Himalayan Cities and Towns
The Himalayas cover approximately 1,500 mi (2,400 km) and pass through the nations of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Bhutan and Nepal. Himalayas aren’t just a mountain range. Apart from their geographical advantage, Himalayas have become a popular trekking destination and a vibrant hub of religion. Many temples and ashrams attract thousands of pilgrims and visitors yearly.
Running through northern and north-eastern India, the Himalayan foothills and mountains have sevreral towns and cities which are not very frequenetly visited and quite unheard of.
This article gives an insight into a few of these Himalayan cities and towns
Kaza, Himachal Pradesh
The largest township in Lahaul Valley and Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh, Kaza boasts of high mountains with snowy crowns, crystal clear rivers, streams and barren splendor interspersed with patches of green. Kaza is known for its colorful festivals and the Sakya Tangyud Monastery.
Rudyard Kipling described the Lahaul and Spiti region as ‘a world within a world’. And situated about 11,980 feet above sea level, it really is just that. Strung along the Spiti River, Kaza and the Spiti Valley have strong geographical and cultural similarities with Tibet and Ladakh. Kaza is the sub-divisional headquarters of Spiti Valley, making it an important administrative and commercial center.
Most hotels, market, main bus depot, hospitals and government offices are located here. Kaza can be divided into two sections, Kaza Soma is the new town while the older one is Kaza Khas. The government offices are located in Kaza Soma while Kaza Khas has the king’s palace, monasteries, gompas and other historical buildings.
Its mountainous terrain and pristine locales attract visitors who want to indulge in adventurous activities and spiritual well being alike. It is the base camp for trekking, mountaineering and other adventures. Pin-Parvati, Parang-La and Pin-Bhaba are some of the popular trails which start from Kaza. A gentle stroll to villages around Kaza can also be an interesting experience.
Joshimath is a town that is located in the state of Uttarakhand in the District of Chamoli. The place is highly revered by Hindus and it is an important pilgrimage center in the country. Many devotees and travelers can be seen in the area during the pilgrim season. There are many temples and other religious sites that are located in the town as well.
The town serves as a base for travelers who are looking to take a trek to some of the higher regions. One can reach the Valley of Flowers by taking a trek from the town of Joshimath. There are many hotels and dharamshalas that are located in the town as well and these cater to the visitors.
There is an 8th century matt called the Adi Guru Sri Sankaracharya and this is one of the most popular places in the town. There are many temples that are located here as well and one can see them all around the town.
For the ones among you who are interested in adventure sports, there is a place called Auli that is located around 16 km from the town. This is one of the few places where you can experience sports such as ice skiing. The Nanda Devi Park is also another tourist spot in the region.
Nestled amidst the snow-clad mountains of Garhwal Himalayan Range, Auli adds beauty and fascination to Uttarakhand tourism. With slopes and meadows flanked by dense vegetation of oak and coniferous , it is hard to describe the beauty of this hill station. Auli is a part of Chamoli district in Uttarakhand in North India and is famous world-wide as one of the best destinations for skiing in India.
Considered as a new entrant among the circles of beautiful hill stations in India, Auli is speedily catching the attention of honeymooners, peace-seekers and nature lovers apart from adventure lovers. Its elevationion ranges from 2,519 meters to 3,050 meters above sea level.
Known as ‘bugyal’ in the local dialect, Auli means meadow and hence is a place not to be missed during summer and spring seasons. Natural vistas, panoramic views of Himalayan peaks, lush wooded vegetation and pathways laden with wild flowers give Auli a colourful look.
The Joshimath-Auli cable car is a scenic 10-minute journey cruising across the peaks with nothing but a beautiful view of snow caps and hazy skies.
Kibber, Himachal Pradesh
The beautiful village of Kibber, which is located in Spiti Valley and at a height of 4205 meters above sea level, holds the distinction of being the highest Motorable village in the world,. This scenic village is situated in a cold desert, surrounded by picturesque mountains, barren landscape, and green meadows. The landscape of Kibber is similar to that of Ladakh and Tibet and the Tibetan Buddhism is the predominant religion here. This is the reason the Spiti Valley is also known as Little Tibet. The high altitude and stunning & pollution free atmosphere of Kibber is a boon for sky gazers and photographers, who get the most amazing pictures of the natural wonders here.
Hilly topography nestled with fruit orchards and coniferous forest, Mukteshwar, the name derived from Lord Shiva, one who offers Moksha(salvation), is a calm and seclude town and tourist destination in the Nainital District of Uttarakhand, India.
This little beautiful town adorned with cute homes of reddish roofs, ancient style window frames made of wood and picket barriers brings the reminiscences of British Raj. Agriculture in the area consists chiefly of potato cultivation and fruit orchards on terraces cut into the hillsides.
Mukteshwar, affluent in scenic splendor, commands a breathtaking view of the Himalayas with magnificent views and bearing the Nanda Devi, India’s second-highest peak.
Mukteshwar is famous for adventure activities like rock climbing and rapelling.
Malana, Himachal Pradesh
Located in the heart of Himachal Pradesh, Malana is an isolated village away from the any Indian or rather any external influence. This primitive land shadowed by the majestic peaks of Chandrakhani and Deotibba has always been kind to tourists, fiercely and silently guarding it’s own culture.
The Malana village is inhabited by probably the direct descendants of the soldiers of the Maceadonian army led by Alexander. They consider themselves and the village extremely pure and visitors have to follow strict rules when in Malana. When in Malana, be sure not to touch the walls or belongings of the natives unless you want a fine imposed. Crazy as that may sound, they don’t even eat food cooked by a non-native. Even when you purchase something, you cannot directly hand over the money or take the item. There cannot be any contact with the people or their houses or rather anything in Malana, whether directly or indirectly.
Malana is popular throughout the world for it’s hashish. Travellers all over the world are drawn to Malana for it’s charas (hash), which some consider to be among the best of the world. Marijuana is a part of the Malana culture.
We step into Himalayan kingdom wonderstruck every time how boundlessly nature has gifted these terrains with beauty and resources. Mile after mile of never ending virgin greens, clean air full of oxygen, mineral-rich waters of mountain streams, wildflower carpet and strawberry shrubs — suddenly it is inexhaustible life all around. From inaccessible slopes to unexplored villages, the Himlayas a lot higher and deeper then they appear.
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Rudra Shirodkar/ Travart blogs
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