The ancient Sanskrit poet Kalidasa called the Himalayas “the measuring rod of the world” — in size and scale and splendor there is little on earth that compares in magnitude to the high altitude ranges that shelter these far northern reaches of India. Proclaimed by ancient Indian texts as Devbhumi — “Land of the Gods” — and believed to be the earthly home of the mighty Lord Shiva, the beautiful, far-flung Himachal Pradesh has an almost palpable presence of divinity.

Bordered by Tibet to the east, Jammu and Kashmir to the north, and the Punjab to the west, the landlocked state is one of great topographic diversity therefore from vast bleak tracts of rust-colored high-altitude Trans-Himalayan desert to dense green deodar forests, apple orchards, cultivated terraces, and, everywhere you look, sublime snowcapped mountains. This is also where you’ll find the largest concentration of Buddhists, their atmospheric gompas (monasteries) a total contrast to the pageantry of Hindu temples.