Top 12 Things to Do in Himachal Pradesh

Top 12 Things to Do in Himachal Pradesh

By CarolUpdated Oct. 19, 2021

Blessed with scenic land scapes, ancient religious centers, and picturesque hill stations, the state of Himachal Pradesh is one of India’s most popular travel destinations. It’s a place where you can enjoy a wide range of activities, from nature viewing to adventure sports.

The state’s highlights include its many Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, the charming village of Khajjiar, and the Chandra Taal lake, one of the most picturesque lakes in the world.

Highlights

  • Chandra Taal in the Spiti Valley is renowned for its crescent-like shape.
  • The Namgyal Monastery in McLeod Ganj is the current residence of the Dalai Lama.
  • The Great Himalayan National Park is home to over 375 species of fauna.
  • Bir-Billing is one of the top three paragliding destinations in the world.
  • The Christ Church in Shimla is north India’s second oldest church.

1. Admire the Beauty of Chandra Taal

Recommended visiting time: 1 day

Located in the Spiti Valley, Chandra Taal attracts travelers from all over the world, who visit this crescent-shaped lake to witness its color-changing water, which turns from green to blue and orange to red as the day wears on.

The lake is a popular camping site, too. Visitors are free to spend the night huddled around a bonfire, admiring the night sky dotted with glittering stars and marveling at the moon’s reflection on the surface of the lake.  

Perfect for: Nature lovers.

Insider tip: Warm clothing is recommended when visiting Chandra Taal.

2. Visit the Dalai Lama’s Residence

Recommended visiting time: 2 – 3 hours

The Namgyal Monastery located in McLeod Ganj, a hill station near Dharamsala, is the present-day residence of the 14th Dalai Lama. Founded in the 16th century by the second Dalai Lama, the monastery is filled with paintings, sculptures, and images of important Buddhist figures.

Namgyal Monastery is currently home to around 200 monks, who spend their days meditating and studying Buddhist philosophies, as well as working to preserve the well-being of Tibet and the monastery’s practices and traditions.

Perfect for: Pilgrims and history lovers.

Insider tip: Visitors should remain silent inside the monastery as a sign of respect.

3. Visit the Buddhist Monasteries

Recommended visiting time: 2 – 3 hours

Aside from the Namgyal Monastery in McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh is home to many other popular Buddhist monasteries. The Spiti Valley itself has several important monasteries such as Key, Dhankar, Kungri, and Tabo.

In addition to serving as Buddhist pilgrimage destinations, most of Himachal Pradesh’s monasteries also welcome travelers. The monasteries have become a popular attraction over the years, and are frequented by travelers who stop by to admire their unique architecture and browse through the many ancient Buddhist artifacts on display, including weapons, scrolls, paintings, and scriptures.

Perfect for: History and culture enthusiasts.  

Insider tip: The monks at the monasteries are friendly and helpful. Don't be shy about talking to them and learn more about the monasteries.

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4. Travel to the Solang Valley

Recommended visiting time: 1 day

Solang Valley is a great side trip to before heading to Manali. Located 14 kilometers (9 miles) northwest of Manali, the valley is popular among local and visiting adrenaline junkies, as well as sightseers.

Some of the year-round adventure activities visitors can indulge in include paragliding, rafting, off-roading, and rock climbing. Skiing becomes Solang Valley’s main activity in the winter and zorbing down the valley’s slopes is a popular choice once the snow melts.  

Perfect for: Adrenaline junkies.

Insider tip: Ski training centers and instructors are available in the valley for amateur skiers.

5. Go Trekking in the Spiti Valley

Recommended visiting time: 3 – 5 days

Located high up in the Himalayas, the Spiti Valley is home to some of the greatest trekking trails in the world. Treks in the valley range from easy to challenging and can last anywhere between three to nine days.

The treks will take you through Spiti’s snow-covered mountains, picturesque lakes, and lush green valleys. The most popular treks in the area include Parang La, Chandra Taal, Kanamo Peak, Beas Kund, Pin Parvati, and Pin Valley Park.

Perfect for: Trekkers

Insider tip: Trekking in the Spiti Valley is best enjoyed between July and October.

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6. Visit the Great Himalayan National Park

Recommended visiting time: half-day

The Great Himalayan National is a great place to visit for nature lovers and animal lovers. This national park is home to over 375 species of fauna including snow leopards, blue sheep, Himalayan ibexes, and macaques, and is dotted with a variety of forests including oak, rhododendron scrub, and deodar.

