Cradled in the lap of the mighty Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh is perhaps the most scenic of all states in India. Every look, every glance, and every stare will lead you to the panorama of the snow-capped grey and watchful summits, waterfalls and blissful nature. It’s only apt that your Himachal Pradesh itinerary is spread out for more than a week in order to capture as much as this enchanting region.
Mesmerizing is probably an understatement to depict your feelings as you travel up and down the curves of the cliffs and be enamoured by the serenity and silence of the towering hills around.
To make your job easier, here we are presenting a comprehensive 10-Day Himachal itinerary, so you don’t miss out on the most popular as well as quaint tourist attractions. Brace for a vacation that will soothe those stressed nerves and satiate the wanderlust in you!
Himachal Pradesh Itinerary Snapshot
Day 1- Shimla
Day 3- Shimla – Manali
Day 4- Manali
Day 5- Solang Valley
Day 6- Kullu Valley
Day 7- Manali- Dharamshala
Day 8- Dharamshala
Day 9- Mcleodganj
Day 10- Dalhousie – Khajjar
Also Read: 7-Day Karnataka Itinerary
Start your trip at Shimla. The nearest railway station is Kalka, about 90 kms away, from where you have to take a taxi, bus or train. The Kalka-Shimla train route is so panoramic and scenic that it has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Chandigarh is the closest airport and it’s a 3-hour drive thereafter on the Chandigarh-Shimla highway. Shimla has its own airport too but not many flights are operational here.
Shimla, Kulu-Manali, Kasol, Auli, Spiti Valley, Kasauli, Dharamshala, Mcleodganj, Dalhousie are some of the most visited areas of the state. There are several small getaways tucked into the hills where you can drive from the surrounding cities.
Yes, it is. The places are well-connected by roads. However, it is best to avoid travelling at night on hilly terrains and you should not venture out of your hotel too late in the night as the roads tend to be mostly deserted.
Being a place of several hill stations, March to June is a pleasant time to go on a Himachal trip; and the roads are pretty safe too at this time. However, the winters are a great time to visit if you want to enjoy snowfall.
The state thrives on tourism and all the places have small and big resorts and homestays for all kinds of travellers.
It is easy to find roadside dhabas selling mostly North-Indian cuisine. Chinese and Tibetan food joints are also sprawled across the state. Vegetarians will not find themselves uncomfortable as all eateries have both options.
Once you reach there, you will realise that Himachal is truly a traveller’s paradise. From foreigners strolling with their rucksacks to families on luxury getaways, Himachal caters to all kinds of pocket-sizes.
Being a high-altitude terrain, the roads are curvy and uphill, but well-maintained. If you avoid treks, children and senior citizens should be easily acclimatized in a day or two. However, if you suffer from heart or breathing ailments, it is best to consult a medic before deciding on your route.
Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh and its largest city. The mesmerizing beauty of the city compelled the British colonial rulers to declare it their summer capital. Reach the night before and begin your Shimla sightseeing early in the day by strolling through the mall area contoured with multiple eateries, souvenir-shops and garment stalls.
Walk over to The Ridge on Mall Road and bathe in the exquisite views from this location.
Shimla Christ Church, also on Mall Road, should be your next stop. One of the oldest churches in India, the architecture of the building is indeed splendid. The Himachal State Museum is also on the same stretch of road.
The Indian Institute of Advanced Studies on Observatory Hill is a colonial structure and the site where the partition of India was decided upon. The Jakhu Temple boasts of housing the world’s largest idol of Lord Hanuman and should not be given a miss.
Shimla has multiple heritage-houses with rich histories associated with each and you can visit these to understand the complex colonial past of this bustling hill town. Bantony Castle, Retreat Building, Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex, Gorton Castle, and Rothney Castle are some of the most visited ones.
The Shimla Ice Skating Rink is a popular tourist spot, and children and youngsters alike will surely enjoy the skiing experience here. Annandale houses a unique cactus museum, an Indian Army museum as well as a golf course, and could be an interesting addition to your day. In The Himalayan Bird Park, you can see a variety of birds, including the Himalayan Monal Pheasant.
If you’re still a couple of hours away from sunset, visit the Naldehra Golf Course, the oldest of its kind in India, which is about an hour’s drive from Shimla. On your way back, visit the quaint little town of Mashobra, to end your day away from the crowded capital, enveloped by the clouds and cool breeze of the mountains.
Also read: 3-Day Singapore Itinerary
Kufri and Surroundings
Kufri is 16 kms away from Shimla and should definitely be on your list for its ski slopes and mesmerising views. Kufri Fun World has the highest go-kart track in the world and this amusement park will fill up your senses with its blend of joyrides and mountain views.
Trek up to the Himalayan National Park and marvel at this high-altitude zoo with varied species of birds and animals. Relax in the Indira Tourist Park close by before heading to your next destination.
If you’re an adventure sports enthusiast, try riding up to the Mahasu Peak on a horse or mule. The way up is treacherous and will leave you reeling on your nerve’s edge!
Ever envied Santa on his sledge racing through the ice? Well, try Tobogganing in Kufri.
While you’re here, also visit Fagu, about 5.6 kms away from Kufri to feel the clouds shroud you in its thick cape. The apple orchards will transport you to a lush deluxe world here. You can trek or take a yak ride up to Chharabra, a small village which houses the summer retreat of the President of India.
