A traveller walks in the great desert of the Sinai Peninsula. He’s almost spent. He doesn’t know where he is and where to go. Fortunately, he sees an old Bedouin standing under an Acacia tree.
Man, please tell me where I am and how far is to the nearest town!?” The traveller asks.
“You should go there…” the Bedouin replays while pointing his finger towards the mountains.
“And how long it takes to get there?”
No reply to that question. The traveller asks again. All he gets in return is silence.
He’s exhausted. “Just tell me how long?” he screams at the Bedouin guy. But the Bedouin remains quiet as the desert itself.
Disappointed, feeling his fate is doomed the traveller starts walking and leaves.
“You are 3 hours away!!” He hears the Bedouin shouts.
“Why didn’t you say so in the first place?”
“I had to see your ‘mood’, your natural walking pace to tell you the right information…”
The Bedouin replied.
The main point here is that each of us has our way of travelling and our desires and moods change while we’re on the road. That’s why in this post we go for three possible moods you may have while travelling in North India this June.
Mood #1- Getting socialized – looking for company? List of places where you can get friends in less than 5 minutes
Mood #2- Stay away from the Mob – would you like to read a book without getting nagged
Mood #3- getting cultural – want to find out about events and festivals in north India where you can engage with the local culture?
(We are a bit more flexible than the Bedouin guy who didn’t want to say a thing until he could see the guy walking for real)
Want to get socialized? Mood #1
In this list, you’ll find some of the most popular destinations in Northern India. Everybody who’s travelling in North India at this time of year will presumably be visiting at least one of them. Chances are that they’ll visit all. Here you can find all types of tourist: backpackers, volunteers, high budget or even local tourists; you name it. If you want to get social, these are perfect places to hang out.
1) Manali, Kullu Valley Himachal Pradesh.
It’s 17 hrs by bus from Delhi. Or a 1-hour flight from Delhi to Bhuntar (A local airport in Kullu Valley) plus approximately 2.5 hrs from Bhuntar by car and you are in Manali. The peaceful mountain town has become a delta for all types of travellers and it can get quite packed on its peck season. Travellers use Manali as a base for round trips, like to Spiti valley and Ladakh. And Some simply chill out in the super tourist-friendly town.
2) Parvati Valley, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
15 hrs. by bus from Delhi, or a one hour flight to Bunthar airport and you’ll reach the entrance to Pravati valley. Parvati Valley is a well-established travel hangout. Several small towns along the valley have been transformed into hippie resorts. It is loaded with hip Israeli backspaces and is known as an ‘Israeli colony’. You’ll find cheap accommodations, international food and a nonstop reggae soundtrack, plus crowds of dreadlocked and taffeta-skirted travellers. The attractions of the valley are peaceful scenery, the hot springs at Manikaran and plentiful wild charas (marijuana), with all the risks that entail.
3) Dharamsala, Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh.
15 hrs. by road from Delhi will get you the nearest to his holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. For those who do not know, it is the places where the central Tibetan administration is located. When we say Dhramsala we refer to three places:
• Macleod Ganj – A small town where the exiled Tibetan government is located.
• Bhagsu / Bhagsunath – A small village located 10 minutes walk from Macleod Ganj
• Dharamkot – another tiny village located 5 minutes walk from Macleod Ganj hosting the Sikhara Dhamma Vipassana meditation centre.
Dharamsala, like Manali, is another of North India’s Mega Tourist destinations.
Dharamsala attracts loads of tourists from all over the world. The social scene is highly developed. Many tourists usually stay for longer periods to take some of the endless courses available. We’ll cover more in the Cultural mood section below. That’s why Dharamsala is a perfect place to hang out and socialize.
4) Leh, Ladakh
2 days from Manali by Bus (one of the most beautiful rides in the world). 1.5 hrs. flight from Delhi.
Way up north, surrounded by snowy peaks mountains, on the Tibetan plateau lay the famous capital of the kingdom of Ladakh. The city attracts travelers with a high sense of exploration. Trekkers, jeep safari groupies, expeditions groups, motorbikers, and cyclists are all coming to Leh this time of year and bring a lively vibe.
We’ll get back to Leh later when the mood of being cultural will fall upon you.
In the meanwhile, let’s give the loners some great places to hide.
Feeling like you want to be left alone? Mood #2
We selected some places where you will be able to read quietly on a guesthouse porch. You will be able to practice Yoga without being nagged from all around. Tranquillity is sound and promised -You are saved from the mob!
Still, rest assured we didn’t let you get lost in hardcore India. While choosing these places we kept a few important rules:
• They should be relatively close to the main travelers’ routes.
