Wrapped in a blanket, feeling the warmth of a hot cup of coffee while glaring out of the window at the marvelous landscape. A gazillion snowflakes falling in the symphony which can be felt by flexing the arm outside the window. The feeling of fresh snow falling on our warm body and melting in water is priceless.
Aha!! Winters and Himachal Pradesh are indeed the perfect partners.
Well, this place in India is blessed with a varied landscape which gives you a different experience depending upon the time of the year you’re traveling. During winters, the entire state is covered with a white blanket (It’s the perfect analogy to describe winters in HP).
During summers when more than half of India is drenching in sweat, cursing the rising temperatures, holding umbrellas and wearing scarfs to protect themselves (Do you relate?) from the wrath of the sun, in those terrible months people in Himachal Pradesh enjoys the cool breeze of air with ice cold water running through the streams. The heavy white blanket disappears and brings out divergent shades of green and purple. And as months pass by, green turns to purple and purple into brown and eventually it settles down to white again. Well, that’s the complete circle.
The gist is if you are visiting Himachal for the first time, do not look out for the right time or season. Trust us when we say it is always the right time to visit this god’s own state and you will definitely love the feeling of surrounded by mountains.
Of course, if you are looking for a winter destination, there couldn’t be a better place than this. Winters here are amazing and it is like a paradise on earth. Compared to Kashmir the weather is pleasant during winters and can be easily tackled by covering ourselves with multiple layers of clothing. Well, who doesn’t like bringing out the big puffy jackets in generally hot India?
As a state, it has so many places and treks to cover that one trip is not enough. In this article, I am going to summarize a brief itinerary covering Tosh, Pulga, Kalga, Barsheni, Kasol, Rasol, Chalal, Manikaran and Manali.
This is a 6-7 days itinerary listing how to travel, where to stay and key high lights In Himachal. Let’s begin!
Delhi/Chandigarh to Bhuntar :
Bhuntar is the first stop while heading towards Tosh from Delhi/Chandigarh or practically from any other place in India. Reach out to either Delhi or Chandigarh if you are traveling from other states/cities. The
Preferable timing : 06:00 PM – 07:00 PM from ISBT bus stop (Delhi) for HRTC state transport or Majnu ka Tilla for Volvo from Delhi.
Cost : Rs. 1200- Rs. 2000 for Volvo (Bargain if you’re booking on the spot, however, it’s better to do pre-booking if traveling in a group)
Rs.250-Rs.350 for HRTC state transport. (Non AC/seater), this is not comfortable and also crowded but works fine if you are on a budget trip.
Duration: Depending on the climate 12-14 hours (Sometimes it may take even longer especially during winters)
Note: It’s better to catch a bus around 06:00 PM from Delhi so that you reach Bhuntar by 08:00 in the morning, this will give you a fresh start to travel further and you’ll also get half a day to explore the place.
Bhuntar to Barsheni :
From Bhuntar, the easiest option is to take a cab till Barsheni. No need for pre-booking as there are plenty of options available at the spot.
Cost : Rs. 2000- Rs.3000 for a hatchback.
If you’re looking for cheaper options than choose state transport(HRTC).
Due to heavy snowfalls during winter the roads are blocked and you may not get a direct bus or cab till Barsheni. You can still reach to Tosh by boarding a bus till Manikaran, followed by a cab till nearest drop location(if you get lucky then will Barsheni), of course, if the roads are blocked you may have to walk/hike a bit before you get the next cab to Barsheni. To summarize, it completely depends on your luck and the weather.
However please do not risk by self-driving or forcing the driver to take you across by offering extra money. There’s nothing more precious than life and of course, it’s quite an adventure to reach this way to Tosh! Is’nt it?
Also, you get to enjoy the scenic view on the way. Sing with the mountains, sip a cup of tea on roadside stalls, make friends on the way and in no time you’ll reach your first destination.
Duration: 3-4 hours till Barsheni
Barsheni to Tosh :
Barsheni is the base point from where you can either hike till Tosh or get a cab. Stand there for some time and enjoy the landscape and magic in the air. There’s also a shortcut to Tosh and if you are are not carrying a lot of luggage/trolley bags and in a mood of some adventure then pull up your socks and trek till Tosh, it’s an easy terrain so don’t worry if you are not experienced.
But if you’re tired because of the journey so far then it’s better to take a cab since it’s just the start of the trip and you don’t want to be dead on one’s feet.
Cost : Rs. 200.
Where to stay?
Just at the entrance of Tosh, when you walk with pride and glitters in your eyes on the narrow bridge (probably even reaming about marijuana) you’ll spot a place named: Eyesky. This is one of the best places to stay with amazing food and a mesmerizing view.
I mean look at the view.