As the park is home to around 181 species of birds, birdwatching has become a popular activity and visitors can even enjoy adventure activities like rock climbing, river crossing, and abseiling in the park’s ecozone.

Perfect for: Nature lovers and Animal lovers

Insider tip: The best times to visit the Great Himalayan National Park are April to June and December to February.

7. Go Paragliding in Bir Billing

Recommended visiting time: 1 day

Often referred to collectively as Bir Billing, the villages of Bir and Billing are regarded as the “Paragliding Capital of India” and together form one of the world’s top three paragliding destinations. Paragliders typically take off in Billing, at an elevation of 2,400 m (7,900 ft) and land in the fields surrounding Bir.

Training programs and certification courses are available in Bir Billing for first-timers too. Bear in mind that paragliding is not recommended for travelers with heart or respiratory issues. In terms of clothing, we’d recommend wearing something that’s neither too tight nor too loose to allow the harness to fit securely.

Perfect for: Adventure lovers

Insider tip: The best times to paraglide in Bir Billing are March to May and October to November.

8. Visit Christ Church in Shimla

Recommended visiting time: half-day

The Christ Church in Shimla is north India’s second oldest church. It’s an architectural marvel that stands a reminder of British colonization and was constructed in a neo-gothic style, featuring exquisite stained glass windows and brass plaques.

Another one of Shimla’s highlights is the State Library, located right beside the church. Designed in the early 20th century by Scottish architect James Ransome, construction on the Tudorbethan style library was completed in 1910 and currently boasts an enormous collection of books and ancient scriptures.  

Perfect for: Architecture enthusiasts.

Insider tip: Travelers are advised to wear appropriate clothing when visiting Christ Church.

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9. Explore “India’s Mini Switzerland”

Recommended visiting time: 1 – 2 days

The small town of Khajjiar is often referred to as “India’s Mini Switzerland” due to its location, backed by picture-perfect dense green forests and gorgeous meadows. It’s a perfect getaway for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and become one with nature.

Khajjiar’s main attraction is the lake in the center of the town, where you can enjoy a leisurely walk along its banks while admiring the blue sky’s reflection on its shimmering surface. Activities like golf, paragliding, horse riding, and zorbing are also popular in the meadows surrounding Khajjiar.

Perfect for: Families.

Insider tip: Zorbing in Khajjiar costs around 200 to 300 Rupees.

10. Cross the Rohtang Pass

Recommended visiting time: 1 day

Another great side trip before heading over to Manali is the Rohtang Pass. Roughly 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Manali at a height of 4,000 m (13,100 ft) above sea level, the Rohtang Pass offers stunning views of snowy mountains, barren landscapes, and sloping valleys.

The Rohtang Pass is a favorite destination for trekkers and many of its trails feature natural attractions such as glaciers, mountain peaks, and waterfalls. Aside from enjoying the views, visitors can opt for a sled ride down the slopes on a traditional wooden sled.

Perfect for: Trekkers and nature lovers.

Insider tip: Rohtang Pass is only open between June and October.

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11. Go Rafting in the Kullu Valley

Recommended visiting time: half-day

Rafting in the Kullu Valley is a must for adventure enthusiasts and is something that can be enjoyed by both amateur and experienced rafters alike. Journeys take place along the Beas River and usually start from the small district of Pirdi, where you’ll travel through places such as Bajaura, Sarabai, Bhuntar, and Shamshi.

Trips tend to start in the late morning, around 10 am, and last for around one and a half hours, during which you’ll get to experience spectacular mountain and forest views as you travel down the river.

Perfect for: Adventure lovers

Insider tip: River rafting in the Kullu Valley costs between 500 and 2,000 Rupees per person.

12. Travel to the Highest Village in the World

Recommended visiting time: 1 day

Located at an elevation of over 4,000 m (13,100 ft) amidst the rocky mountains of the Spiti Valley, the tiny village of Kibber in the Spiti Valley is the world’s highest village.

In addition to the scenery, the village’s houses, built out of stone in a traditional Tibetan style, are an attraction in themselves. The nearby Kibber Monastery and the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary are also noteworthy points of interest worth a couple of hours.

Perfect for: Nature lovers.

Insider tip: The best time to visit Kibber is between July and October.

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