Himachal Pradesh is India's most popular and easily accessible hill state. The snowy mountains and steep hillsides have ensured that the region has remained an idyllic place, little touched by the fast changing world around it.
Visit Himachal Pradesh for its spectacular vistas of snowy mountains, its Raj-era picturesque hill stations, its dignified Tibetan Buddhist temples and its wonderfully warm people.
The state capital , was also the British summer capital of India. It is therefore the epitome of all that the British would crave in the summer heat - refreshing temperatures, wooded hillsides, churches to visit on Sundays, and of course a warm hearth by which to sip a peg or two in the evenings.
North of Shimla, past homely stone cottages and apple orchards, is . Manali's distinctive wooden temples, the colourful hats and vests of its villagers and its superb culinary offerings make it a much sought after destination. The town also has some lovely accommodation options built in the style of traditional Manali homes.
Travelling north from Manali, the roads climbs through the Rohtang Pass into Lahul and on to . The journey is best done with a night halt at , a pleasant little hamlet, 21 km north of Keylong. This is an extraordinary journey on the second highest motorable road in the world, usually open only from early June to early October.
To the west of Manali lies . The little scoop in the Dhauladhar Mountains that is Dharamsala is the seat of the Dalai Lama in exile, as well as a place of refuge of many Tibetans. It is both a deeply religious place, as well as the vibrant and colourful home of a people that refuse to be crushed in spite of the hardships they bear.
The perfectly preserved stone and brick houses of are just over two hours' drive from Dharamsala. This 16th century heritage village is set in the fruit and flower filled Kangra Valley. Pragpur also presents the opportunity to stay in a beautiful turn of the century country manor.
The tea estates of are close by. Palampur's misty hillsides and clear views of snow-capped mountains make it an ideal place for a quiet overnight stopover, staying in cottages on a tea estate or in the grander Taragarh Palace.
A breath taking drive heading north-west past terraced fields brings you to the unconsciously beautiful temples of . Chamba is also famous for its intricately embroidered roomals (handkerchiefs) and for its miniature paintings, both of which can be admired in the Bhuri Singh museum.
Built over eight hills, the once immensely popular hill station of is now a much quieter place with local fruit and vegetable markets and a couple of Romanesque churches. Ruby red rhododendrons fill the valleys their own in summer. A night in the Grand View Hotel, one of Dalhousie's best preserved wood and stone buildings adds greatly to the experience.