Top 5 unusual places to see in Himachal Pradesh

When you think of Himachal Pradesh what comes to your mind? Kalka Simla Railways, Manali, Simla etc… Here’s my list of the unusual places that one must see in Himachal and ofcourse, the 1st point, is the primary reason why HP is in my wishlist!
Pic Courtesy: Raghavan V via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

Satyanand Stokes, Harmony Hall & Kotgarh Apples: So, there was this young guy, Samuel Evans Stokes, an American, who came to Simla’s leper colony in 1904 to do service. In 1912 he married a local Christian girl called Agnes. He got some farmland in Simla and in 1916, he introduced a variety of sweet tasting apples developed in Louisiana. And that was the beginning of apple cultivation in India! Yeah, he later converted to Hinduism and was called Satyanand Stokes!
Today, the house in which he lived in Kotgarh, called the Harmony House, is still the ancestral property of his descendants. It’s a century old and is still maintained as it was when he lived. Since it’s their private property, entry into this house isn’t allowed but the orchard can be visited and what’s better than fresh from farm apples!  
Pic Courtesy: Ashish Gupta from Noida via Wikimedia CommonsWikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0
   
Roerich Estate: Nicholas Roerich was a Russian painter (who is held at par with Rabindranath Tagore in India) who came to India in 1923! His son is Svetoslav Roerich (who fell in love with India, settled here and painted a lot on Indian Spirituality) and he married Devika Rani (an actress & grandniece of Tagore). One of the houses they lived in, is in Kullu in Himachal. Located 1km from the Naggar Castle, today that has been converted to a Museum housing several of their paintings, called Roerich Estate. Beside it is also the Urusvati Museum of Folklore, also under Roerich! 
Pic Courtesy: Ekabhishek via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Norah Richards and Shopping at Andretta: Similar to Stokes & Roerich, Norah Richards is another foreigner who settled in Himachal. She was born in Ireland and studied in Belgium and Australia before settling in India with a husband, an English tutor! After his death, she moved to Himachal in 1924 and formed an artists’ colony called Andretta (something similar to Cholamandal!), where artists could live in simple houses made of local material, in harmony with the locals and share their knowledge and skill with them! Today Norah Richards’ house and the Andretta Craft Society are a definite must visit. The place also provides 3 months long pottery making courses. Ofcourse, the pottery made there is available to purchase at the Craft Shop! 
"Well, if you think of it, with its splendid climate, magical landscape with the backdrop of Himalayas, colorful handicrafts, rich culture, Tourism in Himachal has been attracting the talented & creative minds from USA, Russia & UK since centuries. It’s not called ‘Unforgettable Himachal’ for no reason!!!"
Pic Courtesy: Rakeshkdogra via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Baijnath & Nirmand Temples: These 2 temples are almost 10 centuries old. Baijnath temple is a Shiva temple, built in 1204 CE, by 2 merchants, Ahuka and Manyuka. This was built in Nagara style (similar to Orissa)! Again with the backdrop of the snowcapped Himalayas, it’s just impressive!  The architecture is just gorgeous, filled with so much of sculptural marvel! On the other hand, Nirmand is where Lord Parashurama got salvation for killing his mother, in obedience of his father! This town also has ancient pottery shreds of 8th - 9th C CE. The Ambika Mata temple is an ancient temple, but the current architecture is completely new! 
Pic Courtesy: Akshat Sharma via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Naggar Castle: This kinda recently shot to popularity thanks to Jab We Met movie! Also today, it has been converted a hotel. It’s a stunning example of authentic Kath Kuni architecture of Himachal! Being a sucker for heritage hotel, it definitely has to be in my list! This was built by Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu in around 1460 CE. This is not very big, but the sculptural beauty here is just exquisite which makes it a must visit! 
Ofcourse, I definitely can’t miss the UNESCO Sites in Himachal: Kalka Simla Mountain Railway and Great Himalayan National Park. Check out these Himachal Tour Packages, and pack your bags! Whether is the beaten tourist track or off-the beaten track, Himachal has so much to give.

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

27 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting about these off the beaten track places in Himachal Pradesh. If I ever visit India again (which I really want to do), I would definitely want to check out this region. It's also interesting that you featured places associated with foreigners who fell in love with India.

