About 12 kms from the Shimla to Kalka road, Kasauli is a charming place and a popular side trip from Shimla, or an alternative to staying in Shimla. There are numerous lovely walks around Kasauli, including one to Sanawar, another picturesque hill town and the location of a famous colonial college.
Shimla was once part of the Nepalese kingdom and called Shyamala. In 1864 Shimla became the summer capital of India. Following independence, Shimla was initially the capital of the Punjab, then became the capital of Himachal Pradesh in 1966. Today, Shimla is a pleasant, sprawling town, set among cool pine-clad hills with plenty of crumbling colonial charm. High season is mid-April to mid-July, mid-September to late October and mid-December to mid-January. The best time to visit is mid-September to late November.
With all its intricacies, history seems to have been the mortar for every brick and stone that has built Shimla. As the Summer Capital of the British in India, Shimla was the country’s focus for the better part of every year and now, is the state capital of Himachal Pradesh. The town of Shimla rose in the nineteenth century when the Gurkha Wars came to an end in 1815-16 and the victorious British decided to retain certain pockets as military outposts and sanitaria. In 1822 the most rigorous of dandies and the greatest of sticklers for form Captain Charles Pratt Kennedy, Political Agent to the Hill States directed that a house be built for him at the village whose name is variously reported as Sheyamalaya Shumlah, Shimlu and Shemlah. Kennedy House led the vanguard of the hundred-odd houses that were to scatter themselves by 1841 over every level or gently inclining space. Lured by the climate and terrain scores of European invalids began moving to the station and the only stipulation of the local chief who owned the land was that no tree be cut or cattle slaughtered.
The most charming and beautiful Kullu valley spreads out its charm on either side of river Beas. The valley runs north to south of this river and is 80 km long and about 2 km at its broadest. Yet with awe inspiring glens and mossy meadows encircled by the rushing streams and meandering brooks, flung east & west, a fairly wide area is open to the tourists, the trekkers, the mountaineers, the artists and to anyone who wishes to escape the heat & dust of the plains to breathe the exhilarating air of the Himalaya and enjoy the spectacle of the variegated mountain scenery. The valley is also famous for its exquisitely woven colorful handmade shawls and Kullu caps.
The Silver Valley has nature’s treasures that lie carelessly scattered as flowers. This wealth nestles by every tree in the splendid forests, bursts forth in the blooms and in the fruit of every orchard. Here are riches which cannot be measured and echo down the ages with the words of every myth and ancient legend and glow in the warm smiles of its gentle people. There is pleasure in every step you take in these enchanted valleys and in every gurgle you hear in the clear mountain streams.
Just 40 Km away from Kullu to the north, Manali is situated near the end of the valley on the National Highway leading to Leh. The landscape here is breath- taking. One sees well-defined snow capped peaks, the Beas River with its clear water meandering through the town. On the other side are deodar and pine trees, tiny fields and fruit orchards. It is an excellent place for a holiday, a favorite resort for trekkers to Lahaul, Spiti, Bara Bhangal (Kangra), and Zanskar ranges. From temples to antiquity, to picturesque sight-seeing spots and adventure activities, Manali is a popular resort for all seasons and for all travelers.
According to mythology, one day, Varvasvata, the seventh incarnation of Manu found a tiny fish in his bathing water. The fish told him to look after it with devotion as one day it would do him a great service. The seventh Manu cared for the fish till the day it grew so huge that he released it into the sea. Before departing, the fish warned Manu of an impending deluge when the entire world would be submerged and bade him to build a sea worthy ark. When the flood came, Varvasvata and seven sages were towed to safety by Matsya, the fish which is regarded as first avatar of Lord Vishnu. As the water subsided the seventh Manu’s ark came to the rest on a hill side and the place was named Manali (2,050 m) after him.
Blessed with a pleasant climate all the year round, Solan has the district headquarters and has the famous temple of Shoolini Devi. From Solan, Jatoli village and the temple of Lord Shiva and on Rajgarh road the Buddhist Dolanji Bon Monastery may be visited. Known as the “Mushroom city of India”, Solan has an old brewery and a sprawling horticulture and forestry university at Nauni. Rajgarh is full of orchards that grow stone-fruit like plums, apricots and peaches; en route you may stop for fishing at Gaura.
Formerly the seat of the ruler of the State is now submerged in the Gobind Sagar; it was situated on the south east side of the Satluj. Bilaspur Township is situated just above the old town of Bilaspur at a height of 670 m. above sea level. The new Bilaspur Township can be truly described as the first planned hill town of the country. The pleasure of a visit will be enhanced manifold when a motor launch is preferred as the means of travel, gliding through cool and enchanting waters of the lake. The Nalwari or annual cattle fair is held at Bilaspur for four or five days in March / April, the occasion is marked by wrestling and other amusements. Cattle are brought from Nalagarh and neighbouring parts of Punjab. For accommodation, Himachal Tourism’s Hotel Lake View and pvt hotels are available at Bilaspur.