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Himachal Pradesh

Photo © sabyasachi

Travel Guide Asia India Himachal Pradesh

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Introduction

Hindu Temple in Himachal Pradesh

Hindu Temple in Himachal Pradesh

© All Rights Reserved bowlerpaul

Himachal Pradesh is a state in the north of India, just south of Jammu and Kashmir. The capital is Shimla, but even more famous to visit is the home of the Dalai Lama: Dharamsala.

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Sights and Activities

  • Tibet Museum
  • Tibetan Library
  • Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts
  • Home of the Dalai Lama (McLeod Ganj)
  • Tibetan Government in exile (McLeod Ganj)
  • Kalka to Shimla toy train
  • Kullu Valley
  • Remote tribal Sutlej, Sangla, Spiti and Lahaul Valleys
  • Spectacular Mountain vistas
  • Thrilling mountain passes
  • Alternative lifestyles of Vashisht and Bhagsu

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Events and Festivals

  • Holi is quite popular in the Indian sub-continent and is traditionally celebrated on the day after the full moon in the month of Phalguna (early March), according to Hindu calender. Holi is a thanksgiving festival, where people offer prayer to God for good harvest and fertility of the land. Holi is a festival of freedom from social norms and caste inhibitions are shed for a day as people indulge in fun and merry-making. Colors and 'gulal' are showered on the people dressed up for the occasion and the whole community seems to merge into one big family under the guise of colors, without any distinction whatsoever. Children with face smeared with colors run around with 'pichkaris' (big syringes to splash colored water) and play amongst themselves. People exchange good wishes, sweets and gifts. Holi is also marked by vibrant processions which are accompanied by folk songs, dances and drum beating. Parties are also organized where snacks and the traditional milk-based drink “Thandai” is served which is often intoxicated with “Bhang”. Of late, lots of foreigners have started taking interest in this festival and they even enjoy the colors and the intoxicating drink. It is advised to cover your hair with a cap and eyes with sunglasses to avoid the colors splashing the eyes and damaging the hair.
  • Republic Day - Republic Day is a national holiday in India every January 26 to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution in 1950 and the declaration of independence in 1930. The capital of New Delhi is the focus of the celebrations, including a flag raising ceremony, wreath laying, 21-gun salute, Presidential speech, and presentation of awards for selflessness and bravery. A massive military parade includes elephants ridden by children who have received national accolades.
  • Gandhi Jayanti - Gandhi Jayanti is a national public holiday commemorating the birth of the peaceful activist, Mohandas Gandhi on October 2, 1869. The celebration coincides with the United Nations’ International Day of Non-Violence. In India, Gandhi is remembered through statues, flower and candle offerings, prayers and singing the devotional hymn Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram. The Indian government issues special mint rupees and postage stamps bearing his picture.
  • Diwali - Diwali is the five-day festival of lights held in India in late October or early November each year. The widely celebrated Hindu event marks Lord Rama’s victory over the demon Ravan. Homes and streets are decorated with lights, candles and small clay lamps, and new clothes are worn and sweets are exchanged.

The people of the state are simple and highly religious. Apart from the national festivals celebrated throughout the country, some of the festivals specific to the state are:

  • International Himalayan Festival is celebrated in the Kangra district of the state usually in the month of December. The festival is like a winter carnival which celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the state and showcases the same to the Global community.
  • The Kulu Dussera is the biggest and most popular among all the festivals of the state. It is held in October in Dhalpur grounds of Kulu. The beginning is marked by Rathyatra, in which the chief deity 'Raghunathji' is carried in a fully decorated wooden chariot. The yatra signifies the march of Lord Rama to vanquish Ravana. The celebrations continue for seven days and the atmosphere is filled with dance and music.
  • Pori festival is celebrated in the Lahaul valley with much jest and enthusiasm. It is celebrated in the traditional way at the temple of Trilokinath. On this day the idol of the God is bathed with milk and yogurt and at 10:00am, a crowd of people along with a horse, go around the temple in a procession, beating drums and blowing conch shells. The crowd along with the horse then goes to the palace of the local ruler where the horse is given a grand welcome. The king then rides the same horse and visits the fair ground which is dotted all over with small shops selling traditional items.
  • Phulaich, the festival of flowers, known locally as 'Ookayand ', is mainly celebrated in the Kinnaur district of the state. This festival is usually celebrated in the month of September when a group of ten men of the ‘Rajput’ clan go to the higher hills to collect flowers and return two days later. The people gather to see the flowers and then the festivities begin. It is believed that the flowers are so intoxicated that at times people feel giddy in their scent. The idol of the local God 'Deota' is decorated with fine clothes and the locals dressed beautifully dance under the deodar trees. On the last day of the festival the image of deity is brought back to the temple and animals are sacrificed and offered to God.

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Weather

November to February is wintertime, with snow in the higher parts. From March onwards, temperatures start to rise and lower places become very hot, well over 30 °C. From June to October is slightly cooler, but this is the time when most of the rain falls.

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Getting There

By Plane

  • The airport near Jubbarhati (Airport code: SLV) is 23 kilometres from Shimla. Regular flights are available from Delhi, Chandigarh and Kullu and the major airlines operating on this route are Kingfisher Airlines, and Jagson Airlines.
  • Gaggal Airport, also known as Kangra Airport or Dharamsala-Kangra Airport (DHM) receives few flights. Jagson Airlines has flights to Delhi, Chandigarh and Kullu, while Kingfisher Airlines only serves Delhi.
  • The airport near Bhuntar (Airport Code: KUU) is 10 kilometres from Kullu and 50 kilometres from Manali. Direct flights are available from Delhi on Kingfisher Airlines and Indian Airlines. Regular bus services are available from the airport to Kullu and Manali. Taxis are also available but they usually operate on a fixed fare basis.

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Sleep

Contributors

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This is version 14. Last edited at 14:50 on Dec 27, 16 by Utrecht. 20 articles link to this page.

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