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When you get up and get this amazing view of mountains and color play of sky. 💖 One of the best things about Himachal is that you will get the best stays without spending much. We had an unplanned trip to Himachal without making any prior bookings, and as we reached our first destination Tosh Village we stumbled upon this beautiful place named Eyesky. Instantly we fell in love with the view offered by our room. Isn't it mesmerizing? The best part was, it costed us Rs.1100/night. Which is also a bit expensive but since we were there during new years this is still so acceptable. 😄 While planning a trip to mountains I personally feel that instant booking is much better than online bookings. You can choose the view you want and accordingly decide the place rather than finding something online and later realizing it is situated far away from where you actually wanted to stay. Also, if you have good bargaining skills then you can save quite a bit on room tariff. 🙈 If you are going in off season then bargain with all your heart because for best of the places as well the tariff should not be more than Rs.600-700/night. What do you prefer while traveling? Instant bookings or pre-planned ones? . . #india #photooftheday #indiainwinters #indiaphotos #indiatravel #indianwedding #himachalpradesh #mountains #landscapephotography #snow #winter #indiaeveryday #travel #travelgram #travelblogger #lifestyleblogger #photograph #browngirl #hippie #tripoto #lonelyplanetindia
Cost: Rs.700-Rs 1200 for two. (No need to pre-book your stay at Tosh, in fact, better not to pre-book your stay. You can book the property upon arrival)
Food : Rs.200-300/meal
You can take a half day rest from a long journey, enjoy an amazing view of the mountains from the balcony with some really good food.
In the evening you can explore local restaurants and shops, though there are not many.
Get up early and devour on some amazing breakfast at the hotel. I am drooling just by the thought of it.
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Devouring on some pancakes, toast, fruit, honey, and marmalade paired with the amazing view and the smell of coffee and mountains 💖 . . Who says perfect morning doesn't exist ❄ . #india #photooftheday #indiainwinters #indiaphotos #indiatravel #indianwedding #himachalpradesh #mountains #landscapephotography #snow #winter #indiaeveryday #travel #travelgram #travelblogger #lifestyleblogger #photograph #browngirl #hippie #tripoto #lonelyplanetindia #food #foodporn #footfetishnation
After getting high on breakfast(lol) it’s time to explore the place. Wear your trekking boots (waterproof) and descend back down to Barsheni. Cross the bridge towards the dam and go to Kalga and from Kalga you can go to Pulga. The view from these places is different than what we see from Tosh, we are 180 degrees from Tosh – practically it is just the opposite. We spotted a very pretty spot just after crossing the bridge covered with icicles. The few hidden gems in Kalga are definitely breathtaking.
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Discovered this hidden gem near Tosh, Himachal Pradesh. 😍 Celebrating NYE at the perfect winter destination and also with the best person in my life. This year was everything I could possibly think of. And the year has ended with an amazing twist. I hope you guys had an amazing year and 2019 is everything you ever wanted. Happy New Year you guys!!!! 💞 . . . . #travel #himachalpradesh #travelgram #travellove #landscape
Kalga is situated at almost plateau kind of area with rich plantation of Apple trees. If you are traveling during Aug-Oct then stay at Kalga and skip Tosh.
During winters Tosh is the perfect place to stay at and indeed a paradise.
After a day full of landscape viewing, hiking and trying out the local cuisine(mostly Maggie and tea) you can head back to Tosh and enjoy the rest of the night cuddling in blanket or star gazing.
P.S. Skip the waterfalls in Tosh, there are no real waterfalls as such. Rather if you are going during April-Nov head for Kheerganga trek. It’s completely worth it.
Bhuntar to Chalal :
After spending two days at Tosh, it’s time to descend down to explore the places which will have an altogether different landscape. Yes, I am talking about Kasol, Rasol, and Chalal.
The easiest way to descend down to is by taking a shared cab from Barsheni to Kasol. If you are a panda you call roll too(lol, bad PUNS), or maybe you can just roll.
Cost : Rs.1000/ 4 people
Kasol is a small hippie town(of course famous for hashish) is situated just beside the mighty Parvati river. However, the recent hike in the number of tourists has made this place jammed and as has become highly commercialized. It’s still a good place for trying bakeries, having good food and just for some street shopping(Ponchos, woolen socks, and dream catcher).
Highlight: German Bakery, Moon Dance Cafe, Street Shopping
Note: We do not recommend to plan a stay at Kasol and Manikaran, in fact, skip Manikaran all together. It’s dirty and crowded.
