The Ideal 10 Day Low-Key Itinerary | Himachal Pradesh

Ever since I opened the Himachal Pradesh map while sitting on the study table in the corner of my room, I knew finding an off-beat itinerary across the touristy state of HP would be tricky business. So, I opened my laptop and started on a surfing spree in the fascinating world of the internet. One blog after the other and one YouTube video after another, I soon realised that I would have to find and make my own route if I really wanted to live up and away from the hustle-bustle of tourists. Most importantly, I knew I had to time it just right! Thanks to the current state of affairs of the infamous COVID-19, I could do just that!


So, I sat down with my weary old map and a pen and got to work. In about a few days’ time and after over a dozen calls to locals in-around the area, I felt I had devised what seemed like a good itinerary.


Here is what it looked like-

Explore 5 amazing destinations in this custom-made itinerary!

ITINERARY


DAY 1 – Delhi to Prashar Lake (Dist. Mandi)


Leave by 5-6 AM to make the most of the day’s journey. You will be covering the most distance on this day, but this doesn’t mean that it is unachievable. Out of the total distance of 475 km, almost 3/4th can be covered relatively faster as most of it is on plain roads. If you reach Mandi by lunchtime, you will surely reach the pristine lake in time to see the sun set over its crystal-clear waters.

You can choose to set up a tent or stay in a cottage around the lake. However, I would advise you to do the former to really make the most of this place. Set up a cosy bonfire after dinner to enjoy the beauty of Prashar Lake. Night photography is a huge hit here amongst the photographers as you are treated to a sky full of stars on a clear night.



DAY 2 – Prashar Lake to Barot (Dist. Mandi)


Wake up early the next day and see the beautiful sunrise over the lake and the temple beside it. Have a good-heavy breakfast at any of the several food vendors around the lake and leave by 10 AM to make good time on the day’s journey.

The 100 KM journey from Prashar Lake to Barot Valley will take you around 4 hours to complete. As rewarding the drive can be, the roads can be equally bad on this part. Plan well and reach in the day time to make most the most of the views on the drive.

Barot offers a number of homestays right across the Uhl river, which flows right through the valley. You can find rooms for two for as low as INR 500 per day.



DAY 3 – Day in Barot


Spend the day immersed in the beauty of Barot. Take a stroll along the Uhl river and eat local delicacies. You can choose to drive up till Rajgundha and do a small trek in the area. Come back to Barot around dinner time and enjoy the local trout fish along some local alcohol brewed by the villagers here.



DAY 4 – Barot to Bir (Dist. Kangra)


After seeing yet another beautiful sunrise over the Uhl river, you can leave after breakfast for Bir. On this leg of the journey, you will be leaving the district of Mandi and entering the Kangra district.

Situated just 15 minutes from the busy town of Joginder Nagar, you will be introduced to the colourful Bir after a short 2-hour drive of 60 km from Barot. Spend rest of the day in the markets of Bir and enjoying traditional Tibetan food at places like Friends Cafe and Old Himalaya Cafe!



DAY 5 – Day in Bir


Bir Biling is almost synonymous to paragliding. But if you are like me that is not your cup of tea, enjoy a nice and easy day exploring the monasteries in Bir. Do not forget to check out the tea gardens here too! Find yourself a nice spot with some prayer flags (which really isn’t the hardest thing to do here) and have your afternoon brunch.

DO NOT forget to walk to the landing site in the evening and experience one of the most scenic sunsets of your life. You can end your day immersing in the delicious food and the gorgeous setting of AVVA's Cafe.



DAY 6 – Bir to Biling (Dist. Kangra)


Known just as a take-off site for gliders, Biling is so much more! Situated just about 15 KM from Bir, Biling is the highest point of this area (2600 m), which is sure to give you some of the most panoramic views.

Spend the day exploring this pristine area and setting up camp on a good pasture of land. Spend the night under a blanket of stars on a hilltop and wake up to an exhilarating sunrise!



DAY 7 – Biling to Dharamkot (Dist. Kangra)


Pack up after a nice morning breakfast and get on the road leading to Dharamshala. Just off McLeodganj, Dharamkot is a little haven that is the perfect amalgamation of a back-country feel with all the amenities for modern living. Hence, it is a no brainer as to why this place is a favourite for people looking to live and work from the mountains for long periods of time.

A 3-hour, comfortable drive from Biling will bring you to Dharamkot. If you will be travelling by your car, be sure to park around a small tea joint by the name of ‘Himalaya Tea Café’, as the road gets really narrow beyond this point. From there, most of the homestays are in the vicinity of 500 meters and you can easily give them a visit and pick the one that you like the most!



DAY 8 – Day in Dharamkot


Spend this day in Dharamkot, exploring the place in and around; taking up random trails and spending time in the beauty of this place. Paint, dance, sing, write – Do whatever your heart desires as you get used to the rhythm of this place. You can have your meals in places like Trek & Dine, Moon Light Café, and so on.

Sunrises through your front door in Dharamkot

DAY 9 – Day in McLeodganj + Naddi


You can keep this day for exploring Mcleodganj in the day and Naddi in the evening. Shop from the ever-busy streets of 'McLeod', visit the rustic old St. John’s Church and hike up to the Bhagsu Waterfall. By the evening, leave for Naddi so that you are just in time for the sunset. Believe me when I say this – YOU CANNOT MISS THE SUNSET AT NADDI. Here is just one reason why-

A sunset at Naddi | Picture Credits - Pratik Mishra

DAY 10 – Dharamkot to Delhi


The last day is always the worst. Who likes leaving from a beautiful trip anyway? But all good things come to an end, don’t they? Leave early in the morning to make good time on this day’s journey, which is around 500 km. But as you are travelling back, be sure to recapture all the beautiful parts of this journey in your mind. Because it won’t be long till you will be back again. Till then, hope you have an amazing time!



PLACES TO STAY


Prashar Lake – Camp it out!

Meadow Camps - 7906147708


Barot – Homestay

River View Homestay - 9418763841


Bir – Hostel

GoStops - 7428882828


Biling – Camp it out!

Sky Village - 9736333330


Dharamkot – Homestay

The Yellow House - 9418712182


{*Pro Tip – Instead of Dharamkot, you can choose to stay in Naddi (4 km from McLeodganj, 6 km from Dharamkot) if sunsets are your thing.}


This is the complete list of the places where I stayed during my trip. I chose to pitch a tent at Prashar Lake and Biling to further enrich my experience of the place. Believe me, you cannot miss this!



BEST TIME TO VISIT

Kangra is beautiful all throughout the year, even so during the months of spring and autumn. However, places like Prashar Lake and Barot in Mandi, and Naddi in Kangra experience snowfall during peak winters – and turn even more beautiful!

So here is how you can plan your travels, basis the weather you wish to experience –

  • April to June – Summer months (20 to 35 degrees on the scale) The best time to undertake adventure activities/trekking in the two districts.

  • July to September – Monsoon time (12 to 25 degrees) To experience the greenest hues of these two valleys, this is the time to be here!

  • October to February – Winter months (-5 to 10 degrees) While most parts of this itinerary do not receive snow, places like Barot, Naddi and Prashar lake are under a good blanket of snow in the months of December and January. The mercury can dip to as low as -10 on a cold snowy night here! So be prepared.


Himachal tourism has picked up right after the COVID restrictions were lifted and the state is flourishing with travellers all around. Now is the best time to make the most of your WFH timelines and travel on efficient budgets! So why wait?


If you liked this, you should know that I work on customised itineraries for fellow travellers. Check out travel itinerary planner to know more!

Stay tuned for more such tips and tricks about travelling! See you soon, dear traveller. 😊

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