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Himachal Pradesh

High mountains, snow - covered peaks, beautiful green hills and slopes, and quiet little resorts and hamlets make up this beautiful state. In summer, Himachal Pradesh has always been a refreshing change form the heat and oppression of the plains of north India. Travellers, tourists and even governments have resorted to its cooling effects and found relief in escaping to its hills.

Shimla, its capital, had for years been the British Government's seat during the hot summer months of Delhi. Bag, baggage, files and households moved every year to its hills. To this day, Shimla holds a special place among the hill resorts of India. Himachal's other destinations include the Kulu Valley, Manali, Chail, Chamba, Kangra, Dharamshala and Dalhousie - all of which have proved wonderful holiday resorts. Excellent trekking, hiking and skiing facilities are available at different places in the state.

The Buddhist Lagacy
Himachal is not only rich in natural beauty and Hindu art, culture and temples, but abounds in Buddhist monasteries. In fact, a visitor to the state can make a complete itinerary covering only the monasteries. There are those monasteries which are barely a few decades old, of around the time when the Dalai Lama left Tibet and came to India with his followers.

Kinnaur has about 32 Buddhist monasteries and temples, while the Spiti region has 30 of them spread over its rugged terrain. Lahaul too has a good number of them, about twenty nine, almost all affiliated to the Drug-pa sect.

Manali is an important tourist centre and has four recently-built monasteries in and around it. The main one is located close to the bazaar.

Rewalsar is the place from where Padmasmbhava left for Tibet to spread Buddhism in the 8th century AD. The lake here has three monasteries around it.

Mcleodganj in the Kangra region is now known for the residence of the Dalai Lama. The impressive Namgyal monastery here is surrounded by a row of prayer wheels and houses huge images of the Buddha, Padmasamshava and Avlokteshwara.

Area: 55,673 sq. km
Population: 6.13 million
Capital: Shimla Main
Languages: Hindi and Pahari
Best time to visit: Mid May to Mid October (if trekking) and Late December to March
(for winter sports)

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Important tourist places in Himachal