India
Himachal Pradesh

Here you’ll find travel reports about Himachal Pradesh. Discover travel destinations in India of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

31 travelers at this place:

  • Day289

    Record-breaking Spiti

    June 14 in India

    Isn’t it on the dice that the spectacular location of the Spiti Valley could make some good advertisement to attract tourists?
    Of course it is and that’s what the tourism department of Himachal Pradesh does (and the local population chuckles about): They claim to have the highest bridge in Asia, the highest village in the world, the highest city in the world, the highest post office in the world, the highest rooftop café in the world and so on...

    It works, the tourists are coming, but most of it isn’t the truth and altitude indications on the signposts are always doubtful. We trust our GPS, our maps and enjoy our time, record yes or no :)
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  • Day294

    Pin Valley

    June 19 in India

    Coming to Kaza, which is the headquarter of Lahaul and Spiti, felt a bit like entering back into civilization, we could choose from menus in the various restaurants, there were hotels, guesthouses and souvenir shops, a fruit and vegetable market. But still, power outages came frequent and there was no mobile network. At least two places have set up a wifi, which worked a little between 2 and 3 am when the town was sleeping. It was the first time after 10 days that we could send and receive messages and unfortunately there was not only good news: Silke’s Grandma had died already a week ago... :(

    To mourn and to make other thoughts come, we decided to leave Kaza again. Therefore we had to get an ‘Inner Line Permit’ for an upcoming stretch of 28km. A typical, nerve-racking Indian bureaucracy act with many pass-photos and lots of paperworks followed. There’s only one road, thus every foreigner has to undergo this useless process. The official reason is that we would get as close as a stone’s throw from the Tibetan border...however, it is what it is.

    We cycled into the Pin Valley which we also call ‘Windy Valley’ since we went in and out due to heavy gusty winds. The winds occasionally pushed us to a standstill but the valley is beautiful and still a bit off the beaten track, overall a worthy detour. It’s a side valley formed by the Pin River which merges with the Spiti River.

    As we entered, there was a transformation from the stone desert to acres of greenery and green mountains. There’s a chain of lovely villages and (not muddy) Mud is the last one and a dead end apart from a few hiking paths.

    People are so hospitable there (they tried hard to enable us watching the Germany match against Mexico, which didn’t work...and we’re quite happy about now) that we decided to stay longer. We enjoyed the peace of this place, went for a nice walk and enjoyed tons of ‘Tibetan pizza’ (which is actually just a sandwich of two simple chapatis with some veggies and cheese in between, fried in a pan, but delicious!).
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  • Day299

    Preservation efforts

    June 24 in India

    Tabo became famous after its thousand-year-long anniversary in 1996 wherefore tens of thousands pilgrimaged to the old monastery. It has the most impressive temple we‘ve ever seen, built from mud and so old, but with well-preserved, beautiful mural paintings, stucco and terrifying wooden figures coming out of the walls. It’s almost dark inside, there’s only a little opening in the middle of the roof where some sunrays may enter and any other light (cameras as well) is strictly prohibited to protect the artworks. The lighting conditions create a mystical, even terrifying atmosphere which made us taking every footstep with a lot of care, and humility.

    The cute village Mane manages to keep tourism at a low level and maintains its traditions. It is certainly not harmful that it is hidden by the surrounding mountains on a higher plateau and invisible from the road. There is only one homestay, which is still a true, non-commercialized homestay where the family was around us or we were around them, eating together in their living room. And their were so many kids, strikingly curious kids, super excited to see us foreigners, keen to help us with our stuff when we arrived and always around - great fun!

    We’re so thankful to all the road workers continuously maintaining the road. Conditions are still bad though, but without their efforts the roads would become impassable within a few days. Some stretches are so dangerous, meaning the landslide or shooting stone areas where those poor people permanently clear the way, risking their own lives and making it possible for us to cycle here (the poorest of them even live along the road in tiny tin shacks). Thank you!
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  • Day312

    Bye bye, Himachal!

