eternal goddess is consecrated at the top storey of the new building. Below that storey the goddess as Parvati, the daughter of Himalaya is enshrined as a divine consort of Lord SivaThere is a small market around Bheema Kali Temple and there are enough shops to have lunch or light snacks. Apart from that local caps can be bought from this fellow. He was very welcoming and offered good discounts for us :). We had asked for rates in Rampur Market, but he had better stuff and reasonable prices. There are many other shops in the town where some local stuff can be procured. On top of all that, most of the folks were really sweet to interact with.During our visit, we were looking for ladies wearing Dhaatu but couldn't gain the courage to ask anyone to get clicked by us. And just outside the Bheema Kali temple, this lady asked us to click one of her photograph and show her how we click. Probably she was noticing us clicking & reviewing photographs around the temple. We clicked few shots and showed to her. She shared some tips to improve and finally approved few of the shots. After final approval, she invited us to her hotel nearby but we couldn't go because it was time to head back as we had booked guest-house in Jeory.Here is a nearby sight, which is popularly known as Hawa-Ghar. This point has very clear view of Kinnar-Kailash Hills and place was quite windy. We spent around 30 minutes here to enjoy the breeze and take rest. This place is isolated form hustle bustle of the town. When we reached, there was only one person sitting here. Probably this place was least used by localites, as everyone has Hawa-ghar around their own houses :)Whole place was surrounded by Pine or Deodar Forests and smell was awesome in the middle of these forests. It was really an amazing experience to roam around Bheema Kali Temple and Sarahan Town. Meeting different people, visiting one of the amazing temples in this region, Hawa Ghar, a huge house of old kingdom etc.The town Sarahan is known as the gateway of Kinnaur. Down below at a distance of 7 km from Sarahan is the River Satluj. Sarahan is identified with the then Sonitpur mentioned in Puranas.Before entering into the main temple, everyone needs to lock mobiles, wallets or anything else which is made of leather and then wear a cap. Above photograph shows Aneesh wearing the holy cap and standing on right side of lockers everyone gets to keep everything safe.

Sarahan (Kullu) - This is brilliant place away from the hustle bustle of roads. Village is connected through kachha road and there is only one bus which comes to the village. Village is surrounded by snow covered mountains and a huge green ground in the middle. There are some water streams flowing in this lush green ground. We took our tents and took permission from local school to use the ground. There is one HPPWD guest-house which can also be booked. This is a brilliant place for adventure lovers. There are 2 huge waterfalls nearby and one needs to trek for 45 minutes to reach one of them. Check out about Kullu-Sarahan .


Narkanda is a small town away from hustle bustle of Shimla. There are some interesting places around NarkandaHatu Peak & Tani Jubber Lake are two interesting places around Narkanda. Hatu peak is favorites of bikers and adventure lovers and the lake Tani Jubber is a peaceful place in the middle of deodar woods. Beautiful landscapes around this place are mesmerizing.



Kotgarh is again an interesting place around Narkanda. Kotgarh is known for it's apple and cherry orchards. I am sure you can find some interesting home-stays or resorts around these orchards. Sheetalvan is one of the resorts which we visited during my 5 years sabbatical


