Up in India’s north, the state of Himachal Pradesh is much acclaimed for its abundant natural beauty. From orchards, lush fields and subtropical forest the landscape slopes up into undulating hills before soaring to snow-capped peaks of more than 6,000 metres. Mountain ranges criss-cross the state creating little enclaves where customs and traditions can vary greatly between valleys, whilst precariously perched villages and colonial hill stations allow you to sit back and savour the views.
A chilled out town set at the head of Kullu Valley and surrounded by orchards, pine forests and snowcapped peaks, Manali has been a traveller’s haven since the 1970s. Whilst its hippie roots are gradually fading, the reasons for visiting Manali are still prominent – it’s a great base for trekking in the Himalayan foothills, it has thermal springs to enjoy and most of all, it is the perfect place to sit back, relax and soak up the spectacular scenery in comfort.
In 1960, on fleeing Tibet, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government set up in Dharamsala creating a little corner of Tibet in India. This former British hill station spread across the woody ridges of the Dhauladhar Mountains is now home to a large Tibetan population and the largest Tibetan temple outside of Tibet, Tsuglugkhang. Whilst Lower Dharamsala has little of interest, four kilometres and 1000 metres farther uphill Upper Dharamsala, or McLeod Ganj, is a popular place to stay, it’s relaxed and friendly atmosphere well known. As well as the Tsuglugkhang monastery, there is a fascinating little museum on the history of Tibet and plenty of spectacular views to admire.
In the midst of the beautiful Kullu Valley, 1.5 miles from Manali's centre, the Manuallaya Resort, with the added charm of landscaped gardens, promotes peace and harmony. Make full use of the facilities, including hot tub, sauna and spa, after a day discovering the spectacular surroundings.
Situated high in the Himalayas near Shimla, Wildflower Hall is a fairy-tale luxury resort set in virgin woods of pine and cedar. This Oberoi Resort recreates the grand style of the colonial era with rich furnishings and spectacular views making the rooms very special retreats. Facilities include a heated indoor pool and a relaxing spa offering holistic treatments.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.