Three Routes through the Himalayas
1. Himalayas and the Golden Temple (Nature and Spirituality)
Route: Amritsar – Dharamshala – Mirage by Andretta – Manali – Shoja – Kotgarh – Shimla – Kasauli – Chandigarh
This route is ideal for people wanting to experience a little bit of spirituality. You can witness the majestic mountains of the Himalayas from its foothills in Himachal Pradesh, a region filled with quaint and beautiful villages and cities.
Start your trip off in Amritsar, easily accessible by flight, train and road. Visit the Golden Temple and immerse yourself in Sikhism, the most giving of all the world’s religions. Explore the architecture and tank up on the humble but delicious Langaar. Backpackers can catch a night’s rest at the amazingly fun Jugaad Hostels or Akaal Residency for some privacy.
The Golden Temple is the most visited monument in the country.
If you’ve got some room for spending, opt for the Country Inn and Suites, and if you’re looking for a more luxurious stay, the Syasa is for you. From here onwards you can either catch a bus or rent a chauffeur-driven at INR 4000 for pretty much all connections in the hills.
We’d strongly recommend hiring a driver, both because the roads are tricky for those unfamiliar and you’re free to explore, discover and take in the view. Next you move up into Dharamshala, home of the Dalai Lama and the adjacent McLeod Ganj in Himachal Pradesh. Dharamshala is a beautiful hill city that houses the exiled Tibetan government, so there’s a huge Buddhist influence there.
Dharamshala is an extremely beautiful town set at the foothills of Himalayas.
Backpackers can hole up at the Pink House; those looking for a little more comfort can try Chonor House. There’s a rare treat here for the artistically inclined called the Mirage, a homestay that doubles as an artists retreat, even having a pottery wheel for you to experiment. If you have the money we definitely recommend staying at the Mirage.
Manali is the next stop in Himachal Pradesh and one of the many foothills of the Himalayas. You can blow off some steam just relaxing hippie style and then satiate your munchies at the numerous little adorable cafes. Old Rock Inn is a great choice for backpackers, a nice cozy setup. For someone looking for a more comfortable stay, Johnson’s Café and the pricier The Himalayan, a beautiful castle resort that won’t disappoint. Then catch a bus to Shoja, a national park that cradles a small village, making it a perfect base campe as you trek into its leafy recesses. All class differences are erased here, since there’s only one decent hotel available—Bajara Camps.
Kotgarh is nationally known for its apples and widespread apple orchards. It’s a very scenic place and quite a quaint town for you to visit, taking walks through forests and apple orchards. The entire stay would be slightly underwhelming if not for the amazing Seetalvan Orchards.
The Kalka-Shimla railway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so definitely take a peek
Shimla is the largest city in Himachal Pradesh, and is definitely worth a visit. As the summer capital of the British Raj, this charming resort town has a strong British colonial presence. You can head straight to Sunnymead Bed and Breakfast for a warm meal and a great conversation. Alternatively, go to the Wildflower Hall for plush carpets and endless breakfasts for you.
Wrap up the trip in Kasauli, free of cars, pollution and all the associated bad vibes. Hunker down in HPTDC’s Ross Commons or the elegant Seven Pines.
Kasauli, while quaint and small, can have stunning viewsPlan your trip
Delhi – Bagdodra – Pelling – Gangtok – Darjeeling – New Jagalpuri – Guwhati – Shillong – Kaziranga – Guwhati – Varanasi
The northeast is one of the most beautiful regions in the country.
Make a leap from Delhi to Bagdodra and Bagdodra to Pelling in a single day, by both air and road respectively. There, take some time to allow the village to envelop you, preferably from the comforts of Daragaon Village Retreat.
Gangtok and Darjeeling
From Pelling, take scenic 5-hour drive to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, which is full of languid icy lakes and views of the souring Himalayas. Sikkim is definitely a beautiful area, also with a large Buddhist influence in its architecture and traditions. Additionally, you can stay at the lovely Hotel Pandim while you’re there before shifting base to Darjeeling.
The famous tea plantations from Darjeeling make it a wonderful experience. You can spend a couple days learning the delicate art of picking and processing tea from the simple town that knows best. After a long day of exploring, head back to the shining wood floors and gaping bay windows of Hotel Shangri La for the night.
Changu Lake, or Tsomgo Lake, is only 40 km from Gangtok, and one of the wonders of the northeast
From here you can hire a car to drop you off at New Jagalpuri, which is 5 hours away. There you can then catch a train to Guwahati in Assam. From ancient temples to the burgeoning wildlife, Guwahati is a nice destination for this route.
When you’re tired of the history and the animals, take a quick 4-hour drive to Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. Meghalaya is one of the Seven Sisters, and is nicknamed the ‘Abode of the Clouds.’ We recommend you drop your bags off at the White Orchid Guest House before heading out to explore the manicured gardens and the waterfalls.
Need some more wildlife? Have a car drop you 6 hours away to Kaziranga and stay at the Nature Hunt Eco Camp. Finally, take another car down to Guwahati and catch a flight out to Varanasi.
All the fauna you could even think of can be found here in Kaziranga, including rhinos!
Here’s a more detailed look at what the northeast has to offer, and how to go about planning your trip there.Plan your trip
Delhi – Leh – Pangong Tso – Nubra Valley – Leh – Delhi
If you want more information on specifically Leh and Ladakh, here’s some great travel routes for just this region.
Nubra Valley in Leh is one of the main tourist attractions of the region,
This is the perfect route for someone highly interested in the mountains and landscapes but doesn’t want to grind as a backpacker.
Once you land in Leh, make sure to give yourself some time to adjust to the drastic change in altitude, the only downside of a quick flight.
Once you’ve had your fill of the palaces and stupas, get into a jeep and take a drive through Chang-La Pass, the third-highest drivable road in the world. Come out the other end onto one of the world’s most breath-taking sights—the endless stillness of Pangong Tso Lake. With this lake and the Moriri Tso, you’ll marvelous views of the two sister lakes.
The city of Leh has many sights, just take your time in acclimatizing so you don’t get altitude sickness
The next day, you can set your sights 1010 ft higher at the world’s highest drivable pass—Khardung La Pass. This treacherous road will take you into the uniquely distinct Nubra Valley bordering the Himalayas. Break through the fog and onto the smooth vistas of snow, take a camel ride, a million photos and a quick dip in the hot sulphur springs at Panamik before heading back the way you came.
If you’d like to do any of these trips, or would rather plan your own personalized tour, let us know and we can make that happen for you in absolutely no time.