During October, 2011 we were on a 10 Days trip in Himachal Pradesh and we hit Jalori Pass on sixth day. We reached early as per plan and though of exploring surrounding areas during the free time we had. Then we got to know about Sirolsar Lake, which was 45 minutes away from main market at Jalori Pass. There is a wonderful walk through dense forests, green meadows etc.Let's check out this Photo Journey from Jalori Pass to Sirolsar Lake in Himachal Pradesh, India...There is small cut near Jalori Temple, which leads to Sirolsar Lake. After coming back from this trip, when I searched for lakes in Himachal, I got wikipedia as top link, but there was no mention about this lake. Which was sort of strange for us.The walk/trek towards Sirolsar Lake started after some snacks at Jalori Pass Market. The boards shown in this photograph are appropriate indicators in forest. Actually there is a temple near Sirolsar Lake and people visit the place for religious reasons as well.  Since there are various paths inside forest, so it would have been difficult to reach the place without these indicators.There is a resort on the way from Jalori Pass to Sirolsar Lake. Actually Jalori Pass is very popular place among riders and hikers, there are some interesting place to stay around Jalori Pass. By looking at this resort, it seemed that place is not very popular and it was not very well maintained as well. Probably it was not the right time and they plan overall maintenance as per tourist season.Overall it was fun walking inside these dense forests with cool breeze and colorful flowers all around. Some unique trees and plants in forest made this trek more interesting. We also shot some videos but never downloaded... Let's see when we would be able to share those.Although the trek was as easy easy as we had expected. It took much more time than what we were told. Probably local folks reach the lake from Jalori Pass in 45 minutes, but it took 1.5 hr for us to reach the lake from Jalori Pass. There were few ups and downs which took more time than the plain routes.After first 30 minutes of walk, we were exposed to wonderful mountain ranges. Each of these mountain ranges had different magic. Some of them were covered with snow, few were completely rocky with no grass or snow and others were covered by dense forests. It was sunny day but clouds were also playing games with us. At one point of time, we were scared that it's going to rain and there is no way to hide ourselves.Slowly these clouds covered whole sky and suddenly it was very cold out there. Some of us were wearing shorts and T-Shirts :) .. But enthusiasm about reaching Sirolsar Lake was awesome. Two folks from the group reached the place in 1 Hr, while others took more than 1.5 Hrs.Sunlight was welcomes back with some songs and dance in the forest. Whole journey was quite joyful with these interesting folks. We sang lots of folk songs from Shimla Region and I still remember few lines of 'Kaliaro Hando...' . In fact, after this trip Rohit tested me twice and I passed with good scores :)This whole trek from Jalori Pass to Sirolsar Lake was very beautiful. At times, we passed through dense forests and then reached some places with deep valleys covered with green grass & colorful flowers. Cattle roaming here n there around our paths, although we could not figure out the owner of those cows. There was no village on the way and no sounds, which could indicate any habitation.  At times, clouds were literally chasing us and those moments were most beautiful moments of this trek. At times visibility reduced to 1 meter only. On hills, this is very usual scenario and it's very frequent during winters. During this we met some tourists from US who were coming back from the lake. They looked very happy and also showed some photographs. On asking the remaining distance for us, they smiled and asked us to keep walking :) ... They were carrying camping stuff as well and probably stayed at Sirolsar lake last night.I am most tired person is the group and all of these folks were motivating me continuously :) ... Somehow energy was very low on that day. In above photograph, everyone is looking at me and