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Climbing Trees and Plucking Apples in Himachal Pradesh—With Local Families

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Our four-month Himachal road trip was more than halfway through in the middle of July 2021. After living in small Shimla villages (such as Mehli, Fagu, and Mashobra), we had driven to Mandi district. There we explored Chindi village and surrounding hills, visited the historic Pangna, and hiked the daunting Shikari Devi and Kamru Nag mountains.  

I had seen so much in those two and a half months that I wanted to slow down a bit more and write (the start to our indefinite travel hadn’t been easy either). After the big hikes, we checked in to the government guest house (PWD) of Karsog village (Mandi). Every morning in that PWD guest house was more about finding water to go to the toilet than staying sane. The dusty roads and poor guesthouses of Karsog didn’t tempt us to stay in that village longer (though we did buy shoes in Karsog).

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What a Dam Did to the Tattapani Hot Water Springs

Why Tattapani Village in Mandi District (Himachal Pradesh) is in Serious Need of Development

 

We first heard about Tattapani village when we arrived in Mandi District. After staying in Shimla villages for two months, we drove to Pangna village of Mandi, then to Chindi, hiked to Shikari Devi temple and Kamru Nag, explored around, and are now staying in a small highway village near Karsog. 

Tatapani — literally meaning hot water — was once an important village for not just Mandi people but for all Himachal folks. Located 52 km from Shimla, 120 km from Mandi, and 45 km from Karsog, Tatta Paani was visited by devotees on every Makar Sakranti festival in hundreds of thousands of numbers (I can tell by old Tattapani images). The religious villagers used to bathe in the village’s natural hot water springs rich in Sulphur. (Natural hot springs remind me of Manikaran village in Parvati.)

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6 Joyful Weeks in Dharamshala – Here’s What I Did (Updated 2022)

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What does this travel guide to Dharamshala contain?

  1. My Dharamshala trip at a glance
  2. About Dharamshala District, Himachal Pradesh.
  3. My best things to do in Dharamashala.
  4. What is the best time to visit Dharmshala?
  5. How to reach Dharamshala, India?
  6. How to reach Dharmshala from Delhi?
  7. Where to stay in Dharmsala?
  8. How much would a Dharamashala trip cost?
  9. What to bring to Dharamshala?
  10. Is Dharamsala safe for solo travelers?
  11. How to avoid the smoking culture of Dharamshala if you don’t want to be a part of it?
  12. How to go on a long trip to Dharamshala India?
  13. Around Dharmashala and further reading.

Update 2022: As of now (8th April), Himachal Pradesh (HP) doesn’t have any specific travel restrictions. Travelers don’t need to carry a negative RTPCR test but everyone is still supposed to wear a mask in public spaces. Read more regulations here on the HP government’s website.

Things to do and places to visit in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh

This is not your typical Dharamshala travel guide.

During my six weeks in Dharamshala, I hardly ever searched for “things to do in Dharmshala” or “best places to visit in Dharmashala.”

What was I doing? I was busy taking my Dharamshala trip slow.

This might sound clichéd, but I was learning the art of doing nothing.

Visiting Places in Dharamshala and Doing Things at My Pace

I started my journey in Dharamshala by attending a Vipassana course in Dharamkot, one of the many green villages of the Dharamshala district. After a much-needed ten-day silence of body and mind, I packed my bags and headed out of the deodar forests of the Dharamkot Vipassana center. My plan was to stay for a week in upper Dharamkot. 

But something made me leave Dharamkot in two days. Was it the smoky air of my Dharamkot hostel or the hippies lining the cafes in Dharamkot market, I am not sure. I went to live on the other side of Dharamkot to Upper BhagsuNaag, another lush village in Dharmshala.

I had gone to Bhagsu for a week, and I didn’t know I would end up spending more than a month there. 

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Kalga Village – You Won’t Believe Until You See (Updated 2022)

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From the Sun-Kissed Balcony of Kalga Village, Himachal Pradesh

Almost deaf from the loud music blasting from the speakers of travelers who visit Kasol to escape the Delhi heat, I ran out of Kasol after a night. A steep uphill walk took me to the village of Shilha, a tiny apple village pasted onto the slopes of a beautiful green hill. But I didn’t know that the speaker lovers from Delhi had discovered Shilha and were smoking away in its few guesthouses. On one starry night, I also gave up and joined the groups of Indian boys around a bonfire.

Stubborn about staying away from people who couldn’t appreciate the silence of Parvati valley, I strapped on my bag and walked towards Kalga in the morning.

Update 2022: As of now (mid-April), Himachal Pradesh (HP) doesn’t have any specific travel restrictions. Travelers don’t need to carry a negative RTPCR test but everyone is still supposed to wear a mask in public spaces. Read more regulations here on the HP government’s website.

