Chandigarh certainly has a lot of things going for it. It is considered one of the best planned cities in India, it is coveted as the capital of two states, and it lies in close proximity to the mighty Himalayas. That last point means that there are several hill stations up north that lie within hours of the city, with mostly well-laid out roads welcoming folks from Chandigarh to the mountains. You have the usual haunts, like Shimla and Manali in Himachal Pradesh and Mussoorie and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand. But these are just the popular ones often frequented by visitors from Chandigarh and all over India, plus the world. If you are tempted to take the road less traveled for your next trip, consider these off-beat hill stations near Chandigarh. ALSO READ: One day picnic spots near Chandigarh to unwind Also Read - Centre Mulls Extending Nationwide Lockdown as COVID-19 Cases Near 5000-mark With 124 Deaths | Top Developments
Dhanaulti Eco Park
The small town of Dhanaulti lies around 2,200 meters above sea level and less than 30 km away from its more popular sister, Mussoorie. And although smaller, it can be just as beautiful with a much smaller size of visitors any time of the year. If you wanted the experience of Mussoorie minus the crowd, Dhanaulti makes for the perfect destination. It lets you unwind without too many people around you. Here, it is just you and untouched natural beauty, and the experience of losing yourself to the magic of the Himalayas. It is the perfect break from the fast pace of the city. Accommodation is limited, though. Also Read - Coronavirus in Gujarat: 14-month-old Toddler Dies of COVID-19 in Jamnagar
A hill station far from the usual crowd, Chopta in Uttarakhand is a great place for those who want to go trekking, and without the added crowd of tourists. This hill station is, in fact, a popular haunt among the serious trekkers. It serves as a base for the famed Chandrashila and Tungnath treks. Spend a week over here hiking up and down the rock slopes and forests. You will find views that are similar to other popular hill stations, but the journey to the top will be an experience in itself. Getting to Chopta can be a little tricky; you can drive there or take a cab from Rudraprayag, which you can reach by bus. Buses also ply to Chopta, but the frequency is not that great. Also Read - New York Leads Coronavirus Death Toll With 731 Fatalties in 24 Hours
Renuka Lake, Nahan
Our third entry and the first from Himachal Pradesh is Nahan, a town that may not offer as much adventure as Chopta, but makes for a great romantic destination. Nahan lies amidst the Shivalik Himalaya range, surrounded by clean roads and lush forests. The town is also part of many folk tales, given its history. It was founded as the capital of a small kingdom in 1621 by Raja Karan Prakash. Its name is said to have come from a sage who lived nearby. Some say that the name comes from a tale of a sage stopping the king from killing a lion. At Nahan, you can find forests and gardens to roam in, temples to pray at and a lake to boat along.
Narkanda ski slopes
Narkanda in Himachal Pradesh lies around 8,900 feet above sea level, with snow-capped peaks rising around it. Not many people know about or visit this place, so expect a tranquil atmosphere with only nature as your company. Narkanda actually brings in visitors from nearby areas, and makes for a great destination across the year. But the place is much more fun during the winters, when snow covers its slopes and converts it into a skiing destination. ALSO READ: Manali to Narkanda: How to reach Narkanda from Manali by road
The village of Shojha lies amidst the forests of Banjar Valley, with its beauty untouched by the effects of commercial tourism. It lies just around 5 km from Jalori Pass, and is therefore frequented by travelers heading to and from the scenic high mountain pass that lies around 10,800 feet above sea level. Shojha offers more than just proximity to the popular mountain pass; it also has several temples that are made of wood worth visiting for the unique architecture. The weather is pleasant and accommodating throughout the year, with dense deodar forests surrounding the village. There is also a fort and lake to visit in Shojha.
Next up is Khajjiar, probably one of the more popular entries in the list but it is still less frequented than the more mainstream hill stations. Located around 6,300 feet above sea level, Khajjiar offers vast stretches of grasslands with the Himalayan Mountains in the backdrop. It is perfect for a weekend getaway from Chandigarh, given its proximity. While you can spend the weekend immersed in the scenic beauty of this place, Khajjiar also offers a few activities, like treks through the Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary and boating along the Khajjiar Lake.
Kanatal is a small hamlet that is said to have been named after a lake that has since dried up. The place was devoid of visitors at one time, but has since gained some measure of popularity. Nevertheless, it remains away from the trappings of mainstream tourism and makes for a welcome change from the usual grind. At Kanatal, you can chill and enjoy the solitude. You can also spend your time exploring the forests, apple and fruit orchards and nearby hills. Kanatal actually has some small temples worth visiting and wild flowers. While untouched, Kanatal also offers the convenience of good road connectivity.
Most entries in this list have been those that offer an untouched, tranquil atmosphere. Bir in Himachal Pradesh, however, mostly offers trekking and adventure sports like paragliding to make your trip more exciting. While there are places to meditate and search for yourself in peace, Bir is all about paragliding and other adventure activities. It is, in fact, one of the best paragliding spots in the whole world, even hosting the World Paragliding Championship many times. More popular as Bir Billing, this is a place every self-professed adventure must visit. The town of Bir itself has a strong Tibetan culture and is actually a major center for meditation and spiritual studies.
Mandi is different from the rest of the entries here in that it is actually a major commercial destination in Himachal Pradesh. The town lies along the Beas River, with lakes and gardens and a pleasant combination of warmth and cool Himalayan weather. Mandi also makes for a gateway to the more popular places like Lahaul, Spiti, Kullu and Manali. But it offers enough to warrant a longer stay, like some old palaces and colonial-era buildings to take you back to a time centuries ago. Its temples also belie the rich heritage and culture of the town.
For the spiritually inclined traveler, Kinnaur should be a familiar name. Also called the Land of God, the town has the rivers Spiti, Baspa and Satluj flowing through it and a breathtaking landscape with rocky hills and dense green forests. Kinnaur is famous among Hindu pilgrims for being home to the Kinner Kailash, the fabled home of Shiva, and the Shivaling Rocks that are linked to the Pandavas of Mahabharata. Kinnaur is also famous among Buddhist pilgrims, with several ancient temples and monasteries around it that are spiritually important to the religion. For those who worship adventure, Kinnaur offers skiing and extensive trekking routes. ALSO READ: Top 5 weekend getaways from Delhi for this summer
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