asking to move fast. I love this colorful photograph with priceless expressions on these faces :)After walking around an hour, we hit a place with some ruins of cottages. It looked like an old village, where none lives now. Most of these houses were made up of mud-bricks and wood and there was hardly any strength in these. But we were happy to locate a place where we could hide in case of cloud-showers :) ... Sirolsar Lake was near now.Some of the houses were strategically built under huge rocks which were very well tied with hills. Overall it looked very exciting, but not sure how it would feel to live in such places with no access to daily-use stuff and very isolated from rest of the world. After reaching back Jalori Pass, we asked a shopkeeper about these houses and he told something very strange which was hard to digest. He said that a community called Gujjars own this village and land around this area belongs to them. But most of the time, they travel with their cattle. Each family own approximately 300 goats, few horses, dogs etc. They keep traveling during most of the time during an year and come back to this place in summers. Every year, they reconstruct these house and keep the budget low as they always know that place is temporary.Again clouds were showing their magic, but we kept climbing.Again folks waiting for me, as I was the last person in this group. Apart from tiredness, there were other reasons as well :) ... My Camera also needs time to observe things around the place and capture the ones having some story.After crossing a very dense forest and few valleys, we reached Sirolsar Lake with a small temple on it's side. At first glance it looked small, but after a while we got to know about the actual size of this lake and magical beauty around it.As you can see that water in this lake was crystal clear and whole lake looked like a huge mirror. There is a saying about Sirolsar Lake that if leaves from surroundings come inside this lake, birds come and pick them out to keep the lake clear like this. Don't know how true it is, but surely it was surprising to see this lake clear even when surrounded with lots of trees on adjacent hills.I also googled about this lake but got very few links with relevant information. During this search I found a link with some interesting photographs of this lake. Frozen Sirolsar Lake can be seen at http://www.bcmtouring.com/forum/travelogues-north-india-f61/trip-jalori-pass-sirolsar-lake-t621 At this photograph, it can be seen that during winters Sirolsar lake freezes and anyone can easily walk on top of it. I wish to plan another trip to Jalori Pass and Sirolsar Lake in Winters. A silhouette of temple at Sirolsar Lake, Himachal Pradesh, INDIAHere exactly this temple looks like. This is a typical architecture of temples you see in Shimla, Kullu and Manali regions of Himachal Pradesh. There is a very famous temple in middle of Manali town, which is completely made up of wood and estimated cost of the temple was in crores and it is hard to digest the fact that such a huge money is invested on that temple, which is very small in size.Luckily there was a small shop near Sirolar Lake, where we could have some tea and biscuits. I think he also had arrangements for maggi n all. Rates were quite decent as compared to the hard work required to bring all raw material to this place. We suggested him to charge more from tourists. At least he had proper right to charge 10 rs for tea.Closer look to the shop and shopkeeper at Sirolsar Lake. He is the only person who lives here at Sirolsar Lake.Rohit Sharma having some chit-chat with this only entrepreneur @ Sirolsar Lake. Media people are generally curious about all the facts like the place he belongs to, how much he earns in a month and what exactly is the daily schedule he follows etc.It was time to come back after a short break at Sirolsar Lake. Lot of other things happened at Lake, which can be described by a video embedded in the last.Sunset hues were visible in the sky when we reached Jalori Pass and we were quite late to reach our next destination, but everyone was quite happy after this trek to Sirolsar Lake from Jalori Pass.