    July 7 in India

    And there it was, finally: Rain! What a weird feeling to cycle through the rain again, but we actually enjoyed it that the rainy season eventually had caught us - although some showers from overtaking trucks were a bit too much of the wet element.

    We found a nice family running a guesthouse in a quiet, hilly area near Chail. When they proudly showed us the surroundings of their home, we could feel that they care a lot about the environment and their health.
    They produce their own organic food in some small fields and in a greenhouse, like
    peas, pumpkin, cucumber, tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, pepper, onions, chilies, potatoes, beetroot, apple, apricot - two cows give fresh milk every day... And with these fresh ingredients they prepared some of the most delicious meals we had in India, thus we had to extend our stay there :)

    There were two birthdays in the big family, so we also got to know other members - we’re so happy about this authentic familial experience towards the end of our journey, thanks a lot Param!

    And then we absolutely wanted to pitch our tent one last time, and there was only one night left before our train to Delhi would leave from Kalka. Actually, we’ve developed quite a sense to make out possible camping areas on our maps during the last months - but this time we were wrong: Aiming at a hilly area near Solan, still marked as a forest on the maps, we were surprised how fast this village must have been exploded and eaten up the greens. It was so crowded, difficult to cross, so much construction going on, but we didn’t give up. Just before dawn we found a spot in the curve of a steep serpentine, apparently only used by pedestrians, and we were so glad! Even the view was quite nice from there though.

    The roads became busier next day, the traffic gradually increased and soon, we found ourselves back in dusty, bustling India again: Bye bye Himachal Pradesh...

    In the evening we reached the train station in Kalka which is equipped with a parcel office and, surprisingly, a dorm room. While the helpful guys in the office took care of our bikes we could even find some sleep till the departure of our train in the morning - we’re coming to like the Indian railway system more and more :)
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  • Day287

    Julley, Julley Spiti!

    June 12 in India

    Loosely translated, ‘Spiti’ means ‘the middle country’ - a name given as a result of its location and traditional ties with both India and Tibet. The average altitude of this region is higher than 4000m. Quite often we were wondering if it’s still India we’re in...

    ...And not only once we should hear that the people see Spiti as a ‘little, free Tibet’. They are so hearty and easygoing, but also working hard to make it through the unforgiving winters - their favorite time of the year because there’s no work to do and lots of social life: Traditional celebrations, singings, table games, but also drinking and television (if exceptionally there’s no power outage).

    It is both surprising and fascinating to see that almost the entire physical work, in the fields or at construction sites, is done by women, some of them even carry their child on their back, and there’s no ‘too old’. They mainly grow potatoes, green peas and seabuckthorn. The shapes of the fields are never the same, always fitting perfectly into the given terrain, they are so well maintained and look so accurate that the veggies have no other option than being delicious - the demand is tremendous.

    The white Spiti houses with their black framed windows and flat roofs which are covered with reefs to keep the snow away are remarkable and perfectly fit into the surroundings. The little villages are just lovely and when a whole village is under sound exposure from a megaphone playing 'Om Mani Padme Hum' or speeches of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual atmosphere thrills everyone.

    In Losar, the first Spiti village on our way, we soaked up the spirit and enjoyed our first accommodation since 10 days. There was still no connection, no wifi...
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  • Day291

    Ki Gompa

    June 16 in India

    The prayer halls and homes of the monks were built on top of each other around a little hill, creating a Buddhistic fortress where about 300 monks of all ages live nowadays. It is rich in history and we were so fond of the atmosphere that we decided to stay overnight, which is possible for a small contribution.

