HIMACHAL, the “Abode of Snow”, covers over c 56,000 sq km (21,622 sq miles) of the Western Himalayas. The state’s terrain rises from the foothills of the Shivaliks bordering the plains of Punjab, and extends to the trans-Himalayan heights of the Zanskar Range, bordering Ladakh and Tibet. Himachal’s capital Shimla, famous as the summer capital of the British Raj, remains a popular destination for visitors. Manali, the state’s other big hill station, is in the heart of the idyllic Kullu Valley. Watered by the Beas river, it is an excellent base for treks and excursions. West of Kullu, with the magnificent Dhauladhar Range as its backdrop, is the Kangra Valley, dotted with apple orchards. Its main town is Dharamsala, home to the Dalai Lama and a vibrant Tibetan community, and the seat of the Tibetan Government-in- Exile. In the eastern part of the state is Kinnaur with its green pastures and enchanting villages, while Lahaul and Spiti to the north are lands of rugged grandeur, with Buddhist monasteries clinging to steep, rocky cliffs.
FESTIVALS OF HIMACHAL PRADESH
Shivratri (Feb/Mar), Mandl
Local deities are carried down from the surrounding hills on elaborately decorated palanquins, to pay homage to Lord Shiva at the Bhootnath Temple.
Summer Festival (May/Jun), Shimla.
This recently inaugurated festival, timed to coincide with the tourist season, attracts singers, musicians and dancers.
Minjar (Jul/Aug), Chamba.
Maize shoots or minjars , strung on silken threads, are cast into the Ravi river at the start of this week-long festival to seek blessings for a bountiful harvest.
Maninsahesh Yatra (Aug/Sep), Bharmour.
The pilgrimage to the sacred Manimahesh Lake draws thousands of Hindu devotees. Its waters are believed to cleanse the sins of a lifetime.
Dussehra (Sep/Oct), Kullu .
Lavi Fair (Nov), Rampur.
Products from remote Tibet and Ladakh were once bartered with those from the plains and lower hills at this fair. Today, woollen goods and pashmina from Tibet, chalgoza nuts and shawls from Kinnaur and Changinurti horses from Spiti are briskly traded.
Renuka Fair (Nov), Nathan.
People from the surrounding villages gather at the shores of the Renuka Lake to celebrate the completion of the harvest, at this fair.
FAMOUS CITIES IN HIMACHAL PRADESH