Jalori Pass (Sarolsar Lake) - Jalori Pass is another place for adventurers, riders and trekkers. Located at high mountains offers great views of pir panjal mountain ranges covered with snow and a beautiful trek of 1.5 hrs takes you to Sarolsar lake in Himachal Pradesh. 

If you are a regular visitor of Travellingcamera, you must have noticed that title of this Photo Journey is not really matching with what we usually share. This post is inspired by lot of queries which come to us, especially in summer.  One of the mostly asked thing is the options to reach Kasol and Malana. Here we are trying to share some details the option to reach Kasol/Malana, places to stay, things to do and lot more. While compiling this post, old memories are coming to my mind. I started this blog in 2008 and never got a chance to go again to Kasol, but my only trip to this region was very exciting with college friends. We planned a trip to Kullu Manali from Shimla and thought of visiting Kasol/Malana as well. This was a week long trip and we spent 3 days walking & trekking around Kasol. When it comes to options of reaching Kasol from Delhi or Chandigarh, the only way to hit this region is by road. It's not connected by railway and flights are not very frequent to Kullu. There is an Airport near to Kasol, which is located in Bhuntar (Kullu) but flights are rare and would be a costly affair. In some of the portals, folks have quoted low rates like 2.5K but I could never find that. There is no rail line in part of Himachal Pradesh. Kiratpur Saheb in Punjab and Una in Himachal are two railway stations around this place. Both of these railways stations are more than 150 kilometers away from Kasol. There is another narrow-gauge line at around 100 kilometers, which is located in Jogindernagar, but it's not recommended except in a scenario when you have enough time and want to experience toy train, which starts from Pathankot and ends at Jogindernagar.So road is only good options to reach Kasol. Now transportation has improved a lot and you have multiple options. There are luxury buses by HRTC are available for Kullu from Delhi, Chandigarh & many other main cities. Even normal buses of HRTC are also quite good and cheapest way to travel. Luxury buses by Himachal Tourism are also available from Delhi. All Volvo buses by HRTC & Himachal Tourism start from Himachal Bhavan in Delhi, which is located in Mandi House near Connaught Place. All these buses go to Manali via Kullu and one needs to get down at Bhuntar to take local bus for Kasol or a taxi. Kasol is located at around 30 kilometers from Bhuntar. Kullu can be reached from Delhi by national highway NH 1 up to Chandigarh and from there by national highway NH21 which passes through Bilaspur, Sundernagar and Mandi towns. Kullu is 480 km from Delhi. There are various options available to stay in and around Kasol. Budget hotels, few resorts and luxury home-stays as well. And this place offers great atmosphere all around. Fresh air , blue sky, parvathi river, local folks, cattle grounds, green hills and lot more. There are various intresting treks around Kasol and Malana. There are various easy, moderate and difficult treks around Kasol village. Kheer Ganga is one of the main treks. Whole Parvati valley is very different and more beautiful from many surrounding hills stations of Himachal Pradesh. There is lot to explore in this part of Himachal, some can be discussed and some are not to be disclosed in public ! Kasol is a village in Parvati Valley of Himachal Pradesh. Parvati River flows through the village. There is a bridge in the village which divides it in two parts known as Old Kasol and New Kasol. Lot of Foreigners can be seen in the streets around this place. Holy place Manikaran is just 5 kilometers from Kasol. Malana is another popular village which is reachable after a moderate trek. We went till Malana and heard a lot of stories about the place. We also got to know that many of the foreigners have come to this place and living here for many years now. Lot of Israelies come to Kasol and one can see the hebrew language banners in parvati valley.  Probably I will share another post only on Malana with some of the mind boggling stories associated with this place, the cannabis and local democracy. Kasol is one of the favorite places for backpackers and also a base for Himalayan trekking to SarPass, Pin Parbati Pass and Kheer ganga. Wish you a great trip to Kasol.

