Dharamsala, Pragpur, Kangra Valley, Palampur, Manali, Haridwar


17 Days / 16 Nights

Dharamsala

Dharamsala is an old garrison town that was developed by the British as a hill station to escape the stifling heat of the plains. Today, it is renowned as the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile. It attracts visitors for its distinct Tibetan character and heritage, as well as the spectacular countryside. The main city centre is a charming Tibetan settlement with bustling bazaars and a monastery. The Norbulingka Institute, established to preserve traditional Tibetan arts, is just south of Dharamsala and well worth a visit.

Dharamsala offers a wealth of activities from gentle walks to morning yoga sessions and cookery classes against the backdrop of the stunning Dhauladhar mountain range. The nuns at Thosamling nunnery are also happy to welcome you to explain the Tibetan Buddhist traditions which they follow.


PRAGPUR

The medieval village of Pragpur is an idyllic base from which to explore the breathtaking Kangra valley. A lively artisan tradition can be found in its charming market while the surrounding countryside offers ample opportunities for walks, fishing, bicycle rides and birdwatching. The annual Punjabi Lohri festival, marking the movement of the sun between the hemispheres, is joyously celebrated each January with the lighting of bonfires. Another nearby heritage village is Garli, which has diverse styles of architecture ranging from mansions to temples, evidence of its important past.

Saffron suggests a minimum stay of 3 nights at the heritage hotel Judges Court, built in 1918 and lovingly restored to its former grandeur. Tours to Kangra fort and other sights in this pretty village can be arranged by the hotel.


KANGRA VALLEY

Known as one of the most picturesque valleys of the lower Himalaya, Kangra valley offers a contrasting array of activities and places to visit. The ruins of the regal Kangra fort, the largest fort in the Himalaya, are well worth exploring. An excellent audio guide and museum unfold the history of this ancient fort. The beautiful Masroor rock-cut temples and their elaborate carvings were conceived in the same manner as the great temple of Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu. The grounds afford an amazing view of the snow-clad Dhauladhar ranges.

The unmissable Kangra Valley Railway covers a distance of 163km across beautiful sub-Himalayan terrain and a valley known for its natural beauty, rice fields and ancient Hindu shrines. The 90-minute section between Baijnath and Nagrota is one of the most scenic.


PALAMPUR

Situated on the edge of the Dhauladhar mountain range in the Kangra district of north India, about 35km from Dharamsala, Palampur is a small green hill station, surrounded by tea gardens and pine forests. Palampur is the tea capital of Himachal Pradesh, benefiting from the area’s mild climate.

Saffron can organise a visit to a working tea plantation where you can wander through beautifully manicured tea gardens, interact with the estate workers and see how tea is processed in the small factory before sampling some of their finest infusions. Palampur is also an ideal spot to stay before you hop onto the delightful Kangra Mountain Railway from Nagrota. We recommend a 2-night stay at Rakkh Resort, perched atop a hillside, to explore the area’s friendly villages and local temples.


MANALI

Situated at the northern end of the Kullu valley, Manali has spectacular views of snow-capped peaks and wooded slopes. There are marvellous walks through dappled orchards and fairy-tale deodar cedar forests. The Manali market is crowded with a myriad of interesting shops selling Tibetan carpets and crafts while the appetising aroma of steaming noodles hangs about the little restaurants.

Essential sights include Rohtang Pass with its picturesque views and hidden waterfalls and the old kullu-style temples with their receding shingle-slate roofs. Hadimba Devi temple, built in 1533, is notable for its mud-clad walls and the elaborate wooden doorway adorned with miniature paintings of animals and the goddess Hadimbi herself. Also worth visiting is Naggar with its 15th-century castle, small temple and Roerich art gallery. For pure relaxation, lie back and relax in the warm waters of the Vashisht hot water springs.


HARIDWAR

One of the seven holiest sites for Hindus, the sacred town of Haridwar is set at the point where the Ganges emerges from the Himalaya into the Indo-Gangetic plain. Like Varanasi, the ghats at Haridwar attract hundreds of pilgrims from around India, who come to either offer their thanks to the river for being the source of life and prosperity or immerse the ashes of their loved ones.

However, it is the evening aarti ceremony that should not be missed; this is Haridwar at its best. Performed each evening at sunset, the ghats of Har-ki-Pauri come to life with sacred chants, the smell of incense and the ringing of bells. Musicians play while flaming torches light up the sky in a carefully choreographed ritual, providing a fascinating and spiritual conclusion to the day’s end.