Instead of Kasol and Manikaran plan a stay at Chalal especially if you like to spend more time surrounded by nature and less by people. It’s on the other side of the river Parvati and quite isolated from the hustle bustle. If you want to try some crazy brownies(you know what I mean, then ak for Mulla Bhai, or Mulla homestay. Trust me when I say those are the best brownies you’ll ever get in Himachal)
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Stepped out of the comfort zone, broke a sweat, hiked a bit and finally found this small paradise covered with pine trees 💖 . . Have you ever been to Chalal? Or heard about it? #india #photooftheday #indiainwinters #indiaphotos #indiatravel #indianwedding #himachalpradesh #mountains #landscapephotography #snow #winter #indiaeveryday #travel #travelgram #travelblogger #lifestyleblogger #photograph #browngirl #hippie #tripoto #lonelyplanetindia #
Kasol to Manali :
If time permits head to the last destination of the trip – Manali which is the perfect place to splurge some money on luxury resorts, offbeat adventure activities or a small hike(if you didn’t get enough if it already at Tosh and Kasol)
How to reach Manali from Kasol :
You can take a direct cab from Kasol to Manali which will cost around Rs.3000/4 approximately. It is convenient and time-saving.
If you have time and would like to spend less than Rs.200, then HRTC(Himachal State Transport) is the best option. From Kasol head to Bhuntar and from Bhuntar you’ll get a bus to Manali via Kullu for approx Rs 150-200. It takes 3- 4 hours to reach Manali from Bhuntar.
No need to pre-book, you will have plenty of options once you reach Bhuntar.
Manali is one of the very famous and also the oldest tourist places in India which needs no introduction.
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Just out of a post-card 💖 . What does the picture remind you of? . . . #himachalpradesh #indiaig #india #travel #travelgram #indiaphotos #india #photooftheday #indiainwinters #indiaphotos #indiatravel #indianwedding #himachalpradesh #mountains #landscapephotography #snow #winter #indiaeveryday #travel #travelgram #travelblogger #lifestyleblogger #photograph #browngirl #hippie #tripoto #lonelyplanetindia #ootd #morning
Things to do in Manali :
1. Eat amazing roadside food at Mall Road, Jalebi with Milk is a must try. Visit the German Bakery.
2. Visit Solang Valley and indulge in some adventurous activities like paragliding, horse riding etc. The place is quite commercialized and at the start, it is completely covered with horse dung, sigh!! But if you trek a bit, you’ll find prettier spots and of course snow, irrespective of the season you travel. Early morning hours are better option to explore Solang.
3. Visit Hidimba temple. More than the temple, I loved the jungle area just behind the temple. It’s serene and peaceful. Grab a cup of coffee amid the jungle.
4. Rent a bike and explore nearby valleys and mountains. You can rent Commander, Royal Enfield etc for a rent of Rs.800-1000 per day. It’s worth an experience.
Places to stay :
1. You can go for luxury resorts if you are in a mood for a splurge. You can find resorts costing from Rs.3000 to Rs.50000, depends on your appetite to splurge. For around Rs.6000, White Meadows and Johnsons are my favorite.
2. Go for Airbnb for experiencing homestays. I will leave the options open.
3. For backpack hostels, as usual, Zostel is my favorite. Manali has one of the best properties for Zostel. Check this out: Manali-Zostel
You can spend a day or two in Manali and head back to Delhi or Chandigarh as per your plans.
You’ll be heading home with a lot of memories and deep love for mountains.
Also, here are the answers for a few common questions which people generally are puzzled about
1. Can we plan a family trip to Himachal?
Well, it is a yes. Places like Manali, Kasol can be traveled with family. However, for Tosh, Pulga, and Kalga, it’s a big no to travel with our family especially if they are not okay with people smoking and selling marijuana in open.
2. What’s the best season to travel to Himachal?
Himachal has a pleasant climate throughout the year.
Nov-March: These months are cold and the temperature will be in minus. If you want to witness snowfall then these are the months to opt for.
April-July: This is the time when the snow starts to melt and the landscape starts to change from white to green. Heavy and ice cold water, greenery and fresh air are the highlights for these months. Also at this time, you will find more tourist, so be prepared for crowded areas.
Aug-Nov: Spring with monsoons. It’s a bit rainy during these periods. October is the month when apple plantation is at full bloom. Purple flowers and a village full of apples are the highlights for October.
3. Is it safe for Solo traveling, especially for girls?
It is completely safe and the people are very kind and sweet. Go ahead without being worried about safety.
4. Is marijuana (Maal, Hash, Weed) legal in Himachal?
To your disappointment, NO!. Marijuana is not legal yet, maybe it won’t get legalized in the near future too(just saying). But, they do sell it in Tosh, Kasol, Chalal. You need to follow the gut(by which I mean smell) and you’ll reach just at the right place.
5. Can we visit Tosh, even if we don’t smoke up?
YES! A big YES! Do not worry, the landscapes are simply amazing and you’ll fall in love with it at first glance. You won’t really find people smoking up that openly, so no issues while exploring the places.
I hope it helps. For more questions, you can comment below.
You can always customize the itinerary as per your choice and schedule. For any additional information, you can DM us or comment below!!
Leaving few links below for Bus Bookings, Airbnb etc. Hope it helps!!
Bus Bookings: Delhi to Bhuntar
Ending with few pictures from our trip during winters. Enjoy and safe travel!