Known as the Land of the Gods, Himachal Pradesh is a province that will make your heart flutter.
Its godly reputation is in part due to its breath-taking natural landscape and rugged terrain, but also because ofits frequent mention in the holy texts and theancient temples that arelittered across the region. Its diverse landscape provides everything from glacial and alpine summits to sub-humid tropical forests.
In addition to its outstanding aesthetics, it is also home to a diverse range of medicinal and aromatic plants. It is referred to as India’s fruit basket as its innumerable orchards provide a bounty of fleshy fresh produce that is sold across the nation. This abundance of natural resources is reflected in the gastronomy of the region – but more of that later.
Start in Shimla, the region’s capital. From here you can brave vertigo inducing-bridges and explore the unfathomable landscape via vehicle safari. Uncover distant Buddhist monasteries by mountain bike, trek to tribal villages or twist and twirl on Asia’s only natural ice-skating rink. Or, use Shimla as a base for discovering Dalhousie, Kullu-Manaliand Solan; all famous for their unique high altitude camping spots. If mountaineering and rock-climbing are more to your taste, Jorkanden, Rangrik Rang and Shilla are known for their devilish slopes and death-defying peaks. Suffice to say, you won’t find anything like a green Alpine slope here.
It is indeed an adrenaline junkie’s dream. From helicopters dropping skiers on remote Himalayan slopes to experiencing the world’s greatest paragliding peaks, Himachal Pradesh offers unlimited opportunities to set your heart racing.
Anyone with access to the internet will have seen the stupefying antics of busy Indian railways and their gravity defying passengers. The Kalka-Shimla Railway however, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and instead of offering stomach-turning hang-ons, it offers a chance to witness luscious scenery and traverse heights from the comfort of your carriage. We cannot promise it will not be busy, but that is all part of the authentic experience – just do not look down!
Now, just what can our intrepid traveller eat after a day of adrenaline?
If you visit during one of the region’s many festivals, you can try Dham, a dish prepared by Brahmins and comprised of red kidney beans, green lentils, rice in curds and served with mash daal, boor kikari and a sweet and sour sauce made from jaggery (gur) and tamarind.
A Himalayan speciality, ChhaGosht, is a dish made with marinated lamb meat cooked in a gravy of gram flour, yoghurt and spices. Accompany with Sidu or Babru, two delicious variations of bread. Bhey is a unique dish made from lotus stems that are stir-fried with onion, ginger-garlic paste, gram flour, cayenne pepper and other spices. And if you can, try the Kullu Trout.
The region’s cuisine is as unique as its culture. For a taste of India, book a table at one of London’s best fine dining Indian restaurants where you can try delicious dishes from Kerala to the tips of the Himalayas.