Troubled by the killing pace and chilling heartlessness of cities, the murderous boredom of daily life, pollution, noise and overall a deep feeling of all engulfing hopelessness, “city-zens” of today are an ailing breed. Fortunately, the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh is still there as a foolproof cure.
The 18th state to be included in independent India from the erstwhile Punjab provinces; it is arguably the most beautiful region of the country. Christened by the famed Sanskrit scholar of the region Acharya Diwakar Datt Sharma, the name means ‘located in the land of snow’ (him=snow, anchal=land in Sanskrit). It was once described by Rudyard Kipling, the famed English writer, who spent considerable amount of time here, as ‘surely the Gods live here, this is no place for men.’
Shimla, the capital of the state, is one of the most popular hill stations of India. It still has many colonial era buildings, and the mall road which runs the entire length of the city, is a popular hangout place. The real beauty of the state however lies in its many unexplored regions, such as Kullu, Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti, or the quiet towns of Mcleodganj, Dharamshala and Dalhousie.
There are options galore for the thrill seeker as well as the quiet introspecting type tourists. The state, known as the fruit bowl of India for its beautiful orchards which grow a variety of fruits, is also known to produce hallucinogens such as cannabis, locally known as ‘charas’ or ‘black gold.’
The real intoxication, however, is provided by the huge mountains which surround the state. With vast sheets of snow glistening in an orange glow of the setting sun, one cannot help but agree that this indeed is ‘Dev Bhoomi’ or God’s Land, the neighbourhood of Shiva.