|Tourist Centers of Himachal Pradesh|
"Surely the Gods live here; this is no place for men", wrote Rudyard Kipling of Kullu, India's valley of the gods. Located in the charming Kullu valley in Himachal Pradesh and set amongst the lower reaches of the mighty Himalayas, the small town of Kullu is famous for its temples, apple orchards, and the annual Dussehra festival, all of which attract hordes of tourists. Kullu is also known for its handicrafts. Beyond the town’s perimeter loom the magnificent greater Himalayas and the silver valley bisected by the Beas River.
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One of the most beautiful hill stations of the country, Manali is basically a small town in the Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh. Termed sometimes as the cradle between the lesser Himalayas, Manali is extremely popular with tourists for its lavish display of unspoilt natural beauty. Rich in its scenic splendor, Manali draws a good number of tourists from within the country and abroad every year.
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The Rohtang Pass, a few kilometers away from Manali, is a site where one can view the most drastic of landscape variances. On one side, the lush green head of the Kullu Valley; to the other, an awesome vista of bare, brown mountains, hanging glaciers and snowfields that dazzle in the crisp daylight. It is in the district of Lahaul and Spiti—a place untouched by the onslaughts of time. The tough terrain means that not too many tourists venture into this region thus helping the virginal landscapes and simple lifestyles retain their native charm.
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The small town of Chamba is located in a picturesque valley, amidst the Shivalik ranges and is famous for its medieval temples. The architecture of the temples of Chamba reflects the glory of its erstwhile rulers. It is also known for its local festivals.
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Compared to other hill stations, Dalhousie, 80 winding kilometers from Pathankot, is markedly different and as yet unexplored. Spread over five hills, Dalhousie has a serenity of its own. Attractive cottages and villas cling to the deodar and pine mantled hills of Dalhousie while pink and red rhododendrons bloom and trees dress in different shades of green.
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The small town of Kangra was the capital of the erstwhile rulers of the Chand dynasty. It is set amongst the picturesque settings of the Kangra valley at the foothills of the majestic Dhauladhar range. The area around Kangra is known for its ancient temples and picturesque surroundings, which attract tourists.
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Khajjiar is a small grassy meadow located in the picturesque Chamba valley. It is a popular picnic spot whose quiet environs beckon the tourists traveling between Dalhousie and Chamba. The stopover at Khajjiar is a welcome break for the weary tourists.
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Lulled by the sweet folk songs of the Kinneri women, the vale of Kinnaur provides a calm sojourn to all tourists, young and old. While the youthful and the daring try to conquer the hilltops with their trekking expeditions, the more laid-back traveler can savor the delights of the tranquil mountains amidst the bounties of nature. Kinnaur, with its colorful and hospitable population, can be an absolute delight for the ones who admire the highlands. This land of fairytales and fantasies has a breathtaking terrain of lush green valleys, orchards, vineyards, snow-clad peaks and cold desert mountains.
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Kufri is a tiny hill station located near Shimla. It is famous for its trekking and hiking trails. Adventure-seeking travelers throng Kufri in winters to enjoy skiing and tobogganing along its snow-covered slopes. Kufri is also famous for its nature parks and picnic spots. Kufri’s proximity to the hill station of Shimla makes it an important place on the tourist circuit of the state.
Mandi district comprises of two princely states of Mandi and Suket. The district takes its name from the principal town Mandi in keeping with the general pattern of the hill states. Situated on the left bank of the river Beas, Mandi town is almost in the center of Himachal Pradesh in the foothills of the Shivalik ranges. At one time the former state of Mandi had an imposing array of forts, 360 in all. However, time has taken its toll and now only about 10 are left.
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Shimla, one of India’s most famous hill stations, derives its name from Goddess Shyamala, an incarnation of Goddess Kali, the deity of power and wrath. However, unlike its name, Shimla is a perfect heaven for those in search of tranquility. Nature has blessed this capital city with innumerable gifts and man has used them to make Shimla one of India’s best destinations.
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Set against the magnificent backdrop of the towering Dhauladhar ranges, which rise up to more than 4,000 meters, Dharamshala, which literally means ‘the Holy Refuge’, lies perched up on the high slopes in the upper reaches of the Kangra valley. Founded in 1855, it is one of the 80 hill resorts developed in the seventeenth century by the British to beat the heat and dust of the sweltering plains. Today, it is famous as the abode of the Dalai Lama and is known throughout the world as the Little Lhasa, because of the large number of Tibetans and their ‘Government in Exile’, which is headquartered here.
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Located in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, the small hamlet called Chail is a place where time stands still. Nature is at her exuberant best and words like pollution and deforestation have never entered the dictionary of a person living in Chail. It is place worth a visit if one wants to enjoy fresh, crisp dawns and soft, quiet dusks in the lap of nature.
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