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Spiti Valley Images – Pictures No-One Puts On Instagram

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Spiti Valley Images Showing the Real Spiti

Snow-capped peaks, inky sky, copper mountains, creamy cubicle homes, lean Spitians jostling around, and fat sheep and cows — this is Spiti Valley Himachal, one of the remotest valleys in the Indian Himalayas.

People have been clicking pictures of Spiti valley for decades. But since the advent of social media, Spiti Valley images have flocked to all Indians’ and foreigners’ Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Maroon-robed monks (mostly young) jumping on the swirling roads. Himalayan peaks standing tall and a river swiftly snaking in front of them. Icy summits with creamy Spitian villages in front. Selfies with Spitian women on the road. Key Monastery standing tall. Pictures in front of the dominant mountains. A few close-ups of flat-roofed Spiti homes.

We have seen all of the above Spiti images. But the more natural, unposed, and truthful Spiti valley photos don’t make it to Instagram. Perhaps the silence that envelops the stunning Spiti and the isolated Spitian life is too much to handle even in pictures.

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Spiti Valley – Not Your Usual Travel Destination (Updated 2022)

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Covid Related March 2022 Update for Spiti Valley: After staying closed for more than eleven months, Spiti Valley was finally opened to tourists in 2021. Rohtang Pass, a major pass en route to Spiti is closed until the end of April 2022. Generally that pass doesn’t open until May end. So I suggest planning your trip to Spiti Valley in June 2022. Or take the Shimla to Spiti route which is open throughout the year. Please make sure you follow the appropriate covid guidelines and respect not only the local’s safety but yours, too.


Spiti Valley is every traveler’s dream.

Why? Because Spiti is stunning.

Have you traveled to the Himalayas yet? Maybe you went on to a travel trip to Dharamshala, explored the many places to visit near Manali, or hiked to the Chandrashila peak in Himachal Pradesh. Or perhaps you visited Uttarakhand: Mussoorie, Landour, Dehradun, or trekked in the valley of flowers.

Vast green pastures, sheep and cow grazing on lush grass, high vegetation-rich mountains, dense jungles, orchards, farms and villages, English houses, churches — this is the typical scene in Himachal and Uttarakhand.

Though Spiti is one of the many Himachal Pradesh valleys, it is nothing like this.

In this Spiti valley trip guide, we will see Spiti is one of the most bizarre and gorgeous places on this planet. The altitude of Spiti is at least 4,000 meters even in the lowest parts of the valley. And don’t forget that Spiti is a Himalayan valley. The high altitude and the Himalayas make Spiti a unique place to live. 

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My Adventures in the Village of BhagsuNag, Dharamshala (Himachal Pradesh)

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Update 2022: As of now (March-end), Himachal Pradesh (HP) doesn’t have any specific travel restrictions. Travelers don’t need to carry a negative RTPCR test but everyone is still supposed to wear a mask in public spaces. Read more regulations here on the HP government’s website.

What do you like to do in Himachal Pradesh? I always imagine living in the little villages in the Himalayas. This story is about my life in a Himalayan village BhagsuNag in Dharamshala.

I’m living a dream life in BhagsuNaag, a small village in the Kangra valley of Himachal Pradesh. Bhagsu Nag is above Dharamkot village, which is above Mcleodganj. This town is known for the Dalai Lama’s main temple. Both the villages and Mcleodganj fall in the district of Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh.

When I came to Himachal a month and a half ago, I didn’t know I would stay put up in a village for a month. I arrived in Dharamshala from Amritsar on a rickety HRCTC bus. Straightaway, I went to the Vipassana center in Dharamkot (I still have to write about Vipassana as many of you are waiting to read.).

At the end of the ten-day Vipassana, I walked out of the deodar-dense Vipassana center into the Dharamkot village. I didn’t connect with Dharamkot. Its streets are fringed with homes, stone and Macremia jewelry stores, classrooms of various kinds, hemp stores, harem pants shops, restaurants and hotels, fancy cafes, and a popular Yak cheese sandwich kiosk.

Groups of international tourists sat at the street cafes facing the walkers and sipped cappuccinos or masala chai. Their stone-ring adorned fingers frantically rolled cigarettes or held joints. Whether I scooched through those tiny streets during the morning or the sunny afternoon, I found the cafes and the paths crowded with smokers, shoppers, and crystal admirers. The place lacked the positive energy I needed.

Following my instincts, I crossed to the other side of the valley and arrived in BhagsuNag. At an initial glance, I found the upper part of Bhagsu village calmer, spacious, and closer to local life. I wanted to live, learn, and explore the Himalayas cradling this village. Lower Bhagsu is more crowded due to its popularity amongst Indians for the BhagsuNag temple and a waterfall. So I mostly stay in the upper part.

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