    It was our first night in a monastery and we could experience a bit of the monks‘ daily life. A very nice Lama took care of us, prepared some basic meals, even a midnight tea, and tried to answer our questions. We slept at the top of the hill what allowed us to watch the young monks doing their prayers or monk discussions on the roofs below. Just search for some videos of monk discussions and you’ll agree that this is an interesting technique :)

    There were some other travelers we had a great time with, sharing stories and enjoying the fantastic views and the tangible stars at night. Sometimes visits to the most remarkable places make you meeting the most remarkable people...
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  • Day304

    Staying high

    June 29 in India

    The number of military posts increased and we knew that we were as close as never before to Tibet (goosebumps!), but all we could see were mighty snowy peaks on the other side of the Spiti...and one ahead which we weren’t aware of but had to climb. Luckily we met two friendly Indians who pulled us half the way up till we saw a nice spot to pitch our tent. They simply attached our bikes to their motorbikes with ropes - what an amazing idea, and what a relaxed ride!

    At the back of our minds there was a subtle disgust against the heat down in the plains, and some fear of the chaos we expected of Delhi...but we knew that we had to go there in about 2 weeks. Thus, we tried to spend as much time as possible as high up in the mountains as possible these days.

    We found Nako and Kalpa to be great places to do this and spend a lot of time there, took some days off from cycling, relaxed, went for walks through the orchards, talked to the locals and enjoyed spectacular views of the holy Shiva Peak (Kinnur Kailash at 6050m).

    By the way, when we described the local agriculture and the accurate fields, we forgot to mention the huge apple orchards and clever irrigation channels they’ve built. However, the farmers are talking about the climate change they are suffering from. There has been a lack of snow in the increasingly warmer winters since a few years, causing a lack of water in the summers and shrinking glaciers. The Himalayas are the area where the recent drinking water problems of India start...
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  • Day307

    Part of the game

    July 2 in India

    We were already about to come to the end of our journey and then it yet happened: Our first accident. A cow blocked our side of the road when a car came from the front. While we were overtaking the cow, it happened that one of Silke’s front panniers got tangled up in one of Hauke’s so that Silke fell down with her bike. As we enjoyed lots of rapid downhills these days, we were going quite fast. But luckily, nothing serious happened, light abrasions on knee and hip, one swollen knee - and a genuine, red, smarting racing cyclists' road burn around one elbow. After the shock went away, the pain came up, we treated the wounds and continued cycling.

    Along the road, we occasionally saw ropeways going up to some villages high above which are only accessible by steep footpaths with many stairs. The government supplies these remote villages by sending up baskets full of foodstuff - those poor people living up there in their oases of peace should not lack Coca Cola and other convenient food, of course...

    Back down below 1000m, the heat took away our motivation to continue cycling and when we faced our last, unavoidable ascent up to almost 3000m, some laziness sneaked in: We stopped a pickup and hitchhiked up to the hill station Narkanda. This allowed us to stay there for a couple of days in a refreshing climate and to explore the dense, surrounding pine forest by foot :)
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  • Day270

    Vipassana Meditation

    May 26 in India

    A 10 day Vipassana meditation course is an individual experience for everyone, thus this post is written from Silke’s perspective. Hauke didn’t finish the course anyway because of too much pain from sitting cross-legged, meditation wasn’t possible anymore, so he quit on day 8.

    I had never done something similar before and these ten days were not holiday at all.
    No other activities were allowed, no talking, no phones, no reading, no writing, no music, no exercising, nothing. It was not allowed to walk out of the course boundaries. Men and women are separated during the whole time of the course (the longest time for us since we left for this trip, and the longest time we spent in one place). Basically everything that brings joy was prohibited. Sounds almost like being in jail, right? But as the Vipassana center of Dharamkot is located in the middle of a pine forest it feels not. It’s an absolutely calm and peaceful place, completely fenced off from busy McLeod Ganj, perfect to calm down your mind and learn a meditation technique.

    And what made it even more perfect were the great volunteers and assistant teachers. There was nothing I had to take care of. They prepared the meals, organized a laundry service and made sure that we students could solely focus on the meditation.

    Most of the meditation were group sittings in a large hall and a part of it in our rooms and the ten hours of daily meditation were quite challenging, both physically and mentally.

