Secret places to stay this Summer in Himachal Pradesh

Picture yourself in a morning sipping a cup of tea sitting on the balcony of a cozy rusty cottage surrounded by apple orchards, enveloped within misty jungles, overlooking the majestic Himalayas. Isn’t it the dream about your trip when you visit Himachal Pradesh?

Owning such a house in the Himalayas might be a fantasy for some of us, but experiencing it is a mere question of your intention. The mighty mountains has several serene and beautiful cottages and homestays in Himachal Pradesh that will leave your senses mesmerized.

We have handpicked a few amazing secret places to stay around Himachal. Plan your trips to one of these places this summer, and make your dreams come true!

Baragarh Villa, Manali
Under the shadows of the majestic himalayas, where the rhythm of life surrenders to soothing melodies of nature whispering through fragrant pine breeze and colourful fruit orchards lies a luxurious stone villa.

baragarh-villa

As soon as you enter the premises of the Baragarh Estate , your senses will fuse into a climax of complete harmony and well being amidst lush gardens, apple orchards, kiwi plantations and everything good that mother nature has to offer.

Raju’s Cottage, Gushaini
If you are looking for peace, solitude, calmness, break from the hustle-bustle, chit-chats, bonfires, nature walks midst green cover, musical river flowing besides etc. there is no better place than Tirthan Valley for you.

Raju’s Cottage, Gushaini

Raju’s Cottage in Gushaini is one of the most amazing places to stay in Tirthan Valley. The guest house itself sits perched on a small hill and looks perfectly in place amidst the overwhelming mountains and sparkling greenery. The first glimpse of the guesthouse is breathtaking to say the least.

Darang tea estate, Kangra
The warmth and the hospitality of Darang Tea Estate will ensure that you have a fabulous holiday. The hosts go out of their way to make you comfortable and while the homestay has all the basic amenities one may need, it’s such a great feeling to be pampered!

Darang tea estate, Kangra

There are quite a few monasteries to visit around the homestay and if you are in the mood for some adventure, Bir and Billing is only an hour away.

Dwarika Residency, Shimla
If you have ever dreamt of having your own home in the mountains then this is it! Shelapani is a hidden, untouched and unspoilt little hamlet located in the Shimla district but far far away from the maddening crowd of the main town and this four bedroom villa blends in perfectly with its surroundings.

dwarika residency shelapani

A truly offbeat experience for the peace-seeker in you. A small road through a dense forest of pine trees magically opens up to the astounding beauty of the this serene himalayan villa facing the valley.

Cottage Once Upon a Time, Kasol
The Cottage in Kasol was built with memories of the past. A nostalgia of the times when life was quiet, peaceful and serene and that’s the feeling we would like you to experience this holiday. A feeling of the period we all miss sometimes.

once-upon-a-time-kasol

Enjoy the touch of nature listening to the song of the river or whisper of the cedars and pines. Trek the mountains and walk the jungle trails. Photograph the wild plants and collect their leaves to compile your own album of dried flowers and leaves of different plants.

Tree House Cottage, Manali
Imagine if you were to stay in a tree house, on a lovely snowy day, sipping onto hot chocolate as the snow white washes your windows. Imagine looking at snow covered himalayas from the comfort of your cozy cottages. The Tree House Cottage in Manali is where your imaginations turn into reality.

Tree-House-Cottage-Katrain-Manali

Set atop an oak-tree amidst apple orchards in a landscape of 1.5 hectares, the cottages are surrounded by lush fields, apple, plum and walnut orchard groves, dotted by bunches of colourful scented flowers.

Spirits Unplugged, Shimla
Set amidst dense cedar and pine forests, Spirits Unplugged! is a peaceful, relaxing and photogenic farm retreat with a mesmerising view of the Himalayas – far from the hustle and bustle of city life.

spirits-unplugged-shimla

The newly built stone cottage at the farm sits perched on a hilltop overlooking a majestic valley … with breath taking views of pine forest slopes, a waterfall and organic farms.

Jibhi Cafe & Cottages, Kullu
Jibhi Camp offers beautiful ambiance in the arms of nature. The Camp is a theater where the whispering winds through the woods compose melodies with feeling of the falling flakes of the flowering blossoms with twittering birds and buzzing insects, wafting through woodlands brown from your camp.

jibhi-cafe-cottages

The Seraj valley in Kullu District is one of the most beautiful places in Himachal Pradesh and this camp is located amidst his valley.

