It is terribly scorching already in the lower plains of India. Hence an escape to the cooler hills is a great option for holidays. So most of the popular hill stations are overcrowded with tourists. However, if you want to avoid the popular crowded hill stations, here is a list of five offbeat Himalayan hamlets in India.
Shangarh, Himachal Pradesh
Want to know of a secret paradise? Shangarh in Sainj Valley of Kullu District in Himachal Pradesh is the place. It tops my chart of offbeat Himalayan hamlets in India because of its rustic natural beauty. The vast panoramic meadows, the old wooden temples, the waterfalls, and the smiling kids with their sheep brew divine magic. Time seems to have stopped here at almost 7000 feet. The people are extremely innocent and hospitable. The sprawling Shangarh Meadow, called ‘Devta Meadow', is lush green and wide and is surrounded by deodars. From behind these trees the massive snow-capped Himalayan peaks peep.
The old wooden temple of ‘Sangchul Mahadev' standing on the meadow is a perfect example of Himachal's ‘Kathkuni' architecture. There are four temples and the main one has amazing wood carvings. The villages of Sainj Valley, including Shangarh, are protected under Wildlife Protection Act as it is a part of Eco Valley of Himalayan National Park. From Shangarh starts a lot of secluded trekking trails. From Shangarh one must visit Barshangarh Waterfall, Raila Waterfall, and the Twin Towers of Raila, locally known as Dalihara Kothi. The twin towers are tall towers built of stone and wood and are used as temples.
Sarmoli is called the poster child of ecotourism in Uttarakhand. It is a tiny hamlet at 8000 feet. It is set against the backdrop of the gorgeous snow-clad Panchachuli peaks. Five snow-capped Himalayan peaks form the majestic Panchachuli massif. Sunset hues turn these snow-white peaks into golden. It is among the world's best sunsets which one can see. A holiday at Sarmoli, one of the most unheard-of and offbeat Himalayan hamlets in India, is all about lazing in the lap of nature and experiencing the freshness of Himalayan rural life. There are no luxurious hotels but extremely hospitable homestays that treat visitors as their own guests and not clients.
Most of the homestays are run by women and are extremely hospitable. Tourists visit this Kumayoni village for fresh organic food, pure water, and fresh air. Hiking through the alpine forest, drinking water from the mountain streams, and walking leisurely on the paths through the chestnut trees are the major activities for tourists. This hamlet is also a bird watchers' paradise. The summer festival of this village includes the women of the village running a marathon. This tiny village at 7000+ feet is located near Munsyari, a 10-11 hours' drive from Kathgodam Railway Station.
Ringhim, one of India's unknown offbeat Himalayan hamlets, is a village in the Mangan subdivision, North Sikkim district of Sikkim. This village is also called the Hamlet of Double Kanchanjunga. The mighty snow-capped Kanchanjunga is distinctly visible with several other snow-clad peaks. There is a helipad that offers panoramic scenes of the mountains around. Numerous prayer flags flutter all around the village. There is a beautiful and vividly colorful Buddhist monastery in the village. The Ringhim “Rigdzin Tharlig” Monastery (1852 A.D) is significant to the Buddhists even though Ringhim is hardly found on the map. The foundation of this gompa or monastery is laid on a rock bearing the footprint of Guru Padmasambhava or Rinpoche. Come to this village to beat the heat and laze around amidst pristine nature. The flora and fauna of this area comprise unique birds, flowers, and orchids.
Lolegaon, west bengal
What about staying at one ofNorth Bengal'soffbeat Himalayan hamlets and just not lazing around but doing a lot of touristy sites seeing? It is a wonderful hamlet to stay amidst nature and peace. Lolegaon is not crowded with tourists but is close to significant places to see around hill towns like Lava and Kalimpong. Lolegaon Eco Park, the amazing canopy walk, the rock garden, Sunrise Point, Changey Falls, and Lava Monastery are the major attractions. One must visit Rishop, a tourist hamlet, from Lolegaon. Based out at Lolegaon, one can visit the Delo Hills and all the tourist sites of Kalimpong.
Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh
In my childhood, I read a book called, ‘Heidi', a story based on the simple life of a child residing in the Swiss Alps. Dirang Village in Arunachal Pradesh, situated at a little higher than 5000 feet, is as picturesque as the scenes from the above-mentioned book. Rolling mountains, a flowing river, greenery all around, the blue sky above, and the little village by the river, look like a picture postcard. There is a suspension bridge over the river. The most beautiful spot to visit is Santi Valley which is a grazing site for sheep and the fields are full of buckwheat. There are a few humble huts and their residents farm chilies, corn, rice, and cucumbers.
Dirang houses a 13th-century old monastery which is older than Tawang Monastery. From Dirang, you can visit another tiny hamlet that exists since the 9th century with mostly Monpa tribes. Their weaving is beautiful. Dirang, 135 kilometers from Tawang, definitely makes it to our list of offbeat Himalayan hamlets in India.
Conclusion- The list goes on
Himalaya in India covers 2500 kilometers, spread across 13 states and Union Territories (Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Assam, and West Bengal). We have a long list of very popular hill stations and numerous other emerging new tourist destinations too. Hence out of the plethora of choices we have, the above is an extremely short list of offbeat Himalayan hamlets in India. The list can actually go on and on.
A versatile writer and travel freak, discovering the world in her own casual way. Loves to immerse into the core of Mother Nature and extract her inherent beauty.