India secrets: Himachal Pradesh

first_imgSpars lodgeThis charming lodge on Museum Road is not just a great place to stay, but also has a small but terrific restaurant. Even if you don’t stay here, visit the restaurant for fantastic smoked chicken and trout as well as the local food. If you’re happy being a little away from it all, spending leisurely hours on the terrace enjoying the view, then you probably this is the place for you. Museum Road, Chaura Maidan; Tel: (0177) 265 7908Pappi da DhabaAs you drive beyond St Bede’s College on Cart Road, you will see a bunch of students waiting to get inside a small roadside dhaba. This is Pappi da Dhaba, where the aroma of delicious aloo paranthas will make you drool. The place is also famous for its fantastic cold coffee and keema paranthas, but if you are in the mood for something really different then go for chowmein samosa that is stuffed with noodles instead of the usual potato filling. If you go by the word of students, this dhaba serves the best breakfast in town. Cart Road, SanjauliSanjiv’s aira holme The charming cottage was built in 1920 as a billiards room and guesthouse in a sprawling estate called Morefield Grange. It is now the residence of Sanjiv and her artist husband, Birendra Singh, better known as Billy. Their home is full of oil paintings that Billy did in his early days. They have extended the cottage with locally available material such as wood and stone, and offer a couple of rooms for a homestay. Wooden flooring, fireplaces, large windows and balconies which overlook a garden filled with flowers and foliage and a green valley all add up to a very tranquil, restful stay in Shimla. There is no television in the rooms and the home is a no-smoking area, but no one’s complaining. Tel: 274 9374Hike to catchment sanctuaryClose to Kufri and around 12 km from Shimla, lies the catchment sanctuary. To hike in this area, go down to the Seyog Forest Rest House, in the middle of this silent forest and follow the trail. This is a fantastic place for birdwatching. You can also see pugmarks of various animals and on a lucky day might spot a few deer. It’s a pretty area with nine streams flowing. There is one rest house inside, and three outside the sanctuary. 12 km from ShimlaDimsums at Krishna bakersIt should not come as any surprise that this bakery makes amazing cookies, and the cakes and pastries are equally delicious. However, what many don’t know is that Krishna Bakers also makes the best dimsums in town. They are as good as the ones you will get at a Tibetan joint, and come along with chicken soup. Another unique product of this bakery is the sticky toffee. If you are looking for a quick snack, stop by and you will be happy with whatever you choose to eat. 4, The Mall; Tel: 280 6991Shali tibba hikeThe trek up to Shali Tibba, the highest peak in the vicinity of Shimla, is a lovely trail that winds its way through dense forests and beautiful meadows. You can go to Mashobra (13 km away) and then begin the climb, but this will be long and tiring. Those who prefer to trek a shorter distance (just five km), should go further up to Gultani. When you reach up, you’ll see a small Kali temple there, and views of the towering Himalayas around and the valley down below are absolutely stunning. If you want to spend a night, there is a guesthouse at Khatnol, the nearest village to Shali Tibba. But the trek is worth the effort for the views are spectacular. The hike begins from Mashobra, 13 km awayKalyani helipad Chharabra, a small village 13 km beyond Shimla, is home to the Kalyani helipad located on atop a hill. The helipad gives one the feeling of being on top of the world and the views of the mountains and the valley covered with thick pine forests are absolutely stunning. It is the perfect place to watch the sun go home. There are many trails going down to the valley if you want to explore this beautiful area. 13 km from ShimlaDargah Shareef Getting to this dargah that is visited by people of all religions and all walks of life is certainly not an easy task. You will have to go down 100 steps to get here. It comes alive on Thursdays when scores of people come here to offer prayers. More than 90 years old, it one of the most peaceful places to visit in this lovely hillstation. Ghora Chowki, close to Sankat Mochan templeTaka benchTaka Bench is located just above The Ridge. Locals visit this place whenever they want to apply mehndi or have their fill of lip smacking chaat and golgappas. As you climb up from The Ridge towards Jakhu temple you come across a few artistes, who are adept at intricate henna designs. Their charges are very reasonable. The chaat and golgappas sold by hawkers are delicious. Combine all this with the brilliant view of the Himalayas you get from the Taka Bench, and this becomes a place well worth a dekko. 3 km from the RidgeadvertisementadvertisementShimla: Tarun GuptaRaised in this charming hillstation, avid reader and travel enthusiast, Tarun, is convinced that there is no better place in the world. Tarun’s professional role as a strategy consultant keeps him in Gurgaon, though he yearns to return to Shimla and open his own B&B.Outside Shimla: Adventure sportsThe mountains of Himachal offer a number of adventure sports–from heli skiing, rafting, rappelling to rock climbing. Spend between five and seven days on an expedition of approximately 100 km, which combines river running and driving along Spiti and Pin rivers. You’ll go through some of the most sparsely populated parts of India. The rapids range from Class II to Class III, making this a trip everybody can undertake, while the minimum altitude of 3,000m adds an interesting twist. The route starts from the Paldhar Plains and runs to Rangrik (river), Langza (drive), Attargo Bridge (river), Mikkim (drive), Gulling to Poh (river), Tabo (river) and Sumdo (river). From here, drive along the old Hindustan-Tibet road to Shimla. At Manali, you can go heli skiing. A chopper transports you to the top of a peak making it convenient to ski down some of the finest slopes in the country. The choices lie in Hanuman Tibba, Deo Tibba, Rohtang Pass and Chandrakhani Pass. A key feature at Manali is the compact heli skiing area and all it requires is a flight time of around ten minutes to carry skiers to the top of peaks that are as high as 14,000 ft. From there it’s a thrilling ride down the slopes, their smooth ridges promising an adrenaline boost for the skier. There is opportunity for beginners too with gentler gradient slopes. The best time to go for rafting is from April to September                                                                          Must do: Himachal PradeshStay: Nalagarh Heritage ResortThis splendid Mughal-style fort has been built on five different levels with terraces and stairways connecting the entire structure. Surrounded by 20 acres of orchard and forest, it offers sweeping views of the Shivaliks. With its large spacious suites–some even have private balconies–Nalagarh makes a great romantic hideaway. Tel: (01795) 223 179; www.nalagarh.in Eat: German Bakery, Old ManaliManali is second only to Dharamshala when it comes to foreign tourists and this probably explains the immense popularity of the German Bakery located on Mission Road. One of the best places for a breakfast, it is known for such baked goodies as cakes, cookies, muffins and doughnuts. Shop: Kangra paintingsIf you’re artistically inclined, you might like to pick up some Kangra and Basholi miniatures from the Bhuri Singh Museum in Chamba and the Kangra Art Museum in Lower Dharamshala.See: Pragpur VillagePragpur holds the unique distinction of being India’s first certified heritage village. Everything in this charming Himachali village is as it was over 300 years ago: the cobbled streets, slate roofs, mud-plastered walls, ornamental tanks, carved doorways and even the quaint little shops. Walk around the village, shop for shawls, enjoy a sumptuous meal at Judge’s Court, or just laze in the winter sun–it’s the perfect weekend break for city dwellers.advertisementlast_img

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