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  2. Exploring the hidden gems of places is my favorite activity when I travel - (Only if I have time, of course) Wow - looks like there's a lot to see and learn in Himachal Pradesh. I am going to India this upcoming October for the first time and I couldn't be more excited :)

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  3. OMG, I have to visit Himachal the next time I am in India. I totally fell in love with Naggar Castle. It reminded me of one of those houses that I'd seen in a picturesque village in Japan. How long do you think I'll need to spend there to be able to cover all the main attractions?

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  4. I would love to visit a temple. I still have yet to visit one but I know that they would be magnificent sites to witness in person. I would've never thought about all there would be to offer in this region.

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  5. The stories behind each site got me.I love visiting places that are historical. Himachal Pradesh is just going to slid into the lists of historical sites I must visit.

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  6. I love exploring and visiting UNESCO sites too. You have listed quite a few noteworthy sites that I would definitely consider visiting if I go to Himachal Pradesh. The Naggar Castle sounds so interesting too, and even more interesting is the fact that it has been converted into a hotel!

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  7. I appreciate that you have taken us away from the traditional tourist "go to places". When I visit India I would like to come and see Naggar Castle. I would also like to see the orchards around "Harmony House", maybe taste a deliciously fresh apple.

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  8. I keep on reading so many post on India and places n the country. I really need to add the country on my travel list. Why aren't I have time to travel now?!

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  9. I love how you capture the essence of the places you visit. The photo of the ceramics is especially breathtaking! :D

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  10. These are some of the great places in India, which are worth to be explored for their great contribution to the Indian history and culture. As I go along reading your post as if I'm in the said place, appreciating their beauty and cultural value.

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  11. I have been to Himachal so many times yet I haven't heard of the 4 places mentioned in the list. Only one, Baijnath is which I have heard of and travelled to. Thanks for letting me know of the rest, I will visit them the next time I am in Himachal.

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  12. I would love to see Baijnath & Nirmand Temples and Naggar Castle. Both these places are centuries old and it would really be great to learn about the story of both places.

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  13. I have been to Himachal quite a lot of time and its good to know these new places to visit. I will surely visit them on my next visit. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

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  14. I have never seen century old architecture like this one. It is very nice to be able to explore and know other culture. Thank you for sharing this.

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  15. I've heard of and been to Manali and Simla in Himachal Pradesh. If I was to visit again it would be interesting to try some of these places to see there. From the list I would choose to visit the Baijnath and Nirmand temples, I would love to photgraph them with the Himalayas in the background. The Naggar Castle looks Instagrammable too, in the photograph after the rain there is a nice reflection of it!

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  16. This post reminds me of the Indian students from my former school. They tell a lot of stories about places and cultures. That is why this is on my bucket list! probably a place i'll visit after Thailand :) Naggar Castle is just so picturesque

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  17. Cool collection of places to visit in Himachal pradesh. Satyanand Stokes looks awesome as well as interesting. Hope, will visit soon.

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  18. I have not heard of Himachal Pradesh until I read this article, though I don't know if I will ever get to visit in person. You did get me interested in Naggar Castle and the Jab We Met movie that popularized it. Hope to see it.

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  19. We had totally no idea that there were apples growing in India! I have heard so much about the UNESCO mountain railway. Definitely going on my bucketlist!

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  20. Visiting the not so norm places has always been my love. I have never been to India, but when I do one day go, this is on my list of places! Thank you for sharing this!

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  21. I have covered almost whole of the Himachal still the places mentioned in your post are new to me. We have just seen Baijnath temple from your list and now need to check the other places too. Thanks for sharing this amazing list.

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  22. This is truly very foreign to me and I find very interesting places to visit and experience. Will add these to my lists!

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  23. This is a brilliant list of unusual places to see in Himachal Pradesh. I would love to check out Roerich Estate. That's a really interesting story about Svetoslav Roerich. Cheers!!

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  24. Nice little post. Kotgarh was on my lips in the afternoon too and now I find it online. Guess its the right time to go to this place of apples! The other four places are beautiful too, lucky me to have had the pleasure of visiting them in different seasons.

    Best
    Shubham

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  25. Went to Palampur and Andretta last year and loved the solitude and peace of the area. Thanks for the tips about Naggar Castle and Kotgarh. How is the drive from Delhi?

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  26. Himachal has been my dream for many years now. You have given us a list of things to see.. will surely visit these when I am there. Thank you.

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