Winters in Himachal Pradesh- Places to visit near Shimla
All my travel stories start with Bollywood imaginations. I have been dreaming of singing and dancing around the tall pine trees, with snow-capped mountains in the background, horse-ride, carpet of pure green grass with dewdrops, an ancient temple with regional music playing in the background. It was just so perfect setting for real. I was looking for places to visit near Shimla, yes! Beyond Shimla and Manali.
Every sip of my cuppa was cherished a little more than usual in those misty mornings, chirping birds, watching sun rays passing through tall pine trees, magnificent Himalayan range and a slow pace life routine of the local people in that 3 degrees temperature. I was in Himachal Pradesh, Naldera, Narkanda and Tattapani to be precise, just a few kilometres away from Shimla.
Shimla has got all the vibes for a perfect holiday in all seasons but winters are exceptionally beautiful. The whole of Shimla is adorned with star-studded Christmas Trees, colourful lighting and tourists from all over the world in their vibrant winter clothing making the whole atmosphere even more effervescent. It was so difficult to take out our hands from layers of clothing but we couldn’t have asked for more.
Little away from Shimla-Narkanda, Naldera and Tattapani
Almost every alternate year we go to Shimla but this year we decided to visit places nearby keeping base as Shimla. The best options were Naldera, Narkanda and Tattapani.
NARKANDA- the land of snow, skiing and apples
Every hill station has its charm in all seasons, but winter is my favourite one. Driving through steep twists and turns, look for a mesmerising view of snow-clad mountains. Step farming with snow all over, villagers in their local attire heading towards or coming back from work, kids in their winter school uniform with literally rosy and chubby cheeks with their backpacks going to school, local Himachali women out for shopping their daily needs has an altogether a different feel. The streets are full of small kiosks of green and red apples, cherries, Jams and juices from the locally grown fruits.
Just about 60 km away and 2 hours’ drive from Shimla, is Narkanda. It is famous for Hatu Peak and is slowly gaining popularity for its winters sports activities more specifically for Skiing. One needs to trek for an hour to reach Hatu peak which unfortunately was closed when we visited due to heavy snowfall in the previous week. But this didn’t deter our spirits as we made the best of winter sports in knee-deep snow. The winter sports activities were introduced by the Himachal Government in 1980 and they conduct Skiing courses too. The equipment like snow boots, ski, waterproof jackets and lowers etc. are available on hire with service providers at a nominal cost.
The temperature here goes from 15 to -10 degrees so it is advisable to carry loads of woollens.
NALDERA- a golf course, temples and scenic landscapes
If you have dreamt of a perfect landscape painting with a breath-taking view of snow-capped mountains, a river flowing through a lush green valley, sun rays passing through tall deodar trees, a golf course and a horse ride, Naldera is the place for you. There is no reason why one should miss Naldera if you are keen on spending time with yourself soaking up in nature. A calm and quiet small town of Naldera offers you nature at its best. It is indeed nature and photography lover’s paradise.
The erstwhile British Viceroy Lord Curzon was so charmed by nature in this small town of Himachal Pradesh, who discovered Naldera and decided to build a huge Golf course. Today this 18-hole Naldera Golf Couse is one of the finest and renowned Golf courses in India and is also a major tourist attraction.
If you are looking for some adventure, pony rides or just a walk in the forest of tall deodar trees to reach to the magnificent views of the huge Himalayan range then you must visit Shaily Peak. A little bit of adrenaline rush, this short but a steep hike will mesmerise you with the splendour all around. There are ponies available which takes you for a jolly ride to the various iconic spots which will leave you spellbound.
Do not forget to visit the ancient Mahakali Temple, dedicated to Hindu Goddess Mahakali. The temple is situated on the banks of Lake Mahakali and is of great religious significance. Spend some time to admire the architecture of the temple especially the intricate carvings on the wooden doors and miniatures of lions outside the temple. A walk in the pristine, calm and soulful surroundings where you hear the birds chirping and the ringing of temple bells make you spend more and more time.
Regional Horticultural Research Station is another attraction one must visit during the stay in Himachal Pradesh. Started in 1953, the research centre or the station as they call focusses on temperate fruits like apple, pear, plum and several exotic ornamental plants. It is the largest germplasm centre for apples, pear and cherries in India. At present, about 238 apples, 63 pears, 47 cherry and promising cultivars of hazelnut and walnut are there in the repository. This station has played a pivotal role to bring the name of Himachal as ‘Apple state of India’. Enjoy the panoramic views of the Himalayas from this research station.
Approximately 50 km away from Shimla, Tattapani is known for its natural hot water springs and river rafting. Drive through Kufri to reach Tattapani with astoundingly beautiful views of snow-clad mountains, step farming landscapes, zigzag roads and a deep valley. An overwhelming picturesque sight of River Sutlej will leave you in awe for a very long time. It is believed that people take a dip in holy hot water spring to get relief from joint pains and skin diseases. Well, we took a raft and sailed in soft rafting and didn’t want an adrenaline rush in white water rafting. Even if you are not interested in both, you must visit for nature at its best.
Escape from city life for a relaxed holiday, adventure, a workation or want to unwind yourself in the captivating views of majestic mountains, these winter destinations inarguably will rejuvenate you.