• They must be touristic friendly i.e. accommodations, food, internet
• You won’t be the only foreigner around
1) Kasar Devi, Uttarakhand – If it was good enough for Bob Dylan it’s good for you too.
5 hrs from Rishikesh to Almora and another 20 minutes with the local taxis and you’ll get to the peaceful village of Kasar Devi. It is the place where Swami Vivekananda, one of India’s greatest modern philosophers used to meditate. The scenery from this tiny mountain village was inspirational for both him and Bob Dylan.
2) Jibhi, Banjar valley, Himachal Pradesh – Go now before it gets crowded
With a 5 hrs bus from Manali to Banjar town, and another local ride, you’ll get to Jibhi. It is a small pastoral village in Banjar valley. Endless hidden places within the gigantic Himalayan Oak forests around it make Jibhi a perfect place to stay close to both nature and yourself. Here is a great article for further details about Jibhi and Banjar Valley.
3) Riwalsar Lake, Mandi area Himachal Pradesh – Om Mani Padme
Om Mandi is 10 hrs by bus from Delhi and 4 hrs from Shimla.
Riwalsar lake is a small Buddhist oriented village with a super easy-going vibe. With a lake in the centre of the village and a complex of Gompas (Buddhist monasteries) around it, you will find the place so relaxing that you might not even want to go back to the noisy traveler scene.
4) If you feel like moving Kinnaur –Spiti circuit can work great for you. 2 weeks within magnificent scenery starting from lush green mountains into the high altitude desert of Spiti. Kinnaur-Spiti circuit is a perfect round trip to hop on to from Manali if you feel you just had enough.
There are some great treks in the area. We have just launched a full guide for one of the best treks in the region. Subscribe to our newsletter and get it for free.
Feeling cultural? Mood 3#
Here’s a review of some destinations in North India which are an integral part of Indian culture and religion(s). We assume that if you are in a mood of being cultural, you would like to know about events and festival that are going on this June.
Rishikesh and Haridwar, Uttarkhand 6 hrs by bus from Delhi.
Rishikesh is a small town on the Ganges Riverbank. It is known as the world’s yoga capital. You can find Yoga courses and training from beginner to advanced levels in every corner of town. Rishikesh and Haridwar are two of India’s most significant pilgrim destinations. It is the place where the Holi Ganges River hits the mighty Indo-Gangetic plains.
On Tuesday the 18th of June, there will be the Ganga Dussehra festival In Haridwar, a neighbouring town. If you want your sins to wash away, you should plan to pay a visit to Haridwar. You’d better get ready with loads of space on your camera memory card.
Let’s go up to Ladakh now, and see what they can offer us in when we get into the culture section.
Here we are back to Leh and the surrounding area with two major festivals that you won’t want to miss.
- Hemmis Festival (18th- 19th June) A half-hour drive from Leh is the famous Hemmis Buddhist Gompa ( Monastery). It is a two-day festival which commemorates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, founder of Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. There’s traditional music, colorful masked dances, and a fair full of striking handicrafts.
- The Sindhu Darshan Festival ( 1st – 3rd June ). It is a 20-minute ride from Leh on the bank of the Indus River. This festival is a celebration of the River Sindhu or Indus. More than anything else, the Indus River represents the ancient Hindu civilization and gave India its name. The festival aims to project the Sindhu as a symbol of multi-dimensional cultural identity, communal harmony, and peaceful co-existence in India.
- Beside the Festivals we’ve mentioned, discovering the beautiful Buddhist Gompas in Leh and around it sure will leave a magical impact on you :
- Check out the 6:00 a.m daily puja ( prayer) in Thiksey
- Treat yourself with a sunset climb up to Shanti Stupa (relics monument).
- Cross, Khardung La, the highest motor pass in the world to visit the impressive Diskit Gompa in the Nubra Valley.
In the Himachal area, there is a lot of cool stuff waiting for you….
• In Manali: The Manali Summer Sundowners – Sounds United Project music festival features live concerts of blended genres and styles every Friday and Saturday throughout June.
• In Dharamsala: The Dharamsala Film Festival ( 11th -13th June)
Besides the annual film festival, there are loads of courses that you can do in Dharamsala. The most famous Vipassana course ( see the link above), but also Yoga, Tibetan Language Classes, 10 days Introduction to Buddhism/meditation, Reiki, Cooking classes and much more. Also, there’s a lot of volunteering stuff that you can do. Two popular ones would be Lha Charitable and Mountain cleaners
• In Shimla: The annual Music summer festival has been held since the 1960s. Food fairs and local handicrafts are on sale, too. The event will begin on June 1st until the 9th.