Agyaat Vaas, Narkanda
Staying at Agyaat Vaas is rich and unique experience in its own way. Being located amidst lush green surrounding and high mountain peaks, the resort gives a heavenly and spiritual feeling to the guests.

Agyaat Vaas, Narkanda

The absence of the usual noises and the rush of cities and even the smallest town, makes you feel relaxed as soon you enter the Himalayan retreat.

Bundla Tea Estate, Palampur
Tucked away in Palampur, the homestay seems to be just another house in this small town. Basic yet impressive, this lovely homestay wins you with its hospitality!

Bundla Tea Estate, Palampur

Only an hour away from Dharamshala, the town itself is very quiet and naturally the homestay personifies the silence. The view from all the rooms is breathtaking and the sudden spurt of greenness around you will overwhelm you for a few hours.

The Himalayan Trout House, Kullu
Just misty mountains, sparkling streams and waterfalls, the wind in the trees, wild flowers and birds, clear starry skies and white rocks reflecting the moonlight.

The Himalayan Trout House, Kullu

The Himalayan Trout House in Nagini is a friendly well connected, comfortable retreat set deep in the heart of rural Himachal.

Sanjiv's Aira Holme Retreat, Shimla
Located far enough from the revelling crowds, it is serene and homely. The ambiance at the cottage is relaxed and peaceful. Surrounded by deodars, the cottage is enveloped by nature and urban forest within the town. Overlooking a valley, the view is breathtaking of the Tara Devi temple with Chail and its forests.

Sanjiv's Aira Holme Retreat, Shimla

Nestled in tranquility, Billy and Sanjiv’s cottage in Aira Holme, in old Chotta Simla is scenic and cosy.

Dharamshala & McLeodganj – Tibet’s Lost and Found

In all these centuries, in all its reincarnations, Dharamshala – the Pilgrim’s rest house – has unfailingly lived up to its name, welcoming tired travellers in search of spiritual bliss, providing a brief, noisy, colourful, hectic respite before the snow-clad Dhauladhar Range beckoned them onwards. Somewhere along the way, in less than 40 years, it has reinvented itself from halting station to destination. This is the end of the journey. Dense rows of brightly lit hotels with their fake Lhasa rooftops and bazaars now seem to dwarf the giant deodar pines and oaks that split it into upper and lower towns, perched like a spiritual Las Vegas on a spur of the Himalayas. And the town specially the upper half, known as McLeodganj is still celebrating its total conquest of the pilgrim’s soul.

The upper reaches of the Kangra valley are a curious mish-mash of cultures – Tibetan and Kashmiri curio shops, pizza shacks vying with Alu chaat and tandoori dhabas. Tibetan hippies and American monks, prayer gongs and Hindi film songs, Quint English and Jalandhar mod. And dominating it all, as pristine as in its original home on the other side of the Himalayas, a brand new Lhasa, temple, lama, summer palace, monasteries and all.

Things to do and see

In a little over a decade, McLeodganj was transformed into the thriving Little Lhasa of India. The meager years saw it growing with the Dalai Lama’s snowballing fame from a one shop town into a cosmopolitan centre where serious Buddhist scholars and the Dalai Lama’s International admirers rub shoulders with backpackers in search of New age entertainment.

Tsuglhakhang

Tsuglhakhang

True to the Dalai Lama’s principals of not disturbing the natural vegetation, the elegant 2 storeyed temple, called Tsuglhakhang, with its large square overlooking his palace- really a modest cottage where he lives with his beloved cats and flowers – was built without chopping a single tree. The temple in fact rest on some unusual columns which are actually trunks of deodars which are still growing, protected by adjustable iron rings.

Namgyaima Stupa

Namgyaima Stupa

This Stupa is a memorial to the Tibetan who died fighting in their homeland. Built in a Hybrid Indo Tibetian style, it soars definitely upwards.