Dharamsala

Dharamsala is an old garrison town that was developed by the British as a hill station to escape the stifling heat of the plains. Today, it is renowned as the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile. It attracts visitors for its distinct Tibetan character and heritage, as well as the spectacular countryside. The main city centre is a charming Tibetan settlement with bustling bazaars and a monastery. The Norbulingka Institute, established to preserve traditional Tibetan arts, is just south of Dharamsala and well worth a visit.

Dharamsala offers a wealth of activities from gentle walks to morning yoga sessions and cookery classes against the backdrop of the stunning Dhauladhar mountain range. The nuns at Thosamling nunnery are also happy to welcome you to explain the Tibetan Buddhist traditions which they follow.


PRAGPUR

The medieval village of Pragpur is an idyllic base from which to explore the breathtaking Kangra valley. A lively artisan tradition can be found in its charming market while the surrounding countryside offers ample opportunities for walks, fishing, bicycle rides and birdwatching. The annual Punjabi Lohri festival, marking the movement of the sun between the hemispheres, is joyously celebrated each January with the lighting of bonfires. Another nearby heritage village is Garli, which has diverse styles of architecture ranging from mansions to temples, evidence of its important past.

Saffron suggests a minimum stay of 3 nights at the heritage hotel Judges Court, built in 1918 and lovingly restored to its former grandeur. Tours to Kangra fort and other sights in this pretty village can be arranged by the hotel.


KANGRA VALLEY

Known as one of the most picturesque valleys of the lower Himalaya, Kangra valley offers a contrasting array of activities and places to visit. The ruins of the regal Kangra fort, the largest fort in the Himalaya, are well worth exploring. An excellent audio guide and museum unfold the history of this ancient fort. The beautiful Masroor rock-cut temples and their elaborate carvings were conceived in the same manner as the great temple of Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu. The grounds afford an amazing view of the snow-clad Dhauladhar ranges.

The unmissable Kangra Valley Railway covers a distance of 163km across beautiful sub-Himalayan terrain and a valley known for its natural beauty, rice fields and ancient Hindu shrines. The 90-minute section between Baijnath and Nagrota is one of the most scenic.


PALAMPUR

Situated on the edge of the Dhauladhar mountain range in the Kangra district of north India, about 35km from Dharamsala, Palampur is a small green hill station, surrounded by tea gardens and pine forests. Palampur is the tea capital of Himachal Pradesh, benefiting from the area’s mild climate.

Saffron can organise a visit to a working tea plantation where you can wander through beautifully manicured tea gardens, interact with the estate workers and see how tea is processed in the small factory before sampling some of their finest infusions. Palampur is also an ideal spot to stay before you hop onto the delightful Kangra Mountain Railway from Nagrota. We recommend a 2-night stay at Rakkh Resort, perched atop a hillside, to explore the area’s friendly villages and local temples.


MANALI

Situated at the northern end of the Kullu valley, Manali has spectacular views of snow-capped peaks and wooded slopes. There are marvellous walks through dappled orchards and fairy-tale deodar cedar forests. The Manali market is crowded with a myriad of interesting shops selling Tibetan carpets and crafts while the appetising aroma of steaming noodles hangs about the little restaurants.

Essential sights include Rohtang Pass with its picturesque views and hidden waterfalls and the old kullu-style temples with their receding shingle-slate roofs. Hadimba Devi temple, built in 1533, is notable for its mud-clad walls and the elaborate wooden doorway adorned with miniature paintings of animals and the goddess Hadimbi herself. Also worth visiting is Naggar with its 15th-century castle, small temple and Roerich art gallery. For pure relaxation, lie back and relax in the warm waters of the Vashisht hot water springs.


HARIDWAR

One of the seven holiest sites for Hindus, the sacred town of Haridwar is set at the point where the Ganges emerges from the Himalaya into the Indo-Gangetic plain. Like Varanasi, the ghats at Haridwar attract hundreds of pilgrims from around India, who come to either offer their thanks to the river for being the source of life and prosperity or immerse the ashes of their loved ones.

However, it is the evening aarti ceremony that should not be missed; this is Haridwar at its best. Performed each evening at sunset, the ghats of Har-ki-Pauri come to life with sacred chants, the smell of incense and the ringing of bells. Musicians play while flaming torches light up the sky in a carefully choreographed ritual, providing a fascinating and spiritual conclusion to the day’s end.

