Dalhousie, north Himachal Pradesh
Lesser visited, still worth the effort is Dalhousie. The little hill station was established in 1854 by the British Empire in India as a summer retreat for its troops and bureaucrats, the town was named after Lord Dalhousie who was the British viceroy in India at that time.
Like Shimla it has a very English kind of atmosphere. Dalhousie is a gateway to the ancient Chamba Hill State, now Chamba District of the state of Himachal Pradesh of India. This hill region is a repository of ancient Hindu culture, art, temples, and handicrafts preserved under the longest-running single dynasty since the mid-6th century. In Dalhousie you can arrange trekking with local guides.
Part of the fun in Dalhousie is the Mall. It's a long walk following the hill slopes. I did a day hike into the hills which was enlightening. The villages are even poorer then I imagined. But the people I met on the way were amazingly friendly.
Dalhousie is 145 km north of Dharamsala. Manali is 385 km and a long bus ride (I got sick in the bus during my first visit to Himachal Pradesh. It took over 10 hours and it was then considered to be fast!
The nearest airports is in Pathankot, 75 km from Dalhousie. You can continue by bus or taxi to Dalhousie (taxi should be around Rs 1000).
There are many buses available, including overnight luxury buses to Delhi to Dalhousie (587 km, Rs 1500).
Dalhousie has no railway station The nearest railhead is Pathankot. Pathankot is well connected by rail to various cities in India, including Mumbai, Pune and Delhi.
Where to Stay
Thinking about a splurge? Dalhousie is a good choice, especially because there are some amazingly good and CHEAP hotels. I was quite tired when I arrived in Dalhousie and wanted a decent hotel. For $25, more then my budget offered but sometimes you have to do this sort of things, I got a huge room in the Dalhousie Heights Hotel. Two days I stayed here with pleasure and total relaxed and full of energy I continued my journey.
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Shimla is one of the most famous former British Hill Stations. It's a great place to visit with much to explore. This includes the former Vice Roys palace and the Mall amongst other.
Last stop before you reach Ladakh through the Rothang Pass. Manali is worth a stop of a few days. Scenery and town are full of typical Himachal Pradesh culture and spectacular sceneries. A must visit:
Dharamsala is a small town in the Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh. It's these days mostly famous as residence of the Dalai Lama. Still, there's some beautiful hikes and trekkings to do in the area.