When it comes to traveling in India, Himachal Pradesh is a sought after destination. The picturesque mountains of the Himalayas not only offer breathtaking views, but also a diversity in every way possible. Every town in the mountain has secret locations and villages, and every village has its own intriguing culture.
These mountains also serve a person’s soul, whether someone is looking for some quiet out of their chaotic lives, or looking for some adventure to settle the adrenaline. Every village in Himachal Pradesh has its own unique characteristics, and there are so many of them.
If you are someone who loves the mountains but does not know where to travel beyond the popular towns, then this article is for you. In this article, I’ve listed down 10 such villages of Himachal Pradesh, which are less touristy, and offers a very different experience.
Some of these villages host unexpected art shows, some offer the quiet and solace, others are great for quick trips and for the adventure lovers – I’ve compiled a list which offers something for everyone.
Scroll below to know all about these villages – what sets them apart and things to see and do.
1. Gunehar – A quaint village that turns into an Art Gallery
Close to the popular paragliding spot in Himachal, Bir, lies the very quaint village of Gunehar. When you enter the village, you will spot kids playing and various mud houses catching your attention. What you wouldn’t be able to make out is that this is the village that turns into an art gallery every three years! Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?
Every three years, the 4 tables project, a cafe in Gunehar organizes an art festival, called ‘ShopArt ArtShop’, wherein budding artists from different parts of the country, and different realms of art come together and convert this village into an art gallery, with Kahaani ki Dukaans, Art Shops in Mud houses and unique art installations at every nook and corner.
What is even more interesting is that the villagers also welcome and participate in the festival, which makes the whole experience a very enriching affair.
I suggest you definitely visit Gunehar during the art festival. But that is not all. Otherwise, Gunehar also has a very calm and old school feel to it, and you should definitely visit and even stay at the village when in Bir, to live in those quaint mud houses, and experience the gushing waterfall close to the village.
Also read: My experience of Paragliding at Bir Billing
2. Chamba – A village to immerse into the heritage and culture of the mountains
Located close to the popular tourist destination, Dalhousie and Khajjiar, the village of Chamba has an old-world charm attached to it, a place which would make you feel like you just traveled back in time. If you want to experience living like a Himachali local, while you explore the way of life in a rustic way, with the community, I suggest you visit Chamba.
It is also popular for its two festivals – The Sui Mata Festival and the Minjar Festival, where the former is where you will experience a lot of celebration in the village dedicated for the princess Sui, who sacrificed her life for the people of Chamba, and the latter is a fair which marks the harvesting of the maize crop. During the Minjar festival, a lot of people from different parts of the country travel to Chamba to see the village come to life in the most celebratory manner, a time when you can enjoy all that the village is made up of.
Apart from this, Chamba also has many temples which are known for its medieval architecture, and is definitely worth a visit, especially for those who have an inclination towards the many cultures in the mountains.
3. Chitkul – the last inhabited village on the Indo-Tibetan Border
A village nestled in the mighty Himalayas, with breathtaking views and a unique sense of culture, you must visit Chitkul. Located in Kinnaur district, Chitkul is the last inhabited village on the Indo-Tibetan Border, which means you will find fewer people here, and most of them would be the local inhabitants of the village.
It is very popular for its mystic Mathi Devi Temple, which is an architectural gem showcasing unique wooden carvings. Chitkul is where you will get the quiet you have been looking for, with the best of views surrounding you.
When in Chitkul, you can interact with the locals and experience its unique culture through the vernacular style of architecture, hidden pathways, and unique folklores.
4. Waichin – A less explored Paradise in Himachal
Everyone knows about the popular village of Malana, but very few know of Waichen, a beautiful place which will leave you spellbound. You need to trek for around 4 kilometres from Malana to reach Waichin and it is a beautiful, quiet place to be, a place which is all snowed and dreamy white in the winters.
Waichin is also known as the Magic Valley, mostly because of how dreamy the place is believed to be and how very few people know about this place. Waichin isn’t a place where you’d find cafes and crowds, unlike Malana and Kasol. Instead, it is where you will find yourself close to nature with the mountains around and under a dreamy sky filled with uncountable stars during the night.
So next time ditch the known places and make your way to this magical valley, to explore the lesser-known!
5. Nako – A Dreamy remote village amidst the mountains
Usually a stopover for those making their way towards Tabo, Nako is an unexplored gem situated remotely in Himachal. Located in Upper Kinnaur and on the edge of the Spiti Valley, Nako has a medieval feel to it, with its mud houses, locals immersed in agriculture for their daily supplies, and the overall feel of the place.