Kasol & Malana trek can be very different for folks who love adventure. Folks who don't want to indulge into trekking or hiking, can spent some time at peace around river in Kasol. Many of the friends working in corporates around Delhi/NCR would love to explore this part of Himachal Pradesh. Tirthan valley is another interesting place around Kasol and if you also want to cover the touristy Kullu-Manali, it's possible.

Hope you have enjoyed the journey of first two days with us so far. If you haven't gotten a chance, we recommend to check out Part-1 & Part-2 of the journey and then come back here to enjoy the third day trek to Dhanachuli Village around Kumaun hills. Let's start this Photo Journey to the beautiful Dhanachuli Village.It was bright sunny morning at Dhanachuli and some of us were up at 6:30am. Unpredictable weather during last two days had created so much curiosity that everyone was excited to see bright morning on third day. It opened the gates for the trek to the abandoned village of Dhanachuli. We started from Te Aroha at around 7:00 am. We drove from Te Aroha to the market of Dhanachuli village. We stopped near Bank of Baroda and started our trek downwards through green farms facing snow covered peaks. Mr. Sumant Batra personally led the entire trek and kept us informed about various trees, crops, plants, architecture & people.For initial 20 minutes, we were walking through the habitat area which is comparatively close to the main road which connects Dhanachuli village to other parts of Kumaun. Most of the villagers have pets and mainly cows & goats. Corn crops were all over the farms and some of the farms also had seasonal vegetables - peas, cabbage, bringle, tomatoas, green chillies, kidney-beans (Rajmah) etc. Dhanchuli village is deep in the valley surrounded by snow capped hills on one side and steep green mountains on other side. Dhanachuli hills are probably some of the highest hills in Kumaun region.At the end of the trek were some dilapidated houses of the old Dhanachuli village. Most of the old village is abandoned with only a couple of houses still occupied. The villagers, it seems, have moved to houses closer to the road.The houses were adorned with some interesting carvings and designs. Sumant pointed out some samples of carvings from as far as Rajasthan. He expressed his amazement at finding such designs up here in Uttarakhand. One possible explanation, he thinks, is that these people migrated from the plains over a hundred years ago to escape forced conversions. And with them they carried a part of their memories, tradition, and culture, always wanting to cling on to what they had to leave behind.The houses, though abandoned, still tell a story with their strong foundations, quality material used for building. If you look at the picture above, you will see stones stacked on top of each other. This material is native to the hills and has stood against the test of time.This was one of the houses that was still occupied. A cat was sunning itself on the stairs, while the occupants went about their daily chores. The villagers keep busy most of the times as they need to do almost everything themselves. It is a life full of hardwork and peace.These freshly plucked red chillies and corns have been spread out to dry so that they don't get spoilt when they are stored. The villagers keep some portion of the crops they produce for their personal use, while they sell of the rest. This particular house was so isolated from the rest that we were wondering if the occupants feel afraid at night. We were also asking ourselves what they do to keep themselves entertained. And then we noticed the dish antennae installed outside...but of course...While looking at the exteriors of the abandoned houses, we were curious about the insides. We found an interesting looking house and some of us dared to climb inside. A few of us were worried whether we would chance upon a sleeping leopard inside the house. But Sumant assured us that it wasn't a possibility because if there was a leopard inside, we would be able to smell it before we saw it. Our fear may sound funny to you, but in reality a leopard sighting isn't as rare in these parts. If a cattle is killed or a dog vanishes, the crime is mostly blamed on leopards. Some of the buildings were so beautiful that we were left wondering why no one had noticed them yet. No Bollywood film thriller/ horror film has been shot here, no fashion shoot has been organized with these houses as a backdrop, although the setting is perfect!The last point of the trek was a temple. We sat in the premises and had tea and cookies made by Te Aroha's chef. It was very considerate of Sumant to have thought of this because after the long trek, all of us were dying for a cup of tea. We sat there for about half-an-hour listening to the birds sing and watching the clouds drifting into the valley. We had some interesting conversations while sitting here. We spoke about how inconsiderate it is to build a huge concrete structure on the top of a hill in the mountains. Such things can be very risky for the villagers living below. We discussed how essential it is for development to happen in a responsible way. And during the course of this discussion we discovered that Te Aroha, even though they have taken a water connection from the government's water supply and pay for it, they never use the water. Simply because if the resort starts using the water, hardly anything will be left for the villagers. Instead, Te Aroha has made elaborate arrangements for rainwater harvesting and uses the water they collect from this along with the water from the borer they have installed themselves.  After the tea, it was time to head back and this time we chose a different route. Instead of the slippery rocky route, we chose to walk a trail through thefields. En route we stopped and tasted some very sweet peas, and met some local children who were more than happy to oblige us with generous smiles. The morning was a tiring one and yet gratifying. And we felt exercised and yet relaxed at the end of it. More than anything else the trek provided a lot of food for thought and we dwelled on it for quite some time.

