A memorable trip to Shimla, Mandi, Dharamshala and Rishikesh

  • By Shalini Asha Bhaloo
  • April 17, 2023
  • @Shalini_A_B
  • Read about the author’s wonderful experiences during visit to Shimla, Mandi, Dharamshala and Rishikesh.

In early April 2023 I travelled to Shimla, Mandi, Dharamshala and Rishikesh to experience the beauty and spirituality of the Himalayas. This article describes my experience during the trip.

Day 1



Our first stop was Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh. It has a fantastic view of the Himalayas. Shimla is located on the south-western ranges of the Himalayas with an average altitude of 2,200 metres (7,240 ft) and extends along a ridge with seven spurs. I did not experience altitude sickness. Shimla has beautiful people, steep inclines, fresh air and lovely scenery.


Day 2

Toy train from Shimla. 

The next day we experienced the World Heritage-listed “toy train”. It offers a scenic journey with views of quaint villages and gorgeous mountain passes. We saw monkeys too.

View enroute drive to Mandi, the cultural capital of Himachal. 

Next, on northbound on route to Mandi we stopped at a bridge to soak in the scenery. The drive from Shimla to Mandi is about four hours.

Mandi view, front river Beas. 

Mandi is an important trading and tourism centre in Himachal Pradesh. It lies along the Beas River north-northwest of Shimla and is the gateway to Himachal's famous valleys of Kullu, Manali, Lahaul and Spiti. Hand-loom weaving and handicrafts are its important industries. Mandi has an average altitude of 880 metres. There is a newly started IIT in Mandi too. 


Mandi has lots of temples and festivals are celebrated with great fervour. Read about Triloknath Temple in Mandi. The town is also a base to visit pilgrimage town of Rewalsar and Parasar Lake/Temple. See album Here


Read about celebrations of Holi in Mandi and Shivratri in Mandi


We headed into town for a walk and explored a huge sunken shopping centre – the only one like it in India and the focal point of entertainment in Mandi. I saw bathing ghats along the river and lovely temples including a lovely Saturn (Shani) temple and a riverside Shivalinga.

Linga on river bank.

Palace hotel at Mandi where we stayed.  

In the evening, we stayed at the restored former palace of the Raja of Mandi.


Day 3 and 4

Inviting snow clad peaks of Dharamshala. 

Our next stop was Dharamsala i.e. at an average elevation of 1,457 m (4,780 ft).

Dharamsala is located in the Kangra valley against the Dhauladar mountain range. It has a cool climate, tea plantations, pine and deodar forests mingled with bamboo trees against snow-covered mountain peaks.


The journey through the mountains was an adventure in itself. We traveled in a private vehicle for the 6-hour drive along bumpy, winding roads to Dharamsala. Strung with prayer flags and busy with robed monks strolling between monasteries, this hilltop retreat is home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile. We wandered down its peaceful streets. The town in which Tibetan refugees live is Mcleodganj, about an hour’s drive from Dharamshala.  

Tibetan at work at the Norbulingka Institute.

We visited the fascinating Norbulingka Institute, developed to train Tibetans in skills needed to preserve the traditional arts and crafts of Tibet. Its grounds feature a beautiful temple and several workshops where we saw woodcarving, painting, and needlework in action. See album on Mcleodganj

At Dalai Lala Temple. 

Then we went to the Tsuglag Khang complex to see the Dalai Lama’s temple. 


Day 5 and 6

At Rishikesh. 

Our last Himalayan stop was Rishikesh, Uttarakhand where I experienced the ancient, beautiful, spiritual vibrations of the holy Ganga and mountains. Rishikesh is at the foothills of the Himalayas with an average elevation of 340 meters (1120 ft). Rishikesh is a pilgrimage town for Hindus.

At Parmarth Niketan.

In the evening, I strolled along the holy Ganga  and enjoyed the market and the nightly bhajans and fire ritual of Ganga Aarti. I dipped in the holy waters and offered flowers, incense and flame in a leaf bowl to mother Ganga.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram. 

We also visited Chaurasi Kutia, formerly known as the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram. In 1968, the English rock band the Beatles travelled to Rishikesh to take part in a Transcendental Meditation (TM) training course at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The visit followed the group's denunciation of drugs in favour of TM and received widespread media attention.

We then journeyed outside Rishikesh for some hiking and camping.

Tent outside Rishikesh where we stayed.  

Camping just outside Rishikesh I experienced hiking, a waterfall, mountain stream, many wild birds and plants. We experienced sleeping under the stars and stayed in a fixed campsite with tents.


I left this Himalayan journey satisfied and deeply connected with mother India, nature and Paramatman. Om Namah Shivaya.


To read all articles by author (she is based in North America and a student of Bharatanatyam, Spirituality and Yoga).


Also read

1. The best of Spiti Valley and Kinnaur in 15 days

2. Album Shimla

3. Solang Valley Himachal

4. Drive from Pune to Spiti Valley


To see all abums on Himachal Pradesh

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