Tibetan Theatre

Tibetan Theatre Dharamsala

Theatre, in the form of the traditional opera,is big in Tibetan culture. Tibetan who fled with Dalai Lama in 1959, certain that this art form would disappear unless they took immediate steps to preserve it, insisted on setting up TIPA, the Tibetan Institute of performing arts. With in 4 months of their arrival. Within a decade, TIPA became the centre of not only the Tibetan’s social life but of the town as well attracting hundreds of avid fans to its 10 day Shoton festival.

The church of John – in the Wilderness

st johns church dharamsala

This church with exquisite stained glass window depicting John the Bapatist with Jesus, was among the first buildings to be erected here by British in 1852. It is now the only surviving monument of that time.

Dal lake

Dal Lake

Those who couldn’t afford to go to Kailash got their salvation by bathing in this water body.

Bhagsunag

Bhagsunag

The origin of this shrine revolves around the myth about the great fight between the demon king (Bhagsu) and the Snake God (Nag).

 


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Little Known Story of Chamba Rumal – Himachal’s Unique Handkerchief

For most of us, the humble cloth handkerchief is just another mousy piece of item for everyday use. At the max bearing a monogram or delicate design in a corner — these piece of cloth are usually plain, perfect for the banal acts of wiping hands and faces. But the Chamba Rumal (rumal means handkerchief) is no ordinary cloth, and certainly just too rare and precious to wipe your face with.

The word Chamba rumal implies a peculiar visual art form that represents unique and charming embroidery done on a hand spun cloth with untwisted silken thread, which is greatly inspired from pahari painting. The tradition of this kind of pictorial embroidery was known and practiced in Kangra, Mandi and Nurpur areas of Himachal and Basoli in Jammu that remained important centres of pahari painting.

Embroidering-on-a-Chamba-Rumal
It is believed that Raja Prithvi Singh started d-mukha tanka art form in 17the century and later Raja Bhuri Singh commercialised the production of Chamba Rumals in 20th century. Gradually the craft has vanished in other parts of Himachal but still remains in Chamba. The earliest records of the region dates back to 2nd century BC, making it one of the most ancient destinations in the state. The region is known for its history, architecture and landscapes but the local community is also known for its arts and crafts, in particular the miniature Pahari paintings.

One of the earliest example of the embroidery incidentally can be found in Punjab — Bebe Nanki, sister of the Sikh spiritual leader Guru Nanak, reportedly embroidered one in the 16th century and the item was preserved in the state’s Hoshiarpur shrine.
Another handkerchief made its way to Britain in 1883 when Raja Gopal Singh presented a Chamba Rumal to the British, embroidered with a scene from the Mahabharata, which was later added to the collection of London’s Victoria & Albert museum.

Rich History
In the 17th century, the Chamba Rumal embroidery was done by the queens and royal ladies of Chamba for wedding dowries, important gifts and ceremonial coverings.

The tradition gradually made its way out of palace walls and began to be practised by local craft clusters. The Rumals came to be an integral part of weddings, exchanged by the bride and groom’s families as a sign of goodwill.
In his book Chamba Himalaya: Amazing Land, Unique Culture, KR Bharti draws attention to the painstaking process of Chamba Rumal embroidery — using naturally dyed silk floss on mal-mal or khaddar — and the distinctive double-sided technique seen in the designs.

The picture on both sides of the fabric is almost the same…The drawing is done in outline with fine charcoal or brush. The embroidery is done in a variety of colours by a double satin stitch carried forward and backward alternately. Both sides of cloth are stitched simultaneously so that the space on both sides is filled up making the design on both sides look equally effective and similar in content. That is why this technique is called dorukha (two-faced).KR Bharti
Awesome value, even today
It takes two to three months to prepare an excellent Chamba Rumal that can cost anything between Rs, 40,000 to Rs. 50, 000. A small Chamba Rumal costs between Rs.4, 000 to Rs. 5,000 as it takes only a week to prepare it.

Chamba

Verge of extinction

Once a popular art form in various areas of Himachal and Jammu – it is today only alive in Chamba. In recent times, one of the greatest impetuses to the art came in 2007 when the Chamba Rumal was accorded the Geographical Indication (GI) patent by the Geographical Indications Registry. It helped to curb the sale of inauthentic items and also brought the art form back into the spotlight.

Chamba Rumal

Visit the Chamba district to witness this handicraft form, the craftsmen society and villages, which was once fashionable even to the Britishers.