C Winter Festival in Manali and Ice Skating Festival in Shimla
In December, Shimla and Manali are the venues for the Ice Skating Festival. Various activities like ice skating, ice hockey and dance performances are held. Come February, Manali shakes of its winter hibernation for the winter carnival. Many winter sports and competitions are held during the festival.
Shimla – Sangla – Rekong Peo – Kalpa – Nako Lake – Tabo – Dhankar – Kaza – Keylong – Manali – Rewalsar – Dharamshala
This circuit can start either at Shimla or Dharamshala which are well connected by air, road and rail. Visit the recently built monasteries in Sanjauli and Kasumpti and continue on to Sangla in Kinnaur District. The Nyingma-pa, Drug-pa and Geluk-pa sects are well represented here and Kinnaur is home to 33 Buddhist monasteries. Visit the recently built gompa in Rekong Peo, and continue on to the ancient settlement of Kalpa to visit the Hu-Bu-lan-kar gompa, said to have been founded by Rinchensang-po. Leave for Spiti valley, which is completely immersed in Buddishm from the footprint of Padmasambhava on a rock near Nako, past monastic villages, ancient monastery complex in Tabo, to the internationally renowned Ki monastery near Kaza. Continue on to Keylong and visit the monasteries in Lahaul Valley most of which are associated with the Drug-pa sect. Guru Ghantal, in Keylong is the oldest monastery in Lahaul and is associated with both the Padmasambhava and Reinchensang-po. Leave for Manali, where there are four recently built monasteries and continue on to Rewalsar, said to be the place from where Padmasambhava left to spread the word of the Buddha in the eighth century. End your journey at McLeodganj/Dharamshala the current residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Manali-Spiti-Kinnaur-Shimla Tour (10 days)
Manali – Lossar – Kaza – Tabo – Kalpa – Sangla – Shimla – Chandigarh
Spend a day visiting local sites and sampling Himachali home-cooked fare in Naggar/Manali and set off across Rohtang Pass to Spiti. Visit the high altitude Chandertaal Lake and spend the night at the quaint village of Lossar in Spiti. Take in the harsh and dramatic landscape of Spiti from the heights of world famous Ki monastery and the high altitude Kibber village. From the mountain deserts of Spiti travel through Tabo with its well-preserved and ancient cave paintings to the intense green of Kinnaur valley and take in the snow-capped peaks of Kinner-Kailash in Kalpa. The detour to Sangla valley before continuing on to Shimla and Chandigarh is well worth it and one of the highlights of the trip.
Day 1: Manali sightseeing
Visit the Hadimba temple, Vasisht Baths, Manu Temple and Tibetan monastery. Chill in Old Manali, imbibe the local ambience and shop for souvenirs at the Tibetan Market on the Mall.
Day 2: Naggar local sightseeing
On the left bank of the river Beas, Naggar is a pictureque village on the wooded slope. It used to be the capital of the Kullu rajas and you can visit their heritage castle there. Naggar was also home to the Russian artist Roerich, whose house has now been converted into a museum. Visit some of the famous temples in and around Naggar as well and continue on to Jana for authentic and tasty Himachali food. Walk up to the beautiful waterfall there and wind your way back to Manali
Day 3: Manali to Chandertaal. Stay at Lossar
Travel over Rohtang Pass to Batal and walk to the crystal clear waters of Chandertaal lake. Overnight camping at Chandratal lake or drive from Batal over the Kunzam Pass (4558 m) to enter the starkly beautiful Spiti Valley stay at guesthouse in the first village as you enter Spiti Valley – Lossar.
Day 4: Lossar to Kaza
Drive past small villages of little whitewashed houses with flat straw roofs and reach the relatively large town of Kaza. Check-in to hotel at Kaza.
Day 5: Kaza – Ki, Kibber, Komic (Day Excursion)
In the morning, visit the Ki monastery which looks like a higgledy-piggledy anthill of buildings stuck together from afar, and is a labyrinth of rooms and corridors inside. This centuries old gompa at one time also acted as a fort. It houses valuable thangkas and offers a panoramic view of the area. Continue further up and feel on top of the world at Kibber and Komic, which have the distinction of being the highest permanently inhabited villages of the region. Return to Kaza and spend some time in the local market shopping for turquoise beads, silver jewellry, singing bowls and prayer flags.
Day 6: Kaza to Dhankar and Tabo
Drive to Tabo, dropping in at Dhankar gompa along the way. Dhankar gompa rests high over the valley and served as a fort to the ruler of Spiti. Tabo, built in 996 AD, is renowned for its breathtaking murals and stucco images and is often called “The Ajanta of the Himalayas”. Return to hotel in Kaza.
Day 7: Tabo to Kalpa
Enter the intense green of Kinnaur valley and take in the snow-capped peaks of Kinner-Kailash in Kalpa.
Day 8: Kalpa to Sangla. Overnight Saran
Enter the gorgeous Sangla Valley and drive upto Chitkul which is the last village before Tibet.
Day 9: Saran to Shimla and stay overnight
Drive to Shimla. Set at an altitude of 2,213m, Shimla was once the summer capital of the British administration in India and is now the capital of Himachal Pradesh. This queen of hill stations still retains its colonial charm in its architecture.Visit Jakhoo, an ancient temple devoted to Lord Hanuman, situated on Jakhoo Hill. This is Shimla’s highest peak and offers panoramic views of the Shivalik Ranges. Go on an excursion to Kufri, popular for its trekking trails, pine-scented air and beautiful views all around. Evening walk around The Mall.
Day 10: Shimla to Chandigarh
Take a city tour of Chandigarh. The Rock Garden, created by a humble road inspector called Nek Chand is the pride of the city. Its a marvel of urban waste material transformed into creative patterns and art objects. Other attractions in Chandigarh include Leisure Valley, Sukna Lake and Rose Garden.