Himachal

With spectacular snowy peaks and plunging river valleys, Himachal is India’s outdoor adventure playground. From trekking and climbing to rafting, paragliding and skiing, if it can be done in the mountains, it can be done here. A convoluted topography of interlocking mountain chains also makes Himachal a spectacular place simply to explore, by bus, car, motorbike or jeep safari. Every pass crossing into a new valley brings you into a different world, with its own customs, gods and even language. Villages perched on staggering slopes enchant with fairy-tale architecture and their people’s easygoing warmth. Hill stations appeal with holiday atmosphere and colonial echoes, while backpacker magnets lure with their blissed-out vibe and mountain beauty. Such is the variety of the Himachali jigsaw that in McLeod Ganj, the Dalai Lama’s home-away-from-home, and in Lahaul and Spiti, with their centuries-old Buddhist cultures, you might even think you’ve stumbled into Tibet.