Dhanachuli is a small village in Kumaun region of Uttrakhand and close to Mukteshwar. We visited Dhanachuli last year and found it a great destination for folks who love green hills, simplicity of rural India and landscapes surrounded by snow covered hills. Clouds keep playing hide & seek around these hills. And if you want to experience supreme luxury in hills, you may want to check out Te Aroha.  


Dhanaulti is another hill station around Mussourrie and a brilliant place to beat the heat. I visited Dhanaulti, Kanataal, Chamba and Tihri last year and enjoyed with family. There are very few hotels around this place. I recommend to find a good home-stay around this part and enjoy local hospitality.  

Naldera is another interesting place around Shimla and has a nice Himachal Tourism hotel which offers great views of golf course. Nothing much to do and opportunities to enjoy nature. 


Palampur name is very popular because it's used a lot in Bollywood movies but it's not a touristy place. It's located around Dharmshala & Mcleodganj in Himachal Pradesh. Palampur is popular for it's tea estates in Kangra Valley. 



Road Trip to Kashmir through Mughal Road - I have not explored Jammu & Kashmir much, apart from Srinagar & some of it's popular passes. But once drove to Srinagar from Delhi via Mughal Road which is brilliant and very picturesque. 


Chakrata is a beautiful & calm hill station in Uttrakhand state of India. Jitendra love such peaceful places to explore and hill stations in this category ranks on top for him. Let's check out this PHOTO JOURNEY through Jitendra's Travelling-Camera.Chakrata is getting more popular as a hill station and people love spending some quality time around these beautiful/fresh hills. Chakrata is basically a cantonment area in Dehradoon district of Uttranchal which quite clean and peaceful. Chakrata town of Uttrakhand can be reached from Dehradun via Mussoorie or Vikasnagar. Both routes pass through beautiful mountainous road. Travelling in the monsoon can be more adventurous as the area sees frequent land-slides, which usually block the roads for longer period of time or at least significantly impact the travel plans.Yamuna valley has amazing panoramic view of the surroundings from the hillock. Chakrata is basically developed by the British rulers and was a summer retreat for the high executives of English East India Company, like other places in Northern India - Shimla, Dalhousie, Masoorie etc. Presently Chakrata encloses military cantonment and the access is restricted here for civilian travelers.The area has an lot of conifers, red rhododendrons and oaks. One of the key attractions near Chakrata is the waterfall named 'Tiger Fall'.Overall local folks are quite helpful and simple. Talking to anyone on the streets around Chakrata is a wonderful experience, where people welcome with broad smiles on their faces. All this makes the travel experience more enjoyable with happy faces all around, who are quite welcoming and helping in natureChakrata is an access-restricted military cantonment and foreigners face severe restrictions in visiting while around this region. It is the permanent garrison of the secretive and elite Special Frontier Force, also known as Establishment 2-2, the only ethnic Tibetan unit of the Indian Army, which was raised after the Indo-China War of 1962.A secluded nearby, leafy hamlet of Deoban offers a panoramic view of the Himalayas stretching from Kinnaur in Himachal to Garhwal and Kumaon. It's almost like Kasauli in Himachal, which has again army regions with very well mmaintained buildings. Chakrata has lusting greeneries with dense forests all around and it's famed as a tourist destination where come to enjoy the natural beauty with calmness and awesome freshness all around. Cool but pleasant ambiance makes the stay in Chakrata more enjoyable. There are various trekking and adventurous activities around Chakrata.Kharamba peak is the highest mount in Chakrata with an altitude of around ten thousand feets. Nature lovers, Trekkers, bird watchers and wild life enthusiasts can spend days together here in the lap of Chakrata exploiting the nature’s hidden treasures and beauties, which sounds most exciting to me and love coming here again n again.This Photo Journey has few shots from Chakarata Market, which is very well equipped with almost every daily usage stuff. Due to cantonement, there are multiple shots. There are some shops, which offer hand-made woolens and can be a good souvenir from hills of Chakarata, Uttrakhand, INDIAChakrata area also has a number of temples including ones at Hanol, Mahasu Devta Temple dedicated to Lord Mahasu , Radina, Thaina, Indroli, Lakhwar, and Lakhamandal, on the banks of river Yamuna, known for its ancient Shiva Temple, which traces its existence to the legends of Mahabharata, the village also has several natural caves.This photograph gives an amazing view of foggy morning at Chakarata. This gives a sense of awesome weather on hills of Chakarata. While in hills, this fog excites you more as compared to plains. Also it adds a lot of value to your travel in hills, which real feel of mountains.The forests & hills around Chakrata has an amazing flora and fauna, along with innocent kids with always smiling faces and ready to get clicked. These hills are natural habitat of many wild life species including panther, spotted dear and wild fowls.


Chakrata is a beautiful hill station in Uttrakhand. With time it's getting popular and is one of the popular weekend destination for nature lovers. Jitendra shared a wonderful Photo Journey from this place and I am still to visit this place.  



I am sure that I must be missing on lot of interesting options around Delhi, so please drop a comment with other options you have explored or know.



If you are looking for the popular tourist destinations in North India, you can always choose from Shimla, Manali, Mussourie, Dalhousie, Mcleodganj, Nainitaal, Shrinagar, Leh, Spiti etc.

6 comments:

Archana Chaurasia Kapoor said...

North India has so much to offer. The pictures are outstanding Vijay... the picturesque vistas have been captured beautifully... thanks for sharing :-)

VJ Sharma said...

That's true Archana. There is lot to explore around us and hope to find some time this year to improve this list for 2016 summers :)

Sanchit Kulkarni said...

Dear VJ Sharma,
I really love the beautiful pictures that go with your blog. They look very attractive and I have decided that I must visit these destinations at least one time in the near future. I gathered lot of information from your blog here and want to complement you on it.

VJ Sharma said...

Hey Sanchit, happy to hear that you liked this information and wish you the best for planning your trips to these destinations.

Saru Singhal said...

I have been to many of these places and your pictures made them desirable all over again. Thanks for compiling this list, it will help many people.

VJ Sharma said...

Thanks Saru and happy to see such a lovely comment :)

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