Shimla to Manali
Manali is perhaps the most romantic place in Himachal and is 248 kms away from the capital. It will take you anywhere between 7-9 hours to reach Manali, depending on your stops in between.
Take a break at the Sundernagar Lake and Mandi town on your way up. Unwind and relax for the night.
Manali seems straight out of a fairy tale – the land where you can kindle that hopeless romantic in you, yearning to break free from all things mundane and monotonous. You will need to stay in Manali for at least 3 days to give this place its due credit!
What should you see here?
Start off your day with a spiritual vibe by visiting the Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa (monastery), the Himalaya Nyingmapa Buddhist Temple, Museum of Himachal Culture and folk art, Hadimba Temple, and Gayatri Temple.
Other must-visit places include The Hotsprings at Vashisht Baths, Jogini waterfalls, the gurudwara at Manikaran, Old Manali, Nehru Kund, Van Bihar, Manali sanctuary, Jana waterfalls, and Arjun Caves.
Not done for the day yet?
Throw into the mix activities like paragliding, zorbing, white water rafting, and skiing which are popular attractions for tourists from far and wide.
Solang Valley and Rohtang Pass
Let your senses of sight, sound and smell take over as you glide up to the Solang Valley on your second day at Manali.
Stop at the Rahala and Rozy Falls, 11 km from Manali, and at the scenic village of Gulaba about 20 kms from Manali on your way to Rohtang Pass.
The Rohtang Pass, located at an altitude of 3,978 metres, is a mountain-lover’s paradise. You will need a special permit to visit Rohtang and keep in mind that it is closed on Tuesdays for maintenance purposes.
Keep enough time in hand for the drive to and fro as the narrow curvy roads can take time to manoeuvre.
Remember how a tumble into the wardrobe opens up the fantasy world of Narnia? You will feel somewhat similar on reaching this sprawling valley surrounded by the grandeur of the Himalayas.
Your tour through the day should include: the Bijli Mahadev Temple, Raghunath Temple, Gauri Shankar Temple in the village of Naggar, and Nagger Castle.
The other attractions include: Malana village, Jana falls, Bhrigu Lake, Pandoh Dam, Hanogi Mata Temple, and the Tibetan Market.
Tired of being in the car? Trek to the Friendship Peak in the Pir Panjal Range.
You can spend the night in one of the many hotels in Kullu or go back to Manali.
Also read: 7-Days in Meghalaya
Manali to Dharamshala/Mcleodganj
Manali to Dharamshala is about a 7-hour drive through exquisite and mind-numbing picturesque scenarios.
Dharamshala is located in the Kangra district of Himachal. You can choose to stay in either Dharamshala or Mcleodganj which is 25 kms away. Check-in to the hotel and relax for the day with a bit of local sightseeing.
A largely Tibetan settlement, this beautiful town is the residence of the holy Dalai Lama. Surrounded by the Dhauladhar Range of the Himalayas, this town boasts of a library of Tibetan works and one of the highest cricket stadiums in the world.
Add to it the neo-Gothic St. John Church, the war memorial, the Gyuto Monastery, tea gardens, the Bhagsu Nath Temple, and the Masroor Rock Cut Temple.
This idyllic place is often known as a hippie paradise. You will find many foreign backpackers crowding this area for its easy and languid atmosphere.
Start at the Tsuglagkhang monastery where the Dalai Lama resides. Drive to the Bhagsu waterfalls and the Namgyal monastery before stopping at the Tibetan Museum. Dharamkot is also a popular spot for its picturesque surroundings.
Move next to the Dal Lake, Jwala Devi Temple and Kareri Lake about 8 kms away.
Visit the Norbulinka Institute to see a quintessential Tibetan architecture. The Naam art gallery and the Kangra Art Museum offer a unique experience as well.
Dalhousie – Khajjar
Be the early bird and depart from Dharamshala to reach Dalhousie, a 4-hour drive away. Dalhousie is a small town lined by pine trees and colourful flora where the Himachal itinerary ends.
Start your sightseeing with Satdhara, or seven springs, a cascading waterfall believed to have healing properties. Trek to the Panch Pulla, a popular picnic spot in the area.
Visit the Rock Garden and St. John’s Church in the centre of the city and shop for trinkets and souvenirs in the evening. Have dinner at Cafe Dalhousie, one of the oldest and most famed cafes in the area.
Located at an altitude of 6,500 feet, the neighbouring town of Khajjar will leave you awestruck with its old-world charm. The Bakrota hills should be your first stop on your way to Khajjar. Visit the golf course and partake in adventure sports like paragliding and zorbing. The Kalatop Khajjar Sanctuary is home to a wide variety of species and is worth a visit.
The next stop is the Daikund Peak for its views of pine forests all around. Drive to the town of Chamba next, 14 kms from Dalhousie. Visit Chamunda Devi Temple here, and sit by the babbling Ravi river, which originates here.
You will pass through the Sach Pass on your way to Chamba, another scenic spot. The Subhash Baoli is a perennial spring named after the freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
Concluding your Himachal Trip
Although this brings you to the end of your Himachal Pradesh itinerary, the memories you would have collected here will stay with you for weeks or months and will kindle the yearning to go back again.
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