Moreover, the place has a Buddhist influence to it, and when in Nako, you must visit the Nako Monastery to explore the spirituality of the place and to also experience the feel of being in a monastery.
You can also visit the Nako lake to enjoy your moments of peace with panoramic mountain views around. To experience the best of Nako, I suggest you visit during the Autumn months to see the beautiful shades of colors around you.
6. Barot – A spot for adventure in the mountains
Like any village in Himachal, Barot too has many things one can see and explore when in the village. From the Uhl river, Barot Temple to Nargu Wildlife Sanctuary, there is so much you can see in Barot when it comes to sightseeing.
But that’s not in. When it comes to Barot village, it is a place which is quickly catching the attention of those travelers who have a quench for adventure, as it offers so much you can do to settle that adrenaline. You can indulge in Trout Fishing after taking prior permission from the trout farm office. It is also a perfect place for trekkers as you can go for a 13-kilometre long trek from Barot to Kothi. It also has a popular camping spot called Thandi Golai for those who are looking for some quiet while feeling a close connection to nature.
Located in Mandi district of Himachal, Barot is a simple village, not very far off which offers everything you are looking for in the mountains.
Also read: Best trekking and hiking trails of Manali
7. Garli – A charming hamlet in the hills
Situated close to the known Dhauladhar range and in the heart of the Kangra Valley, you will come across a pretty hamlet, with its old school charm and beautiful heritage buildings called Garli.
From old school mansions with traces of diverse cultures to narrow lanes, a walk through Garli is like entering a world from long ago. You can also stay at such heritage properties when in the village, and one such beautiful property with old school structure and colors that you must visit is – The Chateau Garli.
Garli is where you should be if you are looking at a quick weekend getaway, but yet something that is not your touristy spot.
When in Garli, make sure you spend a good amount of time walking and soaking in the beautiful heritage of the place. Apart from this, you can also visit the Kangra Fort and the Masroor rock-cut temple to explore the region.
8. Kalpa – A picturesque town offering it all
Offering majestic views of the Kinner Kailash range, Kalpa is a beautiful town situated in the Kinnaur Valley. Kalpa offers something for everyone whether you are someone who is more inclined towards the culture of a place or an adventure-loving soul.
You can explore the Roghi village to immerse into the simple village life, hike to the beautiful Chaka meadows for some spectacular views or even shop the many local handicrafts – silver jewellery, woolen shawls, and caps, or even wooden artifacts among many other things.
Another interesting thing about Kalpa is that you will find a lot of Bengalis in the region, which means you can delve into some authentic Bengali cuisine when in Kalpa.
The roads to Kalpa are open all year round and you can visit the place depending upon what you want to experience – the easy road journey in summers or the dreamy white town in winters.
From the beauty of the mountains, the unique culture of the village to the calm and adventure, you will find so much in Kalpa.
9. Shoja – Feel close to nature in this lesser-known village
If you’re someone who goes to the mountains to be close to nature, then Shoja is your place to be. Even though Shoja offers everything which you may otherwise seek when in the mountains, but at Shoja, you will feel close to nature – a place which will offer you beautiful views of the mountains, the accompanying villages, dreamy skies and the sounds of nature at its very best.
It is a perfect place for those who want to be alone in the mountains for long, far away from the crowd and noise, perfect for someone who wants to create – write, paint or just be with a view of the mountains. You can find homes in Shoja and live there to get some solace and experience having a home in the mountains.
On days when you feel like exploring the region, you can visit the popular Jalori Pass, visit the Raghupur Fort and spend some time at Dough Thatch, which is a beautiful grassland close to Shoja.
10. Kareri – A majestical lake in the mountains
Kareri Lake Trek has recently got a lot of attention and is slowly getting popular among travellers and tourists alike as a great alternative to the very popular Triund Trek. It is a shallow lake near Mcleodganj, Dharamsala and offers beautiful views of the Dhauladhar range.
Even though the place got popular because of the Kareri Lake, but the village in itself has such quiet and culture to it, that you must explore the same. The trek starts from the Kareri Village, and you should stay one day before the trek to just live in this beautiful village, and immerse yourself into the local life.
All the villages in the mountains have their unique way of life and different cultures, and even though they are all places in the hills, all of them would make you feel differently – some with its beautiful views, others with the local life.
These 10 villages are our best picks, villages you must explore before they get too touristy, and experience the mountains in different ways, getting to see all the sides from different villages. So make sure you add these villages on your travel list!