    Try to sit cross-legged just for one hour with a straight back without moving or stretching any parts of your body and you know what I mean. When I looked at the strong Indian women around me who were sitting there like little Buddhas, like rocks, it felt like ‘this is not fair’, but they’re used to it and us westerners are not. This is the physical aspect.

    Mentally it was demanding too, of course, as learning a meditation technique is hard mental work. Especially during the first days it was really hard for me to calm down all my thoughts. Quite often I found myself in a situation where my mind just kept on wandering away, sometimes for minutes before I realized it. Then I had to remember myself to focus on the meditation again.

    During the first three days, the meditation was all about focussing on the breath, a simple observation of the air flow in the area around the nostrils, nothings else. But it can be so difficult! And so frustrating, if you realize that you can not even control your mind for a minute to do this simple job!

    At the end of the third day, we were taught the actual Vipassana meditation technique, which is about an objective observation of sensations throughout the whole body, simply put. If you can not even focus on your breath, how can you do that, for an hour or longer!? “Work continuously, diligently, persistently, objectively!”, to repeat S.N. Goenka ‘refrain’, or “work hard!”.

    I went through many ups and downs during this course, some sittings felt quite successful, some frustrating and I did not know how I was going to make it to the end of the course. But it is very important, and this is a crucial aspect of this technique, to see the things as they are, without craving, without aversion. It is what it is, some session are good, some are not, it doesn’t matter.

    However, somehow I did get through it, which made me realize that I’m much stronger than I think I am. After the long time in silence it was finally a relief to talk again, to get to know the people I’d been sitting in the hall and sleeping in the same room with for 10 days, to share our experiences. Thus, a long night was followed by an even more intense chatting during last meal the next morning :)

    What I learned as well is that happiness comes from within. I thought I already knew this, but I came to truly and deeply experience this at the course. I realised that despite what was going on at anytime, I could choose to be happy if I wanted to.

    Be happy,
    with much Metta,
    Silke
    Read more

  • Day14

    Dharamshla 2

    October 10, 2017 in India

    Early morning to McLeodganj where the Dalai Lama's residence, the Namgyal Monastery is located together with the Norulinka Institute. Our group had a personal audience with him and photos in small groups. As always he was very insightful, engaging and funny. This is now the headquarters of the exiled Tibetan Government.

You might also know this place by the following names:

State of Himāchal Pradesh, State of Himachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, هيماجل برديش, হিমাচল প্ৰদেশ, Хімачал-Прадэш, Химачал Прадеш, हिमाचल प्रदेश, হিমাচল প্রদেশ, ཧི་མ་ཅལ་མངའ་སྡེ།, Himáčalpradéš, ހިމާޗަލް ޕްރަދޭޝް, Χιμάτσαλ Πραντές, Himaĉal-Pradeŝo, هیماچال پرادش, હિમાચલ પ્રદેશ, הימאצל פרדש, Himačal Pradeš, Himácsal Prades, ヒマーチャル・プラデーシュ州, ჰიმაჩალ-პრადეში, ಹಿಮಾಚಲ ಪ್ರದೇಶ, 히마찰프라데시 주, Himācala Pradeśa, Himačal Pradešas, Himāčala Pradēša, ഹിമാചൽ പ്രദേശ്‌, Himačl Prdeš, ହିମାଚଳ ପ୍ରଦେଶ, ਹਿਮਾਚਲ ਪ੍ਰਦੇਸ਼, ہماچل پردیش, Himachal Pradexe, Химачал-Прадеш, हिमाचलप्रदेशराज्यम्, හිමාචල් ප්‍රදේශ්, இமாச்சலப் பிரதேசம், హిమాచల్ ప్రదేశ్, Ҳимочал Прадеш, รัฐหิมาจัลประเทศ, Himaçhal Pradeş, Хімачал-Прадеш, 喜马偕尔邦

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