ITINERARIES

Day 1: Fly to Delhi (N)
Day 2 Delhi : Transfer to the Oberoi Maidens for 2 nights. (N)
Day 3 Delhi : Sightseeing of Old and New Delhi. (B)
Day 4 Amritsar : Take the train to Amritsar for 2 nights at RanjitVilas. Visit the Golden Temple for the evening Palki Sahib ceremony. (B, D)
Day 5 Amritsar : Explore local markets and temples on a heritage walk visiting the Jallianwala Bagh memorial. Head to the Indo-Pakistan border for the pomp of the Wagah border-closing ceremony. (B, D)
Day 6 Pragpur : Travel to Pragpur for 2 nights at the delightful Judges Court. (B, D)
Day 7 Pragpur : At leisure. Alternatively visit Kangra fort or hop on the scenic Kangra Valley Railway. (B, D)
Day 8 Dharamshala : Head to the home of the Tibetan Government in exile for 2 nights at the quirky Chonor House. Learn how to cook the local speciality, stuffed momos (dumplings). (B, D)
Day 9 Dharamshala : Morning walk through traditional Gaddi villages to Naddi with views of the Dhauladhar range. Later, visit McLeod Ganj with its Buddhist temples and markets. (B, D)
Day 10 Manali : Morning tour of the Norbulingka Institute before driving to Manali with views of Kullu valley en route. Stay 3 nights at ShivAdya Resort & Spa. (B, D)
Day 11 Manali : Discover the beauty of the area visiting Naggar, the Hadimba temple and Vashisht springs. (B)
Day 12 Delhi : Morning at leisure. In the afternoon, drive to Delhi for an overnight stay at the Holiday Inn Aerocity. (B)
Day 13 Shimla : Depart for the former summer capital of the British Raj, Shimla, and 2 nights at the Oberoi Cecil. (B)
Day 14 Shimla : Morning tour of the Mall and Viceregal Lodge. (B)
Day 15 Haridwar : Toy train to Solan before driving to Haridwar for an overnight stay at Haveli Hari Ganga. Witness the evening aarti ceremony. (B)
Day 16 Haridwar : See the ashrams of Rishikesh before taking the evening train to Delhi. Overnight at the Pride. (B)
Day 17 : Fly home (B)
Day 1: Fly to Delhi (N)
Day 2 Delhi : Transfer to the Oberoi Maidens for 2 nights. (N)
Day 3 Delhi : Sightseeing of Old and New Delhi. (B)
Day 4 Amritsar : Take the train to Amritsar for 2 nights at RanjitVilas. Visit the Golden Temple for the evening Palki Sahib ceremony. (B, D)
Day 5 Amritsar : Explore local markets and temples on a heritage walk visiting the Jallianwala Bagh memorial. Head to the Indo-Pakistan border for the pomp of the Wagah border-closing ceremony. (B, D)
Day 6 Pragpur : Travel to Pragpur for 2 nights at the delightful Judges Court. (B, D)
Day 7 Pragpur : At leisure. Alternatively visit Kangra fort or hop on the scenic Kangra Valley Railway. (B, D)
Day 8 Dharamshala : Head to the home of the Tibetan Government in exile for 2 nights at the quirky Chonor House. Learn how to cook the local speciality, stuffed momos (dumplings). (B, D)
Day 9 Dharamshala : Morning walk through traditional Gaddi villages to Naddi with views of the Dhauladhar range. Later, visit McLeod Ganj with its Buddhist temples and markets. (B, D)
Day 10 Manali : Morning tour of the Norbulingka Institute before driving to Manali with views of Kullu valley en route. Stay 3 nights at ShivAdya Resort & Spa. (B, D)
Day 11 Manali : Discover the beauty of the area visiting Naggar, the Hadimba temple and Vashisht springs. (B)
Day 12 Delhi : Morning at leisure. In the afternoon, drive to Delhi for an overnight stay at the Holiday Inn Aerocity. (B)
Day 13 Shimla : Depart for the former summer capital of the British Raj, Shimla, and 2 nights at the Oberoi Cecil. (B)
Day 14 Shimla : Morning tour of the Mall and Viceregal Lodge. (B)
Day 15 Haridwar : Toy train to Solan before driving to Haridwar for an overnight stay at Haveli Hari Ganga. Witness the evening aarti ceremony. (B)
Day 16 Haridwar : See the ashrams of Rishikesh before taking the evening train to Delhi. Overnight at the Pride. (B)
Day 17 : Fly home (B)